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A Description of Wheeling in 1841

- from "A Geographical, Historical and Statistical View of the Central Or Middle United States: Containing Accounts of Their Early Settlement; Natural Features; Progress of Improvement; Form of Government; Civil Divisions and Internal Improvements," Henry Schenck Tanner, Jr., 1841



This highly important and flourishing city, is situated on the left bank of the Ohio, at the mouth of Wheeling creek. It is the seat of justice of Ohio county, and may, from its local position and extent, be regarded as the capital of Western Virginia.

The nucleus of Wheeling, like that of most other western towns, consisted of a military post, established shortly after the commencement of the revolutionary war. In 1783, the town plot was arranged, but owing to difficulties with the Indians, and other retarding causes, but little progress was made in its extension. Of late, however, it has advanced, and continues to advance, rapidly, the present population being, according to the census of 1840, 8,793 persons, of whom 373 only are coloured.

The public buildings in and about Wheeling, are, a handsome and commodious court-house, with its appendages; one Episcopalian, two Presbyterian, one Catholic, one Friends, one Baptist, one Campbellite, and two Methodist churches; an edifice for the Wheeling Institute; one academy; one theatre; and one masonic hall. The manufactories, which are numerous and extensive, consist, in part- of the Wheeling Iron-works, which produce sheetiron, nails, &c., in great abundance; four or five iron foundries; four steam-engine factories; eight glass-houses, in some of which glass-cutting is carried on; one brewery; one or two distilleries; four woollen and cotton factories, and carding machines; two paper mills; three or four saw mills; three factories, employed in making copperas, white-lead and sheet-lead; and upwards of 140 manufacturing flour mills; together with a vast number of other establishments of a similar description, which constitute Wheeling the most extensive manufacturing city, as it is the most important commercial place in Western Virginia.

Among the literary and scientific institutions of Wheeling, the following may be mentioned, the Wheeling Institute for the instruction of children in the various branches of an English education ; the Wheeling Lancasterian Academy ; the Wheeling Classical Academy; a female seminary; and two or three public journals.

The city is supplied with water from the Ohio, by means of steam works, lately erected, which send the water through all the principal streets.

Coal, which is used exclusively in the manufactories, is found in inexhaustible quantities near the city.

The commercial facilities of Wheeling are scarcely inferior to those for manufacturing. In addition to twenty or twenty.five steamboats owned by citizens of Wheeling, nearly all those engaged in the navigation of this part of the Ohio, stop at its wharves, in both their up and down trips. The National road, from Cumberland to the west, passes through the city, by which, and the Maryland state turnpike, a profitable communication is maintained with Baltimore and other eastern towns. Stages depart from Wheeling in all directions, nearly every hour of the day. These, with the innumerable which are plying up and down the Ohio, enable the traveller, on his arrival here, to proceed on his journey without any delay. The vast multitudes of emigrants and others, who are constantly passing through the town, on their way to the far west, increase greatly, the trade of Wheeling, and give it an air of bustle -and business, peculiarly animating.

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