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Jul 05

Exploring the History: A Journey through Morgantown, WV

Posted on July 5, 2023 at 9:30 AM by Drew Bailey

Exploring the History: A Journey through Morgantown, WV

Nestled in the scenic region of north-central West Virginia, Morgantown is a charming city with a rich history that dates back centuries. From its humble beginnings as a pit stop along the Monongahela River to its vibrant present-day character, Morgantown has evolved into a hub of culture, education, and natural beauty. Join us as we delve into the fascinating history of this remarkable city, where travelers once embarked on adventures along the historic Monongahela River.  

Early Settlement and the Monongahela River:

Long before European settlers arrived, the area surrounding Morgantown was home to Native American tribes, including the Monongahela and Iroquois nations. These tribes navigated the Monongahela River, utilizing it as a crucial trade route, connecting them to other regions and facilitating cultural exchange.  

European Explorers and the Birth of Morgantown:

In the mid-18th century, European explorers and traders recognized the strategic importance of the Monongahela River and its potential for economic growth. One such explorer was Colonel Zackquill Morgan, who established a settlement in 1766 along the riverbanks. This settlement, which became known as Morgantown, served as a vital pit stop for travelers and traders as they made their way along the Monongahela River. 

River Trade and Economic Development:

With the arrival of the industrial revolution, Morgantown experienced rapid growth. The Monongahela River transformed into a bustling waterway, carrying goods and raw materials to and from neighboring towns and cities. The river trade became the backbone of Morgantown's economy, facilitating the transport of coal, timber, and other valuable resources. 

Transportation Revolution: The B&O Railroad:

In the 19th century, Morgantown witnessed another significant development that forever changed its transportation landscape. The construction of the Baltimore and Ohio (B&O) Railroad, which extended through Morgantown in the 1850s, marked a shift in transportation methods. The arrival of the railroad gradually reduced the importance of river travel but opened up new opportunities for trade and travel in the region.  

Education and the West Virginia University:

The mid-19th century also witnessed the establishment of West Virginia University (WVU) in Morgantown. The university's presence played a pivotal role in shaping the city's growth and identity. WVU brought a vibrant intellectual atmosphere to Morgantown, attracting students, scholars, and professionals from around the world. 

Modern Morgantown:

As Morgantown moved into the 20th century, the city continued to evolve. The river trade diminished in importance, but Morgantown's scenic beauty and proximity to nature began attracting tourists and outdoor enthusiasts. Today, the city blends its rich history with a thriving modern culture, offering a diverse range of attractions, including museums, art galleries, recreational parks, and an eclectic dining scene. 


Morgantown's history as a pit stop along the Monongahela River has left an indelible mark on the city's character and development. From its humble beginnings to the vibrant metropolis, it is today, Morgantown's journey is a testament to the resilience and adaptability of its residents. Exploring the historic trails of Morgantown is an invitation to uncover the layers of its past and embrace the spirit of discovery that continues to thrive in this captivating West Virginian city.