January 19, 1818: Virginia General Assembly Creates Preston County

Jan 19, 2018

Credit e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia / WV Humanities Council

On January 19, 1818, the Virginia General Assembly created Preston County from the eastern part of Monongalia County.

Industry in Preston County began to take off in the 1830s with the completion of the Northwestern Turnpike, which connected Winchester, Virginia, with the Ohio River. Over such roads, teamsters hauled away Preston’s agricultural products and brought back commercial goods. Today, U.S. 50 follows the route of the turnpike.

Preston’s fortunes got another boost in the 1850s with the arrival of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, which increased timber and coal exports.

Preston County also played an important role in the West Virginia statehood movement. At the beginning of the Civil War, Virginia split from the Union and joined the Confederacy. Some Preston County officials were among the leaders in forming the new state of West Virginia.

One of our state’s highest counties in terms of elevation, Preston Countians have had to adapt to harsh winters. For instance, farmers learned to grow a hardier crop, buckwheat. Preston County and buckwheat pancakes are now synonymous as every September, thousands gather in the county seat of Kingwood to celebrate the Buckwheat Festival.