Cedar Grove, first known as Kelly's Creek, was permanently settled in 1774 and was the pioneer community of the upper Kanawha valley. Located at the terminus of the old State Road, it was a point of embarkation for travelers and settlers when they transferred from an overland route to a water route on their westward trek. Beginning with dugout canoes, boat building became such an important occupation that Kelly's Creek soon became known as the Boat Yards, or, as Daniel Boone recorded it, “the Bote yards.” William Tompkins, who was the first to use natural gas to extract salt from brine, moved here from the Salines in 1844 and built a house that remains the most impressive in town.
The town's second spurt of industry came with the arrival of the railroads, the C&O in 1873 and the Kanawha & Michigan in the 1890s. Both lines provided transportation for coal mined along Kelly's Creek. In 1902, spurred by increased population arising from the extensive coal operations nearby, the community was incorporated as Cedar Grove, taking its name from the Tompkins family mansion.
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