Weirton is a city located in the Northern Panhandle of West Virginia, United States. Most of the city is in Hancock County, with the remainder in Brooke County. As of the 2000 census, the city population was 20,411 (16,525 in Hancock County, 3,886 in Brooke County). It is a part of the Weirton-Steubenville Metropolitan Statistical Area.
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The small village called Holliday’s Cove which is now most of downtown Weirtonwas founded in the late 1700s. (It eventually lost the apostrophe.) In 1909, Ernest T. Weir built a steel mill later known as Weirton Steel Corporation just north of Hollidays Cove. An unincorporated settlement called Weirton grew up around the mill, that by 1940 was said to be the largest unincorporated city in the United States. By then Hollidays Cove and two other outlying areas, Weirton Heights and Marland Heights, which as their names suggest were on hilltops or ridges surrounding the “WeirÃ¢â‚¬Cove” area, had also incorporated.
On July 1, 1947, all of these areasHollidays Cove, Marland Heights, Weirton Heights, and unincorporated Weirtonmerged and formed the City of Weirton as it currently exists. Thomas E. Millsop, the head of the Weirton Steel division of the National Steel Corporation, was elected as the city’s first mayor. The City Charter was approved by voters in 1950.
Weirton Steel Corporation was once a fully integrated steel mill employing over 12,000 people. It was the largest private employer and the largest taxpayer in West Virginia. This is no longer true. Due to reorganization of the steel industry, not only within the United States but worldwide, the Weirton plant, now part of the international giant Arcelor Mittal, currently operates only the tin-plating section of the mill (though still one of the country’s largest tin-plate makers), with only 1,200 workers. During the early 1980’s the employees of Weirton Steel endeavored to purchase the mill from National Steel Corporation as the largest ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Program) in the nation, saving the mill from bankruptcy.
Some civic leaders are attempting to attract businesses and homeowners from the economically thriving Pittsburgh area, marketing Weirton as a bedroom community, taking advantage of the close proximity to the Pittsburgh airport and major highways.
In 2001, West Virginia legalized video gambling. This has brought new business to Weirton in the form of “cafe’s” that allow patrons to gamble. Many patrons come from the surrounding areas (Pennsylvania and Ohio) to take part in the gambling.
In early 2008, with the reduction in Weirton Steel’s work force and the introduction of gambling, Weirton is fighting to keep jobs and downward housing prices.