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Kanawha County Commission

Kanawha County Public Library

Kanawha County Schools

Kanawha County details and statistics from

Kanawha County Census Information from Quickfacts

Office Information

WVU Extension Service
Kanawha County Office
4700 MacCorkle Avenue SE
Suite 101
Charleston, WV 25304

Phone: (Temporarily 304-720-9573) 304-768-1202
Fax: 304-205-7863
Hours: Mon-Fri 8:00-4:00
Driving Directions

About Kanawha County


Kanawha County is in the south central part of West Virginia located east of Huntington and south of Parkersburg and about 118 miles southeast of Columbus, Ohio. It was formed in 1788 from parts of Greenbrier and Montgomery counties (the latter county now in Virginia). The county is named after the major river flowing through the county, the Great Kanawha.

Its present territory is 911 square miles. The county is drained by the Great Kanawha, Elk, and Coal rivers and their tributaries; and the Elk and Coal rivers flow into the Great Kanawha within the borders of the county.

Kanawha County is surrounded by nine adjacent counties:

Roads and Highways

Interstates 79 from the northeast, 77 from the northwest, and 64 from the west intersect at Charleston and merge into one heading from there to the southeast border of the county. The county is also traversed by commercial river transportation on the Great Kanawha, rail connections, and a commercial airport.

Major highways

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Cities, Towns, and Villages

Kanawha County has a population of about 193,559 (2005 estimate). The state capital, county seat, and largest city is Charleston (pop. 53,421). The other major cities and towns are South Charleston (pop. 13,390), St. Albans (pop. 11,567), Cross Lanes (pop. 10,353), Dunbar (pop. 8,154), Nitro (pop. 6,824), and Sissonville (pop. 4,399). Most of the population of Nitro, which is located on the border of Kanawha and Putnam counties, resides in the Kanawha County portion (pop. 5,592) of the city. The smaller communities of the county are Belle (pop. 1,259); Cedar Grove (pop. 862); Chesapeake (pop. 1,643); Clendenin (pop. 1,116); Coal Fork (pop. 1,350); East Bank (pop. 933); Elkview (pop. 1,182); Glasgow (pop.783); Handley (pop. 362); Jefferson (pop. 567); Marmet (pop. 1,693); Pinch (pop. 2,811); Pratt (pop. 551); and Tornado (pop. 1,111). One of the small communities, Montgomery (pop. 1,942), is located on the border of Kanawha and Fayette counties. Most of the population of Montgomery resides in Fayette County, and the Kanawha County portion of the population totals 703. Also within the county, just south of Charleston, is the Kanawha State Forest.


Major employment is in retail, health care and social assistance, finance and real estate, accommodation and food service, administrative support and remedial services, manufacturing, professions and management, construction, wholesale, information, and transportation. General medical and surgical hospital employment is nearly half of those employed in the field of health care and social assistance. Commercial banking employs one-fourth of those in the field of finance and real estate. Most of the accommodation and food service employment is in restaurants. About one-fifth of the professional and management employment is in legal services. Nearly all the information sector employment is in broadcasting and telecommunications. Trucking employment is almost half of that in transportation. Kanawha County is a major world-class site of chemical manufacturing. Half of the county’s manufacturing employment is in the chemical industry and most of that is in the making of basic chemicals. Agricultural chemical manufacturing is another large scale employer. The manufacture of fabricated metal products, machinery, and motor vehicle parts, particularly metal stamped motor vehicle parts, employ almost as many as in the making of chemicals. However, in recent years both the chemical and vehicle parts manufacturing industries have undergone major employment reductions.

Charleston and Kanawha County are the most important centers of the state and this is indicative in areas of employment that are relatively minor in scale for the county but still noticeable and sizable such as hotel employment in the accommodation and food service sector or those employed in arts, entertainment, and recreation. The city and county are a center in the state for spectator sports and also have a noticeable number employed in the performing arts, particularly music. Although newspaper publishing employs few of those in the information sector, those employed work for two of the most important daily newspapers in the state. Charleston is also the center of civic, grant-making, religious, labor, and other organizations which hire over half of those employed in the sector of other services. Education is another minor employer comparatively in the county, but it has a huge workforce since the county is home to the University of Charleston, located in South Charleston directly across the Great Kanawha River from the state capitol complex, and two public schools of higher education. One of the latter is West Virginia State University, a historic black college, located at Institute near Dunbar. The other is the West Virginia University Institute of Technology located at Montgomery of which only a part of its campus is in the Kanawha County portion of the community. Coal mining employment, although insignificant within the county as a whole, is, compared to the rest of the state, a significant component of employment. The proportion of bituminous underground coal mining tonnage to that of surface coal mining is a ratio of 6 to 4. In agriculture there is notably some raising of horses, but the major products are livestock and forage.


As of the census of 2000, there were 200,073 people, 86,226 households, and 55,960 families residing in the county. The population density was 222 people per square mile (86/kmē). There were 93,788 housing units at an average density of 104 per square mile (40/kmē). The racial makeup of the county was 90.46% White, 6.97% Black or African American, 0.21% Native American, 0.85% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.21% from other races, and 1.27% from two or more races. 0.59% of the population were Hispanics or Latinos of any race.

There were 86,226 households out of which 26.50% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 49.00% were married couples living together, 12.30% had a female householder with no husband present, and 35.10% were non-families. 30.80% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.50% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.28 and the average family size was 2.84.

The age distribution was 21.30% under the age of 18, 8.40% from 18 to 24, 28.10% from 25 to 44, 25.60% from 45 to 64, and 16.50% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females there were 90.70 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.10 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $33,766, and the median income for a family was $42,568. Males had a median income of $33,842 versus $24,188 for females. The per capita income for the county was $20,354. About 11.20% of families and 14.40% of the population were below the poverty line, including 20.60% of those under age 18 and 10.50% of those age 65 or over.
[Kanawha County, West Virginia, From Wikipedia, 2008]

Kanawha County Agriculture and Farm Statistics

Agriculture in Kanawha County
Average size of farms: 95 acres
Average value of agricultural products sold per farm: $3101
Average value of crops sold per acre for harvested cropland: $105.71
The value of nursery, greenhouse, floriculture, and sod as a percentage of the total market value of agricultural products sold: 20.31%
The value of livestock, poultry, and their products as a percentage of the total market value of agricultural products sold: 66.46%
Average total farm production expenses per farm: $6882
Harvested cropland as a percentage of land in farms: 10.34%
Irrigated harvested cropland as a percentage of land in farms: 0.29%
Average market value of all machinery and equipment per farm: $15772
The percentage of farms operated by a family or individual: 94.76%
Average age of principal farm operators: 56 years
Average number of cattle and calves per 100 acres of all land in farms: 7.22
Milk cows as a percentage of all cattle and calves: 0.62%
Vegetables: 20 harvested acres
Land in orchards: 5 acres