The story of Grant County long pre-dates the 151 years of history it has experienced bearing that name. Created out of the monumental conflict known as the Civil War, the county bears the name of one of the war's most illustrious warriors, Ulysses Simpson Grant, who was to become the 18th president of the United States.
Within its 478 square miles of territory one finds fertile valleys along the South Branch of the Potomac River and its myriad of smaller streams. These valleys drew the earliest settlers to the area. But the level, fertile areas were soon claimed and the more typical settler was the hill-farmer, struggling to wrest his existence from a more harsh land.
In sharp contrast to the valleys were the forests , a barrier to early settlers, which became the most accessible natural resource. Early records of the logging industry reflect they were harvesting timber of a size and on a scale that is now hard to imagine.
What is documented of the Indian peril was severe enough that George Washington and others planned a string of forts along the fringes of the settlements to which settlers could retreat for protection. Fort George near Petersburg, Fort Peterson, near North Mill Creek, and Fort Shobe, near the junction of North and South Mill Creek are among those for which sketchy information is known.
Land records exist for the area around Bayard as early as 1736 and Petersburg was settled in 1745. Many other towns sprang up as the population continued to grow; Bismarck (1817), Gormania (1849), Mount Storm (1773), Maysville (1831), Williamsport (1847).
The firing on Fort Sumter, in Charleston, started the Civil War and ignited local tensions as well. The area now known as West Virginia was, at the time, a portion of Virginia. Locally, some joined regular Confederate and Union units immediately. Others joined Home Guard or Ranger units and stayed near home. The most famous of these local units was McNeills' Rangers. Petersburg contributed more men to the Confederacy that people generally assumed, considering its Union ties during much of the war.
Union Colonel James A. Mulligan, from Illinois, along with his 23rd Illinois troops and more from Ohio, Pennsylvania and western Virginia, built the 1863 fort which overlooks Petersburg. During an expedition to the area in 1864, Major General Jubal A. Early praised the fortifications and commended the efforts of the men. The fort is still regarded as one of the best preserved fortifications in West Virginia. There were no major engagements around Petersburg during the war, but constant tension seemed to pervade the community due to its close proximity to both sides.
Grant County, carved out of Hardy County, came into being on February 14, 1866 and Maysville became the first county seat. It remained the county seat until 1872 when, by popular vote, the records were moved to Petersburg.
In the late 1800's and early 1900's, Grant County prospered based on the strong values of its people and the wise use of resources at hand. Logging and the forest industry continued to be a pillar of the economy. The tanning industry, based on the raw material of bark was also very successful and Gormania once boasted of having the largest tannery in the world. The Petersburg tannery continued to operate until 1974. In 1893, Bayard became the first Grant County town to incorporate followed by Petersburg in 1910. The days of the great tanneries are over but logging, cattle, and the poultry industries continue to thrive throughout the area.
The site of Petersburg was first settled by German immigrants around 1745, making it one of the first settlements in the South Branch Valley, at a time when most of what is now West Virginia was still a virgin wilderness. The city was named for Jacob Peterson, who owned and operated the first general merchandising store in the community.
The community grew slowly for a time, but gradually became the trading center for this section of what was to become, in 1786, Hardy County, West Virginia. In 1833 the community acquired its first post office, which was given the name Lunice Creek. Grant County came into being in 1866 and Petersburg (or Lunice Creek) became the county seat in 1870.
The new county was named for victorious Union General Ulysses S. Grant and, for the next 50 years, this community was generally known as Grant County Court House. A permanent Grant County Courthouse was constructed here in 1879, and subsequently remodeled in 1909. The town was officially incorporated in 1910 as Petersburg, taking back its original name designation, with R. W. Baker as the first Mayor.
The Grant County Circuit Court was petitioned on July 14, 1910, to be incorporated and subsequently approved. According to that certificate, the city's original boundaries enclosed 373 acres and 73 "square rods". Boundary markers included a "large elm tree in a line of Tom Welton . . . to a gate post on the west side of the road leading to Tom Welton's". D. P. Hendrickson, circuit clerk, signed the certificate.
Grant County is located in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia, in the midst of one of the most picturesque areas of the country - the Potomac Highlands. Here, expanses of lush hardwood forests provide exquisite autumnal shows. Striking natural formations are skirted by tributaries of the Potomac River. Rich in distinctive history the area is known for its neighborly residents and magnificent scenery and you get a community that embodies the idea of "home sweet home."
Make Grant County Your Tourist Destination
How better to describe Grant County and its vast array of leisure-time activities. The range of opportunities for "rest and relaxation" is astounding. With the advent of each season, you can choose from many diversions that promise fun for the whole family! Snow skiing, water skiing, spelunking, hiking, canoeing and fishing are but a few of the pursuits that the area boasts. "Leaf lookers" will also be impressed with the breathtaking fall foliage that envelops the mountains surrounding Grant County!
The Grant County Parks and Recreation Department takes great pride in making available a wide range of recreational activities. It maintains the eight county parks and oversees a well developed organized sports programs for all ages. Among the offerings are little league football, basketball, baseball, wrestling and soccer. The parks feature amenities including lighted tennis courts, ball fields and a municipal swimming pool.
Nearby recreational opportunities include Canaan Valley, Black Water Falls, Spruce Knob, Seneca Rocks, Monongahela National Forrest, fishing, boating, hiking, camping, rock climbing, swimming, golfing and winter sports.
Dolly Sods Wilderness Area is another portion of the Monongahela National Forest which boasts breathtaking vistas and demanding hiking trails. Fisherman and water sports enthusiasts will certainly consider this area of West Virginia "almost heaven," thanks to the abundance of opportunities to enjoy their favorite diversions. The North Fork of the South Branch River is home to the best trout fishing in West Virginia and is stocked by two local fish hatcheries. In addition to trout, anglers can also catch black bass.
More adventurous souls will want to take advantage of the excellent white water tubing and canoeing available on the South Branch.
Let's go spelunking! In Grant County, there are several commercial and non-commercial caverns which allow exploration. These caverns offer everyone the opportunity to view unique geologic formations that had their beginnings nearly 225 million years ago.
Do you prefer soaring? If so, this is the place for you! A "Wave Camp," sponsored by a nearby soaring association, is held annually in Petersburg and attracts pilots from other states and foreign countries. The Allegheny Mountains form the primary East Coast wave generator, which makes for great soaring when coupled with the distinctive conditions around the Dolly Sods Wilderness Area plateau. A ridge near the plateau runs from Pennsylvania to Tennessee and has been instrumental in creating world record distance flights.
Perhaps the age-old sport of hunting appeals to you. Grant County is known throughout the region for its variety of game and fowl. Enthusiast can hunt bear, deer, squirrel, turkey, grouse and quail-ample population of each promise excitement during the hunting seasons.
Maybe your idea of fun is to relax-if so, just absorb the beauty of your unique surroundings. With its majestic peaks and sparkling waters, this area is a haven to those seeking peace and quiet. However, when the days begin to shortening and summer slips into fall, these same majestic peaks explode in a blaze of brilliant color. The hardwood forests that cover the mountains produce an autumnal show that rivals the much-acclaimed fall foliage of the New England states. As you can see, Grant County is a recreational wonderland for all seasons and all interests. Come and experience the unique diversions that our area offers-you'll discover the rest and relaxation or adventurous activities tailor made for you!
Less than 3 hours from major airports in Washington DC, Baltimore and Pittsburgh. Surrounded by the Monongahela National Forest and Dolly Sods Wilderness Area, and known for its warm hospitality, Grant County evokes fond memories in the minds of thousands of visitors each year.
Scenic Motorcycle Tours
Spring Mountain Festival
The Spring Mountain Festival began in 1992 and is held the last weekend in April of each year. It is hosted by the Grant County Chamber of Commerce. Most of the events are held at the Tri-County Fairgrounds and feature activities for all ages. Food, craft, and flea market vendors are set up from Friday afternoon thru Sunday afternoon. A variety of free entertainment is available. The weekend features activities that include a parade, motorcycle, and car shows, banjo and fiddle contests, 5 & 10K runs and walks, an much more. Miss Spring Mountain Festival Queen is crowned to reign during the weekend.
4th of July Celebration
The Fourth of July celebration in Petersburg has become a true American tradition. Local residents as well as tourists come to celebrate each year. The Grant County Parks and Recreation hosts the event that draws large crowds beginning with the parade down Main Street in the morning which ends at the city park. The Petersburg City Park is filled with food and craft vendors while the event stage hosts great entertainment. Early evening will find all PHS Alumni gathering at the Gary Michael building for a PHS Homecoming. The evening events move to the Petersburg High School football field for more fabulous entertainment, parachute jumps, and the 4th of July wouldn't be complete without fireworks. The fireworks display in Petersburg is one of the largest in the area. This event is made possible through grants and donations by local merchants and residents. This is definitely an event you will want to take in to rekindle old friendships or make new ones.
For more than 85 years the Tri-County Fair has been a part of the traditions and history of the South Branch Valley and the counties of Hardy, Grant and Pendleton. Over the years expansions and improvements have been made to make the Tri-County Fair one of the best in the state. The fairgrounds contain barns and a show area for 4-H and FFA members to show and sell sheep, cattle, and swine. The grounds boasts of a wonderful grandstand with seating for approximately 2200 people with two different stages on which entertainers can perform as well as where the annual pageant to crown Miss Tri-County Fair is held.
A fair just wouldn't be a fair without rides, games, and food. The midway is where you will find all of this. No one ever leaves the fair hungry. The fair takes a lot of work for a short time of fun. Many dedicated volunteers make this all possible. See you at the Fair!! Visit the Tri-County Fair online at: www.tricountyfairwv.com
Directions and Map from Your Door to Grant County (provided by Google)
Download Map 1 of Grant County, WV
Map 2 of Grant County
Map of the City of Petersburg
Head south on Interstate 79 to Interstate 68 at Morgantown, WV. Travel on I-68 to State Route 42 South at Friendsville, MD, to the intersection with State Route 219, travel 219 South through the Deep Creek Lake area and through Oakland, MD.
There, you will pick up Route 135 to Route 560, which will intersect with Route 50 at Gorman, Maryland. Turn left on to Route 50 East. You are crossing the North Branch of the Potomac River and entering Almost Heaven, West Virginia and Grant County! Travel on Route 50 East until you reach the intersection with West Virginia State Route 42 at Mt. Storm, WV. Turn right on to WV Route 42 South and enjoy the ride through the mountain top, and descend down into the valley. Follow Route 42 until it ends in Petersburg.
From Washington and Baltimore
Head west on Interstate 66 to Interstate 81. Then take I-81 south for 3.2 miles exiting on Route 55 West. Follow 55W through Hardy county to Moorefield. At the light in Moorefield, turn left on Route 220 South. Follow 220 into Petersburg.
Head north on Interstate 79 North to Route 33 East. Follow 33E to Seneca Rocks turning left onto Route 55/28 East to Petersburg.
Head west on Interstate 64 to Interstate 81 North and take Route 33 West at Harrisonburg, Virginia. Follow Route 33 to Franklin, West Virginia then turn right onto Route 220 North. Follow 220N to Petersburg.