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.
The city sits atop the Allegheny Plateau, with the more steeply eroded Logan Plateau bordering to the west and the highland Allegheny Mountains lying to the east. Neighboring ridgelines include Flat Top Mountain to the south, Scott Ridge of Shady Spring Mountain to the southeast, Batoff Mountain to the northeast, and Lilly Mountain to the west.
Beckley is contained in the Piney Creek watershed, which flows into the New River National Park and Reserve.