Beckley is a city in and the county seat of Raleigh County, West Virginia, United States. It was founded on April 4, 1838. Beckley was named in honor of John James Beckley, who was the first Clerk of the House of Representatives and the first Librarian of Congress. It was founded by his son, Alfred Beckley (US Army lieutenant and brigadier general of Virginia militia), who was from the District of Columbia.
Although founded in 1838, Beckley existed only on paper at that time, "Alfred Beckley said he "was frequently jeered and laughed at for his Paper Town..." Early in its history, the town was known as Beckley, Raleigh Court House, and, occasionally, Beckleyville.
The town was originally located in Fayette County, Virginia. In 1850 the act of the Virginia legislature creating Raleigh County named Beckley the county seat.
The city is sometimes called the "Smokeless Coal Capital", "The City of Champions" and the "Gateway To Southern West Virginia."
During the presidential primaries of 1960, the vehicles of rivals John F. Kennedy and Hubert Humphrey stopped at the same streetcorner in Beckley. Recognizing each other, the two men got out and chatted briefly.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 9.50 square miles (24.60 km2), of which, 9.49 square miles (24.58 km2) is land and 0.01 square miles (0.03 km2) is water.
Due to its elevation, the climate of Beckley is humid continental (Köppen Dfb), and the city straddles the border between USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 6B and 7A. Summers are warm and humid, usually a few degrees cooler than lower-elevation places within the state, with an average of only 1.2 days of a maximum at or above 90 °F (32 °C) annually. Winters are generally cold and snowy with occasional intervening milder periods and an average of 2.4 nights annually with a minimum of 0 °F (−18 °C) or lower.