Brooke County, formed in 1797 from Ohio County, was named for Robert Brooke, who had just completed his term as governor of Virginia. Occupying the narrowest portion of the slender Northern Panhandle, it is West Virginia's second smallest county, containing only eighty-nine square miles. Its population in 2000 was 25,447, a decline from the all-time high of 31,117 achieved in 1980.
Brooke County has long enjoyed profits from its significant coal deposits and from attendant manufacturing enterprises. Much of the county's Ohio River frontage has an industrial appearance, especially the communities of Follansbee and Weirton (most of the latter city is in Hancock County). On the hills to the east, toward the Pennsylvania border, Brooke County's long-standing agricultural heritage is more in evidence.
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