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Named after Lord Ravenswood in Sir Walter Scott’s novel The Bride of Lammermoor, Ravenswood is located in Jackson County along the Ohio River at an elevation of 620 feet. It was incorporated as a town on March 10, 1852, by the Virginia legislature.

George Washington surveyed the area in 1770 and later acquired 2,448 acres. Early settlers included Ezekiel McFarland (1799) on Big Sandy Creek, followed by Lawrence Lane and John Nesselroade. During the Civil War the Battle of Buffington Island was fought near Ravenswood in 1863, and the area was troubled by bushwhacking between Union and Confederate supporters. The economy grew rapidly due to agriculture, banks, canning, trading, and riverboat commerce. The Ravenswood, Spencer & Glenville Railroad was established in 1886.

Ravenswood citizens have worked in the aluminum industry since 1954, and in health services, schools, and local government; other employers include construction companies, trucking, plastics, train and river freight, and automotive supplies. The aluminum industry brought massive growth to the area, and Ravenswood’s population tripled during the 1950s. Its 2020 population of 3,865 is just slightly down from its peak of 4,240 in 1970. Ravenswood is the largest community in Jackson County and the 34th largest city in West Virginia.

In the early 1990s, a bitter labor dispute split Ravenswood. The old Kaiser Aluminum plant was operated by Ravenswood Aluminum Corporation at the time. The town was divided as the strikers fought to get their jobs back while others chose to work nonunion. The impasse was finally resolved in 1992 under the threat of a pending National Labor Relations Board ruling on unfair labor practices. In 1995, Ravenswood Aluminum Corporation was purchased by Century Aluminum which, in turn, sold its rolling mill to Pechiney Rolled Products in 1999. The remaining portion of the Century plant, where aluminum was actually made, was idled in February 2009 and permanently closed in 2015. Six hundred fifty jobs were lost in the 2009 shut-down, with devastating impact on the community. The rolling mill, which remains the largest employer in Jackson County and one of the largest factories of its kind in the world, was acquired by Alcan in 2003 and Rio Tinto in 2007. Rio Tinto sold the division that included the rolling mill in 2011, and it is now owned by Constellium Rolled Products.

In 2023, Our Next Energy (ONE) announced it would locate its Aries Grid battery storage system manufacturing facility in Ravenswood. The company produces lithium iron phosphate (LFP) utility-scale battery systems with long-duration energy storage.

The Ritchie Bridge across the Ohio River opened Ravenswood to Ohio in 1981. It is now a vital link in U.S. Route 33. In addition, a small airport at Ravenswood serves light planes.

The Ravenswood’s “Old Town” Historic District was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2007.

Read the National Register nomination.

This Article was written by Dean Moore

Last Revised on August 14, 2023


Cite This Article

Moore, Dean "Ravenswood." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 14 August 2023. Web. 23 June 2024.

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