Follansbee lies in Brooke County in the Northern Panhandle of West Virginia, six miles south of Weirton and four miles north of Wellsburg. State Route 2 is the town’s Main Street.
The Mingo Indians once controlled the site, called Old Mingo Bottom by early white settlers. Isaac Cox built a log house there in 1772. In 1774, Cox transferred his land to John Decker, and Alexander Wells received a Virginia land grant for the same property. Decker sued, but Wells won. Wells passed the land to his son, who sold it to William Mahan.
The Mahans farmed the land until 1902, when they sold to the Follansbee brothers of Pittsburgh. The Follansbees erected a steel mill, using 40 acres for the mill and allotting the rest for town lots, naming the town for themselves. In 1906, Follansbee became a city, and immigrants from Great Britain, Wales, and Italy came to fill the jobs in the steel mill. The 1930s saw many projects, including a community house and a swimming pool. Follansbee saw its greatest growth in the 1920s, rising to 4,841 residents by 1930.
Follansbee prospered through World War II with metal and steel fabrication companies thriving. In 1954, the Follansbee mill was sold to the Louis Berkman Company. Rolling and annealing facilities were sold to Wheeling Steel (later Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel) in 1958. Follansbee Steel still operates today. The city population has slowly declined since 1940, to an estimated 2,986 in 2010.
This Article was written by Jane Kraina
Caldwell, Nancy. A History of Brooke County. Wellsburg: Brooke County Historical Society, 1975.
Follansbee, West Virginia Polk City Directory. Richmond: R. L. Polk & Co., 1997.
McIntosh, Eura Cox Ulrich, ed. Diamond History of Follansbee. Marceline, MO: Walsworth Pub., 1984.