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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 settlers of European descent. 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. Follansbee’s greatest growth was in the 1920s as its population rose to 4,841 by 1930. During this time, Follansbee even had a professional baseball team. The 1930s saw many new projects, including a community house and a swimming pool.

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. After several acquisitions, the company’s old coke-making plant closed in 2022. The city’s population has slowly declined from a high of 4,834 in 1940 to 2,853 in 2020.

Follansbee was the birthplace of football coach Lou Holtz.

This Article was written by Jane Kraina

Last Revised on November 20, 2023


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.

Cite This Article

Kraina, Jane "Follansbee." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 20 November 2023. Web. 28 May 2024.


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