Marion County, formed in 1842, was named for Revolutionary War hero General Francis Marion. The county began to enjoy a boom at the turn of the twentieth century when mining of its rich coal deposits began. In December 1907, a series of explosions and ensuing fires killed 361 miners at Monongah in what the WPA guide to West Virginia thirtyfour years later unequivocally termed “the worst mine disaster in history.” Population statistics reflect the county's close relationship with its major product. From 1890 to 1920, when the mines were at peak production, the population more than doubled, from 20,501 to 42,794. Population peaked in 1950, with a count of 71,521, and the 2000 figure was 56,598.
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