Greenbrier County, West Virginia

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Greenbrier County, West Virginia
Greenbrier County, Courthouse.jpg
Greenbrier County Courthouse
Seal of Greenbrier County, West Virginia
Map of West Virginia highlighting Greenbrier County
Location in the U.S. state of West Virginia
Map of the United States highlighting West Virginia
West Virginia's location in the U.S.
Founded October 20, 1778
Seat Lewisburg
Largest city Lewisburg
 • Total 1,025 sq mi (2,655 km2)
 • Land 1,020 sq mi (2,642 km2)
 • Water 4.9 sq mi (13 km2), 0.5%
Population (est.)
 • (2014) 35,450
 • Density 35/sq mi (14/km²)
Congressional district 3rd
Time zone Eastern: UTC-5/-4

Greenbrier County /ˈɡrnbrər/, is a county located in the U.S. state of West Virginia. As of the 2010 census, the population was 35,480.[1] Its county seat is Lewisburg.[2] The county was formed in 1778 from Botetourt and Montgomery counties in Virginia.[3][4]


Prior to the arrival of European settlers around 1740, Greenbrier County, like most of West Virginia, was used as a hunting grounds by the Shawnee and Cherokee Nations. This land, which they called Can-tuc-kee, was thought to be inhabited by ghosts of Azgens, a white people from an eastern sea who were said tohave been killed off by the Shawnee's ancestors. According to the legend, the area was owned by the bones and ghosts of the Azgens, who would permit responsible hunting, but according to Black Fish, "we are never allowed to kill the game wantonly, and we are forbidden to settle in the country... If we did, these ghosts would rise from their caves and mounds and slay us, but they would set father against son and son against father and neighbor against neighbor and make them kill one another." Thus, hunting parties were permitted to camp in the area, permanent settlements east and south of the Spay-lay-we-theepi (Ohio River) were forbidden. [5]:65-66

Shawnee leaders, including Pucksinwah and later his son Tecumseh, were alarmed by the arrival of the European settlers, who by 1771 had set up extensive trade in the area, as shown by the day books of early merchants Sampson and George Mathews that record the sale of even luxury items such as silk, hats, silver, and tailor-made suits.[6] Shawnee leaders viewed the white settlements as a violation of the Azgen taboo, and they feared the loss of their hunting lands, which was vital to their survival. Furthermore, they realized it would only be a matter of time before the white settlers crosses the river and occupied their land in present-day Ohio.[5]

By 1774, the Earl of Dunmore, then governor of the colonies of New York and Virginia, decided to raise an army of three thousand to go against the Shawnees in their homeland in present-day Ohio. Half of these men were inducted at Fort Pitt, while the other half assembled at Fort Union, the site of present-day Lewisburg, under the command of General Andrew Lewis. By early October of that year, Lewis' force had marched downstream to the mouth of the Kanawha River, currently the site of Pt. Pleasant, West Virginia, where they fought a famous but indecisive battle against a Shawnee force led by Hokoleskwa, or Cornstalk.[5]:78, 98-99

European settlers were subjected to a number of raids by Native Americans during the colonial period, including a raid on Fort Randolph and later on Fort Donnally, then inhabited by 25 men and 60 women and children. One of the heroic defenders of Fort Donnally was an African American slave named Dick Pointer. Pointer, said to have been nearly 7 feet (2.1 m) tall, defended the log door with Philip Hamman, giving the settlers enough time to awaken and defend themselves. Pointer later addressed the Virginia General Assembly and gave a moving appeal that "in the decline of life" he requested to be freed for his defense of Fort Donnally. Historic accounts differ as to whether the legislature granted his wish. His grave is marked beside Carnegie Hall in the county seat of Lewisburg, and a historical marker stands prominently in the midst of the Lewisburg Cemetery. Pointer’s gun is on permanent display at The Greenbrier Historical Society and John A. North House Museum in Lewisburg.

The Civil War came to the county in mid 1861, and several battles were fought in the area, including Lewisburg in May 1862 and White Sulphur Springs in August 1863. Both battles were Union victories. Greenbrier County became part of the new state of West Virginia, even though the county had voted for secession in 1861 and most of the population supported the Confederacy.

What is claimed[by whom?] to be the oldest golf course in the United States was founded in 1884 just north of White Sulphur Springs by the Montague family.

During the decade prior to World War II, several Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camps were located along the Greenbrier River.

For most of the 20th century, the Meadow River Lumber Company operated the world's largest hardwood sawmill in Rainelle.

During World War II The Greenbrier hotel was used as a hospital, and also an internment center for Axis diplomats who were stranded in the United States during the war. When the war ended, it was returned to its former use as a hotel.

Later, during the Cold War, the Greenbrier served as the site of a secret Congressional bunker, built as part of the United States Continuity of Operations Plan.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,025 square miles (2,650 km2), of which 1,020 square miles (2,600 km2) is land and 4.9 square miles (13 km2) (0.5%) is water.[7] It is the second-largest county in West Virginia by area.

Much of the area of the northern and western parts of the county is either public (Monongahela National Forest), coal land, or private forest, owned by companies such as MeadWestvaco and CSX.

In 2005, Invenergy, LLC of Chicago Illinois announced plans to build the $300 million, 124-turbine Beech Ridge Wind Farm along the tops of several Greenbrier County mountains. The wind farm would produce 186 megawatts of electricity. Development, which was originally expected to begin in late 2007, was stalled when the state Supreme Court agreed to hear the case brought by opponents of the project.[8] Ultimately, The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the developers, clearing the way for construction to begin in the summer of 2009. However, in July of that year, a U.S. District Court in Maryland agreed to hear a case filed by opponents.[9]

Adjacent counties

National protected areas


Historical population
Census Pop.
1790 6,015
1800 4,345 −27.8%
1810 5,914 36.1%
1820 7,041 19.1%
1830 9,006 27.9%
1840 8,695 −3.5%
1850 10,022 15.3%
1860 12,211 21.8%
1870 11,417 −6.5%
1880 15,060 31.9%
1890 18,034 19.7%
1900 20,683 14.7%
1910 24,833 20.1%
1920 26,242 5.7%
1930 35,878 36.7%
1940 38,520 7.4%
1950 39,295 2.0%
1960 34,446 −12.3%
1970 32,090 −6.8%
1980 37,665 17.4%
1990 34,693 −7.9%
2000 34,453 −0.7%
2010 35,480 3.0%
Est. 2014 35,450 [10] −0.1%
U.S. Decennial Census[11]
1790–1960[12] 1900–1990[13]
1990–2000[14] 2010–2014[1]

As of the census[15] of 2000, there were 34,453 people, 14,571 households, and 9,922 families residing in the county. The population density was 34 people per square mile (13/km²). There were 17,644 housing units at an average density of 17 per square mile (7/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 95.23% White, 3.04% Black or African American, 0.34% Native American, 0.19% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.15% from other races, and 1.04% from two or more races. 0.68% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 14,571 households out of which 27.60% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 54.20% were married couples living together, 10.70% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.90% were non-families. 28.60% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.40% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.32 and the average family size was 2.83.

In the county, the population was spread out with 21.60% under the age of 18, 7.70% from 18 to 24, 26.10% from 25 to 44, 26.90% from 45 to 64, and 17.70% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 42 years. For every 100 females there were 92.50 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.80 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $26,927, and the median income for a family was $33,292. Males had a median income of $26,157 versus $19,620 for females. The per capita income for the county was $16,247. About 14.50% of families and 18.20% of the population were below the poverty line, including 23.70% of those under age 18 and 16.00% of those age 65 or over.

Law and government

Like all West Virginia Counties, Greenbrier County is governed by a three-person, elected County Commission. Other elected officers include the Sheriff, County Clerk, Circuit Clerk, Assessor, Prosecuting Attorney, Surveyor, and three Magistrates.


Public schools

Greenbrier County's public schools are operated by the Greenbrier County Board of Education, which is elected on a non-partisan basis. The Superintendent of Schools, who is appointed by the Board, provides administrative supervision for the system. Each school is administered by a Principal and, in some cases, one or more Assistant Principals. The School Board Office is located on Chestnut Street in Lewisburg. Following a trend in West Virginia, schools at the secondary level are consolidated, while elementary schools continue to be located within small communities.

  • Alderson Elementary
  • Crichton Elementary (Formally Crichton Elem./Jr. High)
  • Eastern Greenbrier Middle School (Formally Eastern Greenbrier Junior High School)
  • Frankford Elementary
  • Greenbrier East High School
  • Greenbrier West High School
  • Lewisburg Elementary
  • Rainelle Elementary (Formally Rainelle Elem./Jr. High)
  • Ronceverte Elementary
  • Rupert Elementary (Formally Rupert Elem./Jr. High)
  • Smoot Elementary (Formally Smoot Elem./Jr. High)
  • Western Greenbrier Middle School (Formally Western Greenbrier Junior High School)
  • White Sulphur Springs Elementary

Former Schools

  • Alderson High/Jr. High School
  • Alvon/Neola School (Near White Sulphur Springs)
  • Boling Schoool (Caldwell)
  • Charmco School
  • Crichton High/Jr. High (Quinwood)
  • Crawley School
  • East Rainelle School
  • Frankford High/Jr. High School
  • Greenbrier Church/School (Bingham Mountain)
  • Greenbrier High/Jr.High School (Ronceverte)
  • Lewisburg Intermediate School
  • Lewisburg Elem./Jr. High School (Lewisburg High/Jr./Elem.)
  • Rainelle Christian Academy (RCA)
  • Rainelle High/Jr. High School
  • Renick High/Jr. High School
  • Renick Elementary School
  • Rupert High/Jr. High School
  • Smoot High/Jr. High School
  • White Sulphur Springs High/Jr. High School (Now Greenbrier Episcopal School)
  • Williamsburg High/Jr. High School
  • Williamsburg Elementary School

Private Schools

  • Greenbrier Episcopal School
  • Seneca Trail Academy
  • Renick Christian School
  • Lewisburg Baptist Academy


  • Alternative/Home Schooling (County-wide)
  • Greenbrier Nursing School (Located at Greenbrier East High School)

Colleges and universities



Greenbrier Valley Airport is a single runway airport 3 miles north of Lewisburg, West Virginia. Scheduled flights to Washington Dulles International Airport are provided by Silver Airways (United Express).


Amtrak, the national passenger rail service, provides service to White Sulphur Springs and Alderson under the Cardinal route.

Major highways




Census-designated place

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 10, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "West Virginia: Individual County Chronologies". West Virginia Atlas of Historical County Boundaries. The Newberry Library. 2003. Retrieved August 10, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Eckert, Allan W. (2001). The frontiersmen: a narrative. Ashland, Ky: Jesse Stuart Foundation. ISBN 0-945084-90-0.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>(Note: This reference is a work of historical fiction and therefore contains much speculation and invented quotations.)
  6. Handley, Harry E. (1963), "The Mathews Trading Post", published in The Journal of the Greenbrier Historical Society: Volume 1, Number 1 (Lewisburg, West Virginia: Greenbrier Historical Society, August 1963) Retrieved October 28, 2012
  7. "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Retrieved July 24, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Wolford, Lindsey (2007). "Winds of Change: Supreme Court to Hear Appeal". West Virginia Daily News. 110 (78). pp. 1, 14.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.
  9. Beech Ridge Wind Farm
  10. "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014". Retrieved June 4, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 10, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved January 10, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 10, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 10, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2011-05-14.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

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