68 Interesting Facts About West Virginia

Last updated on December 21st, 2023

53. White river rafting has become popular in West Virginia and draws many visitors. The reason for that is the two rivers provide year-round opportunities for rafting.

The first steamboat

54. In 1787, West Virginia made history by launching the first steamboat in the Potomac River at New Mecklensburg.

55. A first for women is The Ladies Garland, a newspaper specially written for women. John Gallager published it during the Victorian Period.

Lion vs Giant Sloth

56. In 1796, soldiers operating in Greenbrier County discovered animal bones that appeared to belong to a large lion. However, the real identity of the animal was unmasked by an amateur paleontologist who correctly identified it as a giant sloth.


57. There are more than 70 different types of animals found in the State of West Virginia. It includes skunks, raccoons, big-eared bats, and many more. Wildlife watching has become a favorite pastime in West Virginia, with many animals to be observed. Many places can be visited to see animals and birds.

Some special snakes

58. The Bluestone River in West Virginia is home to the northern water snakes. These snakes are special because they incubate their eggs inside their bodies and then give birth to the live young. The snakes grow to be about 24-55 inches. They can hatch 9 to 45 young in a year.

Wild black bear fishing in Alaska.
Wild black bear fishing in Alaska.Wild black bear fishing in Alaska.

The state’s animal

59. The black bear was chosen as the state’s animal symbol by a poll which was conducted in 1954-55.


60. More than 300 bird species make their home in West Virginia. The ruby-throat is one of this list’s more interesting bird species.

61. The Monarch butterfly migrates between Canada and Mexico, passing through West Virginia. This makes the state the Monarch Highway.

An amphibians that breathes through its skin

62. The cheat mountain salamander breathes through its skin – it has no lungs.

Kanawha to West Virginia

63. In 1861, residents of West Virginia were presented with the name Kanawha when they voted on whether or not to break away from Virginia. The suggestion was aimed at honoring a local Native American tribe. However, the legislators finally chose West Virginia.

Native American Tribes

64. Various Native American tribes used to live in the area known as West Virginia. These include tribes like the Cherokee, Sopani, and Tutelo.


65. Huntington in West Virginia was once upon a time the most obese town in the US. West Virginia was also voted the most obese and worst public health state.

Health is Wealth!

66. Huntington residents took action and promoted healthy habits to show everybody they were not that unhealthy. After ten years, the obesity rate is down by 15 percent.

a traffic light
a traffic light

No traffic lights

67. Monroe County in West Virginia is void of any traffic lights, 4-lane highways, and fast food restaurants. It is a place to be and enjoy the life in the simplest manner. 

Fingerprint database

68. The largest fingerprint database in the world lies with the FBI crime data center in Clarksburg, WV.

Food facts – West Virginia

The Dixie dog is a traditional American food believed to have originated in Huntington, West Virginia. It comes complete with blueberry sauce as part of the toppings.

Another dish that is part of West Virginia is rat stew, made with actual rats. They are killed with a poison less trap and added to a broth.

A specialty, the pepperoni roll, was invented in 1927 in the Country Club Bakery in Fairmont. It is served with a marinara sauce to dip it in.

The authentic West Virginia Slaw dog is never served with any other sauces like ketchup. A steamed or grilled hotdog is served on bread with onions, coleslaw, and chili.

For true mountaineers, their choice of breakfast is biscuits with gravy. A split buttermilk biscuit covered with a thick sausage gravy is good anywhere.

Gorgonzola and grape pizza is a version that is different from all other types of pizza. It has become very popular in West Virginia in the last couple of years.

Skillet Cornbread is another great favorite in West Virginia. It is served with a barbeque platter or crumbled into a plate of beans.

Fried potatoes with wild mountain leeks, known as ramps, are popular among West Virginia locals. It is trendy at the Ramson feasts if you plan to visit it.

The Standard Cornbread and soup beans are a favorite all over West Virginia. A must-topping that goes with it is chopped unions.

Tender Baked Steak with gravy is another dish West Virginia locals enjoy. It is excellent when paired with hot from-the-oven cornbread or baked potatoes.

Facts About 10 Largest Cities West Virginia


Clarksburg was named after Gen. George Rogers Clark, an American surveyor and military officer. It was once used by the Union Army as a supply depot during the American Civil War.


Beckley is the seat of Raleigh County. The city was named after John James Beckley who served as the first Librarian of Congress. It plays host to the annual Appalachian Festival. It is home to the stunning Grandview National Park and the Bluestone State Park.


Martinsburg is the seat of Berkeley County. Named after Col. Thomas Bryan Martin, an English-American legislator and justice. It is considered a small, quirky town and much-loved by tourists who love its unique charm. It still retains and maintains a puppet theater, one of the only few left in the U.S.


Weirton was once part of an area called Holliday’s Cove. The city owes its name to steel mill owner Ernest T. Weir. The older town was established during the 1700s but Weirton itself was formed in 1947. At one point, it was America’s largest unincorporated city for more than 30 years.


Fairmont was once named Middletown because of its location between Morgantown and Clarksburg. The area featured a lovely overlook that offered a terrific view of the Monongahela River. Standing on that overlook gave the view a “fair mount”, hence the name.

Memorial statue of Walter Reuther
Memorial statue of Walter Reuther. Reuther, a Wheeling native, was a labour rights leader and president of the United Auto Workers from 1946-1970. Photo © Jacqueline Nix | Dreamstime.com


Wheeling once served as West Virginia’s first state capital. It was once a center for manufacturing during the 19th century. its name is believed to have originated from a Delaware Indian name that means “head” or “skull”, referring to the decapitation of settlers in the past.


Parkersburg serves as the seat of Wood county and was once known as Newport. It was settled in the 1780s as Neal’s Station. A settler from Pittsburgh, Alexander Parker, purchased a tract of land in the area. The city was renamed in his honor in 1811.


Morgantown was named in honor of homesteader Zackquill Morgan. Although it is the third most populous city in West Virginia, it becomes No. 1 during game days when the 65,000-seater Mountaineer Field is packed with fans and sports enthusiasts.


Huntington has a busy inland port, thanks to its coal and petroleum production. The city was once called Holderby’s Landing but its name was changed in honor of Collis P. Huntington who was responsible for its establishment in 1870. Coal, along with chemical industries, helped the city grow significantly during the 1950s.


Charleston is West Virginia’s state capital, often affectionately called “Charlie West”. It was incorporated in 1794 and was named after the father of its founder, Col. George Clendenin, a military officer. Summers Street, the first brick street in the world, was laid here in 1870. The city hosts the annual West Virginia Dance Festival and is the base of the WV Air National Guard.

About life in West Virginia

One noticeable thing about life in West Virginia is the strong sense of community. The Blue Ridge Mountains have always been a barrier of sorts between the state and the outside world, although the sense of community also means that outsiders are not always quickly accepted, or struggle with cultural differences.

West Virginia has one of the highest number of hunters in the country, with almost 14 percent of residents having a hunting licence. If you live here, you almost have to have an interest in fishing too, as well as other outdoor pursuits such as white water rafting and mountain biking.

There are no big cities in West Virginia; even the capital Charleston has a population of only around 50,000. If you need a medical specialist, a large international airport or want to attend a major concert, it means a drive of at least five hours to Washington, Cincinnati or Pittsburgh.

Unfortunately, the job market isn’t great in West Virginia, especially as coal mining has declined in importance. The unemployment rate is about 4 percent. However, on the plus side, buying property here is affordable, with the average home price around $108,000.

If you live in the Mountain State, you’ll probably be seen as a hillbilly; it’s something that’s closely associated with West Virginia as numerous movies have shown. And unfortunately the state is one of the least educated in the country, although there are several good universities, including West Virginia University, considered the state’s best.

About The Flag of West Virginia

Flag of West Virginia
Flag of West Virginia. Image in Public Domain. 

The state flag of West Virginia features the state’s coat of arms and the rhododendron flower. The coat of arms were originally designed as a state seal by Joseph H. Diss Debar in 1863. It is surrounded by a wreath of the rhododendron flower which was adopted as the state’s flower in 1903.

The flag consists of a white background that is bordered on all sides by a blue stripe. The color white symbolizes purity while the blue border represents the Union in the civil war.

The coat of arms on the flag consists of a farmer and miner that flank a rock with the date that West Virginia achieved statehood (June 20, 1863). It includes crossed rifles and a cap of liberty that represent the Latin motto that is included below the seal which translates to ‘Mountaineers always are free’. This refers to the fact that the mountainous regions of western Virginia split from the rest of the state in 1861 after the state joined the Confederacy in support of slavery.

The flag was recognized by the state legislature in 1905 but was changed in 1907 to switch the position of the state arms and flower as well as adding a scroll with the text ‘State of West Virginia’ below the arms. The scroll was moved above the state arms in 1929 and a Latin motto included underneath to produce the version of the flag that is in use today.

The 1907 flag included different symbols on each side of the flag with the state’s coat of arms on one side and the rhododendron flower on the other. The changes introduced in 1929 were intended to integrate the symbols so that they were the same on both sides thus simplifying the design and enabling it to be reproduced at less cost.

West Virginia- quick facts and state symbols

State AbbreviationWV
State CapitalCharleston
Largest CityCharleston
State SizeTotal (Land + Water): 24,230 sq miles; Land Only: 24,078 sq miles
1,770,071 (Estimate July 1, 2023 from United States Census Bureau at https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/WV)
StatehoodJune 20, 1863
State rank by population39th
State rank by date of formation35th
State rank by area41st
Number of Counties55
DemonymWest Virginian
Bordering StatesKentucky, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia
Official LanguageEnglish
Highest PointSpruce Knob
4863 ft (1482 m)
Lowest pointPotomac River at Virginia border 240 ft (73 m)
Mean elevation1,500 feet above sea level
Length 240 miles (385 km)
Width130 miles (210 km)
GovernorJim Justice (R)
Lieutenant GovernorCraig Blair (R)
Electoral Votes5
State MottoMontani semper liberi (Mountaineers are always free)
State NicknameMountain State
% Water0.6
Noble prize WinnersPearl Buck (Literature, 1938)
John F. Nash Jr. (Economic Sciences, 1994)
Famous peopleFrank Gatski (Pro Football player)
Bill Mazeroski (Baseball player)
Hal Greer (Basketball player)
Elizabeth McLaughlin
Wilma Lee Cooper
State Flag

Flag of West Virginia

State seal

Seal of West Virginia.svg

State coat of arms

The Coat of Arms of West Virginia

State AnimalBlack bear


State BirdCardinal

Northern Cardinal male RWD2.jpg

State ButterflyMonarch butterfly


State FishBrook trout

Salvelinus fontinalis Prague Vltava 4.jpg

State FlowerRhododendron

Rhododendron ponticum (2).jpg

State FossilMegalonyx Jeffersonii

Jefferson's Ground Sloth
State FruitApple

Golden delicious apple.jpg

State GemFossil Coral

State InsectHoneybee

Bee March 2008-4.jpg

State ReptileTimber rattlesnake

Crotalus horridus (1).jpg

State RockBituminous coal

Coal bituminous.jpg

State TreeSugar Maple

Acer saccharum.jpg

Longitude77° 43′ W to 82° 39′ W
Latitude37° 12′ N to 40° 39′ N
Time ZoneEastern Time Zone
Area Codes304, 681
Table last updatedDecember 21, 2023