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city, seat (1850) of Raleigh county, southern West Virginia, U.S., approximately 50 miles (80 km) southeast of Charleston. The first settlement was established by General Alfred Beckley in 1838, but the city's growth dates from 1890, with the start of commercial shipments of smokeless coal from local mines. After the rich Winding Gulf coalfield was opened in 1907, the population increased sharply. During the American Civil War the city was occupied by both Union and Confederate troops.