5 Reasons Why Our Workforce Loves the Northern Panhandle

January 20, 2021

Overlooking the Ohio River during winter.

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Brooke and Hancock counties, the two counties furthest north in West Virginia, have a legacy of industrial heritage. At the BDC, we love talking about Brooke and Hancock’s impressive industrial legacy and continuously adapting and growing economy, but there is so much more to love about the northern panhandle that we cannot forget about.

1) The northern panhandle is culturally distinct from the rest of West Virginia.

The further south you go from the northern panhandle, the more a southern accent is heard. This change in dialect is how you know you’re leaving the Ohio Valley area in West Virginia. Northern panhandle residents are often said to have our speech influenced more by Pittsburgh due to our close proximity rather than the South. Our ethnic diversity remains broad due to the immigrants who moved to the northern panhandle in the early 1900s to work at the steel mills. According to the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History, Weirton itself has over 50 ethnic groups, by some accounts, making it one of the most ethnically diverse regions in the state.

2) We have a history of unique cuisine.

Thanks to our broad ethnic diversity that includes Polish heritage, Paczki (pronounced “punch-key”) can be found in our area. These round, fruit or crème-filled pastries covered in sugar are traditionally served annually before the start of Lent. No, they are not just donuts. Paczki are the indulgences you did not know you were missing in your life. Most known to be found at a regional grocery chain, Riesbeck’s, this pastry is always extremely popular.

DiCarlo’s Pizza knows how to make a pizza like no other. Their square-shaped pieces are made with the crust cooked first, and then the sauce and cheese placed on top to bubble and melt. Opened in 1945, DiCarlo’s Pizza is now the first choice for pizza by most locals. DiCarlo’s has locations in Weirton, Follansbee, and surrounding areas.

Drover’s Inn in Wellsburg was built in 1848 and is on the National Register of Historic Places. Best known for their iconic jumbo wings, Drover’s is always extra busy on the weekends, so be sure to book your reservations early!

3) Gorgeous scenery is not lacking in this part of West Virginia either!

Hancock county hosts one of the most beautiful and idyllic state parks in West Virginia. Hike, fish, camp, enjoy some bluegrass, and more at this scenic greenspace. Tomlinson boasts tent, RV, cabin, and yurt camping.

Rail trails run through Brooke County. Finding a place to exercise, take a stroll, or ride a bike is no problem in this area. You have your choice between the peaceful Panhandle Trail in Colliers or the bustling, small-town Yankee Trail in Wellsburg.

4) Weirton is the safest place in West Virginia.

Brooke and Hancock county’s largest town, Weirton, moved up 11 spots in 2020 to make the top of SafeWise’s list – “West Virginia’s 20 Safest Cities of 2020”. With a population well above the other cities in the top 5, this is a notable feat.

5) Brooke and Hancock Counties are ideally situated.

Strategically located along the Ohio River, the Northern Panhandle became the hub of commerce and industry after the Civil War. Nearby industrial cities such as Pittsburgh, Youngstown, and Cleveland contributed to the panhandle’s success. Brooke and Hancock counties are one of the few places that still successfully hire and employ generational skilled workers. On top of that, the Northern Panhandle is located within 500 miles of 50% of the U.S. population. Getting to your out-of-town family and friends is quick and easy, whether you are taking our multiple highways/interstates or a plane at Pittsburgh International.