Braxton County was formed in 1836 and named for Carter Braxton, a Virginia signer of the Declaration of Independence. In 1848 Virginia chartered the Weston and Gauley Bridge Turnpike Company, largely at the instigation of Kanawha Valley salt producers who sought a convenient route to transport their product eastward. Completed ten years later, the turnpike traversed Braxton southwest to northeast and soon became a major artery of commerce and transportation.
In the first decade of the twentieth century, another artery, the Coal and Coke Railway, crossed Braxton County. Henry Gassaway Davis owned the railroad, which led from Charleston to Elkins, connecting with trunk lines at both cities. Like the earlier turnpike, the railroad helped promote further development in Braxton County. Davis established the town of Gassaway at the line's midpoint, where he built the railroad's shops. As the timber industry boomed, Braxton's population peaked in 1920 at 23,973; it then receded once the hills were stripped of their wealth. The county's 2000 figure was 14,702. In recent years, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has constructed two major flood control projects in the county: Burnsville and Sutton lakes. Interstate 70 traverses Braxton County from southwest to northeast, bringing with it a great deal of recent commercial development, including a truly extraordinary discount shopping mall ( BX7) at Flatwoods.
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