55 Interesting Facts about West Virginia, The Mountain State

West Virginia, often referred to as the “Mountain State,” is located in the Appalachian region of the United States and is characterized by its stunning natural beauty and rich cultural heritage. Nestled within the Appalachian Mountains, the state is renowned for its diverse landscapes, including picturesque rolling hills and expansive forests, attracting outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers alike.

Historically, West Virginia has played a pivotal role in the coal industry, earning it the moniker of the “Coal State.” It has been a major coal-producing state, and the industry has deeply influenced its culture and economy. Despite efforts to diversify its economic base, coal mining remains an integral part of the state’s identity and heritage.

The state is deeply rooted in Appalachian culture, which is evident in its music, including bluegrass, country, and traditional folk tunes. The Appalachian String Band Music Festival held in Clifftop is a celebration of this musical heritage and draws musicians and enthusiasts from all around, embodying the spirit and essence of West Virginia’s cultural tapestry.

West Virginia’s unique geography is notable, with its capital city, Charleston, situated at the confluence of the Kanawha and Elk Rivers. The state features varied landscapes, including plateaus, valleys, and the Allegheny Highlands, each contributing to the diversity of its ecosystem and offering a scenic backdrop to its rich history and culture.

Historically, West Virginia gained statehood during the American Civil War, breaking away from Virginia due to differences over secession. This significant event in American history deeply shaped the state’s identity, and many historical sites and battlefields provide a window into this tumultuous period, attracting history enthusiasts and scholars.

In the realm of higher education, West Virginia is home to several prominent universities, including West Virginia University, Marshall University, and West Virginia State University. These institutions play a crucial role in the state’s education and research landscape, drawing students and faculty from diverse backgrounds and contributing to the advancement of knowledge and academic excellence.

West Virginia offers a blend of natural splendor, cultural richness, historical significance, and academic excellence. Its diverse offerings make it a distinctive and captivating part of the United States.

West Virginia State Capitol in Charleston

West Virginia State Capitol in Charleston

What about West Virginia interesting facts? Here are 55 interesting facts about West Virginia.

  1. Statehood: West Virginia became the 35th state of the United States on June 20, 1863.
  2. Nickname: It is known as the “Mountain State” due to its significant mountainous terrain.
  3. Capital: The capital of West Virginia is Charleston.
  4. Highest Point: Spruce Knob is the highest natural point in the state, standing at 4,863 feet.
  5. State Song: “Take Me Home, Country Roads” by John Denver is an unofficial state anthem.
  6. First Rural Free Mail Delivery: The first rural free mail delivery in the United States started in Charles Town, West Virginia, on October 6, 1896.
  7. Civil War: West Virginia was the only state to be admitted to the Union during the American Civil War.
  8. Mother’s Day: Anna Jarvis, the founder of Mother’s Day, was from Grafton, West Virginia.
  9. Economy: Historically, coal mining has been a major economic activity in West Virginia.
  10. Seneca Caverns: West Virginia has fascinating natural limestone caves like Seneca Caverns in Riverton.
  11. Appalachian Trail: A significant portion of the Appalachian Trail, one of the longest hiking trails in the world, passes through West Virginia.
  12. Biggest City: The largest city in West Virginia is Charleston.
  13. State Bird: The state bird is the Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis).
  14. State Flower: The state flower is the Rhododendron (Rhododendron maximum).
  15. Major Rivers: The Ohio and Potomac Rivers form parts of West Virginia’s borders.
  16. Outdoor Recreation: West Virginia is renowned for its outdoor recreational activities, including white-water rafting, skiing, and hiking.
  17. New River Gorge Bridge: The New River Gorge Bridge is one of the longest steel-arch bridges in the world. It’s located within the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve.
  18. State Tree: The state tree is the Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum).
  19. NASA Connection: Katherine Johnson, a key figure in NASA’s early space program, was born in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.
  20. Population Density: West Virginia has one of the lowest population densities in the United States.
  21. Camden Park: Camden Park in Huntington is one of the oldest amusement parks in the world.
  22. Mountain Stage: Mountain Stage, a live music radio show, is produced in West Virginia and showcases a range of musical talents.
  23. Diversity of Wildlife: West Virginia is home to a rich variety of wildlife, including black bears, deer, and various bird species.
  24. State Insect: The Western Honey Bee (Apis mellifera) is the official state insect.
  25. Origin of State Name: West Virginia was named after Queen Elizabeth I of England, often referred to as the “Virgin Queen.”
  26. Famous West Virginians: Notable figures from West Virginia include Chuck Yeager, Jerry West, Brad Paisley, and Don Knotts.
  27. Skyline Drive: The Skyline Drive offers breathtaking views of the Shenandoah Valley and the Blue Ridge Mountains.
  28. Festivals: West Virginia hosts numerous festivals, such as the West Virginia Pumpkin Festival and the Strawberry Festival.
  29. Radio Astronomy Observatory: The Green Bank Observatory in Green Bank is one of the world’s leading radio astronomy observatories.
  30. State Fossil: The state fossil is the Megalonyx jeffersonii, a giant ground sloth.
  31. First Spa: The first spa resort in the United States was established in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia.
  32. NASA Research Center: NASA’s Independent Verification and Validation (IV&V) Facility is located in Fairmont, West Virginia.
  33. State Gem: The state gem is silicified Mississippian fossil coral.
  34. National Radio Quiet Zone: Parts of West Virginia are designated as a National Radio Quiet Zone to minimize radio interference for scientific research.
  35. West Virginia State University: West Virginia State University is a historically black public university located in Institute, West Virginia. It was founded in 1891 and is a member of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund.
  36. West Virginia University: West Virginia University (WVU) is a public research university situated in Morgantown, West Virginia. It was established in 1867 and is known for its robust academic programs and research contributions.
  37. Marshall University: Marshall University, located in Huntington, West Virginia, is a public research university founded in 1837. The university is recognized for its excellent programs in health sciences and engineering, among other fields.
  38. Unusual Town Names: West Virginia has unique town names like “Hell for Certain,” “Looneyville,” and “Beech Bottom.”
  39. State Animal: The Black Bear (Ursus americanus) is the official state animal.
  40. Nuclear Power: West Virginia has a number of nuclear power plants contributing to the state’s energy production.
  41. The Greenbrier: The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs is a historic luxury resort with a vast underground bunker built for Congress during the Cold War.
  42. State Butterfly: The Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus) is the state butterfly.
  43. State Reptile: The Timber Rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus) is the state reptile.
  44. Covered Bridges: West Virginia has some picturesque covered bridges, including the Philippi Covered Bridge.
  45. State Soil: Monongahela silt loam is the official state soil.
  46. Highest Waterfall: Blackwater Falls is one of the highest waterfalls in the state, dropping over 60 feet.
  47. Ghost Town: Thurmond, a former bustling railroad town, is now a ghost town with a population of 5.
  48. State Fish: The official state fish is the Brook Trout (Salvelinus fontinalis).
  49. State Folk Dance: The state folk dance is the Square Dance.
  50. Salt Production: Early salt production was a significant industry, leading to the state’s nickname, the “Salt State.”
  51. State Rock: Bituminous Coal is the official state rock.
  52. Snowshoe Mountain: It’s a popular ski resort in West Virginia, drawing winter sports enthusiasts.
  53. National Forests: West Virginia boasts two national forests: Monongahela and George Washington National Forests.
  54. Literary Connection: Pearl S. Buck, the Nobel Prize-winning author, was born in Hillsboro, West Virginia.
  55. State Motto: The state motto is “Montani Semper Liberi,” which means “Mountaineers are Always Free.”

Nestled in the heart of the Appalachian region, West Virginia is a state rich with history, natural beauty, and a resilient spirit. Its picturesque landscapes, from the rugged mountains to the winding rivers, have earned it the moniker of the Mountain State. West Virginia has a cultural fabric deeply woven with traditions, arts, and a strong sense of community. It’s a place where outdoor enthusiasts can revel in hiking, skiing, and whitewater rafting, and where historical landmarks stand as a testament to the state’s pivotal role in American history.

As the sun sets behind the hills, painting the sky with hues of orange and pink, West Virginia showcases its quiet charm and serenity. The people here, proud of their heritage, have an enduring strength, having faced challenges and triumphed. West Virginia is more than a geographical location; it’s a resilient spirit, a haven of beauty, and a place where the warmth of the people reflects the warmth of the setting sun over its majestic landscapes.