West Virginia Exposition & State Fair

Recreational / West Virginia

The West Virginia Exposition & State Fair in Wheeling, West Virginia closed in 1937. The exposition hall was reused as a skating rink and for storage in later years before burning to the ground on January 1, 2020.


Wheeling Island boomed with residential development in the mid-1800s when the Wheeling Suspension Bridge connected Wheeling’s central business district to ample flat land on an island in the Ohio River. 2 The 374-acre island became one of the most densely populated and wealthy islands in the nation. It featured numerous parks, including one on the southern tip of the island — Bridge Park. 3 In 1881, the West Virginia Exposition and State Fair elected to acquire 25 acres for its new facility at Bridge Park. Its location was advantageous as Wheeling was the state capital of West Virginia.

The grounds included a dirt racetrack,  stables, exposition hall, and various other buildings. A new exposition hall, built of reinforced concrete and elevated to protect itself from floods along the Ohio River, was completed in 1924. 3

The Exposition and State Fair operated on Wheeling Island until 1937. 3 Frequent flooding of the site made the grounds unattractive and unusable. The exposition hall was later reused as the Wheeling Island Roller Rink and for storage. 5

The dilapidated exposition hall burned at around 6:10 PM on January 1, 2020. 5


Sources

  1. Anderson, Belinda “State Fair.” e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 5 Nov. 2010. Web. 27 Jan. 2017.
  2. “The City of Wheeling, West Virginia Historic Resources.” City of Wheeling, West Virginia. 2017. Web. 27 Jan. 2017.
  3. Department of the Interior, National Park Service. Wheeling Island Historic District. By Patricia A. Sands, Washington, Sept. 1991.
  4. “The History of Wheeling Island.” Wheeling Island, Wheeling Island Gaming. Article.
  5. Novotney, Steve. “What Remains of the Island Expo Hall.” LEDE, 1 Jan. 2020.