1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Wheeling

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WHEELING, a city and the county-seat of Ohio county, West Virginia, U.S.A., on the east bank of the Ohio river, at the mouth of Wheeling Creek, 66 m. (by rail) S.W. of Pittsburg. Pop. (1890) 34,522; (1900) 38,878, of whom 1066 were negroes, and 5461 were foreign-born, including 3106 Germans and 876 Irish, (1910, census) 41,641. Area, 3.2 sq. m. Wheeling is served by the Baltimore & Ohio, the Pennsylvania and the Wheeling & Lake Erie railways, by the belt line of the Wheeling Terminal Company and by interurban electric lines. Wheeling is the largest city in West Virginia, and commercially the most important place on the Ohio river between Pittsburg and Cincinnati. It is built on a narrow strip of bottom land, between the river and steep hills, at an elevation of about 640 ft. above tidewater. Between the mainland and Wheeling (formerly Zane's) Island, which forms a part of the city, there are a suspension bridge, which has a span of 1010 ft., and a steel bridge, and from the island across the back river channel there are two bridges to the Ohio shore, one from the middle of the island to Bridgeport on which the Old National Road crosses the river, and the other from the northern end of the island to Martin's Ferry, Ohio. A fifth bridge connects Wheeling with Bellaire, Ohio. Wheeling has a public library, containing 23,261 volumes in 1909. Near the city is the Mount de Chantal Academy (Roman Catholic) for girls, and in Wheeling is Linsly Institute, a secondary school for boys. The principal public buildings are the Custom-House and Post-Office, the City Hall, a High School, a Y.M.C.A. building and a Scottish Rite Cathedral. In the city are a City Hospital (private, 1890) and the Wheeling Hospital (under the Sisters of St Joseph, 1853). On the National Road there is a monument to Henry Clay; and in the City Hall Square is a Soldiers' Monument. By reason of its situation on the Ohio river Wheeling is an important shipping and distributing centre, and it has various important manufacturing interests. Its factory products were valued in 1905 at $23,297,475. The chief industry is the manufacture of iron and steel, which in 1905 gave employment to more than 34% of the city's wage-earners, and yielded more than 46% of the total value of its products. The manufacture of nails, begun here in 1849, was for many years of great importance. Other products in 1905 were slaughtering and meat products, $1,812,348; malt liquors, $1,541,185; tobacco and cigars (especially stogies), $1,161,594; foundry and machine shop products, $709,376; lumber and planing mill products, $685,861; pickles, preserves and sauces, $676,437; glass, $508,145; and pottery. Glass was first manufactured here in 1821. Coal is found in abundance in the surrounding region, and also natural gas, which is much used as fuel in the manufacture of iron, steel and glass.

The first settlement here was made in 1770 by Colonel Ebenezer Zane (1747–1811), and his brothers, Jonathan (one of the founders of Zanesville, Ohio) and Silas, who in the autumn of that year made their way to this point from their home in Virginia, and took possession of claims at the mouth of Wheeling Creek. Other settlers came soon afterward, and in 1774 a strong stockade fort was erected within the present limits of Wheeling—at the top of Main Street hill. Until 1776 this fort was called Fort Fincastle in honour of Lord Dunmore, Viscount Fincastle, governor of Virginia from 1771 to 1776. After 1776 it was called Fort Henry, in honour of Patrick Henry. During this period the Indians were hostile, and the settlers were frequently forced to take refuge in the stockade. On the 1st of September 1777 the fort was attacked by a large force of Indians and 15 of the whites were killed; during this attack, when the ammunition of the defenders had failed, Elizabeth Zane (c. 1759–1847), a sister of Ebenezer, brought under fire a keg of powder from a house sixty yards from the fort. In September 1782 the fort was unsuccessfully besieged for two days by a force of about 40 British regular soldiers and about 250 Indians. The town was laid out by Colonel Zane in 1793, was incorporated in 1806, and was chartered as a city in 1836. It was designated as the capital of the "restored government of Virginia" in 1861, after the secession of Virginia at the beginning of the Civil War, and was the capital of West Virginia from 1863 to 1869, and again from 1875 until May 1885. The name "Wheeling" is a corruption of an Indian word, of uncertain meaning, sometimes translated as "the place of the head."