Capital of West Virginia and administrative headquarters of Kanawha County, situated on the Kanawha River, 85 km/53 mi upstream from its junction with the Ohio River; population (2000 est) 53,400. It is the commercial centre of a region that produces coal, natural gas, salt, clay, timber, and oil; it also has major chemical and glass industries. Charleston was incorporated in 1794. The West Virginia state capital moved between Charleston and Wheeling until 1885, when Charleston was made the permanent state capital.
Charleston developed from Fort Lee (1788). The fort was built by Colonel Clendenin, who named the settlement after his father. The town became an important salt exporter in the early 19th century.
The State Capitol (1932) was designed by the US architect Cass Gilbert. It is one of 49 entries on the national register of historic places; others include historic districts, churches, and a theatre. Sunrise Museum with its science hall is a popular tourist attraction.
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State in eastern central USA, bordered to the south and east by Virginia, to the north by Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Maryland, and to the west by Ohio