West Virginia Facts: A Quick Guide to the Mountain State

West Virginia is known as the 'Mountain State' for its prominent Appalachian terrain and rich natural resources.

West Virginia Overview

Geography and Natural Features

Located in the Southern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States, West Virginia is predominantly characterized by its mountainous terrain, earning it the nickname “Mountain State.” A part of Appalachia, the state is surrounded by Virginia to the southeast, Kentucky to the southwest, Ohio to the northwest, Pennsylvania to the north and east, and Maryland to the east and northeast.

The highest point in the state is Spruce Knob, with an elevation of 4,863 feet, while the lowest point lies along the Potomac River at 240 feet.

West Virginia is home to a diverse range of natural features, including forests, plateaus, rivers, and valleys formed by the Appalachian Mountain range.

Some major rivers that flow through the state are the Ohio River, the Kanawha River, and the New River.

Statehood and Symbols

West Virginia became the 35th state of the United States on June 20, 1863, when it separated from Virginia during the Civil War.

The state’s motto, “Montani Semper Liberi,” means “Mountaineers are always free” in Latin.

The flag of West Virginia consists of a white field bordered by a blue stripe, with the state’s coat of arms in the center, representing various aspects of its history and resources.

Some of the state’s official symbols are:

  • State tree: Sugar Maple
  • State flower: Rhododendron
  • State animal: Black Bear
  • State fruit: Golden Delicious Apple

Population and Major Cities

With a population of approximately 1,793,716 residents, West Virginia is the 12th-least populous state in the United States.

The state capital, Charleston, is positioned in the south-central part of the state along the Kanawha River.

Other significant cities in West Virginia include Wheeling, Harpers Ferry, Weirton, Charles Town, Beckley, Fayetteville, and Huntington.

History and Culture

Rolling hills, coal mines, and the iconic New River Gorge Bridge symbolize West Virginia's rich history and culture

Historical Significance

West Virginia has a rich history, dating back to its formation during the American Civil War.

Originally part of Virginia, the state seceded from the United States when the northwestern region opposed the secession.

This led to the 1861 Wheeling Convention, where northwestern Virginian Southern Unionists gathered to repeal the Ordinance of Secession.

Finally, in 1863, West Virginia was admitted to the Union as the 35th state.

The state is bordered by Pennsylvania, Maryland, Kentucky, and Ohio, giving it a strategic significance during the war.

Economic and Educational Landscape

The landscape of West Virginia is characterized by its Appalachian setting, which has helped shape its economy throughout history.

The state’s resources include coal, clay, wood, ash, timber, oil, and natural gas.

Coal mining has been a staple industry for generations, while timber and other natural resources have also contributed to the state’s economy.

As for education, West Virginia University was originally known as the Agricultural College of West Virginia.

It stands as a testament to the state’s strong connection to its natural resources and agricultural roots.

Cultural Heritage and Notable Individuals

West Virginia’s cultural heritage is a blend of Native American, British, and Appalachian influences.

This is evident in the state’s traditional music genres, which include folk music brought by Irish and Scottish settlers in the 18th century.

Fiddle, banjo, and the Appalachian dulcimer are some of the musical instruments that shaped the West Virginia musical landscape.

Some notable individuals from West Virginia include Chuck Yeager, the first pilot to break the sound barrier, and Jim Justice, the state’s current governor.

Furthermore, Harpers Ferry National Historical Park is where John Brown’s famous attempt to initiate a slave uprising took place, which played a crucial role in the lead-up to the Civil War.

The park is now a National Historic Landmark.

The natural beauty of West Virginia is celebrated in John Denver’s song “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” which refers to the state’s Shenandoah region.

This combination of history, natural beauty, and culture makes West Virginia a unique and vibrant state that continues to flourish today.