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Marlinton is the county seat of Pocahontas County. It is located on the Greenbrier River at the mouth of Knapps Creek.

Marlinton is generally considered to be the location of the first white settlement in the Greenbrier Valley. Jacob Marlin and Stephen Sewell arrived about 1749 but left after a few years. By the early 1800s, two turnpikes, one coming west from Warm Springs and the other connecting Greenbrier and Randolph counties, made a junction at Marlin’s Bottom (as it was first known). A covered bridge was built across the river in 1854.

The name was changed to Marlinton in 1886, but the site remained as farmland until the 1890s, with only a Presbyterian church and a hotel. Land developers promoted the movement of the county seat from Huntersville to Marlinton, and voters approved the change in December 1891. When the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway constructed its line up the Greenbrier River about 1900, the town quickly developed. On April 2, 1900, Marlinton was incorporated. By 1910, Marlinton had a tannery, two banks, two newspapers, about 20 stores, a hospital, an opera house, a volunteer fire department, a school, a water system, electric power, and a population of 1,086.

As with many rural communities, recent years have posed special challenges to Marlinton. The tannery closed in 1970, the railroad line in 1978, and improved roads make it easy for shoppers to travel to larger communities. The population was 998 in 2020.

Major floods in November 1985 and January 1996 caused great damage. But Marlinton remains the seat of government for the county, and its businesses are orienting towards the growing tourism industry. The town is expanding its public services and is beginning to use its heritage as a base for the future.

Written by William P. McNeel