History & Heritage
Summers County was established on February 27, 1871, from segments of Fayette, Greenbrier, Mercer, and Monroe counties. It has a rich history that dates back to the early 1700s when European settlers began exploring the region. The area was originally inhabited by Native American tribes. The earliest European exploration of the region was led by pioneers such as John Peter Salling and John Van Metre, who ventured into the New River Valley in the mid-1700s.
The first permanent European settlers arrived in Summers County in the late 1700s. Among them were families seeking fertile land and opportunities for a better life. They established small settlements along the New River and its tributaries.
In the early 1800s, more settlers from Virginia, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina came to the region, attracted by the abundance of natural resources and the fertile soil of the river valleys. These pioneers primarily engaged in subsistence farming, raising crops such as corn, wheat, and vegetables, and keeping livestock for their sustenance.
The mid-1800s brought significant changes to Summers County with the advent of the railroad. The Chesapeake & Ohio (C&O) Railroad was built through the region, connecting the Atlantic Coast to the Ohio River and the Midwest. This railway construction facilitated the transportation of timber, coal, and other resources from the county to larger markets, opening up new economic opportunities for the area.
The arrival of the railroad also brought increased industrialization, attracting new industries and workers to Summers County. Small towns and villages sprang up along the railway line, contributing to the growth of the county's population and economy.