Morgantown, West Virginia

Morgantown is a city in and the county seat of Monongalia County, West Virginia, United States, on the banks of the Monongahela River. Part of the Pittsburgh Tri-State region, Morgantown is the largest city in North-Central West Virginia, and is the principal city of the Morgantown, West Virginia Metropolitan Statistical Area. It is best known as the home both of West Virginia University and of a one-of-a-kind, experimental personal rapid transit system.


Morgantown is closely tied to the Anglo-French struggle for this territory. Until the Treaty of Paris in 1763, what is now known as Morgantown was greatly contested among settlers and Native Americans, as well as the English and the French. The treaty decided the issue in favor of the English, but Indian fighting continued almost to the beginning of the American Revolution.

Zackquill Morgan and his brother David entered the area of Virginia that would become Morgantown in about 1767, although others such as Thomas Decker are recorded as attempting settlements in the area earlier or at about the same time. As well, several forts were built in the area during this time: Fort Pierpont near the Cheat River, in 1769; Fort Coburn, near Dorsey's Knob, in 1770. Fort Morgan, at the present site of Morgantown, in 1772; Fort Dinwiddle, north several miles at Stewartstown, in 1772; Fort Martin, several miles north on the Monongahela River, in 1773; Fort Burris in the present-day Suncrest area of Morgantown, in 1774; and Fort Kern in the present-day Greenmont area of Morgantown, in 1774, in addition to other, smaller forts.

Zackquill Morgan settled the area about 1772 by establishing a homestead near present-day Fayette Street and University Avenue. Morgan fought in both the French and Indian War and the American Revolutionary War, rising to the rank of colonel. By 1783, following his wartime duties, Colonel Morgan commissioned Major William Haymond to survey his land and divide it into streets and lots. Colonel Morgan then received a legal certificate for in the area of his settlement near the mouth of Decker's Creek. Fifty acres were appropriated for Morgan's Town by the Virginia General Assembly in October 1785. On February 3, 1838, the General Assembly enacted a municipal charter incorporating the city, now with a population of about 700. The town became part of the newly created state of West Virginia on June 20, 1863, through the Reorganized Government of Virginia.

Notable early structures still standing in Morgantown in the mid-2000s include The Old Stone House, built in 1795 by Jacob Nuce on Long Alley, the modern-day Chestnut Street; and the John Rogers family home on Foundry Street, built in 1840 and is now occupied by the Dering Funeral Home.

During the 1970s, the U.S. Department of Transportation built an experimental personal rapid transit system in the city, citing the area's variety of seasonal climates and geographic elevations as factors in testing the technology's viability. The Morgantown Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) has been in use since 1975.

Geography & Climate

Morgantown is located at (39.633696, -79.950670). The city is located south of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, west of Washington, D.C., east of Columbus, Ohio, and northeast of Charleston, West Virginia. Morgantown is just south of the Mason-Dixon Line.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 10.1 square miles (26.2 km²), of which, 9.8 square miles (25.4 km²) of it is land and 0.3 square miles (0.8 km²) of it (3.16%) is water.


Morgantown is located in the Humid continental climate zone, which includes hot, humid summers and cool winters with some snow, but less than what falls from Pittsburgh and further north.

Month Jan Feb MarApr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov DecYear
Avg high (°F) 39 43 5364 73 8083 82 76 65 54 44 63
Avg low (°F) 22 24 32 40 50 59 64 62 5644 35 27 42
Precipitation (in) 3.27 2.88 3.82 3.71 4.37 4.044.24 3.96 3.352.87 3.53 3.26 3.60


As of the census of 2000, there were 26,809 people, 10,782 households, and 4,183 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,736.0 people per square mile (1,056.2/km²). There were 11,721 housing units at an average density of 1,196.2/sq mi (461.8/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 89.48% White, 4.15% African American, 0.17% Native American, 4.15% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 0.51% from other races, and 1.48% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.54% of the population.

There were 10,782 households out of which 15.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 29.1% were married couples living together, 7.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 61.2% were non-families. 37.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.08 and the average family size was 2.76.

Morgantown's age distribution, which is heavily influenced by the presence of West Virginia University, is: 11.1% under the age of 18, 44.7% from 18 to 24, 20.4% from 25 to 44, 13.5% from 45 to 64, and 10.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 23 years. For every 100 females there were 104.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 105.0 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $20,649, and the median income for a family was $44,622. Males had a median income of $33,268 versus $24,944 for females. The per capita income for the city was $14,459. About 15.0% of families and 38.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 23.3% of those under age 18 and 8.3% of those age 65 or over.

Following Census 2000, Monongalia County (with county seat Morgantown) and neighboring Preston County were acknowledged as a metropolitan statistical area (MSA) by the United States government. Estimates from 2004 put the Metropolitan Statistical Area population at 113,500; as of July 2005, the estimate was 114,501. Of the 10 largest cities in West Virginia, only Morgantown and Martinsburg have shown positive population growth since the 2000 census, with Morgantown growing from 26,809 to a 2007 estimate of 29,361.

West Virginia University constitutes 913 acres (3.7 km²) of the city and vicinity, and with the fall 2005 enrollment added an additional population of 27,115 students from every state, the District of Columbia, and 91 nations.


The city is served by Monongalia County Schools. Public elementary schools in Morgantown and its surrounding area include Cheat Lake, North, Brookhaven, Ridgedale, Mountainview, Mylan Park, and Skyview. There are four middle schools: Cheat Lake, South, Westwood, and Suncrest. The city's two high schools are University High School, the mascot of which is the Hawks, and Morgantown High School, whose mascot is the Mohigans. The latter's name is that of a non-existent Native American tribe whose name is a combination of the words Morgantown (MO) High (HIG) Annual (AN), which was the school's yearbook. The Native American mascot and logo were adopted because of the close relation to the name Mohican, a real Native American tribe. Notable Morgantown High School alumni include screenwriter-film director Lawrence Kasdan (class of 1966), actor Don Knotts (class of 1942), college football coach Tommy Bowden (class of 1972), and TV college football analyst Terry Bowden (class of 1974).

As of April 2005, Monongalia County Schools employs 897 professional personnel and 490 service personnel, and carries an enrollment of 10,076 students, including 156 adult students at the Monongalia County Technical Education Center. Three of Monongalia County's 23 schools have earned Exemplary Achievement status, according to the West Virginia Office of Educational Performance Audits' (OEPA) report issued November 2004. In 2004, Suncrest Middle became a National Blue Ribbon School for the No Child Left Behind Act.

Other private schools include Alliance Christian School, Covenant Christian School, Maranatha Christian Academy, Morgantown Christian Academy, Trinity Christian School, and the alternative, non-religious Morgantown Learning Academy.

Early schools

While informal schools existed from Morgantown's earliest days , the town established a one-story, coeducational, Virginia common school in July 1803, that students attended on a tuition basis..On Nov. 29, 1814, the Virginia General Assembly incorporated Monongalia Academy, the county's first public school. Supported by obligatory surveyors' fees, the male-only institution was the equivalent of a modern-day high school. The Academy moved to a new two-story building in 1830, with principal Jonathan Haddock offering courses in geography, surveying, and navigation in addition to traditional subjects. Presbyterian minister Reverend James Robertson Moore was principal during the Academy's 1852-1864 heyday, when its enrollment included students from 14 states. In 1867, the Academy closed, and donated its land toward the establishment of West Virginia University.

The Virginia Assembly in March 1831 authorized the creation of the Morgantown Female Academy. Proceeds from the sale of the original Monongalia Academy building funded construction of a two-story school at Bumbo Lane (the modern-day Fayette Street) and Long Alley (the modern-day Chestnut Street). This school opened April 1, 1834. After the Assembly approved a charter change in 1838, the school became known as the Methodist Academy. This prompted local Presbyterians to create the Woodburn Female Seminary, for which the Monongalia Academy's Rev. Moore also served as principal. The seminary closed in 1866, and its assets, like those of the Monongalia Academy, were donated toward the future university.

Following the 1863 creation of West Virginia, the new state's first legislature created a public-school system. The act provided for the education of "free colored children", and was adapted three years later to mandate education for all African-American children. However, a two-tier system was created: White children attended a regular term (at the second former Monongalia Academy building, purchased in 1867 from West Virginia Agricultural College, the future West Virginia University), only a short term was provided for African-Americans, who met at St. Paul's African Methodist Episcopal Church, on Beechurst Avenue.

Catholic schools

A Catholic elementary school, Saint Francis de Sales, began sometime prior to 1915 as a two-room school in a house on McLane Avenue in the Seneca neighborhood, and run by lay teacher Miss Sterbutsal, who became Sister M. Isabelle of the Sisters of St. Joseph. In October 1915, the pastorate of Father Peter Flynn arranged for Ursuline nuns from Louisville, Kentucky, and in 1918, under principal Sister M. Isadore, the school moved to a new building on Beechurst Avenue, adjacent to St. Theresa's Church. On June 9, 1990, the grade school moved into the former St. Francis Central High School building, and eventually into newly built facility at 41 Guthrie Lane. Its mascot is the Falcon. The Beechurst Avenue building was demolished in 2003

St. Francis Central High School, which had existed for several decades until circa 1990, was located between WVU's Towers dormitory complex and Patteson Drive in the Evansdale neighborhood. Its mascot was the Trojans, and its football field was named for Father Flynn. The West Virginia University Foundation purchased its building and land in July 2003, formally selling it to WVU for $11 million in August 2004, with the university then announcing it intended to use the football and adjacent baseball fields as intramural recreation area. Through January 2006, the building housed the St. Francis middle and elementary schools.

West Virginia University (WVU)

This is a public, land-grant institution, founded in 1867. With an operating budget of approximately $654 million as of the mid-2000s, it also has $150 million annually in sponsored contracts and research grants conducted by faculty members.

Fall 2007 enrollment was 27,500, with students from all 55 state counties, 50 states plus the District of Columbia, and 89 other nations. Basic figures regarding the student body:

  • 59% residents, 41% nonresidents
  • 19,510 undergraduates
  • 6,541 graduate and professional students
  • 51% male, 49% female
  • 7% minorities
  • Students residing in University housing: approximately 5,535

The 2007-08 curriculum is supported by 14 colleges and schools offering 179 bachelor's, master's, doctoral, and professional degree programs in the arts and sciences; business and economics; creative arts; engineering and mineral resources; human resources and education; journalism; law; agriculture, forestry, and consumer sciences; dentistry; medicine; nursing; pharmacy; physical education; plus programs at Potomac State College.


Source unless otherwise footnoted:

  • 2007: 9th best Boomtown City in Country, by
  • 2007: 9th "Best Small Place for Business and Careers" in US, by Forbes
  • 2006: 29th Smartest Place to Live in US, by Kiplinger's Personal Finance
  • 2006: 5th Best Place for Business and Careers (Metros less than 150,000 population), by Forbes
  • 2006: 12th Hottest Small City: Boomtown (Metros less than 150,000 population), by Inc. Magazine
  • 2004: 3rd Best Small Town In America, by Men's Journal
  • 2003: Well Workplace Bronze Award, by the Wellness Councils of America
  • 2002: Graded "A" in Economic Development (#21 out of nation's 496 micropolitan areas), by
  • 2001: Morgantown Web Site Receives the Community Silver Award
  • 1998-2001: Morgantown named a Tree City USA
  • 2000: #1 Dreamtown in Country, by
  • Media


    Morgantown has two newspapers. The Dominion Post which is published daily. The university-owned and student-run college newspaper The Daily Athenaeum, published weekdays, is provided free on campus and to many businesses around Morgantown.


    Call sign Channel Description
    KDKA-TV 2 CBS affiliate, Pittsburgh, Penn.
    WTAE 4 ABC affiliate, Pittsburgh, Penn.
    WDTV 5 CBS affiliate, Bridgeport, W.Va.
    WPXI 11 NBC affiliate, Pittsburgh, Penn.
    WBOY 12 NBC affiliate, Clarksburg, W.Va.
    WQED 13 PBS station, Pittsburgh, Penn.
    WPCW 19 CW Television Network affiliate, Pittsburgh, Penn.
    WPMY 22 My Network TV affiliate, Pittsburgh, Penn.
    WNPB 24 West Virginia Public Broadcasting Morgantown, WV
    WVFX 46 FOX affiliate, Clarksburg, W.Va
    WPGH-TV 53 FOX affiliate, Pittsburgh, Penn.


    Call sign Frequency Format Owner
    WCLG 1300 AM Oldies Bowers Broadcasting Corp.
    WCLG 100.1 FM Rock Bowers Broadcasting Corp.
    WAJR 1440 AM News/Talk West Virginia Radio Corporation
    WVAQ 101.9 FM Top 40 West Virginia Radio Corporation
    WWVU 91.7 FM Campus West Virginia University Board Of Governors
    WGYE 102.7 FM Country Burbach of de, LLC
    WZST 100.9 FM Country Tschudy Broadcasting Corp
    WFGM 93.1 FM Oldies West Virginia Radio Corporation



    Morgantown Municipal Airport is one of West Virginia's few commercial airports. It is located seven miles (11 km) east of Interstate 79 just off the Pierpont Road exit on Interstate 68, accessible via WV 857 by turning left onto US 119.


    Morgantown is not served by local railways services other than a freight train carrying coal and other industrial goods to Pittsburgh, PA. This line is called the Norfolk Southern's Loveridge Secondary that runs From Brownsville, Pennsylvania to Rivesville, West Virginia where it heads to the Loveridge mine.


    Morgantown relies heavily on the Monongahela River for shipping coal and other products to the nearest large city, Pittsburgh, PA. The United States Army Corps of Engineers regulates and patrol the Morgantown Locks.


    Interstate 79 travels north to its endpoint in Erie, Pennsylvania and south to its endpoint in Charleston, West Virginia. There are four exit ramps to Morgantown and environs. Interstate 68 breaks off from Interstate 79 just east of Morgantown, and also has five nearby exit ramps.


    Most of Morgantown is accessible by MountainLine bus system. Most service operates Monday-Saturday from 7am-6pm with very limited service operating on Sunday during the WVU school year. MountainLine's Grey Line bus operates everyday of the year between Clarksburg, West Virginia and the Pittsburgh Airport. Morgantown also has the Morgantown Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) system. The system has five stations (Walnut, Beechurst, Engineering, Towers, and Medical) covering 8.65 miles (13.9 kilometers).


    Electric service is provided by Allegheny Power, natural gas services by Dominion Resources, and water and sewage by the Morgantown Utility Board.

    Cable television and cable Internet are provided by Comcast Communications. Landline telephone and DSL services are offered by Verizon, with West Side Telecommunications telephone and DSL service available in some areas.

    Cellular Telephone service is available through US Cellular, nTelos, Sprint, and AT&T (formerly Cingular Wireless).

    Trash pickup is provided by Allied Waste Industries.

    In the media

    The cable television network MTV announced in October 2006 that it would tape an eight-episode reality TV series, Show Choir, following Morgantown High School's show choir, which performs songs in four-part harmony, with costumes and choreography, on a competitive circuit. The show was scheduled to premiere Spring 2007.

    The Joni Mitchell song "Morning Morgantown" is popularly believed to be written about Morgantown, West Virginia.

    The 2006 film We Are Marshall has two brief scenes set in, but not filmed in, Morgantown.

    Notable people from Morgantown

    Points of interest

    Caperton Trail
    Decker's Creek Trail

    See also



    External links

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