Morgantown is a city in and the county seat of Monongalia County, West Virginia, United States, on the banks of the Monongahela River. Part of the Pittsburgh Tri-State region, Morgantown is the largest city in North-Central West Virginia, and is the principal city of the Morgantown, West Virginia Metropolitan Statistical Area. It is best known as the home both of West Virginia University and of a one-of-a-kind, experimental personal rapid transit system.
Morgantown is closely tied to the Anglo-French struggle for this territory. Until the Treaty of Paris in 1763, what is now known as Morgantown was greatly contested among settlers and Native Americans, as well as the English and the French. The treaty decided the issue in favor of the English, but Indian fighting continued almost to the beginning of the American Revolution.
Zackquill Morgan and his brother David entered the area of Virginia that would become Morgantown in about 1767, although others such as Thomas Decker are recorded as attempting settlements in the area earlier or at about the same time. As well, several forts were built in the area during this time: Fort Pierpont near the Cheat River, in 1769; Fort Coburn, near Dorsey’s Knob, in 1770. Fort Morgan, at the present site of Morgantown, in 1772; Fort Dinwiddle, north several miles at Stewartstown, in 1772; Fort Martin, several miles north on the Monongahela River, in 1773; Fort Burris in the present-day Suncrest area of Morgantown, in 1774; and Fort Kern in the present-day Greenmont area of Morgantown, in 1774, in addition to other, smaller forts.
Historic warehouse in Wharf District, converted to restaurant during late-1990s/early-2000s riverfront refurbishing.Zackquill Morgan settled the area about 1772 by establishing a homestead near present-day Fayette Street and University Avenue. Morgan fought in both the French and Indian War and the American Revolutionary War, rising to the rank of colonel. By 1783, following his wartime duties, Colonel Morgan commissioned Major William Haymond to survey his land and divide it into streets and lots. Colonel Morgan then received a legal certificate for 400 acres (1.6 km2) in the area of his settlement near the mouth of Decker’s Creek. Fifty acres were appropriated for Morgan’s Town by the Virginia General Assembly in October 1785. On February 3, 1838, the General Assembly enacted a municipal charter incorporating the city, now with a population of about 700. The town became part of the newly created state of West Virginia on June 20, 1863, through the Reorganized Government of Virginia.
Notable early structures still standing in Morgantown in the mid-2000s include The Old Stone House, built in 1795 by Jacob Nuce on Long Alley, the modern-day Chestnut Street; and the John Rogers family home on Foundry Street, built in 1840 and is now occupied by the Dering Funeral Home.
During the 1970s, the U.S. Department of Transportation built an experimental personal rapid transit system in the city, citing the area’s variety of seasonal climates and geographic elevations as factors in testing the technology’s viability. The Morgantown Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) has been in use since 1975.