Huntington is a city in Cabell and Wayne counties in the U.S. state of West Virginia, along the Ohio River. Most of the city is in Cabell County, for which it is the county seat. A small portion of the city, mainly the neighborhood of Westmoreland, is in Wayne County. Its population was 49,138 at the 2010 census. Huntington is a part of the Huntington–Ashland, WV–KY–OH, Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). As of the 2010 census, the MSA's population was 287,702. Huntington is the largest city within the MSA and the second largest city in West Virginia, behind Charleston. The first permanent settlement, Holderby's Landing, was founded in 1775 in what was then the Colony of Virginia. The city is the home of Marshall University.
The first permanent settlement in modern-day Huntington was founded in 1775 as "Holderby's Landing." The city of Huntington was named for Collis P. Huntington, who built it as the western terminus for the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway (C&O) on the land west of the mouth of the Guyandotte River at the Ohio River. It was created as a railroad town for the C&O, when it initially stretched from Richmond, Virginia to the Ohio River. The C&O Railroad expanded East to Newport News (and coal piers), and West to eventually reach Cincinnati and Chicago in later years. After merging with several other railroads, C&O is now known as CSX Transportation.
Huntington was incorporated in 1871 just West of the earlier city of Guyandotte. Guyandotte, which became a neighborhood of Huntington in 1891, was founded in 1799 on land that was originally part of the French and Indian War veteran's Savage Grant. Meriwether Lewis passed the Guyandotte and Big Sandy River peninsula on or about September 20, 1803 on his way down the Ohio River before meeting up with William Clark in Clarksville, Indiana.
At the time of Huntington's founding, Holderby's Landing was already the home of Marshall College, a normal school that had been founded in 1837 as Marshall Academy by John Laidley in honor of his friend, US Supreme Court Chief Justice, John Marshall. Originally, Marshall Academy was essentially a boarding school, for wealthy high school students. In 1857, the school became Marshall College, which in turn became a public institution in 1867. The college later became Marshall University in 1961 . Huntington is also now effectively a regional medical community – the two hospitals, St. Mary's and Cabell Huntington Hospital, are the largest employers – and a university town, thanks to the presence of Marshall University, which has an enrollment of approximately 16,000 students.
In the 1970s, federal urban renewal programs destroyed part of the downtown. However, in 2005 downtown again began to prosper with construction of the Pullman Square, retail and entertainment lifestyle center. The Harris Riverfront Park promenade is now well-attended along the Ohio River downtown.
Southern Airways Flight 932
On November 14, 1970, a chartered Southern Airways McDonnell-Douglas DC-9 jet transporting 75 Marshall University football players, coaches, staff, and supporters crashed just short of the Tri-State Airport in adjoining Ceredo, West Virginia. Everyone on board was killed.
A movie titled We Are Marshall, starring Matthew McConaughey and Matthew Fox, was released locally on December 12, 2006, and nationally on December 22, 2006. The movie depicts the aftermath of the aviation disaster for the families and university.