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Fairmont is a city in Marion County, West Virginia, United States. The population was 18,704 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Marion County.
Prior to the founding of Fairmont, the land that would become Marion County was part of Monongalia and Harrison County. In the 1700s, the earliest development of this area consisted of subsistence farming settlements. In 1789, Boaz Fleming, a Revolutionary War veteran, migrated to this area and purchased a 254-acre farm from Jonathan Bozarth. Oral history indicates that in 1808, Fleming made his annual trek to Clarksburg to pay his brother's Harrison County taxes. While in Clarksburg, Fleming attended a social gathering that included his cousin, Dolley Madison, wife of President James Madison. Fleming complained to Mrs. Madison about having to travel over a hundred miles each year from his home to pay his Monongalia County taxes and his brother's Harrison County taxes. Mrs. Madison supposedly suggested that he create his own county to save him all that travel. In 1814, Fleming circulated a petition to do precisely that, naming the proposed county Madison County, in honor of Dolley and James Madison.
Milford (now Rivesville) was the only town within the borders of Fleming's proposed county, so Fleming decided to make Milford the seat of Madison County. However, Milford's citizens preferred to remain part of Monongalia County. As a result, Fleming's petition failed to gain sufficient support to be presented to the Virginia General Assembly. Fleming then focused on creating a new town near his farm, which was located on the west side of the Monongahela River. In 1817, Fleming's sons—William and David—began to clear land on part of their father's farm to make way for the new town; this part of the farm would later become downtown Fairmont. In 1819, a road was built from Clarksburg to Morgantown. Fleming's new town was about halfway between the two cities, making it a good resting point. The town was incorporated as Middletown on January 19, 1820. It is unknown if the town was called Middletown because of its location midway between Clarksburg and Morgantown or because Fleming's first wife, Elizabeth Hutchinson, was originally from Middletown, Delaware.
The current borders of Marion County were established in 1842, and Middletown was named the county's seat. At that time, William Haymond, Jr. suggested that the town's name be changed to Fairmont because the town had a beautiful overlook of the Monongahela River, giving it a "fair mount." The Borough of Fairmont was incorporated in 1843 by the Virginia General Assembly.
Many of the first buildings in Fairmont were poorly constructed. By 1852—little more than 30 years after the city's founding—a large portion of Fairmont was reported to be run-down and dilapidated. Reports from 1873 indicate that these buildings had continued to fall into disrepair. On April 2, 1876, a fire destroyed a large portion of the city's business district, as well as many houses in the area. The continuing dilapidation of the city's buildings may have contributed to the fire; the large number of coal mines under Fairmont may have also played a role.
Between 1891 and 1901—in a span of only 10 years—Fairmont's population had increased from 1,000 to 7,000. The City of Fairmont was chartered in 1899; as a result of the charter, the city absorbed the surrounding towns of Palatine (also known as East Side) and West Fairmont. By 1901, Fairmont was an important commercial center. Many railroads—including the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad on its way from Cumberland, MD to Wheeling, WV—traveled through the city. By this time, Fairmont was also the leading center of the coal trade industry in northern West Virginia, employing some 10,000 workers in the coal mines around Fairmont.
The Tygart Valley River and the West Fork River join in Fairmont to form the Monongahela River. Buffalo Creek, a tributary of the Monongahela River, flows through the northern part of the city.
According to the US Army Corp of engineers, Fairmont, West Virginia, is the port city farthest from the ocean (2,085 miles) via an inland waterway.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 9.00 square miles (23.31 km2), of which, 8.62 square miles (22.33 km2) is land and 0.38 square miles (0.98 km2) is water.
Fairmont has a humid continental climate (Köppen Dfa) with very warm summers and freezing winters – although it is not uncommon during winter for warm air from the Gulf of Mexico to raise temperatures above 50 °F or 10 °C, which occurs on average six times each January and over eight in December and February. In contrast, when very cold air from Canada moves into West Virginia temperatures can go below 0 °F or −17.8 °C, which can be expected during 3.2 mornings each winter, but which occurred on twelve mornings during the extremely cold January 1977, whose average temperature of 16.0 °F or −8.9 °C was the coldest month on record by 4.0 °F or 2.2 °C. Despite the abundant precipitation throughout the year, the relative dryness of cold air means that most precipitation is rain even during the winter: the most snowfall in a month being 46.5 inches (1.18 m) is November 1950, and the most in a season 77.4 inches (1.97 m) between July 1950 and June 1951. The least snow in a season has been 12.0 inches (0.30 m) between July 1918 and June 1919, whilst the wettest calendar year has been 1956 with 58.12 inches (1,476.2 mm) and the driest – as with all of West Virginia – 1930 with 26.25 inches (666.8 mm). The hottest temperature has been 108 °F (42.2 °C) on August 8, 1918, and the coldest −21 °F (−29.4 °C) on January 21, 1994.
Fairmont is located in the North-Central region of the state, along West Virginia's I-79 High Tech Corridor. Major highways include:
Fairmont Municipal Airport (Frankman Field) is a public use airport located two nautical miles (4 km) southwest of the central business district of Fairmont. It is owned by the Fairmont-Marion County Regional Airport Authority.
At the 2010 census, there were 18,704 people, 8,133 households and 4,424 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,169.8 inhabitants per square mile (837.8/km2). There were 9,200 housing units at an average density of 1,067.3 per square mile (412.1/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 88.9% White, 7.5% African American, 0.2% Native American, 0.6% Asian, 0.4% from other races, and 2.3% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.4% of the population.
There were 8,133 households of which 24.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 37.7% were married couples living together, 12.5% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.2% had a male householder with no wife present, and 45.6% were non-families. 36.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.16 and the average family size was 2.83.
The median age was 36.8 years. 18% of residents were under the age of 18; 16.2% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 25% were from 25 to 44; 24.4% were from 45 to 64; and 16.5% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 48.2% male and 51.8% female.
At the 2000 census, there were 19,097 people, 8,447 households and 4,671 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,438.5 per square mile (941.7/km2). There were 9,755 housing units at an average density of 1,245.6 per square mile (481.0/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 90.16% White, 7.26% African American, 0.26% Native American, 0.61% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.20% from other races, and 1.49% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.82% of the population.
There were 8,447 households of which 21.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 40.2% were married couples living together, 11.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 44.7% were non-families. 36.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 16.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.16 and the average family size was 2.83.
18.4% of the population were under the age of 18, 14.9% from 18 to 24, 24.1% from 25 to 44, 22.2% from 45 to 64, and 20.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females, there were 87.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 83.3 males.
The median household income was $25,628 and the median family income was $37,126. Males had a median income of $27,944 vand females $20,401. The per capita income was $16,062. About 12.6% of families and 20.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 22.0% of those under age 18 and 9.7% of those age 65 or over.
Fairmont has a Council-manager government, whereby the mayor serves as chairman of the city council and the city manager takes care of the day-to-day operations. The current mayor, Ronald J. (Ron) Straight was elected to a two-year term as Mayor in January 2013.
Fairmont Senior High School (FSHS) is an historic secondary school, listed on the National Register of Historic Places on March 22, 2002. Architect William B. Ittner, who is responsible for over three dozen entries in the National Register, designed the school in the late 1920s. The school's architectural classification is Colonial Revival, with a stone foundation, brick walls, and asphalt shingle roofing.
Fairmont State University is a public university with an approximate enrollment of 7,700 students. The institution offers master's degrees in business, education, teaching, criminal justice, and nursing, in addition to 90 baccalaureate and 50 associate degrees. Originally named Fairmont Normal School, the college was located on the corner of Fairmont Avenue and Second Street and moved to its present location in 1917.
Pricketts Fort is a 22-acre (8.9 ha) West Virginia state park and site of an historic fort built to defend early European settlers from raids by hostile Native Americans. The feuds were generally over territory the settlers appropriated following the Treaty of Fort Stanwix (1768).
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