Settlement began here in the first decade of the nineteenth century, and the town was incorporated in 1811. Although it became the county seat, it remained a small community until 1888, when a short-line railroad connected it to the main line of the B&O at Tunnelton, four miles southwest. With the railroad, the area's phenomenally rich timber resources began to be tapped, and a boom ensued. By 1941, however, the WPA guide to West Virginia noted: “The virgin forest is no more, leaving posterity a mute reminder of ruthless exploitation.” Although timber obviously helped build Kingwood (witness its name), some of its most impressive structures are constructed of local sandstone.
Kingwood is a Main Street community and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the Kingwood Historic District. The town, which comes alive during the annual fall Buckwheat Festival, grew steadily throughout most of the twentieth century. Its 1990 population, 3,243, was the highest ever recorded. The 2000 figure was 2,944.
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