Belington, settled on the banks of the beautiful Tygart River, offers residents and visitors the perfect combination of the tranquility of the town’s natural beauty, along with the ambiance of friendly, small-town life. The town is situated at an elevation of 1,698 feet above sea level on the western slopes of Laurel Mountain in beautiful Barbour County, West Virginia. The population of 1,804 according to the 2020 census, make their homes in an area of approximately 2.13 square miles.
Belington was founded in 1766–70. Originally it was known as the Barker Settlement, after Elias Barker, who had settled there with his brother William Barker. Barker’s grant of 1,400 acres, in 1781, comprises the present city area.
About 1785, it was called Yeagers, taking its name from a settler, George Yeager, and his sons. In 1855, it took its current name, Bealington, named for the Jewish merchant, John Bealin, who opened a store on Beverly-Fairmont Road. Bealin subsequently moved to Kansas, and his building was burned during the Civil War. It is not known when the spelling of the name was changed. The land on the east side of Tygart’s Valley River was incorporated as Belington, August 22, 1894.
In 1897, the area on the west side of the Tygart was incorporated as Alston. In 1903, the people of Belington tried to have the county seat moved from Philippi to Belington and failed. Then, in 1906, Belington and Alston joined to form present-day Belington.
The first land battles of the Civil War took place in the Tygart Valley of present-day West Virginia. Belington was the site of one of the longest and most decisive battles of the Tygart Valley Campaign. From July 7-11, 1861, Generals George B. McClellan (USA) and Robert S. Garnett (CSA) engaged their troops in a battle at Laurel Hill Battlefield that ultimately resulted in the first Civil War casualty involving a general, when Garnett was killed at Corrick’s Ford.
The Battle of Laurel Hill, also known as the Battle of Laurel Mountain or Belington, began on July 7, 1861. In June 1861, Southern troops had retreated south after their loss at the Battle of Philippi. Confederate commander General Robert S. Garnett had seized a key mountain pass and set up his defenses at the foot of Laurel Mountain, located in eastern Barbour County. On July 6, General George B. McClellan ordered General Thomas A. Morris to advance from Philippi to Belington with about 5,000 Union troops. On July 7, they attacked Garnett’s men in a series of skirmishes. The two sides fought for the next five days. In the end, the Confederates were overrun.
On July 12, Garnett learned of another Confederate defeat at nearby Rich Mountain in Randolph County and pulled his men back to the Cheat River. Garnett was killed the following day at the Battle of Corrick’s Ford. He was the first Civil War general on either side to die in combat. Each side suffered around 70 casualties.
The Union Army’s victories at Laurel Hill, Rich Mountain, and Corrick’s Ford in July 1861 helped place Western Virginia in Northern hands for the rest of the war. Seizure of important transportation routes made it difficult to supply Confederate units throughout the conflict. The Union presence also ensured the safety of leaders who met in Wheeling to launch a new state—destined to become West Virginia on June 20, 1863. Virginia was split in two, and a government loyal to the Union was created as a model for other border states.
Belington is a small but beautiful destination that is worth a visit. From breathtaking outdoor pastimes including swimming, kayaking, camping, fishing, and hunting to historic buildings and battlefields, to a wide variety of fun activities, cultural, religious, and civic events throughout the year, there is always something to do and see!
The Bernard E. Wilmoth House in Belington is a historic house listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Wilmoth House was constructed by Bernard E. Wilmoth between 1911 and 1913. It is an excellent example of a Queen-Anne-style house built on the fringe of the Victorian Era and the American Arts and Crafts Movement.
Golden Rule Company building- This beautiful, three-story brick building, which was built in 1902, has served as a community grocery, hardware store, and department store. During its heyday, the motto of the Golden Rule was “Everything for Everyone.” The building is a significant reminder of the commercial boom of the area in the early to mid-1900s.
West Virginia Central – The state-owned West Virginia Central Railroad (WVC), operated by the Durbin & Greenbrier Valley, is one of the Mountain State’s top tourist attractions. Thousands of visitors travel to the hills of West Virginia to experience some of the best scenery in the eastern United States, riding behind more than a 100-year-old steam locomotive.
Audra State Park – A heavily wooded area crossed by the Middle Fork River, is a popular destination for families. Boating, swimming, camping, hiking, and geocaching are just some of the activities that can be enjoyed.
Laurel Hill Battlefield – Site of the first land battles of America’s Civil War. Union forces ousted the Confederate army and protected important turnpikes, securing safe passage to Wheeling for the founding fathers to plan the statehood of WV. In fleeing to Beverly, Confederate General Garnett was the first general to die in the Civil War. An annual battle reenactment is staged each year in July. The Battlefield is open to the public year-round and walking trails are marked with interpretive signage.
Teter Creek Lake Wildlife Management Area – Located about 6 miles northeast of Belington, it is situated on 137 acres of sloping terrain along the shores of Teter Creek Lake. The area is known for hunting opportunities including deer, grouse, raccoon, turkey, and waterfowl. Fishing opportunities on the 35-acre Teter Creek Lake include largemouth bass, bluegill, channel catfish, tiger musky, and stocked trout. Only electric-powered motors are allowed on boats on Teter Creek Lake. Rustic camping is available with 20 sites for tents or trailers. A boat ramp and handicapped fishing trail are provided.
Barbour County Fair – The Barbour County Fair is a long-running tradition for the community dating back to 1975 that has many of its own traditions. With loads of livestock and agricultural exhibits, competitive events, rides entertainment and more, there is something for everyone!