Grafton is the commercial center for a large region containing grazing country and a number of mining camps. It also is the headquarters for Taylor County government. The community is spread over steep slopes of high hills that rise sharply from a cup-shaped valley along the Tygarts Valley. The shops and yards of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad form the primary industrial base of the town. It is the headquarters for four divisions of the railroad.
William Robinson claimed 400 acres of land in Buffalo Flats in 1773. The land never was cultivated. When the crews of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad came to build the tracks, the area was a tangle of grapevines and wild berry briars. When the railroad was completed, the village (Grafton) sprang up and was incorporated in 1856.
The town got its name from the railroad crews. They called it "Graftin" because it was the point where a number of branch lines met the mainline of the railroad. Grafton was a strategic point in the Civil War because of all the railroad facilities. It was alternately held during the war by Union and Confederate forces.
In June of 1861, Gen. Thomas J. Morris camped with 4,000 Union troops at Grafton on their way south to the Battle of Philippi. Later that same year Gen. McClellan established his headquarters in the town. The railroad facilities helped to open up more and more coal mines and the establishment of timber operations.
In 1872, Grafton made a concerted effort to become the state capital, but never did succeed. In 1878, it became the county seat. Taylor County is in northern West Virginia on the Allegheny Plateau. There are livestock, fruit, and tobacco farms, along with coal, natural gas, and timber to support its economy.
Taylor County, founded in 1844, was named in honor of Senator John Taylor, a distinguished soldier-statesman from Carolina County, Virginia. An eminent agriculturist, Taylor served in the Continental Army and then represented Virginia in e United States Senate, on three separate occasions over a period of 32 years. Taylor County comprises a rather modest 177 square miles of land area. The huge Tygart River Dam is located near Grafton. Grafton is famous as the birthplace of Ann Jarvis, the founder of Mother's Day. The Mother's Day shrine is located here.