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West Virginia Facts

…. We, the West Virginians, are absolutely tired that we are considered inhabitants of only a dominion of Old Dominion….

…. Some West Virginia residents are taking a very strong line about this issue and are in conversations always referring to it as ‘West-By God-Virginia’….

West Virginia was more or less ‘born’ at the time of the Civil War, when the area was refusing to break away from the Union. This made West Virginia one-of-a-kind among states.

The state’s mountains reach the highest average east of the Rocky Mountains, and the state’s country offers the most rugged landscapes in America.

There are hardly any long level grounds, except maybe along big rivers, and West Virginia’s mineral springs and beautiful mountain scenery are attracting many tourists.

See also our 50 states quiz

The surface of West Virginia offers a pretty unusual and wide variety of plants, from types that are arctic to semi-tropical varieties. Beneath its surface lie many minerals, and for a long time, the state was leading in coal mining and production.

During the Civil War, the war-born state was suffering in a horrendous way, and there is even a town (Romney) that changed rule more than 55 times, yet West Virginia is really a state that will bounce back every time it is hit by disaster. 

Quick Facts about West Virginia

– West Virginia is the “highest state” east of the Mississippi River.
– The only U.S. state that was carved from another state without permission.
– The state is a leading natural gas pioneer.
– Famous for housing the nation’s biggest trees.

West Virginia Brief history

In 1641, Walter Austin and his party were the first known Europeans to explore what is now West Virginia, and in 1716, the group around Alexander Spotswood of Virginia (notorious for heavy drinking), went on to explore the region until as far as where now Pendelton County is. Established in 1732, Shepherdstown was the earliest West Virginian permanent settlement.

By the year 1753, more and more settlers were coming to the area, arriving in substantial numbers, but the French and Indian War was causing great hardship. The French and Indian War was the bloodiest war in America, taking more lives than the American Revolution.

It was a clash between the English and the French over wealth and colonial territory. The bloodshed only diminished in 1763, when France lost the American continent.

James Logan was an Mingo Indian leader, and his entire family was murdered in 1774 while he was absent, and the Point Pleasant battle that followed that year, is considered as the first ‘Battle of the Revolution’.

In 1777, during the American Revolution, the Indian wars erupted again because of Chief Cornstalk’s cold-blooded murder while he was only on a mission to bring peace.

In September 1782, long after the war had come to an end in the east, the Battle of Fort Henry (Wheeling) was fought which is considered the ‘Last Battle of the Revolution’.

When Virginia broke away from the Union in 1861, the legislators of West Virginia voted against this step, but they were overruled. That same year, on June 3rd,  there was a small battle at Philippi which is considered the Civil War’s first land battle.

This event was highly important as it was shutting off the Confederate states from the region’s coal fields.

In all there were two different occasions that the West Virginia people voted for separation from Virginia, and in 1863, on June 20th, the independent state of West Virginia was accepted and recognized by the federal government.

After much debate, Charleston was chosen to be the state capital in 1885. Rumor has it that a touring circus was decisive for choosing Charleston as capital, as they put up a flamboyant show across the state to lure voters in. Shepherdstown was actually the first choice of George Washington, but that community lost the final selection.

In 1907, the Monongah mine explosion was probably the worst in West Virginia’s history, as it cost 361 lives. During World War I, more than 46,000 West Virginian residents went to war, and over 1,700 of them lost their lives, whereas WW II caused almost 5,000 casualties.

West Virginia’s state capitol burned down in 1921, on January 3rd, and this was also the year of the ‘Battle of Blair Mountain’, when a miners disagreement went out of control, and the 1937 Ohio River Floods were the worst ever to hit the state.