92 Interesting & Fun Facts About West Virginia

Are you ready to journey into a state filled with towering mountains, deep forests, and amazing stories? Let’s pack our adventure gear and head to West Virginia, a place where nature shows off its beauty and history is around every corner. With its nickname as the “Mountain State,” West Virginia is a treasure trove of outdoor fun and fascinating facts. So, let’s dive in and discover what makes West Virginia so special with these facts about West Virginia!

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First off, did you know that West Virginia is the only state in the USA that’s entirely within a mountain range? That’s right! It’s nestled in the Appalachian Mountains, making it a perfect spot for hiking, biking, and exploring. Imagine standing on top of a mountain and looking out at a sea of rolling hills and valleys. That’s the view you get in West Virginia!

But West Virginia isn’t just about its stunning scenery. It’s also known for its rich history, especially when it comes to coal mining. Coal from West Virginia has powered homes and industries all over the country for many years. The state even has museums where you can learn all about the life of a coal miner and the communities built around the mines.

And here’s a fun fact about West Virginia: it is home to some of the most beautiful rivers and waterfalls in the country. The New River Gorge, with its incredible bridge, is a sight to behold, especially in the fall when the leaves change color. Plus, the state has lots of festivals and fairs that celebrate its unique culture and history, from music to food.

Are you excited to learn more facts about West Virginia? From its breathtaking mountains and important coal mines to its rushing rivers and colorful festivals, there’s so much to explore and discover in this wonderful state. Let’s keep our curiosity alive and find out all the amazing things that make West Virginia a place full of adventure and learning!

Be sure to discover even more interesting facts with our Facts about Louisiana and our Facts about Missouri.

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Facts about West Virginia

  1. The state was originally going to be named “Kanawha” to honor a Native American tribe; however, after its succession from the Commonwealth of Virginia, officials still wanted Virginia to be part of its name.
  2. West Virginia was born out of sectional differences during the Civil War.
  3. West Virginia has some strange old laws still in existence. For instance, it is technically illegal to own a red or black flag.
  4. West Virginia is the only state that lies entirely within the Appalachian Mountain range, hence its nickname, the Mountain State.
  5. West Virginia was the first U.S. state to build brick roads.
  6. Five of West Virginia’s major lakes are located here– Burnsville, Stonecoal, Stonewall Jackson, Summersville, and Sutton. These bodies of water provide excellent fishing, camping, boating, and other recreational opportunities.
  7. The first state to have sales tax was West Virginia, which was imposed on May 3, 1921.
  8. West Virginia is the 39th most populous and the 41st most extensive of the 50 states of the United States. 
  9. West Virginia is named for Queen Elizabeth I of England, “The Virgin Queen.”
  10. Officially nicknamed the “Mountain State” but also known as the “Panhandle State,” West Virginia was the 35th state to join the United States of America on June 20, 1863.
  11. The Mountain State of West Virginia is sometimes called the “Colorado of the East.”
  12. John Denver’s famous song “Take Me Home, Country Roads” is about the artist’s time in West Virginia. In 2014, it joined the list of tunes that have become official West Virginia state symbols. 
  13. West Virginia has a total area of 24,230 mi² (62,755 km²), making it the 10th smallest state in the U.S. It sits between Maryland and South Carolina in terms of size.
  14. Tu-Endie-Wei State Park was originally called Point Pleasant Battlefield State Park to commemorate the soldiers who died in the 1774 Battle of Point Pleasant. The park’s name was later changed to reflect the Wyandotte Indian term for the “point between two waters”.
  15. Some weird laws include being fined $1 for each time you swear in public. If you decide to participate in a duel you won’t be able to run for public office. Last but not least, if you’re a fireman, it’s strictly prohibited to flirt.
  16. The state’s first glass-making plant was established in Wellsburg in 1813.
  17. During the early 1800s, slavery and the slave trade were legal in West Virginia, and some of its residents held slaves.
  18. There are no traffic lights in Calhoun County or in Clay County.
  19. The first rural free delivery mail service took place in 1896 in Charles Town through the Post Office Department’s pilot program to determine the feasibility of rural delivery for the rest of the country.
  20. The outline of West Virginia shown on the map looks like a leaping or squat frog. That is because the top part looks like frog legs.
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  1. In 1775, a group of 2,000 residents signed a petition asking the Continental Congress to create a 14th colony called Westsylvania, which would have encompassed all of today’s West Virginia along with portions of Maryland, Virginia, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania. 
  2. The largest alluvial diamond in North America, known as the Punch Jones Diamond, was discovered in Peterstown in 1928. It is named after William “Punch” Jones and his father, Grover.
  3. With a total of 24,230 square miles (62,755 square kilometers) of land and water, it is the 18th largest state.
  4. Virginia split into Virginia and West Virginia due to political differences. The split happened in 1861 and the new state was admitted to the union in 1863.
  5. The New River Gorge Bridge is one of the most famous landmarks in the state. It was completed in 1977 and served as a more direct way to cross the gorge.
  6. West Virginia is the 12th least populous state, with a population of 1.76 million residents. It has more people than Hawaii but less than Idaho.
  7. Berkeley Springs State Park is known for its relaxing spa, but this park is part of the town of Berkeley Springs’ George Washington’s Bathtub Celebration. This annual festival is a nod to the spring-fed pool where the young surveyor (and later, president) once bathed.
  8. The gradual abolition of slavery started in the mid-1800s and finally stopped on February 3, 1865.
  9. West Virginian farmers typically grow or produce corn, soybeans, mixed vegetables, as well as livestock, such as cattle and poultry farming. More than 60% of the state’s total agricultural production is in livestock products.
  10. The first court in the U.S. to allow videotaped evidence, which ended up convicting a drunk driver, was Charleston Municipal Court in West Virginia.
  11. Apart from being the state with the most foreign city names, it also has many funny town names. Droop, Cucumber, Boozoo, and Bud are among them.
  12. Harrisville is home to America’s oldest dime store, Berdine’s Five and Dime, which has been continuously operating since 1908.
  13. Wheeling, West Virginia, was where outdoor advertising had its beginnings. The Bloch Brothers Tobacco Company kick-started this trend by painting bridges and barns with the slogan, “Treat Yourself to the Best, Chew Mail Pouch.”
  14. People have been living in West Virginia for more than 13,000 years!
  15.  At the end of the Civil War, Virginia demanded that its new neighbor pay its pre-war debt. The Supreme Court ordered the state to pay after it initially declined.
  16. West Virginia is the only state to form by seceding from a Confederate state and one of three states to secede from another state.
  17. West Virginia has five ski resorts, with the largest being Snowshoe Mountain. It attracts half a million visitors per year.
  18. Chuck Yeager, born in 1923, from West Virginia became the first person in the world to break the sound barrier. He made history in October 1947 when while he flew the Bell X-1 rocket at 700 mph in level flight and crossed the speed of sound.
  19. The population of West Virginia has been declining for the last decade. It reached a peak of 1.86 million in 2012.
  20. The first West Virginia state park cabins were rented in 1937. Weekly rates ranged from $10 for two occupants to $30 for six. 
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  1. Blackwater Falls State Park is one of its most popular tourist spots. The Falls is widely known as it’s often photographed for calendars, magazines, and advertising purposes. 
  2. According to the crime index for 1997, West Virginia had the lowest crime rate in the country.
  3. Cecil Underwood made history in 1956 when he became the state’s youngest governor at 34 – then again in 1996 when he became the state’s oldest governor after being reelected at 74.
  4. Frank Buckles who was the last surviving veteran of World War I was a resident of Charleston. He died in 2011 aged an astonishing 110 years old. During his younger years, Buckles had to lie about his age to enlist in the U.S. Army.
  5. Home to America’s oldest dime store, Berdine’s Five and Dime, Harrisville has been operating continuously since 1908.
  6. West Virginia was home to many different tribes and cultures before Europeans discovered North America.
  7. Grafton, West Virginia, was the venue for the world’s first Mother’s Day celebrations. The occasion took place on May 10, 1908 after, the founder, Anna Jarvis, honored her mother posthumously. This day of remembrance turned into a global celebration.
  8. West Virginia is a close second to Wyoming regarding coal production. On average, over 70,000 tons of coal are produced annually, making up just under 14% of the nation’s supply.
  9. Charleston is the capital and largest city in West Virginia. It has a population of 48,000 (metropolitan 255,000).
  10. The Greenbrier is one of the most prestigious resorts in the United States. Located in the Allegheny Mountains, West Virginia, The Greenbrier occupies around 4,451 hectares of land, with more than 700 guest rooms, 33 suite rooms, 30 souvenir shops, and 20 restaurants.
  11. In 1960, Danny Heater, a high school student, scored 135 points in a high school basketball game which earned him a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records.
  12. The Monongahela National Forest, spanning across 10 counties and covering nearly a million acres, makes West Virginia the third most forested state in the country.
  13. A great West Virginia symbol is the sugar maple, which was voted state tree in 1949. The tree is also a state tree of other states in the U.S.
  14. The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic and Asylum was a psychiatric hospital that treated patients between 1864 and 1994. The building was designed to emulate Gothic architecture using cut-stone masonry.
  15. John Brown started a movement of anti-slavery in 1859 with a protest. One of the well-known protests was the one in Harpers Ferry.
  16. “The Mountain State” is a common nickname for West Virginia because it’s the only state that’s completely within the Appalachian Mountain range. It has also been called “The Switzerland of America” for the same reason.
  17. The State Capitol dome in West Virginia stands at a towering height of 292 feet, surpassing the dome in the nation’s capital.
  18. West Virginia was almost empty of Native Americans when Europeans attempted to colonize it.
  19. West Virginia is the second-largest producer of coal behind Wyoming.
  20. In 1903, the West Virginia state flower was the rhododendron, chosen by both schoolchildren and the governor at the time. Rhododendron is a broad term that covers over 1,000 species of similar plants. 
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  1. The official state motto of West Virginia is “Montani Semper Liberi” which is Latin for “Mountaineers are Always Free”.
  2. The Seneca Caverns of West Virginia are filled with a rich history. According to experts, the formation of the Caverns started more than 450 million years ago, when the native Seneca people lived in the caves during the 1400s.
  3. The Greenbrier is a luxury hot spring resort in West Virginia that has been welcoming guests since 1778. In total, 26 U.S. presidents have stayed there. 
  4. 75% of West Virginia is covered by forests.
  5. West Virginia is the third most forested state. The Monongahela National Forest covers nearly a million acres of land and spans across 10 counties.
  6. West Virginia is located within a day’s drive from 75% of the U.S. population, yet remains an untouched gem among outdoor enthusiasts.
  7. The Golden Delicious Apple originated in Clay County in 1905.
  8. At 700 feet, the Phil G. McDonald Bridge, located in Beckley, West Virginia, is the tallest truss bridge in the world.
  9. In 1928, a family in Peterstown found a 34-carat diamond at their home and stashed it in a cigar box for 14 years thinking it was a quartz rock. The family only discovered that it was a diamond after taking the gem to a local geologist.
  10. Webster Springs, West Virginia was home to the largest sycamore tree in the world until it fell in 2010. The tree was estimated to be over 500 years old.
  11. The USS West Virginia was hit during the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941– a date which will live in infamy. The mast from the ship now lives on West Virginia University’s campus, in front of Oglebay Hall.
  12. The first brick street in the world was laid in Charleston on Summers Street.
  13. The highest point in West Virginia is Spruce Knob, which stands nearly 4,900 feet above sea level. On the other hand, the state’s lowest point is Harper’s Ferry, which is just under 250 feet above sea level.
  14. The Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, a National Historic Landmark, is the largest hand-cut stone masonry building in North America and second in the world to the Kremlin.
  15. The official acronym for West Virginia is WV. People from there are called West Virginians.
  16. On September 10, 1938, the Mingo Oak, which was the largest and oldest white oak tree in the United States, was declared dead. A “falling ceremony” was held for the tree.
  17. Beckley, West Virginia, is home to the Phil G. McDonald Bridge, the tallest truss bridge in the world, reaching an impressive height of 700 feet. Despite its grandeur, it often receives less attention compared to the famous New River Gorge Bridge.
  18. The National Radio Astronomy Observatory at Green Bank has the world’s largest steerable radio telescope. It was rebuilt in 2000.
  19. West Virginia witnessed the first land battle of the Civil War during the Battle of Philippi in 1861.
  20. West Virginia holds the record for having the most towns named after cities in other countries. Towns such as Athens, Berlin, Cairo, Calcutta, Geneva, and Shanghai can all be found within the state’s borders.
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  1. In 1849, the Wheeling Suspension Bridge was opened to the public after two years of construction. It served as a faster and more direct route across the Ohio River. The bridge became a national historic landmark in 1975. 
  2. West Virginia is on the “Monarch Highway”, a route of migrating monarch butterflies between Canada and Mexico. The monarch butterfly is thus the official state insect.
  3. The annual temperatures here in West Virginia range from about 13°C in the southern part, 11°C in the north, and 9°C in the most mountainous areas.
  4. The Glade Creek Grist Mill in Babcock State Park is one of the most iconic sights in the state. It is a living monument to the more than 500 mills that used to be in the area.
  5. In 1984, Georgeann Wells made history for the state when she successfully dunked during a college basketball game. The feat, which took place at West Virginia University, was special in that she was the first female to dunk.
  6. In December 1967, West Virginia was struck by tragedy. The Silver Bridge, which crossed the Ohio River connecting West Virginia and Ohio, collapsed. The collapse occurred during rush-hour traffic and killed 46 people.
  7. West Virginia has one of the oldest populations of any state, with a median age of 42.7. Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont also top the list. 
  8. The Coal House, which is the only residence in the world built entirely of coal, is located in White Sulphur Springs.
  9. On August 3, 1984, gymnast Mary Lou Retton became the first U.S. woman to win an Olympic gold in the All-Around event.
  10. Early in the year of 1921, Charleston was burned to the ground. That was when the town just started and had only about four buildings.
  11. The dome atop the West Virginia State Capitol building is nearly 300 feet high. The 292 feet height is just over four feet higher than the dome in Washington.
  12. The nation’s longest steel-arch bridge is the New River Gorge Bridge in the national park. It spans 1,815 ft (553 m) across the New River Gorge.

Do you have even more interesting facts about West Virginia? Share them with us in the comments! 

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