The roots of Shinnston date back to 1778…
…when Levi Shinn constructed his log home. The log house, located along Route 19, is the oldest standing structure in North Central West Virginia. It is maintained by the Shinnston Historical Association, which opens the home for tours by the general public.
In 1815, the town was laid out with three streets, running parallel with the river, and with four crossing streets running at right angles to them. The town was incorporated in 1852 as Shinn’s Town by an act of the Virginia legislature, as West Virginia did not yet exist as an independent state. Solomon S. Fleming was elected as the first mayor.
A new charter was secured in 1877 and the town’s name was changed to Shinnston. In 1915, Shinnston’s charter provided for a Mayor-Council form of government. This model remained in place for over 70 years and in 1998, the citizens voted to revise the charter to adopt a City Manager-Council form of local government. That model was implemented on July 1, 1998 and remains in place today.
Shinnston has enjoyed a history of active commerce, with its beginnings built around both grain mills and saw mills. In its early years, the town saw the development of a tannery, wagon makers, an undertaker, mercantile interests, a pottery, and a local newspaper. The railroad came to the area in 1890, and the first bank opened in 1899. From 1906 to 1947 a trolley operated in the area, offering another form of transportation. As is true for much of West Virginia, energy has been a vital component in our city’s history. By the early 1900’s oil wells and gas wells joined coal as major economic forces. Energy generation continues to be a major source of jobs and economic activity today, as evidenced by the existing mines as well as the nearby Harrison Power Station. The city’s economy has also seen a shift to service-oriented businesses and the downtown is filled with thriving shops and retail establishments, filling the needs not only of Shinnston, but of the entire North Harrison region.
Shinnston has also enjoyed a diverse culture…
…of many faiths and denominations. The first chuch was organized in 1786 and held meetings and services in several homes until the construction of the first church building in 1835. Today, the area churches work together, having formed a Council of Churches offering shared services with members of several faiths.
By 1813, the first school was organized with classes taught in a small log cabin. In 1860 a larger building was constructed for use as a town hall and academy. This turned into the first public school in 1865. The first grade school was established in 1895 and Shinnston High School was added in 1907. In 1978, Shinnston and Lumberport High Schools were combined to form Lincoln High School. Over the years these schools have produced many distinguished alumi who have gone on the achieve fame in the fields of athletics, business, literature, art, and higher education.
Shinnston has enjoyed a strong sense of community and community spirit. Over the years residents have been challenged by natural disasters, including the Shinnston tornado, which hit on June 23, 1944. The community has always risen to meet these challenges and that spirit of togetherness continues to drive the community. It is that community pride that has led to the development of the Lowe Public Library, construction of the Clay District Veterans Memorial, the Bice-Ferguson Memorial Museum, and the construction of Ferguson Park, among other examples. For those who want to read more about our community’s history, several books are available at the library. We encourage you to read “A History of the City of Shinnston” by Lena E. Poling, to visit the library, the museum, and the Shinnston High School Alumni Room.