The West Virginia. Cyclopedia

Welch, West Virginia

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Count seat of McDowell County, Welch, WV was incorporated in 1894, and named for Issiah A. Welch, a captain in the Confederate Army. Welch, WV is the location of the first memorial building erected in the United States to the memory of the veterans of World War I, and the location of the first municipally-owned parking building erected in the United States.

Weather: Welch, WV

Lodging: Welch, WV Hotels

Welch, WV


McDowell County Schools


McDowell County Public Library



Map of Welch, WV showing streets and highways, and nearby airports, parks, hospitals, buildings, churches, cemeteries, trails and other points of interest; with link to driving directions.

Topo map of Welch, WV and vicinity

Census Data

Population: 2,683
(2000 Census)


Elevation: 1360 feet
Longitude: -81.5847
Latitude: 37.4328

Development of Welch, WV

Downtown Welch in the 1940s

Prior to the arrival of the Norfolk & Western Railway (N&W) to the area in 1891, Welch was located on practically wild lands. In the 1870's, there was but two post offices located in McDowell County -- one at Perryville, and another at "Snake Root."

Most of the lands of the area of present-day Welch were acquired in 1885 by John Henry Hunt and transferred in 1889 to Captain I. A. Welch, J. H. Bramwell and J. H. Juring, who laid out the town, and in 1893 transferred the larger number of lots to the Welch Land and Improvement Company.

The arrival of the railroad gave the town a steady growth and soon stimulated the old life and created a new life in the entire region, which was without bridges and wagon until 1880 and still had little more than bridgle path commmunications in 1891. Land that had been worth $1.00 per acre, increased rapidly in value. The meager exports of furs and ginseng were soon supplanted by vast exports of coal from the vast Flat Top - Pocahontas Coal Field. The simple life of widely separated home was rapidly disturbed by the increasing appearance of the evidences of modern highly-developed community life.

In 1899 the West Virginia Legislature passed an act providing for the establishment of three Miners' Hospitals, which included one, Miner's Hospital No. 1, which was established in Welch, WV, which began providing patient services in January, 1901.

The advent of the N&W railroad determined the removal of the county seat of McDowell County, from Peeryville (now English, WV) to Welch in the 1890's. A commodious and substantial court house was built in Welch in 1894, and an annex added in 1910.