Skip Navigation

Sign In or Register

West-virginia-encyclopedia-text

SharePrint Bridgeport

Unitedhospital2570p_medium

Bridgeport in Harrison County is one of the fastest growing cities in West Virginia. Located at the intersection of U.S. 50 and Interstate 79, Bridgeport is at the southern end of what has been termed the “High-Tech Corridor,” which begins at Morgantown. The population of the town was 8,355 in 2012, a 14.4 percent increase from 2000.

Bridgeport was first settled between 1771 and 1774. Settlers built a fort for protection from the Indians and also established Simpson Creek Baptist Church, one of the first churches west of the Alleghenies. The town was named for a bridge across the Simpson Creek, but it is not clear which bridge inspired the name. Early settlers built a pontoon-style bridge out of logs tied with hickory branches. Then in the early 1800s, a wooden covered bridge was constructed across the creek. Legend has it that resident Joseph Johnson (later governor of Virginia) saw the bridge as a port. When Johnson sought a charter for a new town to be built on 15 acres of his land, he called the town “Bridgeport.” The town was chartered in 1816 and incorporated in 1887.

The Northwestern Virginia Turnpike was the first road to lead directly from Bridgeport to Clarksburg. The Bridgeport section opened in 1838, and the first stagecoaches began operating on the line in 1852. The turnpike later became part of U.S. 50.

During the Civil War, Bridgeport residents supported both sides of the conflict. Confederate General William E. “Grumble” Jones captured a company of Union soldiers near Bridgeport on April 30, 1863, as part of the action called the Jones-Imboden Raid. Jones also took civilian railroad employees prisoner, burned bridges and plundered stores.

The first Bridgeport gristmill of which there is any record was built on Simpson Creek between 1771 and 1787. The stockyards began in the early 1800s, and Bridgeport became an important shipping port for cattle after the arrival of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad in the 1850s. Several manufacturers operated in the town in the early 20th century. West Virginia Pottery Company, incorporated in 1907, manufactured stoneware, mostly jugs and jars. Organized in 1904, the Bridgeport Lamp Chimney Company was producing 24,000 lamp chimneys a day by 1923. The property later became the home of the Master Glass Company, which produced marbles until 1973.

The economy of modern Bridgeport is driven by health care, the aerospace industry, and government. The new $300 million United Hospital Center opened in Bridgeport in 2010. Several aeronautics companies have located at North Central West Virginia Airport, which is located in Bridgeport. The companies include Bombardier, Pratt & Whitney and Aurora West Virginia. The FBI Center, another major employer, is located in nearby Clarksburg. Charles Pointe, a mixed-use community of businesses, residential and recreation facilities, has been under development along I-79 in Bridgeport since 2000. The city is constructing a 28-acre park as part of Charles Pointe. In 2008, development began on a business park called White Oaks, which includes retail and office space.

The city’s most famous resident was businessman and philanthropist Michael Late Benedum, who was born in Bridgeport on July 16, 1869. He spent much of his life in Pittsburgh, but maintained close ties with his hometown. He donated money to build the Bridgeport Methodist Church and the Bridgeport Civic Center and Library.

This Article was written by Becky Calwell

Last Revised on April 14, 2014


Sources

Avis Caynor. Bridgeport: The Town and Its People. Bridgeport: Benedum Civic Center Library, 1976.

Cite This Article

Calwell, Becky "Bridgeport." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 14 April 2014. Web. 20 April 2018.

Comments?

There aren't any comments for this article yet.

West Virginia Humanities Council | 1310 Kanawha Blvd E | Charleston, WV 25301 Ph. 304-346-8500 | © 2018 All Rights Reserved

About e-WV | Our Sponsors | Help & Support | Contact Us The essential guide to the Mountain State can be yours today! Click here to order.