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Sutton is the county seat of Braxton County. It was settled in 1792 by Adam O’Brien, from Bath County, Virginia. In 1809, John D. Sutton settled at the confluence of Granny’s Creek and the Elk River, at the edge of the present town. The village of Suttonville, formerly known as Newville, was laid out in 1835. When Braxton County was formed in 1836 the first court was held in the home of John D. Sutton.

Sutton was situated at the juncture of major transportation routes. The Elk River was navigable at times all the way to Charleston. The Weston & Gauley Bridge Turnpike connected the Staunton & Parkersburg Turnpike to the James River & Kanawha Turnpike, via Sutton. A suspension bridge was constructed on the Weston & Gauley Bridge Turnpike across the Elk River at Sutton in 1853.

Due to its location, Sutton was embroiled in the Civil War. On September 5, 1861, the town was occupied by 5,000 Union troops. Later in 1861, General William Rosecrans bivouacked 10,000 Union troops there, including future President William McKinley. On December 29, 1861, Confederate soldiers burned most of the downtown.

Sutton slowly rebuilt but remained small until the local timber industry boomed. The town then became a commercial center, and many of the banks, hotels, shops, and other historic buildings date from this 1890–1920 period. After 1930, when the population peaked at 1,205, Sutton once again slowed in development.

Sutton Dam and Lake were built on the Elk River upstream from the town in 1961, adding a tourism component to the local economy. The Sutton Downtown Historic District was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1987. In 2021, the West Virginia Bigfoot Museum and annual Bigfoot Festival, were started based on reported local sightings of the legendary creature.

Sutton is situated at a center of transportation in West Virginia. Interstate 79, a major north-south route, connects with Appalachian Corridor L (U.S. 19), another significant north-south route, just a few miles south of town. The county has two spur rail lines, serving industry in Sutton and other areas. In 2020, Sutton’s population was 876.

Read the National Register of Historic Places nomination for the Sutton Downtown Historic District.

This Article was written by Michael Gioulis

Last Revised on August 22, 2023

Cite This Article

Gioulis, Michael "Sutton." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 22 August 2023. Web. 17 June 2024.


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