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West Virginia is a
state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper in Columbia, South Carolina, U ...
in the Appalachian, Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern regions of the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...
.The Census Bureau and the
Association of American Geographers The American Association of Geographers (AAG) is a Nonprofit organization, non-profit learned society, scientific and educational society aimed at advancing the understanding, study, and importance of geography and related fields. Its headquar ...
classify West Virginia as part of the
Southern United States The Southern United States (sometimes Dixie, also referred to as the Southern States, the American South, the Southland, or simply the South) is a geographic and cultural List of regions of the United States#Official regions of the United Stat ...
while the
Bureau of Labor Statistics The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is a unit of the United States Department of Labor. It is the principal fact-finding agency for the U.S. government in the broad field of labor economics and statistics and serves as a principal agency of ...
classifies the state as a part of the Mid-Atlantic region
Mid-Atlantic Home : Mid-Atlantic Information Office: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics"
www.bls.gov. Archived.
It is bordered by
Pennsylvania Pennsylvania (; (Pennsylvania Dutch language, Pennsylvania Dutch: )), officially the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, is a U.S. state, state spanning the Mid-Atlantic (United States), Mid-Atlantic, Northeastern United States, Northeastern, Appa ...
to the north and east,
Maryland Maryland ( ) is a U.S. state, state in the Mid-Atlantic (United States), Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. It shares borders with Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; ...
to the east and northeast,
Virginia Virginia, officially the Commonwealth of Virginia, is a U.S. state, state in the Mid-Atlantic (United States), Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern United States, Southeastern regions of the United States, between the East Coast of the United Stat ...
to the southeast,
Kentucky Kentucky ( , ), officially the Commonwealth of Kentucky, is a U.S. state, state in the Southeastern United States, Southeastern region of the United States and one of the states of the Upper South. It borders Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio to ...
to the southwest, and
Ohio Ohio () is a U.S. state, state in the Midwestern United States, Midwestern region of the United States. Of the List of states and territories of the United States, fifty U.S. states, it is the List of U.S. states and territories by area, 34th-l ...
to the northwest. West Virginia is the 10th-smallest state by area and ranks as the 12th-least populous state, with a population of 1,793,716 residents. The capital and largest city is Charleston. West Virginia was admitted to the Union on June 20, 1863, and was a key border state during
the American Civil War The American Civil War (April 12, 1861 – May 26, 1865; also known by Names of the American Civil War, other names) was a civil war in the United States. It was fought between the Union (American Civil War), Union ("the North") and t ...
. It was the only state to form by separating from a Confederate state, the second to separate from a state after
Maine Maine () is a U.S. state, state in the New England and Northeastern United States, Northeastern regions of the United States. It borders New Hampshire to the west, the Gulf of Maine to the southeast, and the Provinces and territories of Canad ...
separated from
Massachusetts Massachusetts (Massachusett language, Massachusett: ''Muhsachuweesut assachusett writing systems, məhswatʃəwiːsət'' English: , ), officially the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, is the most populous U.S. state, state in the New England ...
, and one of two states (along with
Nevada Nevada ( ; ) is a U.S. state, state in the Western United States, Western region of the United States. It is bordered by Oregon to the northwest, Idaho to the northeast, California to the west, Arizona to the southeast, and Utah to the east. N ...
) admitted to the Union during the Civil War. Some of its residents held slaves, but most were
yeoman Yeoman is a noun originally referring either to one who owns and cultivates land or to the middle ranks of servants in an English royal or noble household. The term was first documented in mid-14th-century England. The 14th century also witn ...
farmers, and the delegates provided for the gradual abolition of slavery in the new state constitution. The state legislature abolished slavery in the state, and at the same time ratified the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery nationally on February 3, 1865. West Virginia's Northern Panhandle extends adjacent to Pennsylvania and Ohio to form a tristate area, with Wheeling and Weirton just across the border from the
Pittsburgh Pittsburgh ( ) is a city in the Commonwealth (U.S. state), Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, United States, and the county seat of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, Allegheny County. It is the most populous city in both Allegheny County and Wester ...
metropolitan area. Huntington in the southwest is close to Ohio and Kentucky, while Martinsburg and
Harpers Ferry Harpers Ferry is a historic town in Jefferson County, West Virginia, Jefferson County, West Virginia. It is located in the lower Shenandoah Valley. The population was 285 at the 2020 United States census, 2020 census. Situated at the confluence o ...
in the Eastern Panhandle region are considered part of the Washington metropolitan area, between Maryland and Virginia. West Virginia is often included in several U.S. geographical regions, including the Mid-Atlantic, the
Upland South The Upland South and Upper South are two overlapping cultural and geographic subregions in the inland part of the Southern United States, Southern and lower Midwestern United States, Midwestern United States. They differ from the Deep South and A ...
, and the
Southeastern United States The Southeastern United States, also referred to as the American Southeast or simply the Southeast, is a geographical List of regions in the United States, region of the United States. It is located broadly on the eastern portion of the south ...
. It is the only state entirely within the area served by the
Appalachian Regional Commission The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) is a United States federal–state partnership that works with the people of Appalachia to create opportunities for self-sustaining economic development and improved quality of life. Congress established A ...
; the area is commonly defined as "
Appalachia Appalachia () is a cultural region in the Eastern United States that stretches from the Southern Tier of New York State to northern Alabama (We dare defend our rights) , anthem = " Alabama" , image_map = Alabama in United States.svg ...
". The state is noted for its
mountain A mountain is an elevated portion of the Earth's crust, generally with steep sides that show significant exposed bedrock. Although definitions vary, a mountain may differ from a plateau in having a limited Summit (topography), summit area, and ...
s and rolling hills, its historically significant
coal mining Coal mining is the process of resource extraction, extracting coal from the ground. Coal is valued for its Energy value of coal, energy content and since the 1880s has been widely used to generate electricity. Steel and cement industries use c ...
and
logging Logging is the process of cutting, processing, and moving tree In botany, a tree is a perennial plant with an elongated Plant stem, stem, or trunk (botany), trunk, usually supporting branches and leaves. In some usages, the definition o ...
industries, and its
political Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with making decisions in groups, or other forms of power relations among individuals, such as the distribution of resources or status. The branch of social science that stu ...
and labor history. It is also known for a wide range of outdoor recreational opportunities, including
skiing Skiing is the use of skis to glide on snow. Variations of purpose include basic transport, a recreational activity, or a competitive winter sport. Many types of competitive skiing events are recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IO ...
,
whitewater rafting Rafting and whitewater rafting are recreational outdoor activities which use an inflatable raft to navigate a river or other body of water. This is often done on whitewater or different degrees of rough water. Dealing with risk is often a ...
,
fishing Fishing is the activity of trying to catch fish. Fish are often caught as wildlife from the natural environment, but may also be caught from fish stocking, stocked bodies of water such as fish pond, ponds, canals, park wetlands and reservoirs. ...
,
hiking Hiking is a long, vigorous walking, walk, usually on trails or footpaths in the countryside. Walking for pleasure developed in Europe during the eighteenth century.AMATO, JOSEPH A. "Mind over Foot: Romantic Walking and Rambling." In ''On Foot: ...
,
backpacking Backpacking may refer to: * Backpacking (travel), low-cost, independent, international travel * Backpacking (hiking), trekking and camping overnight in the wilderness * Ultralight backpacking, a style of wilderness backpacking with an emphasis on ...
,
mountain biking Mountain biking is a sport of riding bicycles off-road, often over rough terrain, usually using specially designed mountain bikes. Mountain bikes share similarities with other bikes but incorporate features designed to enhance durability and per ...
,
rock climbing Rock climbing is a sport in which participants climb up, across, or down natural rock formations. The goal is to reach the summit of a formation or the endpoint of a usually pre-defined route without falling. Rock climbing is a physically an ...
, and
hunting Hunting is the human activity, human practice of seeking, pursuing, capturing, or killing wildlife or feral animals. The most common reasons for humans to hunt are to harvest food (i.e. meat) and useful animal products (fur/hide (skin), hide, ...
. From the
Great Depression The Great Depression (19291939) was an economic shock that impacted most countries across the world. It was a period of economic depression that became evident after a major fall in stock prices in the United States. The Financial contagion, ...
to the 1990s, the state voted heavily for the Democratic Party due to its tradition of union-based politics. Since then, the state has become heavily Republican, and is considered a "deep red" state at the federal level. Other nominated names for the state included Vandalia, Kanawha, Appalachia, and Western Virginia. The capital was originally Wheeling, before switching to Charleston, moving back to Wheeling, and finally back to Charleston. The first governor was Arthur Boreman.


History

Many ancient manmade earthen mounds from various prehistoric mound builder cultures survive in West Virginia, especially in the areas of present-day Moundsville, South Charleston, and Romney. Artifacts uncovered in these give evidence of village societies with a tribal trade system culture that crafted cold-worked
copper Copper is a chemical element with the Symbol (chemistry), symbol Cu (from la, cuprum) and atomic number 29. It is a soft, malleable, and ductility, ductile metal with very high thermal conductivity, thermal and electrical conductivity. A fre ...
pieces. In the 1670s, during the
Beaver Wars The Beaver Wars ( moh, Tsianì kayonkwere), also known as the Iroquois Wars or the French and Iroquois Wars (french: Guerres franco-iroquoises) were a series of conflicts fought intermittently during the 17th century in North America throughout t ...
, the powerful
Iroquois The Iroquois ( or ), officially the Haudenosaunee ( meaning "people of the longhouse"), are an Iroquoian Peoples, Iroquoian-speaking Confederation#Indigenous confederations in North America, confederacy of First Nations in Canada, First Natio ...
, five allied nations based in present-day New York and Pennsylvania, drove out other American Indian tribes from the region to reserve the upper Ohio Valley as a hunting ground.
Siouan language Siouan or Siouan–Catawban is a language family of North America that is located primarily in the Great Plains, Ohio_River, Ohio and Mississippi_River, Mississippi valleys and southeastern North America with a few other languages in the east. N ...
tribes, such as the Moneton, had previously been recorded in the area. A century later, the area now identified as West Virginia was contested territory among Anglo-Americans as well, with the colonies of
Pennsylvania Pennsylvania (; (Pennsylvania Dutch language, Pennsylvania Dutch: )), officially the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, is a U.S. state, state spanning the Mid-Atlantic (United States), Mid-Atlantic, Northeastern United States, Northeastern, Appa ...
and
Virginia Virginia, officially the Commonwealth of Virginia, is a U.S. state, state in the Mid-Atlantic (United States), Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern United States, Southeastern regions of the United States, between the East Coast of the United Stat ...
claiming territorial rights under their colonial charters to this area before the
American Revolutionary War The American Revolutionary War (April 19, 1775 – September 3, 1783), also known as the Revolutionary War or American War of Independence, was a major war of the American Revolution. Widely considered as the war that secured the independence of t ...
. Some speculative land companies, such as the Vandalia Company, the
Ohio Company The Ohio Company, formally known as the Ohio Company of Virginia, was a land speculation company organized for the settlement by Colony of Virginia, Virginians of the Ohio Country (approximately the present U.S. state of Ohio) and to trade with ...
and the Indiana Company, tried but failed to legitimize their claims to land in parts of West Virginia and present-day Kentucky. This rivalry resulted in some settlers petitioning the Continental Congress to create a new territory called Westsylvania. With the federal settlement of the Pennsylvania and Virginia border dispute, creating
Kentucky County, Virginia Kentucky County (then alternately spelled Kentucke County) was formed by the Commonwealth (U.S. state), Commonwealth of Virginia from the western portion (beyond the Cumberland Mountains) of Fincastle County, Virginia, Fincastle County effecti ...
, Kentuckians "were satisfied ..and the inhabitants of a large part of West Virginia were grateful." The Crown considered the area of West Virginia part of the British
Virginia Colony The Colony of Virginia, chartered in 1606 and settled in 1607, was the first enduring English colonial empire, English colony in North America, following failed attempts at settlement on Newfoundland (island), Newfoundland by Sir Humphrey GilbertG ...
from 1607 to 1776. The United States considered this area the western part of the state of
Virginia Virginia, officially the Commonwealth of Virginia, is a U.S. state, state in the Mid-Atlantic (United States), Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern United States, Southeastern regions of the United States, between the East Coast of the United Stat ...
(commonly called ''Trans-Allegheny Virginia'') from 1776 to 1863, before West Virginia's formation. Its residents were discontented for years with their position in Virginia, as the government was dominated by the planter elite of the Tidewater and Piedmont areas. The legislature had electoral malapportionment, based on the counting of slaves toward regional populations, and western white residents were underrepresented in the state legislature. More subsistence and yeoman farmers lived in the west, and they were generally less supportive of slavery, although many counties were divided on their support. Residents of that area became more sharply divided after the planter elite of eastern Virginia voted to secede from the Union during the Civil War. Residents of the western and northern counties set up a separate government under Francis Pierpont in 1861, which they called the Restored Government. Most voted to separate from Virginia, and the new state was admitted to the Union in 1863. In 1864 a state constitutional convention drafted a constitution, which was ratified by the legislature without putting it to popular vote. West Virginia abolished
slavery Slavery and enslavement are both the state and the condition of being a slave—someone forbidden to quit one's service for an enslaver, and who is treated by the enslaver as property. Slavery typically involves slaves being made to perf ...
by a gradual process and temporarily
disenfranchised Disfranchisement, also called disenfranchisement, or voter disqualification is the restriction of suffrage (the right to vote) of a person or group of people, or a practice that has the effect of preventing a person exercising the right to vote. D ...
men who had held Confederate office or fought for the Confederacy. West Virginia's history has been profoundly affected by its mountainous terrain, numerous and vast river valleys, and rich natural resources. These were all factors driving its economy and the lifestyles of its residents, who tended to live in many small, relatively isolated communities in the mountain valleys.


Prehistory

A 2010 analysis of a local
stalagmite A stalagmite (, ; from the Greek language, Greek , from , "dropping, trickling") is a type of rock formation that rises from the floor of a cave due to the accumulation of material Deposition (geology), deposited on the floor from ceiling dr ...
revealed that Native Americans were burning forests to clear land as early as 100BCE. Some regional late-prehistoric Eastern Woodland tribes were more involved in hunting and fishing, practicing the Eastern Agricultural Complex gardening method which used fire to clear out underbrush from certain areas. Another group progressed to the more time-consuming, advanced companion crop fields method of gardening. Also continuing from the ancient
indigenous people Indigenous peoples are culturally distinct ethnic groups whose members are directly descended from the earliest known inhabitants of a particular geographic region and, to some extent, maintain the language and culture of those original people ...
of the state, they cultivated
tobacco Tobacco is the common name of several plants in the genus ''Nicotiana'' of the Family (biology), family Solanaceae, and the general term for any product prepared from the curing of tobacco, cured leaves of these plants. Nicotiana#Species, M ...
through to early historic times. It was used in numerous social and religious rituals. "
Maize Maize ( ; ''Zea mays'' subsp. ''mays'', from es, maíz after tnq, mahiz), also known as corn (North American English, North American and Australian English), is a cereal grain first domesticated by indigenous peoples of Mexico, indigenous ...
(corn) did not make a substantial contribution to the diet until after 1150 BP", to quote Mills (OSU 2003). Eventually, tribal villages began depending on corn to feed their
turkey Turkey ( tr, Türkiye ), officially the Republic of Türkiye ( tr, Türkiye Cumhuriyeti, links=no ), is a transcontinental country located mainly on the Anatolia, Anatolian Peninsula in Western Asia, with a East Thrace, small portion on th ...
flocks, as Kanawha Fort Ancients practiced bird
husbandry Animal husbandry is the branch of agriculture concerned with animals that are raised for meat, animal fiber, fibre, milk, or other products. It includes day-to-day care, selective breeding, and the raising of livestock. Husbandry has a long hi ...
. The local Indians made cornbread and a flat rye bread called "bannock" as they emerged from the protohistoric era. A horizon extending from a little before the early 18th century is sometimes called the acculturating ''Fireside Cabin culture''. Trading posts were established by European traders along the Potomac and James rivers. Tribes that inhabited West Virginia as of 1600 were the Siouan
Monongahela Culture The Monongahela culture were an Iroquoian Peoples, Iroquoian Native Americans in the United States, Native American cultural manifestation of Woodland period, Late Woodland peoples from AD 1050 to 1635 in present-day western Pennsylvania, western ...
to the north, the
Fort Ancient Fort Ancient is a name for a Native Americans in the United States, Native American Archaeological culture, culture that flourished from Ca. 1000-1750 CE and predominantly inhabited land near the Ohio River valley in the areas of modern-day south ...
culture along the Ohio River from the Monongahela to Kentucky and extending an unknown distance inland,Ellis, Laura Elizabeth "Investigating the Orchard Site: A Protohistoric Fort AncientSite in West Virginia" 2015 and the Eastern Siouan Tutelo and Moneton tribes in the southeast. There was also the Iroquoian
Susquehannock The Susquehannock people, also called the Conestoga by some English settlers or Andastes were Iroquoian Peoples, Iroquoian Native Americans in the United States, Native Americans who lived in areas adjacent to the Susquehanna River and its Tribu ...
in the region approximately east of the Monongahela River and north of the Monongahela National Forest, a possible tribe called the Senandoa, or Shenandoah, in the Shenandoah Valley and the easternmost tip of the state may have been home to the Manahoac people. The Monongahela may have been the same as a people known as the Calicua, or Cali. The following may have also all been the same tribe—Moneton, Moheton, Senandoa, Tomahitan. During the Beaver Wars, other tribes moved into the region. The Iroquoian Tiontatecaga (also Little Mingo, Guyandotte) seem to have split off from the Petun after they were defeated by the Iroquois. They eventually settled somewhere between the Kanawha and Little Kanawha Rivers. During the 1750s, when the Mingo Seneca seceded from the Iroquois and returned to the Ohio River Valley, they contend that this tribe merged with them. The
Shawnee The Shawnee are an Algonquian languages, Algonquian-speaking indigenous people of the Northeastern Woodlands. In the 17th century they lived in Pennsylvania, and in the 18th century they were in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois, with some ...
arrived as well; though primarily stationed within former Monongahela territory approximately until 1750, they extended their influence throughout the Ohio River region. They were West Virginia's last Native tribe and were driven out by the United States during the Shawnee Wars (1811–1813). The Erie, who were chased out of Ohio around 1655, are now believed to be the same as the
Westo The Westo were an Iroquoian Peoples, Iroquoian Native Americans in the United States, Native American tribe encountered in the Southeastern U.S. by Europeans in the 17th century. They probably spoke an Iroquoian languages, Iroquoian language. Th ...
, who invaded as far as South Carolina before being destroyed in the 1680s. If so, their path would have brought them through West Virginia. The historical movement of the Tutelo and carbon dating of the Fort Ancients seem to correspond with the given period of 1655–1670 as the time of their removal. The Susquehannocks were original participants in the Beaver Wars but were cut off from the Ohio River by the Iroquois around 1630 and found themselves in dire straits. Suffering from disease and constant warfare and unable to provide for themselves financially, they began to collapse and moved further and further east, to the Susquehanna River of Eastern Pennsylvania. The Manahoac were probably forced out in the 1680s when the Iroquois began to invade Virginia. The Siouan tribes there moved into
North Carolina North Carolina () is a U.S. state, state in the Southeastern United States, Southeastern region of the United States. The state is the List of U.S. states and territories by area, 28th largest and List of states and territories of the United ...
and later returned as one tribe, known as the Eastern Blackfoot, or Christannas. The Westo did not secure the territory they conquered. Even before they were gone, displaced natives from the south flooded into freshly conquered regions and took them over. These became known as the Shattaras, or West Virginia Cherokees. They took in and merged with the Monetons, who began to call themselves the Mohetons. The Calicua also began to call themselves Cherokees soon after, showing an apparent further merger. These Shattaras were closely related to the tribes that formed to the south in the aftermath of the Westo—the Yuchi and Cherokee. From 1715 to 1717, the Yamasee War sprang up. The Senandoa allegedly sided with the Yuchi and were destroyed by Yamasee allies. Therefore, if the Senandoa were the same tribe as the Moneton, this would mean the collapse of Shattara-Moneton culture. Another tribe that appeared in the region was the Canaragay, or Kanawha. It later migrated to Maryland and merged into colonial culture.


European exploration and settlement

In 1671, General Abraham Wood, at the direction of Royal Governor William Berkeley of the
Virginia Colony The Colony of Virginia, chartered in 1606 and settled in 1607, was the first enduring English colonial empire, English colony in North America, following failed attempts at settlement on Newfoundland (island), Newfoundland by Sir Humphrey GilbertG ...
, sent a party from Fort Henry led by Thomas Batts and Robert Fallam to survey this territory. They were the first Europeans recorded as discovering Kanawha Falls. Some sources state that Governor Alexander Spotswood's 1716 Knights of the Golden Horseshoe Expedition (for which the state's Golden Horseshoe Competition for 8th graders is named) had penetrated as far as Pendleton County, but modern historians interpret the original accounts of the excursion as suggesting that none of the expedition's horsemen ventured much farther west of the
Blue Ridge Mountains The Blue Ridge Mountains are a Physiographic regions of the world, physiographic province of the larger Appalachian Mountains range. The mountain range is located in the Eastern United States, and extends 550 miles southwest from southern Pennsy ...
than
Harrisonburg, Virginia Harrisonburg is an independent city (United States), independent city in the Shenandoah Valley region of the Commonwealth (U.S. state), Commonwealth of Virginia in the United States. It is also the county seat of the surrounding Rockingham Cou ...
. John Van Metre, an Indian trader, penetrated into the northern portion in 1725. The same year, German settlers from Pennsylvania founded New Mecklenburg, the present Shepherdstown, on the
Potomac River The Potomac River () drains the Mid-Atlantic (United States), Mid-Atlantic United States, flowing from the Potomac Highlands of West Virginia, Potomac Highlands into Chesapeake Bay. It is long,U.S. Geological Survey. National Hydrography Datas ...
, and others followed. King
Charles II of England Charles II (29 May 1630 – 6 February 1685) was King of Scotland from 1649 until 1651, and King of King of England, England, Scotland and King of Ireland, Ireland from the 1660 Restoration of the monarchy until his death in 1685. Charles II ...
, in 1661, granted to a company of gentlemen the land between the Potomac and Rappahannock rivers, known as the
Northern Neck The Northern Neck is the northernmost of three peninsulas (traditionally called "necks" in Virginia) on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay in the Virginia, Commonwealth of Virginia (along with the Middle Peninsula and the Virginia Peninsula ...
. Thomas Fairfax, 6th Lord Fairfax of Cameron ultimately took possession of this grant, and in 1746 a
stone In geology, rock (or stone) is any naturally occurring solid mass or aggregate of minerals or mineraloid matter. It is categorized by the minerals included, its Chemical compound, chemical composition, and the way in which it is formed. Rocks ...
was erected at the source of the North Branch Potomac River to mark his grant's western limit.
George Washington George Washington (February 22, 1732, 1799) was an American military officer, statesman, and Founding Fathers of the United States, Founding Father who served as the first president of the United States from 1789 to 1797. Appointed by the ...
surveyed a considerable part of this land between 1748 and 1751. His diary recorded that there were already many squatters, largely of German origin, along the South Branch Potomac River.
Christopher Gist Christopher Gist (1706–1759) was an explorer, surveyor, and frontiersman active in Colonial history of the United States, Colonial America. He was one of the first White people, white explorers of the Ohio Country (the present-day states of O ...
, a surveyor in the employ of the first
Ohio Company The Ohio Company, formally known as the Ohio Company of Virginia, was a land speculation company organized for the settlement by Colony of Virginia, Virginians of the Ohio Country (approximately the present U.S. state of Ohio) and to trade with ...
, which was composed chiefly of Virginians, explored the country along the
Ohio River The Ohio River is a long river in the United States. It is located at the boundary of the Midwestern United States, Midwestern and Southern United States, flowing southwesterly from western Pennsylvania to its river mouth, mouth on the Mississip ...
north of the mouth of the
Kanawha River The Kanawha River ( ) is a tributary of the Ohio River, approximately 97 mi (156 km) long, in the U.S. state of West Virginia. The largest inland waterway in West Virginia, its valley has been a significant industrial region of the stat ...
between 1751 and 1752. The company sought to have a 14th colony established with the name " Vandalia". Many settlers crossed the mountains after 1750, though they were hindered by Native American resistance. Few Native Americans lived permanently within the state's present limits, but the region was a common hunting ground, crossed by many trails. During the
French and Indian War The French and Indian War (1754–1763) was a theater of the Seven Years' War, which pitted the North American colonies of the British Empire against those of the French colonial Empire, French, each side being supported by various Native Ame ...
(the North American front of the Seven Years' War in Europe), Indian allies of the French nearly destroyed the scattered British settlements. Shortly before the
American Revolutionary War The American Revolutionary War (April 19, 1775 – September 3, 1783), also known as the Revolutionary War or American War of Independence, was a major war of the American Revolution. Widely considered as the war that secured the independence of t ...
, in 1774 Crown Governor of Virginia John Murray, 4th Earl of Dunmore, led a force over the mountains. A body of militia under then-Colonel Andrew Lewis dealt the Shawnee Indians, under Hokoleskwa (or "Cornstalk"), a crushing blow during the Battle of Point Pleasant at the junction of the Kanawha and the Ohio rivers. At the Treaty of Camp Charlotte concluding Dunmore's War, Cornstalk agreed to recognize the Ohio River as the new boundary with the " Long Knives". But by 1776 the Shawnee returned to war, joining the
Chickamauga Chickamauga may refer to: Entertainment * "Chickamauga", an 1889 short story by American author Ambrose Bierce * "Chickamauga", a 1937 short story by Thomas Wolfe * "Chickamauga", a song by Uncle Tupelo from their 1993 album ''Anodyne (album), Ano ...
, a band of
Cherokee The Cherokee (; chr, ᎠᏂᏴᏫᏯᎢ, translit=Aniyvwiyaʔi or Anigiduwagi, or chr, ᏣᎳᎩ, links=no, translit=Tsalagi) are one of the indigenous peoples of the Southeastern Woodlands of the United States. Prior to the 18th century, th ...
known for the area where they lived. Native American attacks on settlers continued until after the
American Revolutionary War The American Revolutionary War (April 19, 1775 – September 3, 1783), also known as the Revolutionary War or American War of Independence, was a major war of the American Revolution. Widely considered as the war that secured the independence of t ...
. During the war, the settlers in western Virginia were generally active Whigs; many served in the
Continental Army The Continental Army was the army of the United Colonies (the Thirteen Colonies) in the American Revolution, Revolutionary-era United States. It was formed by the Second Continental Congress after the outbreak of the American Revolutionary Wa ...
. Claypool's Rebellion of 1780–1781, in which a group of men refused to pay taxes to the Continental Army, showed war-weariness in what became West Virginia.


Trans-Allegheny Virginia

Social conditions in western Virginia were entirely unlike those in the eastern part. The population was not homogeneous, as a considerable part of the immigration came by way of Pennsylvania and included Germans, Protestant Scotch-Irish, and settlers from states farther north. Counties in the east and south were settled mostly by eastern Virginians. During the American Revolution, the movement to create a state beyond the
Alleghenies The Allegheny Mountain Range (; also spelled Alleghany or Allegany), informally the Alleghenies, is part of the vast Appalachian Mountains, Appalachian Mountain Range of the Eastern United States and Canada and posed a significant barrier to lan ...
was revived and a petition for the establishment of " Westsylvania" was presented to
Congress A congress is a formal meeting of the Representative democracy, representatives of different countries, constituent states, organizations, trade unions, political party, political parties, or other groups. The term originated in Late Middle Eng ...
, on the grounds that the mountains presented an almost impassable barrier to the east. The rugged terrain made slavery unprofitable, and time only increased the social, political, economic, and cultural differences (''see'' Tuckahoe-Cohee) between Virginia's two sections. In 1829, a constitutional convention met in Richmond to consider reforms to Virginia's outdated constitution.
Philip Doddridge Philip Doddridge D.D. (26 June 1702 – 26 October 1751) was an English Nonconformist (specifically, Congregationalist) minister, educator, and hymnwriter A hymnwriter (or hymn writer, hymnist, hymnodist, hymnographer, etc.) is someone ...
of Brooke County championed the cause of western Virginians who sought a more democratic frame of government, but western reforms were rejected by leaders from east of the
Alleghenies The Allegheny Mountain Range (; also spelled Alleghany or Allegany), informally the Alleghenies, is part of the vast Appalachian Mountains, Appalachian Mountain Range of the Eastern United States and Canada and posed a significant barrier to lan ...
who "clung to political power in an effort to preserve their plantation lifestyles dependent on enslaving blacks". Virginia leaders maintained a property qualification for
suffrage Suffrage, political franchise, or simply franchise, is the right to vote in representative democracy, public, political elections and referendums (although the term is sometimes used for any right to vote). In some languages, and occasionally i ...
, effectively disenfranchising poorer farmers in the west whose families did much of the farm work themselves. In addition, the 1829–30 convention gave slaveholding counties the benefit of three-fifths of their slave population in apportioning the state's representation in the U.S. House of Representatives. As a result, every county west of the Alleghenies except one voted to reject the constitution, which nevertheless passed because of eastern support. The eastern planter elite's failure to make constitutional reforms exacerbated existing east–west sectionalism in Virginia and contributed to its division. The Virginia Constitutional Convention of 1850–51, the Reform Convention, addressed a number of issues important to western Virginians. It extended the vote to all white males 21 years or older. The governor, lieutenant governor, the judiciary, sheriffs, and other county officers were to be elected by public vote. The General Assembly's composition was changed. Representation in the House of Delegates was apportioned on the basis of the census of 1850, counting whites only. The Senate representation was arbitrarily fixed at 50 seats, with the west receiving 20 senators and the east 30. This was made acceptable to the west by a provision that required the General Assembly to reapportion representation on the basis of the white population in 1865, or else put the matter to a public referendum. But the east also gave itself a tax advantage in requiring a property tax at true and actual value, except for slaves. Slaves under age 12 were not taxed and slaves over that age were taxed at only $300, a fraction of their true value, but small farmers had all their assets, animals, and land taxed at full value. Despite this tax and the lack of
internal improvements Internal improvements is the term used historically in the United States for public works from the end of the American Revolution through much of the 19th century, mainly for the creation of a transportation infrastructure: roads, turnpikes, canal ...
in the west, the vote was 75,748 for and 11,063 against the new constitution. Most of the opposition came from delegates from eastern counties, who did not like the compromises made for the west. Given these differences, many in the west had long contemplated a separate state. In particular, men such as lawyer Francis H. Pierpont from Fairmont had long chafed under the Tidewater and Piedmont slaveholders' political dominance. In addition to differences over slavery, he and allies felt the Virginia government ignored and refused to spend funds on needed internal improvements in the west, such as turnpikes and railroads.


Separation from Virginia

West Virginia was the only state in the Union to separate from a Confederate state (
Virginia Virginia, officially the Commonwealth of Virginia, is a U.S. state, state in the Mid-Atlantic (United States), Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern United States, Southeastern regions of the United States, between the East Coast of the United Stat ...
) during the Civil War. In Richmond on April 17, 1861, the Virginia Secession Convention of 1861 voted to secede from the Union, but of the 49 delegates from the northwestern corner (which ultimately became West Virginia) only 17 voted in favor of the
Ordinance of Secession An Ordinance of Secession was the name given to multiple resolutions drafted and ratified in 1860 and 1861, at or near the beginning of the American Civil War, Civil War, by which each seceding Southern state or territory formally Secession in the ...
, while 30 voted against (with two abstentions). Almost immediately after that vote, a mass meeting at Clarksburg recommended that each county in northwestern Virginia send delegates to a convention to meet in Wheeling on May 13, 1861. When this First Wheeling Convention met, 425 delegates from 25 counties were present, though more than one-third of the delegates were from the northern panhandle area. Soon there was a division of sentiment. Some delegates led by pro-Union slaveowner John S. Carlile favored the immediate formation of a new state, while others led by Waitman Willey argued that, as Virginia's secession had not yet been passed by the required referendum (as happened on May 23), such action would constitute revolution against the United States. The convention decided that if Virginians adopted the secession ordinance (of which there was little doubt), another convention including the members-elect of the legislature would meet in Wheeling in June 1861. On May 23, 1861, secession was ratified by a large majority in Virginia as a whole, but in the western counties 34,677 voted against and 19,121 voted for the ordinance. The Second Wheeling Convention met as agreed on June 11 and declared that, since the Secession Convention had been called without popular consent, all its acts were void and all who adhered to it had vacated their offices. The Wheeling Conventions, and the delegates themselves, were never actually elected by public ballot to act on behalf of western Virginia. Of its 103 members, 33 had been elected to the Virginia General Assembly on May 23. This included some hold-over state senators whose four-year terms had begun in 1859, and some who vacated their offices to convene in Wheeling. Other members "were chosen even more irregularly—some in mass meetings, others by county committee, and still others were seemingly self-appointed". An act for the reorganization of the government was passed on June 19. The next day, convention delegates chose Francis H. Pierpont as governor of Virginia and elected other officers to a rival state government and two U.S. senators (Willey and Carlile) to replace secessionists before adjourning. The federal government promptly recognized the new government and seated the two new senators. Thus there were two state governments in Virginia: one pledging allegiance to the United States and one to the Confederacy. The second Wheeling Convention had recessed until August 6, then reassembled on August 20 and called for a popular vote on the formation of a new state and for a convention to frame a constitution if the vote were favorable. In the October 24, 1861, election, 18,408 votes were cast for the new state and 781 against. The election results were questioned since the Union army then occupied the area and Union troops were stationed at many of the polls to prevent Confederate sympathizers from voting. This was also election day for local offices, and elections were also held in camps of Confederate soldiers, who elected rival state officials, such as Robert E. Cowan. Most pro-statehood votes came from 16 counties around the Northern panhandle. Over 50,000 votes had been cast on the Ordinance of Secession, yet the vote on statehood garnered little more than 19,000. In Ohio County, home to Wheeling, only about a fourth of the registered voters cast votes. In most of what would become West Virginia, there was no vote at all, as two-thirds of the territory of West Virginia had voted for secession, and county officers remained loyal to Richmond. Votes recorded from pro-secession counties were mostly cast elsewhere by Unionist refugees from these counties. Despite that controversy, delegates (including many Methodist ministers) met to write a constitution for the new state, beginning on November 26, 1861. During that constitutional convention, a Mr. Lamb of Ohio County and a Mr. Carskadon claimed that in Hampshire County, out of 195 votes only 39 were cast by citizens of the state; the rest were cast illegally by Union soldiers. One of the key figures was Gordon Battelle, who also represented Ohio County, and who proposed resolutions to establish public schools, as well as to limit the movement of slaves into the new state, and to gradually abolish slavery. The education proposal succeeded, but the convention tabled the slavery proposals before finishing its work on February 18, 1862. The new constitution was more closely modeled on Ohio's than Virginia's, adopting a township model of government rather than the " courthouse cliques" of Virginia which Carlile criticized, and a compromise demanded by the Kanawha region (Charleston lawyers Benjamin Smith and Brown) allowed counties and municipalities to vote subsidies for railroads or other improvement organizations. The resulting instrument was ratified (18,162 for and 514 against) on April 11, 1862. On May 13, 1862, the state legislature of the reorganized government approved the formation of the new state. An application for admission to the Union was made to Congress, introduced by Senator Waitman Willey of the Restored Government of Virginia. Carlile sought to sabotage the bill, first trying to expand the new state's boundaries to include the Shenandoah Valley, and then to defeat the Willey amendment at home. On December 31, 1862, President
Abraham Lincoln Abraham Lincoln ( ; February 12, 1809 – April 15, 1865) was an American lawyer, politician, and statesman who served as the 16th president of the United States from 1861 until his assassination in 1865. Lincoln led the nation throu ...
approved an enabling act admitting West Virginia on the condition that a provision for the gradual abolition of slavery be inserted in its constitution (as Battelle had urged in the ''Wheeling Intelligencer'' and also written to Lincoln). While many felt West Virginia's admission as a state was both illegal and unconstitutional, Lincoln issued his ''Opinion on the Admission of West Virginia'' finding that "the body which consents to the admission of West Virginia is the Legislature of Virginia", and that its admission was therefore both constitutional and expedient. The convention was reconvened on February 12, 1863, and the abolition demand of the federal enabling act was met. The revised constitution was adopted on March 26, 1863, and on April 20, 1863, Lincoln issued a proclamation admitting the state 60 days later on June 20, 1863. Meanwhile, officers for the new state were chosen, while Pierpont moved his pro-Union Virginia capital to Union-occupied
Alexandria Alexandria ( or ; ar, ٱلْإِسْكَنْدَرِيَّةُ ; grc-gre, Αλεξάνδρεια, Alexándria) is the second largest city in Egypt, and the largest city on the Mediterranean coast. Founded in by Alexander the Great, Alexandria ...
, where he asserted and exercised jurisdiction over all the remaining Virginia counties within the federal lines. The question of the constitutionality of the formation of the new state was later brought before the
Supreme Court of the United States The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) is the highest court in the federal judiciary of the United States. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all U.S. federal court cases, and over state court cases that involve a point ...
in '' Virginia v. West Virginia.'' Berkeley and Jefferson counties, lying on the Potomac east of the mountains, voted in favor of annexation to West Virginia in 1863, with the consent of Virginia's reorganized government. Many voters of the strongly pro-secessionist counties were absent in the Confederate Army when the vote was taken and refused to acknowledge the transfer when they returned. The
Virginia General Assembly The Virginia General Assembly is the legislative body of the Commonwealth of Virginia, the oldest continuous law-making body in the Western Hemisphere, the first elected legislative assembly in the New World, and was established on July 30, ...
repealed the act of secession and in 1866 brought suit against West Virginia asking the court to declare the counties part of Virginia, which would have made West Virginia's admission as a state unconstitutional. Meanwhile, on March 10, 1866, Congress passed a joint resolution recognizing the transfer. The Supreme Court decided in West Virginia's favor in 1870. During the Civil War, Union General George B. McClellan's forces gained possession of the greater part of the territory in the summer of 1861, culminating at the
Battle of Rich Mountain The Battle of Rich Mountain took place on July 11, 1861, in Randolph County, Virginia (now West Virginia West Virginia is a U.S. state, state in the Appalachian Mountains, Appalachian, Mid-Atlantic (United States), Mid-Atlantic and South ...
, and Union control was never again seriously threatened. In 1863, General John D. Imboden, with 5,000 Confederates, raided a considerable portion of the state and burned Pierpont's library, although Willey escaped their grasp. Bands of guerrillas burned and plundered in some sections, and were not entirely suppressed until the war ended. The Eastern Panhandle counties were more affected by the war, with military control of the area repeatedly changing hands. The area that became West Virginia actually furnished about an equal number of soldiers to the Union and Confederate armies, about 22,000–25,000 each. In 1865, the Wheeling government found it necessary to strip voting rights from returning Confederates in order to retain control. James Ferguson, who proposed the law, said if it was not enacted he would lose the election by 500 votes. Confederates' property might also be confiscated, and in 1866 a constitutional amendment disfranchising all who had given aid and comfort to the Confederacy was adopted. The addition of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution caused a reaction. The Democratic party secured control in 1870, and in 1871 the constitutional amendment of 1866 was abrogated. Republicans had taken the first steps toward this change in 1870. On August 22, 1872, an entirely new constitution was adopted. Beginning in
Reconstruction Reconstruction may refer to: Politics, history, and sociology *Reconstruction (law), the transfer of a company's (or several companies') business to a new company *''Perestroika'' (Russian for "reconstruction"), a late 20th century Soviet Union ...
, and for several decades thereafter, the two states disputed the new state's share of the prewar Virginia government's debts, which had mostly been incurred to finance public infrastructure improvements, such as canals, roads, and railroads under the
Virginia Board of Public Works The Virginia Board of Public Works was a governmental agency which oversaw and helped finance the development of Virginia's transportation-related internal improvements during the 19th century. In that era, it was customary to invest public funds ...
. Virginians—led by former Confederate general
William Mahone William Mahone (December 1, 1826October 8, 1895) was an American civil engineer A civil engineer is a person who practices civil engineering – the application of planning, designing, constructing, maintaining, and operating infrastructure ...
—formed a political coalition based upon this: the
Readjuster Party The Readjuster Party was a bi-racial state-level political party formed in Virginia across party lines in the late 1870s during the turbulent period following the Reconstruction era that sought to reduce outstanding debt owed by the state. Readj ...
. West Virginia's first constitution provided for the assumption of a part of the Virginia debt, but negotiations opened by Virginia in 1870 were fruitless, and in 1871 Virginia funded two-thirds of the debt and arbitrarily assigned the remainder to West Virginia. The issue was finally settled in 1915, when the
Supreme Court of the United States The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) is the highest court in the federal judiciary of the United States. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all U.S. federal court cases, and over state court cases that involve a point ...
ruled that West Virginia owed Virginia $12,393,929.50. The final installment of this sum was paid in 1939.


Claims by Maryland

The original charters for Maryland and Virginia were silent as to which branch of the upper Potomac was the boundary. This was settled by the 1785 Mount Vernon Conference. Nevertheless, when West Virginia seceded from Virginia, Maryland claimed West Virginia land north of the South Branch (all of
Mineral In geology and mineralogy, a mineral or mineral species is, broadly speaking, a solid chemical compound with a fairly well-defined chemical composition and a specific crystal structure that occurs naturally in pure form.John P. Rafferty, ed. (2 ...
and
Grant Grant or Grants may refer to: Places * Grant County (disambiguation) Australia * Grant, Queensland, a locality in the Barcaldine Region, Queensland, Australia United Kingdom * Castle Grant United States * Grant, Alabama * Grant, Inyo Count ...
Counties and parts of
Hampshire Hampshire (, ; abbreviated to Hants) is a ceremonial county, ceremonial and non-metropolitan county, non-metropolitan counties of England, county in western South East England on the coast of the English Channel. Home to two major English citi ...
, Hardy, Tucker and Pendleton Counties). The Supreme Court rejected these claims in two separate decisions in 1910.


Development of natural resources

After
Reconstruction Reconstruction may refer to: Politics, history, and sociology *Reconstruction (law), the transfer of a company's (or several companies') business to a new company *''Perestroika'' (Russian for "reconstruction"), a late 20th century Soviet Union ...
, the new 35th state benefited from the development of its mineral resources more than any other single economic activity.
Saltpeter Potassium nitrate is a chemical compound with the chemical formula . This alkali metal nitrate Salt (chemistry), salt is also known as Indian saltpetre (large deposits of which were historically mined in India). It is an ionic salt of potassium ...
caves had been employed throughout Appalachia for munitions; the border between West Virginia and
Virginia Virginia, officially the Commonwealth of Virginia, is a U.S. state, state in the Mid-Atlantic (United States), Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern United States, Southeastern regions of the United States, between the East Coast of the United Stat ...
includes the "Saltpeter Trail", a string of
limestone Limestone (calcium carbonate ) is a type of carbonate rock, carbonate sedimentary rock which is the main source of the material Lime_(material), lime. It is composed mostly of the minerals calcite and aragonite, which are different Polymorphis ...
cave A cave or cavern is a natural void in the Earth#Surface, ground, specifically a space large enough for a human to enter. Caves often form by the weathering of rock and often extend deep underground. The word ''cave'' can refer to smaller opening ...
rns containing rich deposits of
calcium nitrate Calcium nitrate, also called ''Norgessalpeter'' (Norwegian salpeter), is an inorganic compound with the formula Ca(NO3)2(H2O)x. The anhydrous compound, which is rarely encountered, Hygroscopy, absorbs moisture from the air to give the water of crys ...
which were rendered and sold to the government. The trail stretched from Pendleton County to the western terminus of the route in the town of Union, Monroe County. Nearly half of these caves are on the West Virginia side, including Organ Cave and Haynes Cave. In the late 18th century, saltpeter miners in Haynes Cave found large animal bones in the deposits. These were sent by a local historian and frontier soldier Colonel John Stuart to
Thomas Jefferson Thomas Jefferson (April 13, 1743 – July 4, 1826) was an American statesman, diplomat, lawyer, architect, philosopher, and Founding Fathers of the United States, Founding Father who served as the third president of the United States from 18 ...
. The bones were named ''
Megalonyx jeffersonii ''Megalonyx'' ( Greek, "large claw") is an extinct genus Genus ( plural genera ) is a taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of extant taxon, living and fossil organisms as well as Virus classification#ICTV classification, virus ...
'', or great-claw, and became known as Jefferson's three-toed sloth. It was declared the official state fossil of West Virginia in 2008. The West Virginia official state rock is
bituminous coal Bituminous coal, or black coal, is a type of coal containing a tar-like substance called bitumen or asphalt. Its coloration can be black or sometimes dark brown; often there are well-defined bands of bright and dull material within the coal seam, ...
, and the official state gemstone is silicified Mississippian fossil Lithostrotionella coral. The limestone also produced a useful
quarry A quarry is a type of open-pit mining, open-pit mine in which dimension stone, rock (geology), rock, construction aggregate, riprap, sand, gravel, or slate is excavated from the ground. The operation of quarries is regulated in some juri ...
industry. Usually small, and softer, high-calcium seams were burned to produce industrial lime. This lime was used for agricultural and construction purposes; for many years a specific portion of the C & O Railroad carried limestone rock to Clifton Forge, Virginia as an industrial flux.
Salt Salt is a mineral composed primarily of sodium chloride (NaCl), a chemical compound belonging to the larger class of Salt (chemistry), salts; salt in the form of a natural crystallinity, crystalline mineral is known as rock salt or halite. ...
mining had been underway since the 18th century, though it had largely played out by the time of the American Civil War, when the red salt of Kanawha County was a valued commodity of first Confederate, and later Union, forces. In the years following, more sophisticated mining methods would restore West Virginia's role as a major producer of salt. However, in the second half of the 19th century, there was an even greater treasure not yet developed:
bituminous coal Bituminous coal, or black coal, is a type of coal containing a tar-like substance called bitumen or asphalt. Its coloration can be black or sometimes dark brown; often there are well-defined bands of bright and dull material within the coal seam, ...
. It would fuel much of the
Industrial Revolution The Industrial Revolution was the transition to new manufacturing processes in Great Britain, continental Europe, and the United States, that occurred during the period from around 1760 to about 1820–1840. This transition included going fr ...
in the U.S. and the steamships of many of the world's navies. The residents (both Native Americans and early European settlers) had long known of the underlying coal, and that it could be used for heating and fuel. However, for a long time, "personal" or
artisanal mining An artisanal miner or small-scale miner (ASM) is a subsistence economy, subsistence miner who is not officially employed by a List of mining companies, mining company, but works independently, mining minerals using their own resources, usually by ...
was the only practical development. After the War, with the new
railroad Rail transport (also known as train transport) is a means of transport that transfers passengers and goods on wheeled vehicles running on rails, which are incorporated in Track (rail transport), tracks. In contrast to road transport, where the ...
s came a practical method to transport large quantities of coal to expanding U.S. and export markets. As the
anthracite Anthracite, also known as hard coal, and black coal, is a hard, compact variety of coal that has a lustre (mineralogy)#Submetallic lustre, submetallic luster. It has the highest carbon content, the fewest impurities, and the highest energy densit ...
mines of northwestern New Jersey and Pennsylvania began to play out during this same time period, investors and industrialists focused new interest in West Virginia.
Geologist A geologist is a scientist who studies the solid, liquid, and gaseous matter that constitutes Earth and other terrestrial planets, as well as the processes that shape them. Geologists usually study geology, earth science, or geophysics, althoug ...
s such as Dr. David T. Ansted surveyed potential coal fields and invested in land and early mining projects. The completion of the
Chesapeake and Ohio Railway The Chesapeake and Ohio Railway was a Class I railroad formed in 1869 in Virginia from several smaller Virginia railroads begun in the 19th century. Led by industrialist Collis P. Huntington, it reached from Virginia's capital city of Richmond, V ...
(C&O) across the state to the new city of Huntington on the
Ohio River The Ohio River is a long river in the United States. It is located at the boundary of the Midwestern United States, Midwestern and Southern United States, flowing southwesterly from western Pennsylvania to its river mouth, mouth on the Mississip ...
in 1872 opened access to the New River Coal Field. Soon, the C&O was building its huge
coal pier A coal pier is a transloading facility designed for the transfer of coal between rail and ship. The typical facility for loading ships consists of a holding area and a system of conveyors for transferring the coal to dockside and loading it into th ...
at
Newport News, Virginia Newport News () is an Independent city (United States), independent city in the U.S. state of Virginia. At the 2020 United States Census, 2020 census, the population was 186,247. Located in the Hampton Roads region, it is the List of cities in ...
, on the large harbor of
Hampton Roads Hampton Roads is the name of both a body of water in the United States that serves as a wide channel for the James River, James, Nansemond River, Nansemond and Elizabeth River (Virginia), Elizabeth rivers between Old Point Comfort and Sewell's ...
. In 1881, the new Philadelphia-based owners of the former
Atlantic, Mississippi and Ohio Railroad Atlantic, Mississippi and Ohio Railroad (AM&O) was formed in 1870 in Virginia from three east–west railroads which traversed across the southern portion of the state. Organized and led by former Confederate States of America, Confederate gen ...
(AM&O), which stretched across Virginia's southern tier from
Norfolk Norfolk () is a ceremonial county, ceremonial and non-metropolitan county in East Anglia in England. It borders Lincolnshire to the north-west, Cambridgeshire to the west and south-west, and Suffolk to the south. Its northern and eastern bounda ...
, had sights clearly set on the Mountain State, where the owners had large landholdings. Their railroad was renamed
Norfolk and Western The Norfolk and Western Railway , commonly called the N&W, was a US class I railroad, formed by more than 200 railroad mergers between 1838 and 1982. It was headquartered in Roanoke, Virginia, for most of its existence. Its motto was "Precisio ...
(N&W), and a new railroad city was developed at Roanoke to handle planned expansion. After its new president Frederick J. Kimball and a small party journeyed by horseback and saw firsthand the rich bituminous coal seam, which Kimball's wife named ''Pocahontas'', the N&W redirected its planned westward expansion to reach it. Soon, the N&W was also shipping from new coal piers at Hampton Roads. In 1889, in the southern part of the state, along the Norfolk and Western rail lines, the important coal center of Bluefield, West Virginia, was founded. The "capital" of the Pocahontas coalfield, this city would remain the largest city in the southern portion of the state for several decades. It shares its name with a sister city, Bluefield, in Virginia. In the northern portion of the state and elsewhere, the older
Baltimore and Ohio Railroad The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad was the first common carrier railroad and the oldest railroads in North America, oldest railroad in the United States, with its first section opening in 1830. Merchants from Baltimore, which had benefited to som ...
(B&O) and other lines also expanded to take advantage of coal opportunities. The B&O developed coal piers in
Baltimore Baltimore ( , locally: or ) is the List of municipalities in Maryland, most populous city in the U.S. state of Maryland, fourth most populous city in the Mid-Atlantic (United States), Mid-Atlantic, and List of United States cities by popula ...
and at several points on the
Great Lakes The Great Lakes, also called the Great Lakes of North America, are a series of large interconnected freshwater lakes in the mid-east region of North America that connect to the Atlantic Ocean via the Saint Lawrence River. There are five lakes ...
. Other significant rail carriers of coal were the
Western Maryland Railway The Western Maryland Railway was an American Class I railroad In the United States, Rail transport, railroad carriers are designated as Class I, II, or III, according to annual revenue criteria originally set by the Surface Transportation Bo ...
(WM), Southern Railway (SOU), and the
Louisville and Nashville Railroad The Louisville and Nashville Railroad , commonly called the L&N, was a Class I railroad that operated freight and passenger services in the southeast United States. Chartered by the Commonwealth of Kentucky in 1850, the road grew into one of the ...
(L&N). Particularly notable was a latecomer, the Virginian Railway (VGN). By 1900, only the most rugged terrain of southern West Virginia was any distance from the existing railroads and mining activity. Within this area west of the New River Coalfield in Raleigh and Wyoming counties lay the Winding Gulf Coalfield, later promoted as the "Billion Dollar Coalfield". A protégé of Dr. Ansted was William Nelson Page (1854–1932), a
civil engineer A civil engineer is a person who practices civil engineering – the application of planning, designing, constructing, maintaining, and operating infrastructure while protecting the public and environmental health, as well as improving existing i ...
and mining manager in Fayette County. Former West Virginia governor William A. MacCorkle described him as a man who knew the land "as a farmer knows a field". Beginning in 1898, Page teamed with northern and European-based investors to take advantage of the undeveloped area. They acquired large tracts of land in the area, and Page began the Deepwater Railway, a
short-line railroad :''Short Line is also one of the four railroads in the American version of the popular board game Board games are tabletop games that typically use . These pieces are moved or placed on a pre-marked board (playing surface) and often include el ...
chartered to stretch between the C&O at its line along the
Kanawha River The Kanawha River ( ) is a tributary of the Ohio River, approximately 97 mi (156 km) long, in the U.S. state of West Virginia. The largest inland waterway in West Virginia, its valley has been a significant industrial region of the stat ...
and the N&W at Matoaka—a distance of about . Although the Deepwater plan should have provided a competitive shipping market via either railroad, leaders of the two large railroads did not appreciate the scheme. In secret collusion, each declined to negotiate favorable rates with Page, nor did they offer to purchase his railroad, as they had many other short-lines. However, if the C&O and N&W presidents thought they could thus kill the Page project, they were to be proved mistaken. One of the silent partner investors Page had enlisted was millionaire industrialist Henry Huttleston Rogers, a principal in John D. Rockefeller's Standard Oil Trust and an old hand at developing natural resources and transportation. A master at competitive "warfare", Henry Rogers did not like to lose in his endeavors and also had "deep pockets". Instead of giving up, Page (and Rogers) quietly planned and then built their tracks all the way east across Virginia, using Rogers' private fortune to finance the $40  million cost. When the renamed Virginian Railway (VGN) was completed in 1909, no fewer than three railroads were shipping ever-increasing volumes of coal to export from Hampton Roads. West Virginia coal was also in high demand at
Great Lakes The Great Lakes, also called the Great Lakes of North America, are a series of large interconnected freshwater lakes in the mid-east region of North America that connect to the Atlantic Ocean via the Saint Lawrence River. There are five lakes ...
ports. The VGN and the N&W ultimately became parts of the modern
Norfolk Southern The Norfolk Southern Railway is a Class I freight railroad in the United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, prim ...
system, and the VGN's well-engineered 20th-century tracks continue to offer a favorable gradient to Hampton Roads. As coal mining and related work became major employment activities in the state, there was considerable labor strife as working conditions, safety issues and economic concerns arose. Even in the 21st century, mining safety and ecological concerns are still challenging to the state whose coal continues to power electrical generating plants in many other states. Coal is not the only valuable mineral found in West Virginia, as the state was the site of the 1928 discovery of the 34.48 carat (6.896 g) Jones Diamond.


Geography

Located in the Appalachian Mountain range, West Virginia covers an area of , with of land and of water, making it the 41st-largest state in the United States. West Virginia borders Pennsylvania and Maryland in the northeast, Virginia in the southeast, Ohio in the northwest, and Kentucky in the southwest. Its longest border is with Virginia at , followed by Ohio at , Maryland at , Pennsylvania at , and Kentucky at .


Geology and terrain

West Virginia is located entirely within the Appalachian Region, and the state is almost entirely mountainous, giving the reason for the nickname ''The Mountain State'' and the motto ''Montani Semper Liberi'' ("Mountaineers are always free"). The elevations and ruggedness drop near large rivers like the Ohio River or
Shenandoah River The Shenandoah River is the principal tributary of the Potomac River, long with two forks approximately long each,U.S. Geological Survey. National Hydrography Dataset high-resolution flowline dataThe National Map accessed August 15, 2011 in t ...
. About 75% of the state is within the
Cumberland Plateau The Cumberland Plateau is the southern part of the Appalachian Plateau in the Appalachian Mountains of the United States. It includes much of eastern Kentucky and Tennessee, and portions of northern Alabama and northwest Georgia (U.S. state), Geo ...
and
Allegheny Plateau The Allegheny Plateau , in the United States, is a large dissected plateau area of the Appalachian Mountains in western and central New York (state), New York, northern and western Pennsylvania, northern and western West Virginia, and eastern Oh ...
regions. Though the relief is not high, the plateau region is extremely rugged in most areas. The average elevation of West Virginia is approximately above sea level, which is the highest of any U.S. state east of the Mississippi River. On the eastern state line with
Virginia Virginia, officially the Commonwealth of Virginia, is a U.S. state, state in the Mid-Atlantic (United States), Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern United States, Southeastern regions of the United States, between the East Coast of the United Stat ...
, high peaks in the Monongahela National Forest region give rise to an island of colder
climate Climate is the long-term weather pattern in an area, typically averaged over 30 years. More rigorously, it is the mean and variability of meteorological variables over a time spanning from months to millions of years. Some of the meteorologi ...
and
ecosystem An ecosystem (or ecological system) consists of all the organisms and the physical environment with which they interact. These biotic and abiotic components are linked together through nutrient cycles and energy flows. Energy enters the syste ...
s similar to those of northern
New England New England is a region comprising six states in the Northeastern United States: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts Massachusetts (Massachusett language, Massachusett: ''Muhsachuweesut assachusett writing systems, məhswatʃəwiːsət ...
and eastern Canada. The highest point in the state is atop
Spruce Knob Spruce Mountain, located in eastern West Virginia, is the highest ridge of the Allegheny Mountains. The whale-backed ridge extends for only from northeast to southwest, but several of its peaks exceed in elevation. The summit, Spruce Knob (4863 ...
, at , and is covered in a
boreal forest Taiga (; rus, тайга́, p=tɐjˈɡa; relates to Mongolic languages, Mongolic and Turkic languages, Turkic languages), generally referred to in North America as a boreal forest or snow forest, is a biome characterized by pinophyta, conifero ...
of dense
spruce A spruce is a tree of the genus ''Picea'' (), a genus of about 35 species of coniferous evergreen trees in the family Pinaceae, found in the northern temperate and boreal ecosystem, boreal (taiga) regions of the Earth. ''Picea'' is the sole gen ...
trees at altitudes above . Spruce Knob lies within the Monongahela National Forest and is a part of the Spruce Knob–Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area. A total of six
wilderness Wilderness or wildlands (usually in the plural), are natural environments on Earth that have not been significantly modified by human activity or any nonurbanized land not under extensive agricultural cultivation. The term has traditionally re ...
areas can also be found within the forest. Outside the forest to the south, the New River Gorge is a canyon deep, carved by the New River. The
National Park Service The National Park Service (NPS) is an List of federal agencies in the United States, agency of the Federal government of the United States, United States federal government within the United States Department of the Interior, U.S. Department of ...
manages a portion of the gorge and river that has been designated as the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve. Other areas under protection and management include: Most of West Virginia lies within the Appalachian mixed mesophytic forests
ecoregion An ecoregion (ecological region) or ecozone (ecological zone) is an ecology, ecologically and geographically defined area that is smaller than a bioregion, which in turn is smaller than a biogeographic realm. Ecoregions cover relatively large a ...
, while the higher elevations along the eastern border and in the panhandle lie within the Appalachian-Blue Ridge forests. The native
vegetation Vegetation is an assemblage of plant species and the ground cover they provide. It is a general term, without specific reference to particular Taxon, taxa, life forms, structure, Spatial ecology, spatial extent, or any other specific Botany, bo ...
for most of the state was originally mixed
hardwood Hardwood is wood from Dicotyledon, dicot trees. These are usually found in broad-leaved temperate and tropical forests. In temperate and boreal ecosystem, boreal latitudes they are mostly deciduous, but in tropics and subtropics mostly evergre ...
forest of oak,
chestnut The chestnuts are the deciduous trees and shrubs in the genus ''Castanea'', in the beech family Fagaceae. They are native to temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere. The name also refers to the edible nuts they produce. The unrela ...
,
maple ''Acer'' () is a genus of trees and shrubs commonly known as maples. The genus is placed in the family Sapindaceae.Stevens, P. F. (2001 onwards). Angiosperm Phylogeny Website. Version 9, June 2008 nd more or less continuously updated since h ...
,
beech Beech (''Fagus'') is a genus of deciduous trees in the family Fagaceae, native to temperate Europe, Asia, and North America. Recent classifications recognize 10 to 13 species in two distinct subgenera, ''Engleriana'' and ''Fagus''. The ''Engle ...
, and white pine, with
willow Willows, also called sallows and osiers, from the genus ''Salix'', comprise List of Salix species, around 400 speciesMabberley, D.J. 1997. The Plant Book, Cambridge University Press #2: Cambridge. of typically deciduous trees and shrubs, found ...
and
American sycamore ''Platanus occidentalis'', also known as American sycamore, American planetree, western plane, occidental plane, buttonwood, and water beech, is a species of ''Platanus'' native to the eastern and central United States, the mountains of northeas ...
along the state's waterways. Many of the areas are rich in
biodiversity Biodiversity or biological diversity is the variety and variability of life, life on Earth. Biodiversity is a measure of variation at the Genetics, genetic (''genetic variability''), species (''species diversity''), and ecosystem (''ecosystem d ...
and scenic beauty, a fact appreciated by native West Virginians, who refer to their home as ''Almost Heaven'' (from the song "
Take Me Home, Country Roads "Take Me Home, Country Roads", also known simply as "Country Roads", is a song written by Bill Danoff, Taffy Nivert and John Denver about West Virginia. It was released as a single performed by Denver on April 12, 1971, peaking at number two o ...
" by
John Denver Henry John Deutschendorf Jr. (December 31, 1943 – October 12, 1997), known professionally as John Denver, was an American singer-songwriter, guitarist, actor, activist, and humanitarian whose greatest commercial success was as a solo singe ...
). Before the song, it was known as "The Cog State" (Coal, Oil, and Gas) or "The Mountain State". The underlying rock strata are
sandstone Sandstone is a Clastic rock#Sedimentary clastic rocks, clastic sedimentary rock composed mainly of grain size, sand-sized (0.0625 to 2 mm) silicate mineral, silicate grains. Sandstones comprise about 20–25% of all sedimentary rocks. ...
,
shale Shale is a fine-grained, clastic sedimentary rock formed from mud that is a mix of flakes of clay minerals (hydrous aluminium phyllosilicates, e.g. kaolin, Al2 Si2 O5( OH)4) and tiny fragments ( silt-sized particles) of other minerals, espec ...
,
bituminous coal Bituminous coal, or black coal, is a type of coal containing a tar-like substance called bitumen or asphalt. Its coloration can be black or sometimes dark brown; often there are well-defined bands of bright and dull material within the coal seam, ...
beds, and
limestone Limestone (calcium carbonate ) is a type of carbonate rock, carbonate sedimentary rock which is the main source of the material Lime_(material), lime. It is composed mostly of the minerals calcite and aragonite, which are different Polymorphis ...
laid down in a near-shore environment from
sediment Sediment is a naturally occurring material that is broken down by processes of weathering and erosion, and is subsequently sediment transport, transported by the action of wind, water, or ice or by the force of gravity acting on the particles. ...
s derived from mountains to the east, in a shallow inland sea on the west. Some beds illustrate a coastal swamp environment, some river delta, and some shallow water. Sea level rose and fell many times during the Mississippian and Pennsylvanian eras, giving a variety of rock
strata In geology and related fields, a stratum (plural, : strata) is a layer of Rock (geology), rock or sediment characterized by certain Lithology, lithologic properties or attributes that distinguish it from adjacent layers from which it is separate ...
. The Appalachian Mountains are some of the oldest on earth, having formed more than three hundred million years ago.


Climate

The climate of West Virginia is generally a
humid subtropical climate A humid subtropical climate is a zone of climate characterized by hot and humid summers, and cool to mild winters. These climates normally lie on the southeast side of all continents (except Antarctica), generally between latitudes 25° and 40° ...
(
Köppen climate classification The Köppen climate classification is one of the most widely used climate classification systems. It was first published by German-Russian climatologist Wladimir Köppen (1846–1940) in 1884, with several later modifications by Köppen, nota ...
''Cfa'', except ''Dfb'' at the higher elevations) with warm to hot, humid summers and chilly winters, increasing in severity with elevation. Some southern highland areas also have a mountain temperate climate (Köppen ''Cfb'') where winter temperatures are more moderate and summer temperatures are somewhat cooler. However, the weather is subject in all parts of the state to change. The
hardiness zone A hardiness zone is a geographic area defined as having a certain average annual minimum temperature, a factor relevant to the survival of many plants. In some systems other statistics are included in the calculations. The original and most wide ...
s range from zone 5b in the central
Appalachian mountains The Appalachian Mountains (french: Appalaches), often called the Appalachians, are a mountain range, system of mountains in eastern to northeastern North America. The Appalachians first formed roughly 480 million years ago during the Ordovician ...
to zone 7a in the warmest parts of the lowest elevations. In the Eastern Panhandle and the
Ohio River The Ohio River is a long river in the United States. It is located at the boundary of the Midwestern United States, Midwestern and Southern United States, flowing southwesterly from western Pennsylvania to its river mouth, mouth on the Mississip ...
Valley, temperatures are warm enough to see and grow subtropical plants such as southern magnolia (''
Magnolia grandiflora ''Magnolia grandiflora'', commonly known as the southern magnolia or bull bay, is a tree of the family Magnoliaceae native to the Southeastern United States, from Virginia to central Florida, and west to East Texas. Reaching in height, it is a ...
''),
crepe myrtle ''Lagerstroemia'' (), commonly known as crape myrtle (also spelled crepe myrtle or crêpe myrtle), is a genus Genus ( plural genera ) is a taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of extant taxon, living and fossil organisms as ...
, ''
Albizia julibrissin ''Albizia julibrissin'', the Persian silk tree, pink silk tree, or mimosa tree, is a species In biology, a species is the basic unit of Taxonomy (biology), classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversit ...
'',
American sweetgum American sweetgum (''Liquidambar styraciflua''), also known as American storax, hazel pine, bilsted, redgum, satin-walnut, star-leaved gum, alligatorwood, or simply sweetgum, is a deciduous In the fields of horticulture and Botany, the ter ...
and even the occasional needle palm and sabal minor. These plants do not thrive as well in other parts of the state. The eastern prickly pear grows well in many portions of the state. Average January temperatures range from around 26 °F (−4 °C) near the Cheat River to 41 °F (5 °C) along sections of the border with Kentucky. July averages range from 67 °F (19 °C) along the North Branch Potomac River to 76 °F (24 °C) in the western part of the state. It is cooler in the mountains than in the lower sections of the state. The highest recorded temperature in the state is at Martinsburg on July 10, 1936, and the lowest recorded temperature in the state is at Lewisburg on December 30, 1917. Annual precipitation ranges from less than in the lower eastern section to more than in higher parts of the Allegheny Front. Valleys in the east have lower rainfall because the Allegheny mountain ridges to the west create a partial
rain shadow A rain shadow is an area of significantly reduced rainfall behind a mountainous region, on the side facing away from prevailing winds, known as its Windward and leeward#Meteorological significance, leeward side. Evaporation, Evaporated moistu ...
. Slightly more than half the rainfall occurs from April to September. Dense fogs are common in many valleys of the Kanawha section, especially the Tygart Valley. West Virginia is also one of the cloudiest states in the nation, with the cities of Elkins and Beckley ranking 9th and 10th in the U.S. respectively for the number of cloudy days per year (over 210). In addition to persistent cloudy skies caused by the damming of moisture by the Alleghenies, West Virginia also experiences some of the most frequent precipitation in the nation, with
Snowshoe Snowshoes are specialized outdoor gear for walking over snow. Their large footprint spreads the user's weight out and allows them to travel largely on top of rather than through snow. Adjustable bindings attach them to appropriate winter footwe ...
averaging nearly 200 days a year with either rain or snow. Snow usually lasts only a few days in the lower sections but may persist for weeks in the higher mountain areas. An average of of snow falls annually in Charleston, although during the winter of 1995–1996 more than three times that amount fell as several cities in the state established new records for snowfall. Average snowfall in the Allegheny Highlands can range up to per year. Severe weather is somewhat less prevalent in West Virginia than in most other eastern states, and it ranks among the least tornado-prone states east of the Rockies.


Adjacent states

*
Pennsylvania Pennsylvania (; (Pennsylvania Dutch language, Pennsylvania Dutch: )), officially the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, is a U.S. state, state spanning the Mid-Atlantic (United States), Mid-Atlantic, Northeastern United States, Northeastern, Appa ...
(North) *
Maryland Maryland ( ) is a U.S. state, state in the Mid-Atlantic (United States), Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. It shares borders with Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; ...
(Northeast) *
Kentucky Kentucky ( , ), officially the Commonwealth of Kentucky, is a U.S. state, state in the Southeastern United States, Southeastern region of the United States and one of the states of the Upper South. It borders Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio to ...
(Southwest) *
Virginia Virginia, officially the Commonwealth of Virginia, is a U.S. state, state in the Mid-Atlantic (United States), Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern United States, Southeastern regions of the United States, between the East Coast of the United Stat ...
(East) *
Ohio Ohio () is a U.S. state, state in the Midwestern United States, Midwestern region of the United States. Of the List of states and territories of the United States, fifty U.S. states, it is the List of U.S. states and territories by area, 34th-l ...
(West)


Flora and fauna


Major cities

Originally, the state capital was Wheeling, from 1863 to 1870. It was then moved to Charleston, a more central city, from 1870 to 1875, when it returned to Wheeling. In 1885, the capitol burned down and it was moved back to Charleston that year, where a vote was held to determine the permanent capital between Charleston, Clarksburg, and Martinsburg. Charleston was selected, and it has remained the capital since. There are 232 incorporated municipalities in West Virginia.


Metropolitan areas

* Beckley * Charleston * Huntington-Ashland * Morgantown * Parkersburg-Marietta-Vienna * Weirton-Steubenville * Wheeling Other metropolitan areas that contain cities in West Virginia, but are primarily in other states include: *
Cumberland Cumberland ( ) is a historic counties of England, historic county in the far North West England. It covers part of the Lake District as well as the north Pennines and Solway Firth coast. Cumberland had an administrative function from the 12th c ...
* Hagerstown-Martinsburg * Washington-Arlington-Alexandria *
Winchester Winchester is a City status in the United Kingdom, cathedral city in Hampshire, England. The city lies at the heart of the wider City of Winchester, a local government Districts of England, district, at the western end of the South Downs Nation ...


Micropolitan areas

* Bluefield * Clarksburg * Elkins * Fairmont * Logan * Point Pleasant


Demographics

The
United States Census Bureau The United States Census Bureau (USCB), officially the Bureau of the Census, is a principal agency of the Federal Statistical System of the United States, U.S. Federal Statistical System, responsible for producing data about the Americans, Ame ...
estimates that the population of West Virginia was 1,792,147 on July 1, 2018, a 3.28% decrease since the
2010 United States census The United States census of 2010 was the twenty-third United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in N ...
. The
center of population In Demography, demographics, the center of population (or population center) of a region is a geographical point that describes a centerpoint of the region's population. There are several ways of defining such a "center point", leading to dif ...
of West Virginia is located in Braxton County, in the town of Gassaway. As of 2019, West Virginia has an estimated population of 1,792,147, which is a decrease of 10,025 (0.55%) from the prior year and a decrease of 47,162 (2.55%) since the previous census. This includes a natural decrease of 3,296 (108,292 births minus 111,588 deaths) and an increase from net
migration Migration, migratory, or migrate may refer to: Human migration * Human migration, physical movement by humans from one region to another ** International migration, when peoples cross state boundaries and stay in the host state for some minimum le ...
of 14,209 into the state. West Virginia is the least populous southeastern state.
Immigration Immigration is the international movement of people to a destination country of which they are not natives or where they do not possess citizenship in order to settle as Permanent residency, permanent residents or Naturalization, naturalize ...
from outside the United States resulted in a net increase of 3,691, and migration within the country produced a net increase of 10,518. Only 1.6% of the state's residents were foreign-born, placing West Virginia last among the 50 states in that statistic. It also has the lowest percentage of residents who speak a language other than English at home (2.6%). The five largest ancestry groups in West Virginia are: German (18.9%), Irish (15.1%) American (12.9%), English (11.8%) and Italian (4.7%) In the 2000 census, people who identified their ethnicity as simply American made up 18.7% of the population. Large numbers of people of German ancestry are present in the northeastern counties of the state. People of English ancestry are present throughout the entire state. Many West Virginians who self-identify as Irish are actually Scots-Irish Protestants. 2010 census data show that 16 percent of West Virginia's residents are 65 or older (exceeded only by Florida's 17 percent). There were 20,928 births in 2006. Of these, 19,757 (94.40% of the births, 95.19% of the population) were to non-Hispanic whites. There were 22 births to American Indians (0.11% of the births and 0.54% of the population), 177 births to Asians (0.85% of the births and 0.68% of the population), 219 births to Hispanics (1.05% of the births and 0.88% of the population) and 753 births to blacks and others (3.60% of the births and 3.56% of the population). The state's Northern Panhandle, and North-Central region feel an affinity for
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Pittsburgh ( ) is a city in the Commonwealth (U.S. state), Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, United States, and the county seat of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, Allegheny County. It is the most populous city in both Allegheny County and Wester ...
. Also, those in the Eastern Panhandle feel a connection with the Washington, D.C. suburbs in
Maryland Maryland ( ) is a U.S. state, state in the Mid-Atlantic (United States), Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. It shares borders with Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; ...
and
Virginia Virginia, officially the Commonwealth of Virginia, is a U.S. state, state in the Mid-Atlantic (United States), Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern United States, Southeastern regions of the United States, between the East Coast of the United Stat ...
, and southern West Virginians often consider themselves Southerners. Finally, the towns and farms along the mid-
Ohio River The Ohio River is a long river in the United States. It is located at the boundary of the Midwestern United States, Midwestern and Southern United States, flowing southwesterly from western Pennsylvania to its river mouth, mouth on the Mississip ...
, which forms most of the state's western border, have an appearance and culture somewhat resembling the
Midwest The Midwestern United States, also referred to as the Midwest or the American Midwest, is one of four Census Bureau Region, census regions of the United States Census Bureau (also known as "Region 2"). It occupies the northern central part of ...
.


Birth data

''Note: Births in table do not add up, because Hispanics are counted both by their ethnicity and by their race, giving a higher overall number.'' * Since 2016, data for births of
White Hispanic White Latin Americans, or European Latin Americans, are Latin Americans Latin Americans ( es, Latinoamericanos; pt, Latino-americanos; ) are the citizenship, citizens of Latin American countries (or people with cultural, ancestral or nation ...
origin are not collected, but included in one ''Hispanic'' group; persons of Hispanic origin may be of any race.


Languages

In 2010 97.67% (1,697,042) of West Virginia residents aged 5 years and older spoke English as their primary language. 2.33% of residents spoke a mother language other than English.


Religion

Several surveys have been made in recent years, in 2008 by the American Religion Identity Survey, in 2010 by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. The Pew survey results admit to a 6.5% margin of error plus or minus, while the ARIS survey says "estimates are subject to larger sampling errors in states with small populations." A characteristic of religion in Appalachian communities is the abundance of independent, non-affiliated churches, which "remain unnoted and uncounted in any census of church life in the United States". This sometimes leads to the belief that these communities are "unchurched". The largest denomination as of 2010 was the
United Methodist Church The United Methodist Church (UMC) is a worldwide mainline Protestant Christian denomination, denomination based in the United States, and a major part of Methodism. In the 19th century, its main predecessor, the Methodist Episcopal Church, was a ...
with 136,000 members in 1,200 congregations. The second-largest Protestant church was the
American Baptist Churches USA The American Baptist Churches USA (ABCUSA) is a mainline protestant, mainline/Evangelicalism, evangelical Baptist Christian denomination within the United States. The denomination maintains headquarters in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, Valley For ...
with 88,000 members and 381 congregations. The
Southern Baptist The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) is a Christian denomination based in the United States. It is the world's largest Baptists, Baptist denomination, and the Protestantism in the United States, largest Protestantism, Protestant and Christia ...
church had 44,000 members and 232 congregations. The
Churches of Christ The Churches of Christ is a loose association of autonomous Christianity, Christian congregations based on the ''sola scriptura'' doctrine. Their practices are based on Bible texts and draw on Early Christianity, the early Christian church as des ...
had 22,000 members and 287 congregations. The
Presbyterian Church (USA) The Presbyterian Church (USA), abbreviated PC(USA), is a mainline Protestant Christian denomination, denomination in the United States. It is the largest Presbyterianism, Presbyterian denomination in the US, and known for its liberal stance on ...
had 200 congregations and 20,000 members. A survey conducted in 2015 by the
Pew Research Center The Pew Research Center is a nonpartisanism in the United States, nonpartisan American think tank (referring to itself as a "fact tank") based in Washington, D.C. It provides information on social issues, public opinion, and demographic trends ...
found that West Virginia was the seventh most "highly religious" state in the United States. A separate 2020 survey by the Public Religion Research Institute found that 69% of the adult population was Christian, reflecting a slight decrease since the Pew Research Center's 2015 survey. In 2020, a survey of nearly 1,900 West Virginians reported that 78.6% were Christian, and 16.2% were unaffiliated.


Economy


Overview

The economy of West Virginia nominally would be the 62nd largest economy globally behind
Iraq Iraq,; ku, عێراق, translit=Êraq officially the Republic of Iraq, '; ku, کۆماری عێراق, translit=Komarî Êraq is a country in Western Asia. It is bordered by Turkey to Iraq–Turkey border, the north, Iran to Iran–Iraq ...
and ahead of
Croatia , image_flag = Flag of Croatia.svg , image_coat = Coat of arms of Croatia.svg , anthem = " Lijepa naša domovino"("Our Beautiful Homeland") , image_map = , map_caption = , capi ...
according to 2009
World Bank The World Bank is an international financial institution that provides loans and Grant (money), grants to the governments of Least developed countries, low- and Developing country, middle-income countries for the purpose of pursuing capital pro ...
projections, and the 64th largest behind Iraq and ahead of
Libya Libya (; ar, ليبيا, Lībiyā), officially the State of Libya ( ar, دولة ليبيا, Dawlat Lībiyā), is a country in the Maghreb region in North Africa. It is bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to Egypt–Libya bo ...
according to 2009
International Monetary Fund The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is a major financial agency of the United Nations, and an international financial institution, headquartered in Washington, D.C., consisting of 190 countries. Its stated mission is "working to foster globa ...
projections. The state has a projected nominal GSP of $63.34 billion in 2009 according to the
Bureau of Economic Analysis The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) of the United States Department of Commerce is a U.S. government agency that provides official economy of the United States, macroeconomic and industry statistics, most notably reports about the gross domestic ...
report of November 2010, and a real GSP of $55.04 billion. The real GDP growth of the state in 2009 of .7% was the 7th best in the country."ECONOMIC DOWNTURN WIDESPREAD AMONG STATES IN 2009"
, Bureau of Economic Analysis. November 18, 2010. Accessed December 11, 2010
West Virginia was one of only ten states in 2009 that grew economically. While per capita income fell 2.6% nationally in 2009, West Virginia's grew at 1.8%."West Virginia improves per capita ranking"
, Catherine Zacchi. West Virginia Department of Commerce. 2010. Accessed December 11, 2010
Through the first half of 2010, exports from West Virginia topped $3 billion, growing 39.5% over the same period from the previous year and ahead of the national average by 15.7%. Morgantown was ranked by ''
Forbes ''Forbes'' () is an American business magazine owned by Integrated Whale Media Investments and the Forbes family (publishers), Forbes family. Published eight times a year, it features articles on finance, industry, investing, and marketing ...
'' as the #10 best small city in the nation to conduct business in 2010."Morgantown makes Forbes list again"
, ''Charleston Daily Mail''. November 24, 2010. Accessed December 11, 2010
The city is also home to
West Virginia University West Virginia University (WVU) is a public university, public Land-grant university, land-grant research university with its main campus in Morgantown, West Virginia. Its other campuses are those of the West Virginia University Institute of Tech ...
, the 95th best public university according to U.S. News & World Report in 2011. The proportion of West Virginia's adult population with a
bachelor's degree A bachelor's degree (from Middle Latin ''baccalaureus'') or baccalaureate (from New Latin, Modern Latin ''baccalaureatus'') is an Undergraduate degree, undergraduate academic degree awarded by colleges and universities upon completion of a course ...
is the lowest in the U.S. at 17.3%. The net corporate income tax rate is 6.5% while business costs are 13% below the national average. The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis reported that in 2014 West Virginia's economy grew twice as fast as the next fastest-growing state east of the Mississippi River, ranking third alongside Wyoming and just behind North Dakota and Texas among the fastest-growing states in the United States.


Tourism

Tourism contributed $4.27 billion to the state's economy and employed 44,400 people in 2010, making it one of the state's largest industries. Many tourists, especially in the eastern mountains, are drawn to the region's notable opportunities for outdoor recreation.
Canaan Valley Canaan Valley () is a large bathtub-shaped upland valley in northeastern Tucker County, West Virginia, USA. Within it are extensive wetlands A wetland is a distinct ecosystem that is flooded or saturated by water, either permanently (for year ...
is popular for winter sports, Seneca Rocks is one of the premier rock climbing destinations in the eastern U.S., the New River Gorge/ Fayetteville area draws rock climbers as well as
whitewater Whitewater forms in a rapid context, in particular, when a river's Stream gradient, gradient changes enough to generate so much turbulence that air is trapped within the water. This forms an unstable current that foam, froths, making the wat ...
rafting enthusiasts, and the Monongahela National Forest is popular with hikers, backpackers, hunters, and anglers. Also drawing tourism to the state is the West Virginia State Park & State Forest system, which comprises 45 units covering 164,000 acres. In 2021, over 9 million people visited a West Virginia state park, the highest number on record. This is partly due to a recent $151 million improvement project that has seen improvements at every park and forest. In addition to such outdoor recreation opportunities, the state offers a number of historic and cultural attractions.
Harpers Ferry National Historical Park Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, originally Harpers Ferry National Monument, is located at the confluence In geography, a confluence (also: ''conflux'') occurs where two or more flowing bodies of water join to form a single channel. A ...
is a historic town situated at the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac rivers.
Harpers Ferry Harpers Ferry is a historic town in Jefferson County, West Virginia, Jefferson County, West Virginia. It is located in the lower Shenandoah Valley. The population was 285 at the 2020 United States census, 2020 census. Situated at the confluence o ...
was the site of John Brown's 1859
raid Raid, RAID or Raids may refer to: Attack * Raid (military), a sudden attack behind the enemy's lines without the intention of holding ground * Corporate raid, a type of hostile takeover in business * Panty raid, a prankish raid by male college s ...
on the U.S. Armory and Arsenal. Located at the approximate midpoint of the
Appalachian Trail The Appalachian Trail (also called the A.T.), is a hiking trail in the Eastern United States, extending almost between Springer Mountain in Georgia and Mount Katahdin in Maine, and passing through 14 states.Gailey, Chris (2006)"Appalachian Tr ...
, Harpers Ferry is the base of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. The Greenbrier hotel and
resort A resort (North American English) is a self-contained commercial establishment that tries to provide most of a vacationer's wants, such as food, drink, swimming, lodging, sports, entertainment, and shopping, on the premises. The term ''resort' ...
, originally built in 1778, has long been considered a premier hotel, frequented by numerous world leaders and U.S. presidents over the years. West Virginia is the site of the
National Radio Astronomy Observatory The National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) is a federally funded research and development center of the National Science Foundation, United States National Science Foundation operated under cooperative agreement by Associated Universities, In ...
, which features the Green Bank Telescope. For the 1963 Centennial of the State, it hosted two high school graduate delegates from each of the 50 States at the
National Youth Science Camp The National Youth Science Camp (NYSCamp) is a free residential honors program for two accomplished high school graduates from each state in the USA, plus Washington, DC. As of 2020, NYSCamp also accepts two delegates to represent Argentina, Bol ...
near Bartow, and has continued this tradition ever since. The main building of Weston State Hospital is the largest hand-cut sandstone building in the western hemisphere, second worldwide only to the Kremlin in Moscow. Tours of the building, which is a
National Historic Landmark A National Historic Landmark (NHL) is a National Register of Historic Places property types, building, district, object, site, or structure that is officially recognized by the Federal government of the United States, United States government fo ...
and part of the National Civil War Trail, are offered seasonally and by appointment year-round. West Virginia has numerous popular festivals throughout the year.


Resources

One of the major resources in West Virginia's economy is
coal Coal is a combustible black or brownish-black sedimentary rock, formed as stratum, rock strata called coal seams. Coal is mostly carbon with variable amounts of other Chemical element, elements, chiefly hydrogen, sulfur, oxygen, and nitrogen ...
. According to the
Energy Information Administration The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) is a principal agency of the Federal Statistical System of the United States, U.S. Federal Statistical System responsible for collecting, analyzing, and disseminating energy information to promote ...
, West Virginia is a top coal producer in the United States, second only to Wyoming. West Virginia is located in the heart of the Marcellus Shale Natural Gas Bed, which stretches from Tennessee north to New York in the middle of Appalachia. As of 2017, the coal industry accounted for 2% of state employment. Nearly all the electricity generated in West Virginia is from coal-fired power plants. West Virginia produces a surplus of electricity and leads the Nation in net interstate electricity exports. Farming is also practiced in West Virginia, but on a limited basis because of the mountainous terrain over much of the state.


Green energy

An assessment from 2012 estimated that West Virginia had the potential to generate 8,627 GWh/year from 2,772 MW of 100-meter
wind turbines A wind turbine is a device that converts the kinetic energy In physics Physics is the natural science that studies matter, its Elementary particle, fundamental constituents, its motion and behavior through Spacetime, space and ...
, and 60,000 GWh from 40,000 MW of photovoltaics, including 3,810 MW of rooftop
photovoltaics Photovoltaics (PV) is the conversion of light into electricity using semiconducting materials that exhibit the photovoltaic effect, a phenomenon studied in physics, photochemistry, and electrochemistry. The photovoltaic effect is commercially us ...
. This was based on then-existing technologies and apparently was based on some assumed requirements for the economic performance of the respective resources. Source:


Taxes

West Virginia personal
income tax An income tax is a tax imposed on individuals or entities (taxpayers) in respect of the income or profits earned by them (commonly called taxable income). Income tax generally is computed as the product of a tax rate times the taxable income. Tax ...
is based on federal adjusted gross income (not taxable income), as modified by specific items in West Virginia law. Citizens are taxed within five income brackets, which range from 3.0% to 6.5%. The state's consumer
sales tax A sales tax is a tax paid to a governing body for the sales of certain goods and services. Usually laws allow the seller to collect funds for the tax from the consumer at the point of purchase. When a tax on goods or services is paid to a govern ...
is levied at 6% on most products except for non-prepared foods. West Virginia counties administer and collect
property tax A property tax or millage rate is an ad valorem tax on the value of a property.In the OECD classification scheme, tax on property includes "taxes on immovable property or Wealth tax, net wealth, taxes on the change of ownership of property thr ...
es, although property tax rates reflect levies for state government, county governments, county boards of education and municipalities. Counties may also impose a hotel occupancy tax on lodging places not located within the city limits of any municipality that levies such a tax. Municipalities may levy license and gross receipts taxes on businesses located within the city limits and a hotel occupancy tax on lodging places in the city. Although the Department of Tax and Revenue plays a major role in the administration of this tax, less than half of one percent of the property tax collected goes to state government. The primary beneficiaries of the property tax are county boards of education. Property taxes are paid to the
sheriff A sheriff is a government official, with varying duties, existing in some countries with historical ties to England where the office originated. There is an analogous, although independently developed, office in Iceland that is commonly transla ...
of each of the state's 55 counties. Each county and municipality can impose its own rates of property taxation within the limits set by the West Virginia Constitution. The West Virginia legislature sets the rate of tax of county boards of education. This rate is used by all county boards of education statewide. However, the total tax rate for county boards of education may differ from county to county because of excess levies. The Department of Tax and Revenue supervises and otherwise assists counties and municipalities in their work of assessment and tax rate determination. The total tax rate is a combination of the tax levies from four state taxing authorities: state, county, schools and municipal. This total tax rate varies for each of the four classes of property, which consists of personal, real and intangible properties. Property is assessed according to its use, location and value as of July 1
WV Assessments
has a free searchable database of West Virginia real estate tax assessments, covering current and past years. All property is reappraised every three years; annual adjustments are made to assessments for property with a change of value. West Virginia does not impose an
inheritance tax An inheritance tax is a tax paid by a person who inherits money or property of a person who has died, whereas an estate tax is a levy on the Estate (law), estate (money and property) of a person who has died. International tax law distinguishes ...
. Because of the phase-out of the federal
estate tax An inheritance tax is a tax paid by a person who inherits money or property of a person who has died, whereas an estate tax is a levy on the Estate (law), estate (money and property) of a person who has died. International tax law distinguishes ...
credit, West Virginia's estate tax is not imposed on estates of persons who died on or after January 1, 2005.


Largest private employers

The largest private employers in West Virginia, as of March 2019, were:


Quality of life


Economy

West Virginia coal exports declined 40% in 2013—a loss of $2.9 billion and overall total exports declined 26%. West Virginia ranked last in the Gallup Economic Index for the fourth year running. West Virginia's score was −44, or a full 17 points lower than the average of −27 for the other states in the bottom ten. West Virginia ranked 48th in the CNBC "Top States for Business 2013" based on measures of competitiveness such as economy, workforce and cost of living—ranking among the bottom five states for the last six years running. West Virginia ranked 49th in the 2014 State New Economy Index and has ranked in the bottom three states since 1999. West Virginia ranked last or next-to-last in critical indicators such as Workforce Education, Entrepreneurial Activity, High-Tech Jobs, and Scientists and Engineers. On January 9, 2014, a chemical spill contaminated the water supply of 300,000 people in nine West Virginia counties near Charleston. According to Bloomberg News, lost wages, revenue, and other economic harm from the chemical spill could top $500 million. and West Virginia's Marshall University Center for Business and Economic Research estimated that about $61 million was lost by businesses in the first four days alone after the spill.


Employment

In 2012, West Virginia's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by 3.3%. The state issued a report highlighting the state's GDP as indicating a fast-growing economy, but did not address employment indicators. In 2009–2013, the U.S. real GDP increased 9.6% and total employment increased 3.9%. In West Virginia during the same time period, its real GDP increased about 11%, while total employment decreased by 1,000 jobs from 746,000 to 745,000. In 2013, West Virginia ranked last in the nation with an employment-to-population ratio of only 50%, compared to the national average of 59%. The state lost 5,600 jobs in its labor force in four critical economic sectors: construction (1,900), manufacturing (1,100), retail (1,800), and education (800), while gaining just 400 in mining and logging. The state's Civilian Labor Force dropped by 15,100.


Wages and poverty

Personal income growth in West Virginia during 2013 was only 1.5%—the lowest in the nation—and about half the national average (2.6%). Overall income growth in West Virginia in the last thirty years has been only 13%—about a third of the national average (37%). Wages of the impoverished bottom 1% income earners decreased by 3%, compared to the national average, which increased 19%. West Virginia's poverty rate is one of the highest in the nation. 2017 estimates indicate that 19% of the state's population lives in poverty, exceeding the national average of 13%. The West Virginia teachers' strike in 2018 inspired teachers in other states to take similar action.


Population

United Van Lines 37th Annual Migration Study showed in 2013 that 60% more people moved out of West Virginia than moved in. West Virginia's population is expected to decline by more than 19,000 residents by 2030, and West Virginia lost one of its three seats in the United States House of Representatives in the 2020 census. West Virginia is the only state where death rates exceed birth rates. During 2010–2013, about 21,000 babies per year were born in West Virginia, but over these three years West Virginia had 3,000 more deaths than births."2012 County/Metro Population Estimates"
, U.S. Census Bureau. March 14, 2013. Accessed April 12, 2014.


Family

Gallup-Healthways annual "State of American Well-Being" rankings reports that 1,261 concerned West Virginians rated themselves as "suffering" in categories such as Quality of Life, Physical Health, and Access to Basic Needs. Overall, West Virginia citizens rated themselves as being more miserable than people in all other states—for five years running. In addition, the Gallup Well-Being Index for 2013 ranked Charleston, the state capital, and Huntington last and next-to-last out of 189 U.S. Metropolitan Statistical Areas. The Annie E. Casey Foundation's National Index of Children's Progress ranked West Virginia 43rd in the nation for all kids, and last for white kids. The Annie E. Casey Foundation's 2013 KIDS COUNT Data Book also ranked West Virginia's education system 47th in the nation for the second straight year. Charleston, West Virginia has the worst divorce rate among 100 cities in the nation. Stephen Smith, the executive director of the West Virginia Healthy Kids and Families Coalition, said poor employment prospects are to blame: "The pressure to make a good living puts strain on a marriage, and right now it is infinitely harder to make a living here than it was 40 years ago."


Health

United Health Foundation's "America's Health Rankings" for 2013 found that Americans are making considerable progress in key health measures. West Virginia, however, ranked either last or second-to-last in twenty categories, including cancer, child immunization, diabetes, disabilities, drug deaths, teeth loss, low birth weight, missed work days due to health, prescription drug overdose, preventable hospitalizations, and senior clinical care. Wisconsin Population Health Institute annual "Health Rankings" for 2012 showed West Virginia spends $9,671 per capita on health care annually. El Salvador spends just $467, yet both have the same life expectancy. In 2012, according to the Census Bureau, West Virginia was the only state where death rates exceed birth rates. During 2010–2013, about 21,000 babies per year were born in West Virginia, but there were 24,000 deaths. In demographics, this is called a "net mortality society". The National Center for Health Statistics says national birth rates for teenagers are at historic lows—during 2007–2010, teen birth rates fell 17% nationally. West Virginia, however, ranked last with a 3% increase in birth rates for teenagers. A study by West Virginia's Marshall University showed that 19% of babies born in the state have evidence of drug or alcohol exposure. This is several times the national rate, where studies show that about 5.9% of pregnant women in the U.S. use illicit drugs, and about 8.5% consume any alcohol. An Institute for Health Policy Research study determined that mortality rates in Appalachia are correlated with coal production. In twenty West Virginia coal counties mining more than a million tons of coal per year and having a total population of 850,000, there are about 10,100 deaths per year, with 1,400 of those statistically attributed to deaths from heart, respiratory and kidney disease from living in an Appalachian coal county. In 2015, McDowell County had the highest rate of drug-induced deaths of any county in the United States, with a rate of 141 deaths per 100,000 people. Four of the five counties with the highest rates of drug-induced deaths are in West Virginia (McDowell, Wyoming, Cabell and Raleigh Counties). American environmental attorney Robert Bilott exposed how
DuPont DuPont de Nemours, Inc., commonly shortened to DuPont, is an American multinational chemical company first formed in 1802 by French-American chemist and industrialist Éleuthère Irénée du Pont de Nemours. The company played a major role in ...
had been knowingly polluting water with
perfluorooctanoic acid Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA; conjugate acid, conjugate base perfluorooctanoate; also known colloquially as C8, for its 8 carbon chain structure) is a perfluorinated carboxylic acid produced and used worldwide as an industrial surfactant in chemi ...
(PFOA) in
Parkersburg, West Virginia Parkersburg is a city in and the county seat A county seat is an administrative center, seat of government, or capital city of a county or parish (administrative division), civil parish. The term is in use in Canada, China, Hungary, Romania ...
, since the 1980s. This battle with DuPont is depicted in the film '' Dark Waters''.


Life expectancy

The residents of West Virginia have a lower life expectancy than the national average. In 2014 life expectancy for both sexes in the state was 76.0 years compared to 79.1 years for the United States as a whole. In 2014, males in West Virginia lived an average of 73.6 years compared to a national average of 76.7 years and females lived an average of 77.5 years compared to a national average of 81.5 years. Male life expectancy in West Virginia between 1980 and 2014 increased by 4.7 years, compared to a national average of a 6.7-year increase. Life expectancy for females in West Virginia between 1980 and 2014 increased by 1.7 years, compared to a national average of a 4.0-year increase. Life expectancy for both sexes is among the lowest of all states. Life expectancies in 2014 for both sexes in West Virginia counties ranged from a low of 70.3 years in McDowell County to a high of 79.3 years in Pendleton County. McDowell and several other West Virginia counties are among the counties in the U.S. with the lowest life expectancies.


Governance


Legislative branch

The West Virginia Legislature is
bicameral Bicameralism is a type of legislature, one divided into two separate Deliberative assembly, assemblies, chambers, or houses, known as a bicameral legislature. Bicameralism is distinguished from unicameralism, in which all members deliberate and ...
. It consists of the House of Delegates and the
Senate A senate is a deliberative assembly, often the upper house An upper house is one of two Debate chamber, chambers of a bicameralism, bicameral legislature, the other chamber being the lower house.''Bicameralism'' (1997) by George Tseb ...
, both housed in the West Virginia State Capitol. It is a citizen's legislature, meaning that legislative office is not a full-time occupation, but rather a part-time position. Consequently, the legislators often hold full-time jobs in their community of residence. Typically, the legislature is in session for 60 days between January and early April. The final day of the regular session ends in a bewildering fury of last-minute legislation to meet a constitutionally imposed midnight deadline. During the remainder of the year, monthly interim sessions are held in preparation for the regular session. Legislators also gather periodically for 'special' sessions when called by the governor. The title of
Lieutenant Governor A lieutenant governor, lieutenant-governor, or vice governor is a high officer of state, whose precise role and rank vary by jurisdiction. Often a lieutenant governor is the deputy, or lieutenant, to or ranked under a governor — a "second-in-comm ...
is assigned by statute to the senate president.


Executive branch

The governor, elected every four years on the same day as the U.S. presidential election, is sworn in during the following January. Governors of West Virginia can serve two consecutive terms but must sit out a term before serving a third term in office. The title of
Lieutenant Governor A lieutenant governor, lieutenant-governor, or vice governor is a high officer of state, whose precise role and rank vary by jurisdiction. Often a lieutenant governor is the deputy, or lieutenant, to or ranked under a governor — a "second-in-comm ...
is assigned by statute to the senate president. West Virginia's current governor is
Jim Justice James Conley Justice II (born April 27, 1951) is an American businessman and politician who has served as the 36th governor of West Virginia since 2017. Justice had a net worth of $1.2 billion in September 2018, making him the wealthiest person ...
.


Judicial branch

West Virginia is one of 27 states that do not have a
death penalty Capital punishment, also known as the death penalty, is the State (polity), state-sanctioned practice of deliberately killing a person as a punishment for an actual or supposed crime, usually following an authorized, rule-governed process to ...
, and it was the only state in the southeastern United States to have abolished it until 2021, when
Virginia Virginia, officially the Commonwealth of Virginia, is a U.S. state, state in the Mid-Atlantic (United States), Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern United States, Southeastern regions of the United States, between the East Coast of the United Stat ...
did so as well. For the purpose of courts of general jurisdiction, the state is divided into 31 judicial circuits. Each circuit is made up of one or more counties. Circuit judges are elected in non-partisan elections to serve eight-year terms. West Virginia's highest court is the Supreme Court of Appeals. The Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia is the busiest appellate court of its type in the United States. West Virginia is one of 11 states with a single appellate court. The state constitution allows for the creation of an intermediate court of appeals, but the Legislature has never created one. The Supreme Court is made up of five justices, elected in non-partisan elections to 12-year terms. West Virginia is an alcoholic beverage control state. However, unlike most such states, it does not operate retail outlets, having exited that business in 1990. It retains a monopoly on wholesaling of
distilled spirits Liquor (or a spirit) is an alcoholic drink produced by distillation of grains, fruits, vegetables, or sugar, that have already gone through alcoholic fermentation. Other terms for liquor include: spirit drink, distilled beverage or hard li ...
only.


Politics

At the state level, West Virginia's politics were largely dominated by the Democratic Party from the
Great Depression The Great Depression (19291939) was an economic shock that impacted most countries across the world. It was a period of economic depression that became evident after a major fall in stock prices in the United States. The Financial contagion, ...
through the 2000s. This was a legacy of West Virginia's very strong tradition of union membership. After the 2014 midterm elections Democrats controlled the governorship, the majority of statewide offices, and one U.S. Senate seat, while Republicans held one U.S. Senate seat, all three of the state's U.S. House seats, and a majority in both houses of the
West Virginia Legislature The West Virginia Legislature is the state legislature (United States), state legislature of the U.S. state of West Virginia. A bicameral legislative body, the legislature is split between the upper house, upper West Virginia Senate, Senate and ...
. In the 2016 elections, the Republicans held on to their seats and made gains in the State Senate and gained three statewide offices. Since
2000 File:2000 Events Collage.png, From left, clockwise: Protests against Bush v. Gore after the 2000 United States presidential election; Heads of state meet for the Millennium Summit; The International Space Station in its infant form as seen from ST ...
, West Virginians have supported the Republican candidate in every presidential election. The state is regarded as a "deep red" state at the federal level. In
2012 File:2012 Events Collage V3.png, From left, clockwise: The passenger cruise ship Costa Concordia lies capsized after the Costa Concordia disaster; Damage to Casino Pier in Seaside Heights, New Jersey as a result of Hurricane Sandy; People gather ...
Republican
Mitt Romney Willard Mitt Romney (born March 12, 1947) is an American politician, businessman, and lawyer serving as the Seniority in the United States Senate, junior United States Senate, United States senator from Utah since January 2019, succeeding O ...
won the state, defeating Democrat
Barack Obama Barack Hussein Obama II ( ; born August 4, 1961) is an American politician who served as the 44th president of the United States from 2009 to 2017. A member of the Democratic Party (United States), Democratic Party, Obama was the first Af ...
with 62% of the vote to 35% for Obama. In the 2016 presidential election, Republican
Donald Trump Donald John Trump (born June 14, 1946) is an American politician, media personality, and businessman who served as the 45th president of the United States from 2017 to 2021. Trump graduated from the Wharton School of the University of Pe ...
won the state with 67.86% of the popular vote, with West Virginia giving him the highest vote share of any state. The 2008 presidential election was the last to date in which the Democratic nominee won any of the state's counties. Evangelical Christians comprised 52% of the state's voters in 2008. A poll in 2005 showed that 53% of West Virginia voters are
anti-abortion Anti-abortion movements, also self-styled as pro-life or abolitionist movements, are involved in the abortion debate advocating against the practice of abortion and its Abortion by country, legality. Many anti-abortion movements began as counte ...
, the seventh highest in the country. A 2014 poll by Pew Research found that 35% of West Virginians supported legal abortion in "all or most cases" while 58% wanted it to be banned "in all or most cases". A September 2011 Public Policy Polling survey found that 19% of West Virginia voters thought
same-sex marriage Same-sex marriage, also known as gay marriage, is the marriage of two people of the same Legal sex and gender, sex or gender. marriage between same-sex couples is legally performed and recognized in 33 countries, with the most recent being ...
should be legal, while 71% thought it should be illegal and 10% were not sure. A separate question on the same survey found that 43% of West Virginia voters supported the legal recognition of same-sex couples, with 17% supporting same-sex marriage, 26% supporting civil unions but not marriage, 54% favoring no legal recognition and 3% not sure. In 2008, 58% favored troop withdrawal from Iraq while just 32% wanted troops to remain. On fiscal policy in 2008, 52% said raising taxes on the wealthier individuals would benefit the economy, while 45% disagreed. In a 2020 study, West Virginia was ranked as the 16th hardest state for citizens to vote in.


Transportation

Highways form the backbone of transportation systems in West Virginia, with over of public roads in the state. Airports, railroads, and rivers complete the commercial transportation modes for West Virginia. Commercial air travel is facilitated by airports in Charleston, Huntington, Morgantown, Beckley, Lewisburg, Clarksburg, and Parkersburg. All but Charleston and Huntington are subsidized by the federal Department of Transportation's Essential Air Service program. The cities of Charleston, Huntington, Beckley, Wheeling, Morgantown, Clarksburg, Parkersburg and Fairmont have bus-based public transit systems.
West Virginia University West Virginia University (WVU) is a public university, public Land-grant university, land-grant research university with its main campus in Morgantown, West Virginia. Its other campuses are those of the West Virginia University Institute of Tech ...
in Morgantown boasts the PRT (personal rapid transit) system, the state's only single-rail public transit system. Developed by
Boeing The Boeing Company () is an American multinational corporation that designs, manufactures, and sells airplanes, rotorcraft, rockets, satellites, telecommunications equipment, and missiles worldwide. The company also provides leasing and product ...
, the WVU School of Engineering and the Department of Transportation, it was a model for low-capacity light transport designed for smaller cities. Recreational transportation opportunities abound in West Virginia, including hiking trails, rail trails, ATV off-road trails, white water rafting rivers, and two tourist railroads, the Cass Scenic Railroad and the Potomac Eagle Scenic Railroad. West Virginia is crossed by seven
Interstate Highways The Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways, commonly known as the Interstate Highway System, is a network of controlled-access highways that forms part of the National Highway System (United States), National ...
. I-64 enters the state near White Sulphur Springs in the mountainous east, and exits for
Kentucky Kentucky ( , ), officially the Commonwealth of Kentucky, is a U.S. state, state in the Southeastern United States, Southeastern region of the United States and one of the states of the Upper South. It borders Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio to ...
in the west, near Huntington.
I-77 Interstate 77 (I-77) is a north–south Interstate Highway The Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways, commonly known as the Interstate Highway System, is a network of controlled-access highways that ...
enters from
Virginia Virginia, officially the Commonwealth of Virginia, is a U.S. state, state in the Mid-Atlantic (United States), Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern United States, Southeastern regions of the United States, between the East Coast of the United Stat ...
in the south, near Bluefield. It runs north past Parkersburg before it crosses into
Ohio Ohio () is a U.S. state, state in the Midwestern United States, Midwestern region of the United States. Of the List of states and territories of the United States, fifty U.S. states, it is the List of U.S. states and territories by area, 34th-l ...
. I-64 and
I-77 Interstate 77 (I-77) is a north–south Interstate Highway The Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways, commonly known as the Interstate Highway System, is a network of controlled-access highways that ...
between Charleston and Beckley are merged as toll road known as the West Virginia Turnpike, which continues as I-77 alone from Beckley to Princeton. It was constructed beginning in 1952 as a two-lane road, but rebuilt beginning in 1974 to Interstate standards. Today almost nothing of the original construction remains. I-68's western terminus is in Morgantown. From there it runs east into
Maryland Maryland ( ) is a U.S. state, state in the Mid-Atlantic (United States), Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. It shares borders with Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; ...
. At the I-68 terminus in Morgantown, it meets
I-79 Interstate 79 (I-79) is an Interstate Highway The Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways, commonly known as the Interstate Highway System, is a network of controlled-access highways that forms part ...
, which enters from Pennsylvania and runs through the state to its southern terminus in Charleston.
I-70 Interstate 70 (I-70) is a major east–west Interstate Highway The Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways, commonly known as the Interstate Highway System, is a network of controlled-access highways ...
briefly runs through West Virginia, crossing the northern panhandle through Wheeling, while I-470 is a bypass of Wheeling (making Wheeling among the smallest cities with an interstate bypass). I-81 also briefly runs in West Virginia through the Eastern Panhandle where it goes through Martinsburg. The interstates are supplemented by roads constructed under the Appalachian Corridor system. Four Corridors are complete. Corridor D, carrying US 50, runs from the Ohio River, and I-77, at Parkersburg to I-79 at Clarksburg. Corridor G, carrying US 119, runs from Charleston to the Kentucky border at Williamson. Corridor L, carrying US 19, runs from the Turnpike at Beckley to I-79 near Sutton (and provides a short cut of about and bypasses Charleston's urban traffic for traveler heading to and from Florida). Corridor Q, carrying US 460, runs through Mercer County, entering the state from Giles County, Virginia and then reentering Virginia at Tazewell County. Work continues on the long-delayed Corridor H, which will carry US 48 from Weston to the Virginia line near Wardensville. As of 2018, a section from Weston to Kerens just past Elkins, and another section from Wardensville to Davis are complete. Other projects under development are a four-lane upgrade of US 35 from Scott Depot to the Ohio River at Point Pleasant, which is about two-thirds complete; a four-lane upgrade of WV 10 from Logan to Man and then of WV 80 from Man to Gilbert, which is about half completed; and four-lane upgrades to US 52 from Bluefield to Williamson, known as the "King Coal Highway" and from Williamson to Huntington, known as the "Tolsia Highway" which are many years from completion. A project known as the "Coalfields Expressway" is also ongoing, and will carry US 121 from Beckley west across Raleigh, Wyoming, and McDowell counties, entering Virginia near Bishop. Rail lines in the state used to be more prevalent, but many lines have been discontinued because of increased automobile traffic. Many old tracks have been converted to rail trails for recreational use, although the coal-producing areas still have railroads running at near capacity.
Amtrak The National Railroad Passenger Corporation, Trade name, doing business as Amtrak () , is the national Passenger train, passenger railroad company of the United States. It operates inter-city rail service in 46 of the 48 contiguous United Stat ...
's ''
Cardinal Cardinal or The Cardinal may refer to: Animals * Cardinal (bird) or Cardinalidae, a family of North and South American birds **''Cardinalis'', genus of cardinal in the family Cardinalidae **''Cardinalis cardinalis'', or northern cardinal, the ...
'' roughly parallels I-64's path through the state. MARC trains serve commuters to Washington, D.C. in the eastern panhandle. In 2006
Norfolk Southern The Norfolk Southern Railway is a Class I freight railroad in the United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, prim ...
along with the West Virginia and U.S. Government approved a plan to modify many of the rail tunnels in West Virginia, especially in the southern half of the state, to allow for double-stacked cars (see inter-modal freight). This is expected to also help bring economic growth to the southern half of the state. An Intermodal Freight Facility is located at Prichard, just south of Huntington. Because of the mountainous nature of the entire state, West Virginia has several notable tunnels and bridges. The most famous of these is the New River Gorge Bridge, which was at a time the longest steel single-arch bridge in the world with a 3,031-foot (924 m) span. The bridge is also pictured on the West Virginia state quarter. The Fort Steuben Bridge (Weirton-Steubenville Bridge) was at the time of its construction one of only three cable-stayed steel girder trusses in the United States. "The Veterans Memorial Bridge was designed to handle traffic from the Fort Steuben Bridge as well as its own traffic load", to quote the ''Weirton Daily Times'' newspaper. The 80-year-old Fort Steuben Bridge (Weirton-Steubenville Bridge) was permanently closed on January 8, 2009. The
Wheeling Suspension Bridge The Wheeling Suspension Bridge is a suspension bridge A suspension bridge is a type of bridge in which the deck (bridge), deck is hung below suspension wire rope, cables on vertical suspenders. The first modern examples of this type of brid ...
was the first bridge built across the
Ohio River The Ohio River is a long river in the United States. It is located at the boundary of the Midwestern United States, Midwestern and Southern United States, flowing southwesterly from western Pennsylvania to its river mouth, mouth on the Mississip ...
in 1849 and for a time was the longest suspension bridge in the world. It is still the oldest vehicular suspension bridge in the United States still in use.


Education


30 Colleges and universities


Culture


Sports

West Virginia is home to college sports teams from two schools—West Virginia and Marshall—that play in NCAA DivisionI. West Virginia is also home to several professional minor league baseball, football, hockey, and other sports teams.


Music


Appalachian music

West Virginia's folk heritage is a part of the Appalachian folk music tradition, and includes styles of fiddling, ballad singing, and other styles that draw on Scots-Irish music. Camp Washington-Carver, a Mountain Cultural Arts Center located at Clifftop in Fayette County, hosts an annual Appalachian String Band Festival. The Capitol Complex in Charleston hosts The Vandalia Gathering, where traditional Appalachian musicians compete in contests and play in impromptu jam sessions and evening concerts over the weekend. The Augusta Heritage Center sponsored by Davis & Elkins College in Elkins in Randolph County produces the annual Augusta Heritage Festival, which includes intensive week-long workshops in the summer that help preserve Appalachian heritage and traditions.


Classical music

The West Virginia Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1939, as the ''Charleston Civic Orchestra'', before becoming the ''Charleston Symphony Orchestra'' in 1943. The first conductor was William R. Wiant, followed by the conductor Antonio Modarelli, who was written about in the November 7, 1949 ''Time Magazine'' for his composition of the ''River Saga'', a six-section program piece about the Kanawha River according to the ''Charleston Gazette''s November 6, 1999, photo essay, "Snapshots of the 20th Century". Before coming to Charleston, Modarelli had conducted the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra and the
Philadelphia Orchestra The Philadelphia Orchestra is an American symphony orchestra, based in Philadelphia Philadelphia, often called Philly, is the List of municipalities in Pennsylvania#Municipalities, largest city in the Commonwealth (U.S. state), Commonweal ...
, according to the orchestra's website. The
Pulitzer Prize The Pulitzer Prize () is an award for achievements in newspaper, magazine, online journalism, literature, and musical composition within the United States. It was established in 1917 by provisions in the will of Joseph Pulitzer, who had made hi ...
-winning 20th-century composer
George Crumb George Henry Crumb Jr. (24 October 1929 – 6 February 2022) was an American composer of avant-garde contemporary classical music. Early in his life he rejected the widespread Modernism (music), modernist usage of serialism, developing a highly ...
was born in Charleston and earned his bachelor's degree there before moving outside the state. There had also been a series of operatic-style concerts performed in Wheeling during mid-century as well.


Musical innovation

The West Virginia Cultural Center in Charleston is home to the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History, which helps underwrite and coordinate a large number of musical activities. The center is also home to '' Mountain Stage'', an internationally broadcast live-performance music radio program established in 1983 which is carried by many affiliates of
National Public Radio National Public Radio (NPR, stylized in all lowercase) is an American privately and state funded nonprofit media organization headquartered in Washington, D.C., with its NPR West headquarters in Culver City, California. It differs from other n ...
. The program also travels to other venues in the state such as the
West Virginia University West Virginia University (WVU) is a public university, public Land-grant university, land-grant research university with its main campus in Morgantown, West Virginia. Its other campuses are those of the West Virginia University Institute of Tech ...
Creative Arts Center in Morgantown. The center hosts concerts sponsored by the Friends of Old Time Music and Dance, which brings an assortment of acoustic roots music to West Virginians. The center also hosts the West Virginia Dance Festival, which features classical and modern dance. Huntington's historic
Keith-Albee Theatre Keith-Albee Theatre is a performing arts center located along Fourth Avenue in downtown Huntington, West Virginia in the United States of America. The Keith-Albee was named after the Keith-Albee-Orpheum Corporation, one of the leading vaudeville ...
, built by brothers A.B. and S.J. Hyman, was originally opened to the public on May 7, 1928, and hosts a variety of performing arts and music attractions. The theatre was eventually gifted to
Marshall University Marshall University is a public university, public research university in Huntington, West Virginia. It was founded in 1837 and is named after John Marshall, the fourth Chief Justice of the United States. The university is currently composed o ...
and is currently going through renovation to restore it to its original splendor. Every summer Elkins hosts the Augusta Heritage Festival, which brings folk musicians from around the world. The town of Glenville has long been home to the annual West Virginia State Folk Festival. The Mountaineer Opera House in Milton hosts a variety of musical acts.
John Denver Henry John Deutschendorf Jr. (December 31, 1943 – October 12, 1997), known professionally as John Denver, was an American singer-songwriter, guitarist, actor, activist, and humanitarian whose greatest commercial success was as a solo singe ...
's hit song "
Take Me Home, Country Roads "Take Me Home, Country Roads", also known simply as "Country Roads", is a song written by Bill Danoff, Taffy Nivert and John Denver about West Virginia. It was released as a single performed by Denver on April 12, 1971, peaking at number two o ...
" describes the experience of driving through West Virginia. The song mentions the
Shenandoah River The Shenandoah River is the principal tributary of the Potomac River, long with two forks approximately long each,U.S. Geological Survey. National Hydrography Dataset high-resolution flowline dataThe National Map accessed August 15, 2011 in t ...
and the
Blue Ridge Mountains The Blue Ridge Mountains are a Physiographic regions of the world, physiographic province of the larger Appalachian Mountains range. The mountain range is located in the Eastern United States, and extends 550 miles southwest from southern Pennsy ...
, both features traversing the easternmost extremity of the state's "eastern panhandle", in Jefferson County. On March 8, 2014, West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin signed House Concurrent Resolution 40 naming "Take Me Home, Country Roads" the fourth official state song of West Virginia. Symphony Sunday is an annual event hosted by the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra held in June. It is a day full day of music by community groups, food, and family fun, culminating in a free performance by the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra with a fireworks display following. The event began in 1982 and is held on the front lawn of the
University of Charleston The University of Charleston (UC) is a private non-profit university with its main campus in Charleston, West Virginia Charleston is the capital and List of cities in West Virginia, most populous city of West Virginia. Located at the conflu ...
. The Daily Mail Kanawha County Majorette and Band Festival is West Virginia's longest-running music festival. It is for the eight public high schools in Kanawha County. The festival began in 1947. It is held at the University of Charleston Stadium at Laidley Field in downtown Charleston.


See also

* Index of West Virginia-related articles *
Outline of West Virginia The following Outline (list), outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to the U.S. state of West Virginia: West Virginia – U.S. state located in the Appalachian region of the Southern United States. West Virginia became a ...
* ''''


Notes


References


Further reading

* Charles H. Ambler, ''A History of Education in West Virginia From Early Colonial Times to 1949 '' (1951) * Charles H. Ambler and Festus P. Summers. ''West Virginia, the Mountain State'' (1958) * Jane S. Becker, ''Inventing Tradition: Appalachia and the Construction of an American Folk, 1930–1940'' 1998. * Richard A. Brisbin, et al. ''West Virginia Politics and Government'' (1996) * James Morton Callahan, ''History of West Virginia'' (1923) 3 vol * John C. Campbell, ''The Southern Highlander and His Homeland'' (1921) reissued 1969. * * Richard Orr Curry, ''A House Divided: A Study of Statehood Politics and Copperhead Movement in West Virginia'' (1964) * Donald Edward Davis. ''Where There Are Mountains: An Environmental History of the Southern Appalachians'' 2000. * Ronald D, Eller. ''Miners, Millhands, and Mountaineers: Industrialization of the Appalachian South, 1880–1930'' 1982. * Carl E. Feather, ''Mountain People in a Flat Land: A Popular History of Appalachian Migration to Northeast Ohio, 1940–1965''. Athens: Ohio University Press, 1998. * Thomas R. Ford ed. ''The Southern Appalachian Region: A Survey''. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1967. * Horace Kephart, '' Our Southern Highlanders''. Rev. ed. New York: Macmillan, 1922. Reprinted as ''Our Southern Highlanders: A Narrative of Adventure in the Southern Appalachians and a Study of Life among the Mountaineers''. With an Introduction by George Ellison. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1976. * Gerald Milnes, ''Play of a Fiddle: Traditional Music, Dance, and Folklore in West Virginia.'' Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1999. * Otis K. Rice, ''The Allegheny Frontier: West Virginia Beginnings, 1730–1830'' (1970), * Otis K. Rice and Stephen W. Brown, ''West Virginia: A History'', 2d ed. (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1993), standard * Curtis Seltzer, ''Fire in the Hole: Miners and Managers in the American Coal Industry'' (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1985), conflict in the coal industry to the 1980s. * John E. Stealey III, ''West Virginia's Civil War-Era Constitution: Loyal Revolution, Confederate Counter-Revolution, and the Convention of 1872.'' Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press, 2013. * Joe William Trotter Jr., ''Coal, Class, and Color: Blacks in Southern West Virginia, 1915–32'' (1990) * John Alexander Williams, ''West Virginia: A History for Beginners''. 2nd ed. Charleston, W.Virginia: Appalachian Editions, 1997. * John Alexander Williams. ''West Virginia: A Bicentennial History'' (1976) * John Alexander Williams. ''West Virginia and the Captains of Industry'' 1976. * John Alexander Williams. ''Appalachia: A History'' (2002)


Primary sources

* Elizabeth Cometti, and Festus P. Summers. ''The Thirty-fifth State: A Documentary History of West Virginia''. Morgantown: West Virginia University Library, 1966.


External links


State government


State of West Virginia government website

West Virginia Department of Commerce



West Virginia Legislature website

Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia website

Constitution of West Virginia

West Virginia Code


U.S. government


Energy Profile for West Virginia—Economic, environmental, and energy data

USGS real-time, geographic, and other scientific resources of West Virginia

West Virginia State Fact Sheet
from the U.S. Department of Agriculture


Other


Governor Earl Ray Tomblin's website

West Virginia Division of Tourism

Visiting West Virginia

West Virginia Archives and History

West Virginia Department of Education

West Virginia Explorer
*
West Virginia Encyclopedia
* {{coord, 39, -80, dim:300000_region:US-WV_type:adm1st, name=State of West Virginia, display=title States and territories established in 1863 States of the United States Mid-Atlantic states Southern United States Geography of Appalachia 1863 establishments in Virginia Contiguous United States