Beckley is a city in Raleigh County, West Virginia, United States, which was founded on April 4, 1838. The 2007 population was estimated to be 16,830 by the U.S. Census Bureau. Early in its history, the town was known as Beckleyville and Raleigh Court House. The city is sometimes called the "Smokeless Coal Capital" "The City of Champions" and the "Gateway To Southern West Virginia." The population of the Beckley area is roughly 77,000 including Raleigh County and parts of Fayette County. It is the county seat of Raleigh County.
Beckley was named in honor of John James Beckley, who was the first Clerk of the House of Representatives and the first Librarian of Congress. It was founded by his son Alfred Beckley (US Army general and Confederate militia commander, born in Washington, D.C.). The current mayor (2007) is Emmett S. Pugh, III.
Beckley is well known for two major tourist attractions: The Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine (newly renovated opening to the public April 1, 2008) and Tamarack. The Exhibition Coal Mine is a preserved coal mine that offers daily tours and a history lesson on coal mining in Appalachia. Tamarack, originally built at a cost of $10 Million and dedicated to former Governor Gaston Caperton, is the home to many artisan crafts from around West Virginia and a dining area featuring meals prepared by chefs trained at The Greenbriar.
Beckley has been the subject of intense growth along Eisenhower Drive. This growth has led to increasing traffic problems which the city is attempting to alleviate by building the "Z" way, which would bypass major congestion. The amount of growth the city has experienced has also led to Beckley/Raleigh County considering the formation of a Metro Government which could potentially reduce government operation overhead. The city is the regional hub for over 200,000 Southern West Virginia residents. It is the eighth largest city in West Virginia, succeeded by Fairmont and followed by Martinsburg.
Due to Beckley's geographical location in the higher elevations, the city is dominated by a Humid continental climate, with very warm summers and cold, snowy winters.
|Monthly Normal and Record High and Low Temperatures|
|Rec High °F||73||74||81||86||89||90||94||96||92||81||79||73|
|Norm High °F||38.8||42.8||51.9||62.5||70.6||77||80.2||78.9||72.6||63.1||52.4||43.1|
|Norm Low °F||22.1||24.9||32.4||40.6||49.2||57||61.1||59.8||53.5||42.4||34.4||26.5|
|Rec Low °F||-22||-16||-5||11||23||32||41||36||30||18||4||-18|
As of the census of 2000, there were 17,254 people, 7,651 households, and 4,590 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,874.9 people per square mile (724.1/km²). There were 8,731 housing units at an average density of 948.8/sq mi (366.4/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 73.64% White, 22.89% African American, 0.14% Native American, 1.89% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.21% from other races, and 1.22% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.74% of the population.
There were 7,651 households out of which 25.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 40.9% were married couples living together, 16.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 40.0% were non-families. 35.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 16.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.18 and the average family size was 2.83.
In the city the population was spread out with 21.8% under the age of 18, 8.3% from 18 to 24, 25.3% from 25 to 44, 24.4% from 45 to 64, and 20.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 42 years. For every 100 females there were 82.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 77.1 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $28,122, and the median income for a family was $38,110. Males had a median income of $35,780 versus $23,239 for females. The per capita income for the city was $18,912. About 16.4% of families and 20.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 33.9% of those under age 18 and 9.5% of those age 65 or over.