Princeton West Virginia
“Named After Princeton, New Jersey”

Town of Princeton WV

The city of Princeton, also known as the “Jewel of the South,” is the county seat of Mercer County, West Virginia. Princeton offers a variety of things to do such as boutique shopping, antique stores, art galleries and murals. Watch the two Appalachian league professional baseball teams Bluefield Blue Jays and Princeton Rays. Visit the Vietnam Memorial and the Mercer County War Museum. Princeton has many restaurants, hotels, motels, cabin rentals, and historic bed and breakfasts for the many visitors to the city.

History of Princeton WV

Southern West Virginia, in the late 19th century, coal mining and transportation by the emerging technology of the railroads combined to form a new industry.

The eastern-bound coal transported by the C&O and the N&W railroads was highly valued for local use and for steam-powered ships, notably those of the U.S. Navy. The coal was loaded into large ships called colliers, and sent to New York City and New England, as well as exported to other countries worldwide.

Princeton’s location was east of the primary coalfields, and most of the coal mining and railroad activity was initially elsewhere. Princeton became a main railroad hub partially because the new company, the Virginian Railway re-imagined the way the train industry should work.

Instead of winding track from big cities to other big cities, the Virginian blasted through mountain and powered through rural countryside to create a direct route to its destination. So instead of looping to Bluefield, it ran through Princeton, where it set up the main machine shops for the line.

The Virginian was financed by one of the world’s richest men, who spared no expense to make his vision work. The line went down in history as one of the world’s most innovative. The machine shops are still preserved in a unique historic district, and you can learn more at the Princeton Railroad Museum.

  • Lake Shawnee Amusement Park
  • Mercer County War Museum
  • Glenwood Recreational Park
  • Princeton Youth Park
  • Princeton Speedway
  • Princeton Railroad Museum
  • Vietnam Memorial
  • Camp Creek State Park
  • Pipestem Resort State Park
  • Brush Creek Preserve
  • Bluestone National Scenic River

Back to West Virginia Mountains Cities & Towns Travel Guide