Refusing to Say Uncle

In West Virginia, a company town may become a town company

Weirton, W. Va., was not exactly named "in honor" of Ernest T. Weir. Rather, when Weir bought a tract of farm land in the state's panhandle in 1909 and built a sprawling steelmaking complex, he needed people and houses to go along with his factory. Thus the town was born. Today Weirton Steel Co. is a division of National Steel Corp., but a majority of the labor force in Weirton (pop. 25,536) still works in the rumbling, fuming steelworks along Main Street. "It's sink or swim together," says Mary Brula, a...

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