Date of Award


Degree Name



College of Liberal Arts

Type of Degree


Document Type


First Advisor

Daniel U. Holbrook

Second Advisor

Robert C. Deal

Third Advisor

Kevin T. Barksdale


The city of Huntington, West Virginia, did not occur gradually, nor did the city grow organically. Collis P. Huntington’s purchase of the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad in the winter of 1869 led to the conception of the first new city of a State born out of the Civil War. Collis Huntington specifically chose the future site of Huntington for the terminus of the C&O Railroad to reach areas rich in coal, timber, and agriculture in West Virginia, providing natural resources a way to market. For Collis P. Huntington to profit from shipping natural resources out of West Virginia, he needed a city to ship coal, timber, and produce to markets. Likewise, for the city of Huntington to thrive, the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad needed a steady source of revenue and a population. City founders promoted bipartisanship and residents quickly aligned with that political sentiment as commercial harmony took precedence over sectional conflict. As migrants formed the city’s first population and brought with them their social and cultural practices, they helped shape the beginnings of city identity. This study examines the years from 1870 to 1920 and seeks to fill a major gap in urban history by examining Huntington within the Ohio Valley. Additionally, the examination of Huntington through an Appalachian perspective also fills a major gap in that historiography. Neglected by Appalachian history, and virtually nonexistent in urban history, Huntington offers a unique study of a new nineteenth-century American city east of the Mississippi.


Huntington (W. Va.) -- History.

Huntington, Collis Potter, 1821-1900.

Railroads -- West Virginia -- Huntington -- History.