Decades of balanced growth give Bridgeport a great quality of life.
Written by Julie Perine
The opportunity to live in a tight-knit, supportive place is one of the major draws for residents of this community in the north central part of West Virginia. Although Bridgeport is growing by leaps and bounds, people here say the small-town feel remains.
Mayor Andy Lang attributes the city’s growth and success to long-standing fiscal responsibility. And the small-town feel? That’s because of the people. “We all work together to make a quality of life for our kids—whether that be participating in Little League, school activities, or just walking down the street to the Dairy Queen,” Lang says.
That spirit of community is also carried out through the city’s programs and departments, which come together to host events, each using its specialties to create a quality experience for all.
Established as Bridge Fort in the mid-18th century when fur traders settled the land, the 1816-chartered town has grown to a city of 9,000-plus residents.
Bridgeport is situated along the I-79 High-Tech Corridor at the north–south interstate’s intersection with east–west U.S. Route 50, providing convenient access for motorists. Those who prefer to fly enjoy North Central West Virginia Airport at the edge of town, offering service to Orlando/Sanford and Tampa/St. Pete/Clearwater, Florida, as well as seasonal service to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and Destin-Fort Walton Beach, Florida, via Allegiant—and to Chicago and Washington, D.C., via United Express.
Bridgeport offers ample recreational opportunity. Outdoor enthusiasts visit nearby Hinkle and Deegan lakes for fishing, kayaking, picnicking, and walking and biking the trail system. The walking trail is also accessible from various points in the city, including Bridgeport City Park. The city is in the design stage of combining the trail systems to provide about 14 miles of connected trails.
Bridgeport City Park is just one of several playground and picnic amenities. The Bridge Sports Complex and its indoor facility, Citynet Center, was brand new to the community in 2021. It’s a $40 million, state-of-the-art facility featuring multiple baseball, soccer, and lacrosse fields and basketball courts for general use and for both adult and youth leagues. Members also enjoy indoor turf, a running track, a fitness center, and full-size competition and warm-up pools as well as a popular Clip ’n Climb area for climbing enthusiasts.
Clay shooting is available at A Mountain Clays, and good golfing may be found at nearby Bridgeport Country Club as well as the renowned Pete Dye Golf Club. And history awaits at the Simpson Creek Covered Bridge, The Bowstring Bridge, and the Benedum Civic Center—a replica of the home of the late Michael Benedum, who, due to his success in the oil business, became a major benefactor to the city, helping to establish some of its landmarks.
The Bridgeport Farmers Market, one of the biggest in the region, runs Sundays from May into October and features more than a dozen local producers as well as prepared foods, artisan goods, and musicians, authors, and chefs. And annual events bring community members together—events like the June Summer Kickoff and Food Truck Festival, National Night Out in July promoting police–community partnership and neighborhood camaraderie, and the festive Light Up Night in December.
Both the business sector and the housing industry in Bridgeport are expanding, with areas of growth including—but not limited to—Cherry Grove Estates, White Oaks, Worthington Village, and Charles Pointe, a multi-use community.
Homes are popping up all over town. As of May 2022, the city issued permits for new construction topping $14 million, over $4.4 million of that slated for new homes. Additionally, as of June 2022, there were 61 homes for sale in Bridgeport with a median sale price of $266,000.
The effective property tax rate in Harrison County is 0.63%, lower than most of the more urbanized counties in the state. The county is home to many family-owned restaurants, boutiques, and coffee shops, many of them located in downtown Bridgeport. Meadowbrook Mall is another shopping hub. “We’ve become somewhat of a retail hub for surrounding counties as folks from Doddridge, Taylor, Lewis and Upshur travel here to shop,” Lang says.
Bridgeport is home to stellar schools—in fact, Bridgeport High School is ranked second in the state, based on state-required test performance, graduation rate, and quality of college preparation. That isn’t surprising, since BHS has an advanced placement coursework participation rate of 45%. Feeding into the high school is the blue ribbon-awarded Bridgeport Middle as well as Simpson and Johnson elementary schools, the latter being the area’s newest school, opened to students in 2018. Alternative education opportunities include Heritage Christian School and the brand-new City on a Hill Christian Academy, which accommodates homeschoolers in a small-classroom setting.
The 556-bed United Hospital Center in Bridgeport makes for easy access to top health care. One of 17 hospitals under the WVU Medicine umbrella, UHC was recently recognized for its commitment to high-quality cardiovascular care.
In addition to the medical field, Bridgeport has ample job opportunities, including the aerospace industry and the FBI Criminal Justice Information Services Division, located just across the city line. With its central location, Bridgeport is also a favored meeting place and is fortunate to have the Bridgeport Conference Center to meet the need. The facility boasts more than 16,000 square feet of flexible space.
Bridgeport is just a few miles from Clarksburg, home of the Robinson Grand Performing Arts Center and the Clarksburg Amphitheater, both of which host nationally known entertainers. And located within 30 minutes of Bridgeport are Tygart Lake State Park, Prickett’s Fort State Park, Valley Falls State Park, and Watters Smith Memorial State Park.
Just a few years ago, USA Today ranked Bridgeport No. 16 among the 50 best U.S. cities in which to live. Mayor Lang is not surprised. “It’s a great place to raise children—and grandchildren. Everything you need and everyone you know is here,” he says. “And everyone is working together for the good of all.”