Hardy County, West Virginia

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Hardy County is a county located in the U.S. state of West Virginia. As of 2000, the population was 12,669. Its county seat is Moorefield[1]. Hardy County was created from Hampshire County in 1786 and named for Samuel Hardy, a distinguished Virginian.

Through this county flows the South Branch Potomac River with its surrounding magnificent valley. Several miles wide, "the Valley," as it is commonly called, contains lands whose fertility lends itself to successful farming. Agriculture and stock raising have always been the main source of employment in this area, with corn, wheat, apples, peaches, melons, cattle and poultry having important interests. Truck-farming has a vital role, each household possessing its own small garden.

On either side of the Valley are high mountains with rough terrain and heavy timber. Throughout the area wildlife is plentiful, and hunting has always been a major diversion and source of meat supply. In the winter snows are whipped by winds of gale force, and snowdrifts are usually numerous.

The South Branch is a clear stream, quite wide, and of considerable depth in many places. Watering the Valley, the river abounds in fish and creates many picturesque settings. At times the usually calm waters surge from low banks and spread over the Valley, enveloping and ravishing the rich surrounding lands. The river has a peculiar feature in the field of geology as it flows through the Valley. At one point the river, thousands of years ago, did not cut across the mountains from one side to the other, but made a passage through them from end to end. This geological exception is now in the form of a narrow, trough-like gap, about seven miles (11 km) long, and appropriately called "The Trough". At the present day, the gorge is several hundred feet deep, and the South Branch flows in a narrow channel at the bottom, with almost perpendicular walls of rock on either side.

In the very center of the South Branch Valley, surrounded by high mountains, and located on the east side of the junction of the South Fork South Branch Potomac River and the South Branch Potomac, is Moorefield, the county seat of Hardy County. A quiet farming center in 1860, the population of the Moorefield area at that time was about 1,500. At this period there were no bridges at Moorefield, and the South Branch had to be forded some three miles (5 km) up the Valley, or the ferryboat, which was usually busy, had to be used. The main towns that communicated with Moorefield were Petersburg, Romney, and New Creek (presently Keyser) the latter having a stage line between the two points.

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