The Eastern Panhandle is the eastern of the two panhandles in the U.S. state of West Virginia. It is a small stretch of territory in the northeast of the state, bordering Maryland and Virginia. Some sources and regional associations only identify the Eastern Panhandle as being composed of Morgan, Berkeley, and Jefferson Counties. Berkeley and Jefferson Counties are geographically located in the Shenandoah Valley. West Virginia is unusual in having two panhandles, the Eastern Panhandle and the Northern Panhandle.
Berkeley, Hampshire, Hardy, Jefferson, and Morgan counties were part of the Unionist state of West Virginia created in 1863. Shortly after West Virginia gained statehood, Mineral and Grant counties were created from Hampshire and Hardy in 1866.
The Eastern Panhandle includes West Virginia's oldest chartered towns (1762) of Romney and Shepherdstown. The Panhandle also includes West Virginia's two oldest counties: Hampshire (1753) and Berkeley (1772).
The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, now CSX, runs through the panhandle, and was a key transportation link to Washington, D.C. during the Civil War. Harpers Ferry was the site of a U.S. Armory until 1861. The strategic nature of the area influenced its inclusion in West Virginia by the Union Congress.
There has been talk about certain counties in the Eastern Panhandle rejoining Virginia, due primarily to poor economic conditions and perceived neglect from the state government. In 2011, West Virginia state delegate Larry Kump sponsored legislation to allow Morgan, Berkeley, and Jefferson counties to rejoin Virginia by popular vote.
The Eastern Panhandle includes both West Virginia's highest and lowest elevations above sea level: Spruce Knob, 4,863 feet (1,482 m), in Pendleton and Harpers Ferry, 240 feet (73 m), in Jefferson on the Potomac River. The region is separated from the remainder of the state by the Allegheny Front, which separates the Mississippi watershed from that of Chesapeake Bay.
The counties in the Eastern Panhandle are:
- Pendleton County is included in some definitions.
According to the 2010 Census, the eight counties of the Eastern Panhandle had a combined population of 261,041, giving the region 11.75% of West Virginia's population. Berkeley County is the Panhandle's most populous county, with a census 104,169 residents (2010). Berkeley also includes the Panhandle's largest city, Martinsburg, with a 2010 census population of 17,227.
The Eastern Panhandle is West Virginia's fastest-growing region in terms of population and housing. In July 2005, the United States Census Bureau released a list of the top 100 counties according to housing growth. Berkeley County grew 3.95 percent, from 36,365 housing units in 2003 to 37,802 units in 2004. That growth rate was 86th in the nation among the 3,143 United States counties. Jefferson County was not far behind at 88th in the nation. It grew 3.94 percent from 19,381 housing units in 2003 to 20,144 units in 2004.
The majority of the Eastern Panhandle's growing residential developments are located outside city and town boundaries and are not included in the city or town's official population.
NOTE: This list does not include the unincorporated census-designated places of Inwood (pop. 2,954) and Fort Ashby (pop. 1,380). The U.S. Census Bureau does not release estimates for CDPs. The population figures listed are from the 2010 census.
|MSA/CMSA||Population (2000)||WV Counties|
|Cumberland, MD-WV MSA||102,008||Mineral|
|Hagerstown-Martinsburg, MD-WV MSA||222,771||Berkeley, Morgan|
|Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV MSA||4,796,183||Jefferson|
|Washington-Baltimore, DC-MD-VA-WV CSA||7,538,385||Berkeley, Jefferson|
|Winchester, VA-WV MSA||102,997||Hampshire|
|Berkeley||Norborne Berkeley, Baron de Botetourt||February 1772||Martinsburg|
|Grant||Ulysses Simpson Grant||February 14, 1866||Petersburg|
|Hampshire||County of Hampshire, England||December 13, 1753||Romney|
|Hardy||Samuel Hardy||December 10, 1785||Moorefield|
|Jefferson||Thomas Jefferson||January 8, 1801||Charles Town|
|Mineral||minerals located in the county||February 1, 1866||Keyser|
|Morgan||General Daniel Morgan||February 9, 1820||Berkeley Springs|
|Pendleton||Edmund Pendleton||December 4, 1787||Franklin|
Places of worship
- Hampshire County is home to two religious learning centers: the Buddhist Bhavana Society Forest Monastery and Retreat Center in High View and the Global Country of World Peace's Transcendental Meditation Learning Center and Retreat in Three Churches.
Grant, Hampshire, Hardy, Mineral, and Pendleton counties belong to the geographical region of West Virginia known as the Potomac Highlands of West Virginia.
- List of historic sites in Berkeley County, West Virginia
- List of historic sites in Hampshire County, West Virginia
- List of historic sites in Hardy County, West Virginia
- List of historic sites in Morgan County, West Virginia
- "WV Dept. of Commerce". Retrieved October 29, 2015.
- Jenni Vincent (January 25, 2011). "Secession bill planned to 'stir pot'". The Journal. Retrieved February 10, 2015.
- "Eastern Panhandle Modern Map". The West Virginia Encyclopedia. West Virginia Humanities Council. Retrieved January 24, 2015.
- Williams, B.H.; Fridley, H.M (1923). Soil Survey of Hardy and Pendleton Counties, West Virginia. United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved January 24, 2015.
- "Eastern Panhandle". The West Virginia Encyclopedia. West Virginia Humanities Council. November 20, 2010. Retrieved January 24, 2015.
- "Martinsburg (city), West Virginia". State and County QuickFacts. United States Census Bureau. December 4, 2014. Archived from the original on March 27, 2015. Retrieved January 24, 2015.