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Elkins is a city in Randolph County, West Virginia, USA. The community was incorporated in 1890 and named in honor of Stephen Benton Elkins (1841–1911), a U.S. Senator from West Virginia. The population was 7,094 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Randolph County. Elkins is home to Davis and Elkins College and to the Mountain State Forest Festival, held in early October every year.
Before its major development, the area that would become Elkins was known as Leadsville, and was the site of a few scattered homesteads – a place where the local farmers' corn crop was loaded onto boats and floated down the Tygart Valley River. The City of Elkins was developed by U.S. Senators Henry Gassaway Davis (1823–1916) and Stephen Benton Elkins (1841–1911) – and named for the latter – in 1890. (Elkins was Davis' son-in-law.) The two founders developed railroad lines, coal mines, and timbering businesses. Together, they built the West Virginia Central and Pittsburgh Railway into Elkins in 1889, opening a vast territory to industrial development by the late 1890s. After an intense political "war" with nearby Beverly, where the new county courthouse building was burned down in 1897 under suspicious circumstances, Elkins became the county seat in 1899. This was resolved, however, only after multiple referenda, court judgments, and the mobilization of armed bands in both towns. In the end, bloodshed was averted.
In 1904 the new Randolph County Courthouse – designed in the Richardsonian Romanesque style – was completed in Elkins. As the railroad (merged into the Western Maryland Railway in 1905) expanded, Elkins experienced the luxury of passenger train service. In 1930, 18 passenger trains were arriving and leaving Elkins daily. All passenger service was discontinued in 1958.
Where the view of the new town was most delightful and picturesque, Davis and Elkins each built permanent places of residence, known as Graceland (1893) and Halliehurst (1890), respectively.
Today, Elkins has an active economic development authority, chamber of commerce, downtown business organization and numerous social, fraternal and service organizations that sponsor annual events like the Mountain State Forest Festival, which brings thousands of people into the city every year.
As of the census of 2010, there were 7,094 people, 3,038 households, and 1,756 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,068.2 inhabitants per square mile (798.5/km2). There were 3,421 housing units at an average density of 997.4 per square mile (385.1/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 96.5% White, 1.2% African American, 0.2% Native American, 0.8% Asian, 0.2% from other races, and 1.2% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.1% of the population.
There were 3,038 households of which 26.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 40.6% were married couples living together, 12.5% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.8% had a male householder with no wife present, and 42.2% were non-families. 35.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.19 and the average family size was 2.80.
The median age in the city was 39.6 years. 20.9% of residents were under the age of 18; 12.2% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 23.2% were from 25 to 44; 26.1% were from 45 to 64; and 17.6% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 48.0% male and 52.0% female.
As of the census of 2000, there were 7,032 people, 2,988 households, and 1,756 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,207.7 people per square mile (851.1/km²). There were 3,362 housing units at an average density of 1,055.5 per square mile (406.9/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 96.94% White, 0.90% African American, 0.30% Native American, 0.95% Asian, 0.31% from other races, and 0.60% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.77% of the population.
There were 2,988 households out of which 25.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.4% were married couples living together, 11.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 41.2% were non-families. 35.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 15.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.19 and the average family size was 2.83.
In the city the population was spread out with 21.2% under the age of 18, 11.7% from 18 to 24, 25.4% from 25 to 44, 24.0% from 45 to 64, and 17.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females, there were 92.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 86.9 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $26,906, and the median income for a family was $34,291. Males had a median income of $27,012 versus $19,154 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,916. About 14.4% of families and 19.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 25.4% of those under age 18 and 9.6% of those age 65 or over.
Elkins is located at the confluence of the Tygart Valley River and Leading Creek. The average elevation is 2,000 feet (610 m) above sea level. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 3.43 square miles (8.88 km2), all land. Elkins is headquarters for the Monongahela National Forest, a 910,155-acre (368,327 ha) federal reserve encompassing the "High Alleghenies" area to the east of the city.
In 1995, a second edition of The 100 Best Small Towns in America, written by Norman Crampton, featured Elkins among the special places in the United States. Crampton quoted then Editor Emerita of The Inter-Mountain, Eldora Marie Bolyard Nuzum, "You can stand on any street in Elkins and turn in all directions and see forest covered mountains rimming the city. It is unbelievable."
Record weather events include:
Elkins sits at the junction of US 33, US 219, and US 250. Heading west of the city, US 33 is Corridor H, a major four-lane highway connecting to Interstate 79 at Weston. Long-term plans call for Corridor H to be extended further past Elkins eventually to Interstate 81 at Strasburg, Virginia.
Elkins–Randolph County Airport (Jennings Randolph Airfield) (code KEKN) is a regional airport with two large runways, each over 4,000 feet (1,200 m) long with plans for lengthening the runways by at least 500 feet (150 m). The community leaders are planning to expand the facilities at the airport in order to serve the growing need for a regional air service and the increase in federal usage and general aviation activity.
The western terminus of the Allegheny Highlands Rail Trail is in Elkins.
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