Martinsburg Incorporated: October 18, 1778

Oct 18, 2016

Martinsburg took off with the arrival of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.
Credit e-WV / WV Humanities Council

The town of Martinsburg in Berkeley County was incorporated on October 18, 1778. The place had been settled originally by Joseph and John Morgan in the 1740s. But it was Scotland native Adam Stephen who put Martinsburg on the map. Stephen established mills along the banks of Tuscarora Creek, built himself a limestone house, and, in 1773, laid out the town. He named it for Colonel Thomas Bryan Martin, a nephew of Lord Thomas Fairfax, who owned much of the present Eastern Panhandle.

Martinsburg took off with the arrival of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad in 1842. The railroad facilities were destroyed during the Civil War but rebuilt after the conflict. The country’s first nationwide strike—the great railroad strike of 1877—was started by B&O workers at Martinsburg before spreading to other cities.

Other than the railroad, Martinsburg was best known for its textile factories. By the end of the 20th century, though, the railroad facilities and factories were gone. However, by this time, Martinsburg was becoming one of our state’s fastest-growing cities thanks to an influx of suburbanites from the Baltimore-Washington area.