Hampshire County, WV

Hampshire County, WV

Hampshire County is a county located in the U.S. state of West Virginia.

As of 2010, the population was 23,964. Its county seat is Romney, West Virginia's oldest town (1762). Hampshire County was created by the Virginia General Assembly on December 13, 1753, from parts of Frederick and Augusta counties (Virginia) and is the oldest county in the state of West Virginia. The county lies in both West Virginia's Eastern Panhandle and Potomac Highlands regions. Hampshire County is part of the Winchester, VA-WV Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA).

Although its creation was authorized in 1753, Hampshire County was not actually organized until 1757 because the area was not considered safe due to the outbreak of the French and Indian War (1754–1763). According to Samuel Kercheval's A History of the Valley of Virginia (1833), the county was named in honor of its several prize hogs.

The story goes that Thomas Fairfax, 6th Lord Fairfax of Cameron (1693-1781), who owned the Royal Grant to the area, came upon some very large hogs in Winchester and asked where they had been raised. He was told that they were from the South Branch Potomac River Valley (now Hampshire County).

He remarked that when a county was formed west of Frederick that he would name it in honor of the county Hampshire, England, famous for its very fat hogs.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 645 square miles (1,670.5 km2), of which 642 square miles (1,662.8 km2) is land and 3 square miles (7.8 km2) (0.45%) is water.

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As of the census of 2000, there were 20,203 people, 7,955 households, and 5,640 families residing in the county. The population density was 32 people per square mile (12/km²). There were 11,185 housing units at an average density of 17 per square mile (7/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 98.04% White, 0.83% Black or African American, 0.24% Native American, 0.16% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.12% from other races, and 0.59% from two or more races. 0.55% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 7,955 households out of which 31.30% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.70% were married couples living together, 9.50% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.10% were non-families. 24.60% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.60% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.49 and the average family size was 2.94.

In the county, the population was spread out with 25.10% under the age of 18, 7.10% from 18 to 24, 27.60% from 25 to 44, 25.60% from 45 to 64, and 14.60% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 99.70 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 97.30 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $31,666, and the median income for a family was $37,616. Males had a median income of $28,884 versus $19,945 for females. The per capita income for the county was $14,851. About 12.90% of families and 16.30% of the population were below the poverty line, including 22.70% of those under age 18 and 13.10% of those age 65 or over.
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The Outdoors

Located in the Mid-Atlantic region of the Appalachian Mountains between the Blue Ridge and Allegheny ranges lies the Northern Shenandoah Valley and Potomac Highlands. Rich in natural beauty and history, the area fosters rural yet easily accessible communities to the Baltimore and DC metropolitan areas. Much of the region lies within vast tracts of national forest and wilderness.

The formation of Hampshire County was authorized by an Act of the General Assembly of Virginia effective May 1, 1754. Before Hampshire's creation, Winchester was the county seat for the entire area. A county government on the South Branch would make it easier to defend the frontier against the Indians, coming across the western mountains at the beginning of the French and Indian War.

The Hampshire County School District, located in the scenic eastern Panhandle of West Virginia, provides high quality educational opportunities for its 3,469 students. Students attending Hampshire County Schools have consistently outperformed the national norm group on the SAT-9 for Total Basic Skills. Hampshire County has the highest percentage of state owned public hunting in the state. Nathaniel Mountain Public Hunting & Fishing Area covers 8,798 acres with 21 miles of trails and 4 miles of streams. Short Mountain Public Hunting & Fishing Area offers 8,000+ acres and includes part of North River. Edwards Run Public Hunting & Fishing Area is approximately 400 acres with a spring-fed 'Fly Fishing Only' trout stream and stocked 2-acre trout pond. Springfield Public Hunting & Fishing Area has approx. 10,000 acres in scattered tracts.

winemaking Hampshire Park, a public park with covered picnic areas, bathroom facilities, sports fields and playground equipment, is the site of the county 4H camp. Central Hampshire Park and Romney Public Pool provide additional recreational opportunities.

Potomac Eagle Scenic Railroad offers a 3-hour scenic excursion along the South Branch of the Potomac River. The water is so clear you can usually see fish resting. In "The Trough" look up to the cliffs where bald eagles nest. Other highlights of the area include Pliska Winery, Schneider's Winery, The Bottling Works Museum & Gift Shop and Ice Mountain/Nature Conservancy Preserve.

Winter offers downhill and cross-country skiing, snowboarding, tubing, ice skating, sleigh rides and much more. Kayaking and hiking are popular spring activities. Sightseeing is wonderful all 4 seasons in the Potomac Highlands. Let the country roads take you home to the place you belong!