MARLINTON, WEST VIRGINIA (WVNS) — For 200 hundred years, one county in West Virginia has stood the test of time. A county that has called two states home, survived multiple wars, and now sees millions of visitors every year.
Even before Pocahontas County was officially formed, early European settles arrived in 1749. Jacob Marlin and Stephen Sewell settled near present day Marlinton.
“Marlinton is the first permanent English settlement east of the Alleghanies. And the first two settlers in Marlinton lived in an old sycamore tree, over a winter,” Cara Rose of the Pocahontas County Convention and Visitors Bureau said.
From 1754 through 1783, the rural colonial landscape witnessed The French and Indian War and Revolutionary War. Major events that would eventually give birth to the county. Born on December 21st, 1821 out of three Virginia counties, Bath, Randolph, and Pendleton by an act of the Virginia Assembly.
In 1861 the war between two nations become ingrained in Pocahontas County’s history. Major union and confederate camps, army movements, and battles dot all throughout the county. But, eventually Union supporting West Virginia broke free from the Confederate South giving Pocahontas County a new state to call home. Marking the path of major battles and troop movements, Pocahontas County honors their bloody history with state parks like Droop Mountain
From 1822 to 1891, Huntersville was the county seat but eventually Marlin’s Bottom would take that honor. A story that speaks of luck and political power by Civil War Colonel John McGraw.
“You know it all came down to money and a gentleman who was in the county had won a lottery in Virginia and his money spoke powerfully and they choose to move the county seat into what’s now Marlinton,” Rose said.
In 1909, J. G. Tilton opened the Oprea House that capitalized on the influx of travelers the railroad brought in. The Oprea House became a fixture for the county, one that still stands to this day.
Influential culture from Pocahontas County didn’t stop with the Oprea House either. Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winning author Pearl S. Buck was born in Hillsboro, West Virginia in 1892. After a fundraising tour of West Virginia, Buck was able to preserve her parents homestead, a homestead that is open to the public to this day.
The history of Pocahontas County has at least one running theme. West Virginian’s always willing to help out and evolve while keeping with the traditions that have kept them in prosperity for 200 years. Today roughly 8,500 people call Pocahontas County home but nearly 1 million people visit this mountainous countyside every year
“Visitation and tourism has grown significantly over the past 40 years. With the creation of Snowshoe Mountain Resort, of course, and with outdoor recreation that we offer in the county,” Rose said.
With 200 years of history touching on everything from Native Americans, British settlers, American pioneers, the Civil War, and yes, even space exploration with Greenbank Observatory, Pocahontas County has turned their unique past into a golden future. Tapping into the 138 Billion Dollar Tourism Industry, crafters, artisans, and good old fashion West Virginia hospitality looks to drive the county for another 200 years.
While Covid-19 postponed much of Pocahontas County’s Bicentennial year, the county is excited to announce a celebratory events line-up for this year.
On March 5th, 2022, the county will observe the 200th anniversary of the county’s organization. A high afternoon literary tea May 14th. May 20th kicks off the education day celebration event starting with Huntersville.
The Pocahontas Celebrate 200 celebrations will feature a commemorative ornament, community art projects, festivals, and history tours. Kicking off the event are eight bicentennial trout statues found throughout the county. The trout were decorated by local artists and symbolize the 8 rivers that call Pocahontas County their birthplace.
The county is hoping 2022 will be a celebratory year for both residents and visitors with a years worth of events planned. For a complete list of events, Pocahontas County Convention and Visitors Bureau has created a website dedicated to their bicentennial celebration.