52 Interesting Facts About West Virginia

Last updated on February 4th, 2022

36. Another name

The Mountain State, West Virginia, is sometimes called the “Colorado of the East.”

37. Some sensitive data

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

coal train
A coal train. Image credit – J_S_photo_archive

38. A coal producer 

West Virginia is the second-largest producer of coal behind Wyoming.[6]

39. One of its kind telescope

The National Radio Astronomy Observatory at Green Bank has world’s largest steerable radio telescope. It was rebuilt in 2000.[7]

40. Glass making  

The state’s first glass making plant was established in Wellsburg in 1813.[8,9]

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

41. The state’s animal

The black bear was chosen as the state’s animal symbol by a poll which was conducted in 1954-55.[11]

42. An amphibians that breathes through its skin

The cheat mountain salamander breathes through its skin – it has no lungs.[13]

Facts About 10 Largest Cities West Virginia

43. Clarksburg

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.

44. Beckley

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.

45. Martinsburg

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.

46. Weirton

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.

47. Fairmont

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

48. Wheeling

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.

49. Parkersburg

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.

50. Morgantown

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.

51. Huntington

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.

52. Charleston

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 12 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
Population
1,792,147
(Estimate July 1, 2019 from United States Census Bureau)
StatehoodJune 20, 1863
State rank by population38th
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
(Actress)
Wilma Lee Cooper
(Singer)
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

52bear.jpg

State BirdCardinal

Northern Cardinal male RWD2.jpg

State ButterflyMonarch butterfly

Male-monarch.jpg

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

Lithostrotionella_IMG_6413
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
Websitewww.wv.gov
Area Codes304, 681
Table last updatedDecember 20, 2021