This Week in West Virginia History

The Buffalo Creek disaster happened in Logan County back in 1972.

By Michael Keller

[email protected]

CHARLESTON, W. Va. – The following events happened on these dates in West Virginia history. To read more, go to e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia at

Feb. 21, 1940: Former Governor Gaston Caperton was born in Charleston. Caperton defeated Arch Moore to become the state’s 31st governor.

Feb. 22, 1927: Longtime Agriculture Commissioner Gus R. Douglass was born in Mason County. Douglass, a Democrat, was first elected commissioner of agriculture in 1964.

Feb. 23, 1867: Lincoln County was formed from Boone, Cabell, Kanawha, and Putnam counties. The county was named for Abraham Lincoln.

Feb. 23, 1905: The first USS West Virginia was commissioned. The armored cruiser was renamed the USS Huntington in 1916 to allow the transfer of the original name to a newly authorized battleship.

Feb. 23, 1945: Fairmont native “Woody” Williams distinguished himself during the Battle of Iwo Jima by neutralizing seven concrete pillboxes. This act of heroism earned Williams the Medal of Honor.

Feb. 24, 1918: Judge Kenneth Keller ‘‘K. K.’’ Hall was born at Greenview, Boone County. Hall spent 47 years on the state and federal benches.

Feb. 25, 1911: Newspaperman Jim Comstock was born in Richwood. In 1957, he founded the West Virginia Hillbilly, a weekly newspaper that circulated both inside and outside the state.

Feb. 26, 1869: The legislature approved a bill moving the state capital to Charleston.

Feb. 26, 1972: One of the country’s worst mining-related disasters occurred on this date on Buffalo Creek in Logan County. A coal waste dam collapsed, sending 132 million gallons of water, coal refuse and silt into the valley. In the end, 125 people, including entire families, were killed, and 1,000 people were injured.

Feb. 27, 1867: Marshall College was established as a normal school for the training of teachers. The first term began June 15, 1868, with 25 students enrolled in three departments.

Feb. 27, 1871: Summers County was established from segments of Fayette, Greenbrier, Mercer, and Monroe counties. The county was named after George W. Summers, one of West Virginia’s founders.

e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia is a project of the West Virginia Humanities Council. For more information, contact the West Virginia Humanities Council, 1310 Kanawha Blvd. E., Charleston, WV 25301; (304) 346-8500; or visit e-WV at

The Buffalo Creek disaster happened in Logan County back in 1972. Buffalo Creek disaster happened in Logan County back in 1972.
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