The town of Marlinton sits along the Greenbrier River where it meets Knapps Creek, approximately 64 miles south of Elkins and 40 miles north of Lewisburg on US Route 219. The Seneca Trail, once known as the Great Indian Warpath, ran north and south along the Greenbrier River at this point, following the route that 219 currently takes in the area. This trail was a major part of the Indian trading and military network, connecting native tribes and nations from Alabama to New York.
Two enterprising adventurers, Jacob Marlin and Stephen Sewell, set out west from Frederick County, Virginia, in 1749. These pioneers reportedly “crossed the Allegheny range and followed a mountain stream through the pass north of Beaver Mountain to the mouth of Knapps Creek on the Greenbrier River.” There, they set up camp and became the first official white settlers west of the Allegheny Mountains, across the Continental Divide, to the “western waters” where rivers drained west to the Mississippi, as opposed to east to the Atlantic Ocean.
Not long afterwards, the two were followed by Col. Andrew Lewis, surveying land west of the Allegheny front for the Greenbrier Company. The English government had granted The Greenbrier Company the right to survey 100,000 acres of land, in which immigrants from the old country could settle. On October 6, 1751, Col. Lewis marked two great oak trees as a corner of his survey. These two trees became the “Corner Oaks” and stood marking the corner of Col. Lewis’ survey. The Oaks stood in what became the town of Marlinton in the early part of the century, until one was cut down in the 1920s and the other died in the Great Drought of 1930. The stump of the second tree remained, standing about twelve feet high until it was removed in 1979.
Marlinton was known as Marlin’s Bottom until 1886, when its name was changed to Marlinton. The development of the town was closely linked to the expanding railroad and timber industry in the area around the turn of the century. In 1890, John T. McGraw bought land in the area of the future town, which had been discussed as a logical location to build a Chesapeake & Ohio (C&O) Railway connection. At this point, Marlinton was not yet a town, but plans were laid out and it was advertised as “a place where a town would be built.” To entice the railroad connection to Marlinton, Mr. McGraw and the group of Marlinton investors promised $5,000 toward a new courthouse if the county would move the county seat from Huntersville to Marlinton. In 1891, Marlinton became the county seat.
After years of delays, the Greenbrier Divison of the C&O Railroad was constructed and operational around 1900, hauling lumber being cut by the Greenbrier River Lumber Company, which had invested in land in the Marlinton area in the 1890s. The town quickly grew after the coming of the railroad, as the timber industry in the county boomed. The population of Marlinton jumped from 171 in 1900 to 1,045 in 1910.
Marlinton was first laid out, ass to streets, blocks and lots, in 1891 by O. A. Veazey, C. E. In 1904 A. O. Baxter, C. E., resurveyed the town, making a few minor changes from the Veazey Survey. According to good sources, the Veazey Survey would be the most likely referred to if, by chance, anything pertaining to the Town went through a court of law.
You can stop by Town Hall for a copy of Historic Walking Tour brochure produced by Preserving Pocahontas and the Pocahontas County Historical Society. Visit historic sites around Marlinton including the County Court House, the Opera House, the old Pocahontas Times Print Shop, Marlinton Electric Company, and many more historic sites.
Sources: History of Pocahontas County West Virginia 1981, Pocahontas County Historical Society 2003 Marlinton WV