Kanwaha County Images was originally published as two hardbacks in 1987 and 2001.
The new paperback volumes 1 and 2 make up the entirety of the original hardback volume 1.
The new paperback volumes 3 and 4 make up the entirety of the original hardback volume 2.
When first published, Kanawha County Images: A Bicentennial History: 1788-1988 was the first widely published book about West Virginia’s most populous county since the early 1900s. Authors Stan Cohen and Richard Andre spent years researching stories of old, and painstakingly looking through archives and attics for never-before-seen photos. The result changed how we view and look back on West Virginia’s capital city—presenting not only a chronological history but also a vivid picture of life in a vibrant city and county during the United States’ Industrial Revolution.
The book begins thousands of years ago with prehistoric people who left behind mysterious burial mounds throughout the Kanawha Valley. It covers traditional topics, such as the area’s growing settlement, forms of transportation, public institutions of learning and health, and economic matters, tracing the region’s growth from the salt capital of the United States to the chemical capital of the world.
Kanawha County Images is an enjoyable trip down memory lane for those who lived here in the 20th century. In particular, downtown Charleston had changed very little from the beginning of that century until the book’s publication. The scenes from Capitol Street appear little changed from today, other than the styles of the clothing, hair, and cars.
But this book goes much further. It was one of the first published histories that told the stories of Blacks and immigrants who lived in an often-overlooked part of Charleston. The mostly segregated working-class Triangle district was teaming with people of all ages, races, and ethnicities. We get close-up views at their businesses, schools, churches, and social clubs. The authors worked with the people who grew up and lived there to bring us images of a dynamic part of town that was leveled by the city of Charleston as part of the 1960s Urban Renewal movement. Little of the Triangle is left now, but thanks to this pictorial history, we we’ll never forget how it looked or the people who lived there.
The book is ultimately a collective snapshot of Kanawha County history, particularly the four-decade period of boundless growth between 1880 and 1920, when the population ballooned from 4,000 to 40,000. Out of print for decades, Kanawha County Images is available again in this republished format. It still hits all the right notes: from nostalgia, to long-disappeared landmarks, to tales never told before. This is a must-read if you want to know more about Kanawha County or remember the Charleston and nearby towns of yesteryear.