Princeton, is a city in and the county seat of Mercer County, West Virginia, United States. The city has often been referred to as the “Jewel of the South” or the “Heart of Mercer County” more recently. The population was 6,432 at the 2010 census. It is part of the Bluefield, WV-VA micropolitan area which has a population of 107,342. The city hosts the Princeton Rays baseball club of the Appalachian League.
In southern West Virginia, in the late 19th century, coal mining and transportation by the emerging technology of the railroads combined to form a new industry. Much of the region's bituminous coal was sent northwest to the Great Lakes, or northeast to the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad's coal piers at Baltimore, or to the world's greatest ice-free port of Hampton Roads in eastern Virginia.
The Chesapeake and Ohio Railway's coal piers were located at Newport News. Across the harbor, the Norfolk and Western Railway's coal piers were located on the Elizabeth River in Norfolk. The eastern-bound coal transported by the C&O and the N&W railroads was highly valued for local use and for steam-powered ships, notably those of the U.S. Navy.