West Virginia Exposition & State Fair

West Virginia Exposition & State Fair

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






Further Reading


Sources

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  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.

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2 Comments

  1. Actually in was new years eve. My call to 911 went in at 6:09pm, My dog Charlie and I had just finished a walk on the rail-trail across the river. Sat in my truck and looked across the river and saw smoke…then flames breaching the roof. I was the first person to call 911. It burned down to the masonry portion of the building in 24 minutes. It was the biggest fire in Wheeling in many years. The crazy thing is there was hundreds of people at the casino and no one saw it. Must have been burning a long time and once the roof opened up the air got in and it was done. If someone had opened a door the backdraft would have gone up at once. No one hurt! The firetrucks had trouble getting there due to road closures. Just happened onto your site this evening having been here before. Been to a lot of abandoned places love your site.

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