Morgan County, WV

Morgan County, WV

Morgan County is a county located in the U.S. state of West Virginia. Its county seat is Berkeley Springs. The county is one of three in Hagerstown-Martinsburg, MD-WV Metropolitan Statistical Area. Morgan County was formed in 1820 from parts of Hampshire and Berkeley Counties and named in honor of General Daniel Morgan, prominent soldier of the American Revolutionary War. It is the home of an important mine producing special sand for the glass industry.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 230 square miles (595 km²), of which 229 square miles (593 km²) is land and 1 square mile (2 km²) (0.30%) is water.

Morgan County was created by an act of the Virginia General Assembly in March 1820 from parts of Berkeley and Hampshire counties. It was named in honor of General Daniel Morgan (1736–1802). He was born in Hunterdon County, New Jersey, and moved to Winchester, Virginia as a youth. He served as a wagoner in Braddock's Army during the campaign against the Native Americans in 1755. During the campaign, a British Lieutenant became angry with him and hit him with the flat of his sword. Morgan punched the Lieutenant, knocking him unconscious. Morgan was court-martialed for striking a British officer and was sentenced to 500 lashes. Morgan later joked that the drummer who counted out the lashes miscounted and he received only 499 lashes. For the rest of his life he claimed the British still owed him one.

Morgan County, WV The first English settlers in present-day Morgan County arrived during the 1730s. Because most of these early pioneers were squatters, there is no record of their names. Historians claim that the first cabin in the county was built around 1745. As word of the county's warm springs spread eastward, Thomas Fairfax, 6th Lord Fairfax of Cameron decided that the county needed to be surveyed. In 1748, George Washington, then just 16 years old, was part of the survey party the surveyed the Eastern Panhandle region for Lord Fairfax. He later returned to Bath (Berkeley Springs) several times over the next several years with his half-brother, Laurence, who was ill and hoped that the warm springs might improve his health. The springs, and their rumored medicinal benefits, attracted numerous Indians as well as Europeans to the area.

As mentioned previously, George Washington visited present-day Berkeley Springs several times with his half-brother, Laurence. When he vacationed in the area in 1767, he noted how busy the town had become. Lord Fairfax had built a summer home there and a "private bath" making the area a popular destination for Virginia's social elite. As the town continued to grow, the Virginia General Assembly decided to formally recognize it. In October 1776, the town was officially named Bath, in honor of England's spa city called Bath. The town's main north-south street was named Washington and the main east-west street was named Fairfax. Also, seven acres (28,000 m²) were set aside for "suffering humanity." When West Virginia gained statehood, that area became West Virginia's first state park. Bath's population increased during and immediately after the American Revolutionary War as wounded soldiers and others came to the area believing that the warm springs had medicinal qualities. Bath gained a reputation as a somewhat wild town where eating, drinking, dancing and gambling on the daily horse races were the order of the day.

Bath later became known as Berkeley Springs, primarily because the town's post office took that name (combining Governor Norborne Berkeley's last name with the warm springs found there) to avoid confusion with another post office, located in southeastern Virginia, which was already called Bath. Because the mail was sent to and from Berkeley Springs, that name slowly took precedence.
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As of the census of 2000, there were 14,943 people, 6,145 households, and 4,344 families residing in the county. The population density was 65 people per square mile (25/km²). There were 8,076 housing units at an average density of 35 per square mile (14/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 98.30% White, 0.60% Black or African American, 0.17% Native American, 0.12% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.23% from other races, and 0.57% from two or more races. 0.83% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 6,145 households out of which 28.70% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 57.90% were married couples living together, 8.20% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.30% were non-families. 24.50% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.20% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.40 and the average family size was 2.84.

The age distribution is 22.40% under the age of 18, 6.80% from 18 to 24, 27.30% from 25 to 44, 26.90% from 45 to 64, and 16.60% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females there were 96.60 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 95.00 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $35,016, and the median income for a family was $40,690. Males had a median income of $29,816 versus $22,307 for females. The per capita income for the county was $18,109. About 8.00% of families and 10.40% of the population were below the poverty line, including 11.60% of those under age 18 and 8.80% of those age 65 or over.
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Extending south from the Potomac River in the Eastern Panhandle, Morgan County is 231.3 square miles of mostly parallel north-south ridges. It lies within the foothills of the Appalachian mountain chain. The wild and scenic Cacapon River snakes north through the county, emptying into the Potomac at the unincorporated hamlet of Great Cacapon. There is archeological evidence of prehistoric people in Great Cacapon and other locales along the Potomac and Cacapon rivers.

Morgan County is located between Maryland and Virginia on the western edge of the state's panhandle. Its modest population of roughly 17,000 is spread over the county's 229 square miles. And there are only two incorporated towns here, the town of Berkeley Springs and the town of Paw Paw, the latter known for its 3,118-foot Paw Paw Tunnel. As a result, the area is predominantly rural, offering those who relocate here ample outdoor recreational opportunities.

Morgan County, which was formed in 1820, is home to a number of heritage sites that are recognized on the National Register of Historic Places. These include the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park and the Berkeley Springs State Park, whose spa and hot springs attract visitors from miles around. The county's emphasis on its long and proud history, which has been protected from overdevelopment, adds to the pervasive rustic charm of this bucolic region.

Morgan County, WV Berkeley Springs State Park is a state park located in the center of Berkeley Springs, West Virginia. The centerpieces of this park are the spa facilities. These waters are currently and historically billed as having medicinal or restorative powers, generally taken internally for digestive disorders or in baths for stress relief. Native peoples visited these springs as did George Washington.

The park is located on land which has been used as a health resort since the 1750s, but the land was officially granted to Virginia by Lord Fairfax in 1776. The park is operated by the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources. In its literature, the park claims to be the only state-run spa in the United States.

Water flows from natural mineral springs at a constant temperature of 74.3 degrees, emerging from the Oriskany (Ridgeley) sandstone of Warm Springs Ridge. It contains significant amounts of sulphates, nitrates, and carbonates -- mostly magnesium carbonates. The flow rate varies from 750 to 2,000 US gallons (2,800 to 7,600 L) per minute. The water is available for bathing at two park bathhouses, for drinking from a fountain at the 19th century Gentlemen's Spring House; and from every tap in town since the springs serve as the source of the municipal water supply. The water is also bottled and sold commercially.

The historic Roman Bathhouse, the oldest public building in Berkeley Springs, was built in Federal-style architecture in 1815 on the site of an earlier bathhouse attributed to James Rumsey. This original bathhouse, built in 1784, was described as having five bathing chambers and dressing rooms. The current building includes nine separate bathing chambers with tubs capable of holding a total 750 gallons of water heated to 102 degrees. These baths are open to the public daily throughout the year.