About This Place
Glenville is a town in and the county seat of Gilmer County, West Virginia, United States, along the Little Kanawha River. The population was 1,544 at the 2000 census. It is the home of Glenville State College.
In the late 1700s and early 1800s, white pioneers began settling in the area they called ‘‘the Ford’’ because it was a place where travelers could cross the river. Later, the community was named Glenville because of its location in a glen. The first grist mill in Gilmer County was constructed there in 1812. The first courthouse was completed in 1850, the second in 1872, and the current courthouse in 1923. Glenville was incorporated in 1856.
Before the 1930s, the Little Kanawha River’s commercial traffic dominated the town’s economy. Road construction contributed to the demise of riverboating by the late 1930s. The natural gas and oil industry rose to prominence after oil was struck in 1875 at nearby Letter Gap. Glenville is now the headquarters of several oil and gas firms. The 1985 flood devastated the downtown, leading many businesses to move to the higher Hays City neighborhood at the main highway intersection.