Submitted by Phyllis Slater.
The City of Benwood was originally chartered in 1853, the name derived from reference to the land upon which the city is located as: Ben's Woods", owned by the Benjamin McMechen family. As the city of Wheeling became more densely populated, factories and mills began to locate at points north and south along the river. The advent of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad gave further impetus to industrial expansion.
Benwood's development is directly related to this industrial development. The prime lands along the River's edge have been developed by steel corporations, slag and asphalt companies, and a great portion by the railroad. With the exception of one portion, the residents have built their homes on the hillsides primarily along major roads, and overlooking the valley. At its peak, Benwood could be justly proud of being a thriving industrial community.
The city at one time boasted a newspaper, the "Enterprise", and a bank, which folded. The city also supported a hotel, hospital, funeral home, lumber yard, furniture store and numerous small groceries and dry goods shops.
The first public school operated in the old Methodist Church on Eighth St. in 1874. A brick school was constructed on Water Street in 1882 and the Union High School was built in 1913.
The Volunteer Fire Dept. was organized in 1906 and continues to serve the community today.
Throughout the years, Benwood has had more than its share of devastating floods. The Ohio River, which brought growth to the area, often "took away".. In 1982 the dreams of the townspeople were fulfilled when a million dollar concrete and earthen floodwall was constructed along Water Street in Center Benwood.
Though population steadily declined, Benwood has maintained a community of pride. Today. the economic fate of the city may rest with Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel, but the residents enjoy convenient shopping centers, mass transportation, a community park and pool complex, recreational and fraternal activities.