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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, Un ...
in the
AppalachianAppalachian may refer to: * The Appalachian Mountains, a major mountain range in eastern United States and Canada * The Appalachian Trail, a hiking trail in the eastern United States * The people of Appalachia and their culture ** Appalachian Americ ...
,
Mid-AtlanticMid-Atlantic or Mid Atlantic can refer to: *The middle of the Atlantic Ocean *Mid-Atlantic English, a mix between British English and American English *Mid-Atlantic Region (Little League World Series), one of the United States geographic divisions of ...
and
Southeastern The points of the compass are the vectors by which planet A planet is an astronomical body orbiting a star or Stellar evolution#Stellar remnants, stellar remnant that is massive enough to be Hydrostatic equilibrium, rounded by its own gravity ...
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., ...

United States
.The
Census Bureau The United States Census Bureau (USCB), officially the Bureau of the Census, is a principal agency of the U.S. Federal Statistical System, responsible for producing data about the American American(s) may refer to: * American, something of, ...
and the
Association of American Geographers The American Association of Geographers (AAG) is a non-profit A nonprofit organization (NPO), also known as a non-business entity, not-for-profit organization, or nonprofit institution, is a legal entity organized and operated for a collec ...
classify West Virginia as part of the
Southern United States The Southern United States, also referred to as the Southern States, the American South, Dixie, the Southland, or simply the South, is a geographic and cultural region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally ...
while the
Bureau of Labor Statistics The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is a unit of the United States Department of Labor The United States Department of Labor (DOL) is a cabinet-level department of the U.S. federal government responsible for occupational safety and health, ...
classifies the state as a part of the
Mid-AtlanticMid-Atlantic or Mid Atlantic can refer to: *The middle of the Atlantic Ocean *Mid-Atlantic English, a mix between British English and American English *Mid-Atlantic Region (Little League World Series), one of the United States geographic divisions of ...
region
Mid-Atlantic Home : Mid-Atlantic Information Office: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics"
www.bls.gov. Archived.
It is bordered by
Pennsylvania Pennsylvania ( , elsewhere ; pdc, Pennsilfaani), officially the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, is a landlocked A landlocked country is a country that does not have territory connected to an ocean or whose coastlines lie on endorheic basi ...

Pennsylvania
to the northeast,
Maryland Maryland ( ) is a U.S. state, state in the Mid-Atlantic (United States), Mid-Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and Delaware ...

Maryland
to the east and northeast,
Virginia Virginia (), officially the Commonwealth of 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), '' ...

Virginia
to the southeast,
Kentucky Kentucky ( , ), officially the Commonwealth of Kentucky, 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), ...
to the southwest, and
Ohio Ohio () 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 Co ...

Ohio
to the northwest. West Virginia is the 41st-largest state by area and ranks 40th in population, with a population of 1,793,716 residents. The capital and largest city is
Charleston Charleston most commonly refers to: * Charleston, South Carolina Charleston is the largest city in the U.S. state of South Carolina, the county seat of Charleston County, South Carolina, Charleston County, and the principal city in the Charle ...
. West Virginia became a state after the
Wheeling Convention The 1861 Wheeling Convention was an assembly 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 ...
s of 1861, at the start of the
American Civil War The American Civil War (also known by other names Other most often refers to: * Other (philosophy), a concept in psychology and philosophy Other or The Other may also refer to: Books * The Other (Tryon novel), ''The Other'' (Tryon nove ...
. Delegates from northwestern Virginia's Unionist counties decided to break away from
Virginia Virginia (), officially the Commonwealth of 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), '' ...

Virginia
, which also included secessionist counties in the new state. West Virginia was admitted to the Union on June 20, 1863, and was a key border state during the war. It was the only state to form by separating from a
Confederate Confederacy may refer to: A confederation, an association of sovereign states or communities. Examples include: * Battle of the Trench, Confederate tribes * Confederate States of America, a confederation of secessionist American states that existed ...

Confederate
state, the second to separate from a state after
Maine Maine () is a U.S. state, state in the New England region of the United States, bordered by New Hampshire to the west; the Gulf of Maine to the southeast; and the Provinces and territories of Canada, Canadian provinces of New Brunswick and Qu ...

Maine
separated from
Massachusetts Massachusetts (, ), officially the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, is the most populous state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * ...

Massachusetts
, and one of two states (along with
Nevada Nevada (, ) 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 i ...

Nevada
) admitted to the Union during the Civil War. Some of its residents held slaves, but most were
yeoman Yeoman was first documented in mid-14th-century England, referring to the middle ranks of servants in an English royal or noble household. was the name applied to groups of freeborn engaged as household guards, or raised as an army during ti ...

yeoman
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 The Northern Panhandle is the northern of the two salient (geography), panhandles in the U.S. state of West Virginia. It is a culturally and geographically distinct region of the state. It is the state's northernmost extension, bounded by Ohio ...
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 in the United States and the county seat of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, Allegheny County. A population of 302,971 residents lives within the city limit ...

Pittsburgh
metropolitan area. Huntington in the southwest is close to Ohio and Kentucky, while Martinsburg and
Harpers Ferry Harpers Ferry, population 286 at the 2010 census, is a historic town in Jefferson County, West Virginia, United States, in the lower Shenandoah Valley The Shenandoah Valley () is a geographic valley A valley is an elongated low ar ...

Harpers Ferry
in the
Eastern Panhandle The Eastern Panhandle is the eastern of the two panhandles in the U.S. state of West Virginia. It is a small stretch of territory in the northeast of the state, bordering Maryland Maryland ( ) is a U.S. state, state in the Mid-Atlantic ( ...
region are considered part of the
Washington Washington commonly refers to: * Washington (state), United States * Washington, D.C., the capital of the United States ** Federal government of the United States (metonym) ** Washington metropolitan area, the metropolitan area centered on Washingt ...
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 or Upper South is a cultural and geographic subregion A subregion is a part of a larger region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the ...
, and the
Southeastern United States The southeastern United States, also referred to as the American Southeast or simply the Southeast, is broadly the eastern portion of the southern United States The Southern United States, also referred to as the Southern States, the Ame ...
. 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 AR ...
; the area is commonly defined as "
Appalachia Appalachia () is a cultural region 's map of native American cultural areas within the territory of the United States (1948) as defined by Melville J. Herskovits influence , homelands of the Celtic languages The Celtic languages ( ...
". 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. A mountain differs from a plateau in having a limited summit area, and is larger than a hill, typically rising at least ...

mountain
s and rolling hills, its historically significant
coal mining Coal mining is the process of extracting 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, ele ...

coal mining
and
logging Logging is the process of cutting, processing, and moving trees to a location for transport. It may include skidder, skidding, on-site processing, and loading of trees or trunk (botany), logs onto logging truck, trucks or flatcar#Skeleton car, s ...

logging
industries, and its
political Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with Decision-making, making decisions in Social group, groups, or other forms of Power (social and political), power relations between individuals, such as the distribution of res ...
and
labor history Labor history or labour history is a sub-discipline of social history Social history, often called the new social history, is a field of history History (from Greek , ''historia'', meaning "inquiry; knowledge acquired by investigation") is th ...
. It is also known for a wide range of outdoor recreational opportunities, including
skiing Skiing is the use of ski A ski is a narrow strip of semi-rigid material worn underfoot to glide over snow. Substantially longer than wide and characteristically employed in pairs, skis are attached to ski boot Ski boots are used in to p ...

skiing
,
whitewater rafting Rafting and whitewater rafting are recreational outdoor activities Outdoor recreation or outdoor activity refers to recreation Recreation is an activity of leisure, leisure being discretionary time. The "need to do something for recreation ...
,
fishing Fishing is the activity of trying to catch fish Fish are , , -bearing animals that lack with . Included in this definition are the living , s, and and as well as various extinct related groups. Around 99% of living fish species are ...

fishing
,
hiking Hiking is a long, vigorous walk Walking (also known as ambulation) is one of the main gaits of terrestrial locomotion among legged animals. Walking is typically slower than running and other gaits. Walking is defined by an 'inverted pendu ...

hiking
,
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 c ...
,
mountain biking Mountain biking is a sport of riding bicycle Classic bell of a bicycle A bicycle, also called a bike or cycle, is a human-powered or motor-powered, pedal-driven, single-track vehicle A single-track vehicle is a vehicle that leaves a si ...

mountain biking
,
rock climbing Rock climbing is a sport in which participants climb up, down or across natural rock Rock most often refers to: * Rock (geology) A rock is any naturally occurring solid mass or aggregate of minerals or mineraloid matter. It is categori ...

rock climbing
, and
hunting Hunting is the practice of seeking, pursuing and capturing or killing wildlife Wildlife traditionally refers to undomesticated animal Animals (also called Metazoa) are multicellular A multicellular organism is an organism ...

hunting
. 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. While it is now a solidly Republican state, it was Democratic from the Franklin D. Roosevelt era to the 1990s. 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 In chemistry, an element is a pure Chemical substance, substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same numbers of protons in their atomic nucleus, nuclei. Unlike chemical compounds, chemical elem ...

copper
pieces. In the 1670s, during the
Beaver Wars The Beaver Wars, also known as the Iroquois Wars or the French and Iroquois Wars (french: Guerres franco-iroquoises), encompass a series of conflicts fought intermittently during the 17th century in North America. They were battles for economic do ...
, the powerful
Iroquois The Iroquois ( or ) or Haudenosaunee (; "People of the Longhouse") are an indigenous Indigenous may refer to: *Indigenous peoples Indigenous peoples, also referred to as First people, Aboriginal people, Native people, or autochthonous pe ...

Iroquois
, 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 A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech ( spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most languages have a writing sys ...
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 ( , elsewhere ; pdc, Pennsilfaani), officially the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, is a landlocked A landlocked country is a country that does not have territory connected to an ocean or whose coastlines lie on endorheic basi ...

Pennsylvania
and
Virginia Virginia (), officially the Commonwealth of 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), '' ...

Virginia
claiming territorial rights under their colonial charters to this area before the
American Revolutionary War The American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), also known as the Revolutionary War and the American War of Independence, was initiated by delegates from Thirteen Colonies, thirteen American colonies of British America in Continental Congress ...
. 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 Virginians of the Ohio Country (approximately the present state of Ohio) and to trade with the Native Americans. The ...
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 Westsylvania was a proposed state of the United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country Contiguous United States, primarily located in North America. It consists ...
. 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 of Virginia Virginia (), officially the Commonwealth of Virginia, is a U.S. state, state in the Mid-Atlantic (United States), Mid-Atlantic and So ...
, 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 , legislature = House of Burgesses The House of Burgesses was the elected representative element of the Virginia General Assembly The Virginia General Assembly is the State legislature (United States), legislative body of the Virgini ...
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 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), '' ...

Virginia
(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 Tidewater may refer to: * Tidewater region, a geographic area of southeast Virginia and northeast North Carolina ** Tidewater accent, an accent of American English associated with the Tidewater region of Virginia * Tidewater glacier, a classificati ...
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, who is someone forbidden to quit their service for an enslaver, and who is treated by the enslaver as their property Property is a system of rights that give ...
by a gradual process and temporarily
disenfranchisedDisfranchisement, also called disenfranchisement, or voter disqualification is the revocation of suffrage Suffrage, political franchise, or simply franchise is the right to vote in public, political elections (although the term is sometimes use ...
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#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its populati ...

stalagmite
revealed that Native Americans were burning forests to clear land as early as 100BCE. Some regional late-prehistoric
Eastern Woodland The Eastern Woodlands is a cultural area of the indigenous people of North America. The Eastern Woodlands extended roughly from the Atlantic Ocean to the eastern Great Plains, and from the Great Lakes region (North America), Great Lakes region to ...
tribes were more involved in hunting and fishing, practicing the
Eastern Agricultural Complex The Eastern Agricultural Complex was one of about 10 independent centers of plant domestication in the pre-historic world. By about 1800 BCE the Indigenous peoples of the Americas, Native Americans of North America were cultivating several species o ...
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, also referred to as first peoples, first nations, aboriginal peoples, native peoples (with these terms often capitalized when referred to relating to specific countries), or autochthonous peoples, are culturally distinct e ...

indigenous people
of the state, they cultivated
tobacco Tobacco is the common name of several plants in the genus Genus /ˈdʒiː.nəs/ (plural genera /ˈdʒen.ər.ə/) is a taxonomic rank In biological classification In biology, taxonomy () is the scientific study of naming, defini ...

tobacco
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 North America is a continent in the Northern Hemisphere and almost entirely within the Western Hemisphere. It can also be ...

Maize
(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 Turkey, is a country located mainly on Anatolia Anatolia,, tr, Anadolu Yarımadası), and the Anatolian plateau. also known as Asia Minor, is a large peninsula in Western Asia an ...
flocks, as Kanawha Fort Ancients practiced bird
husbandry Animal husbandry is the branch of agriculture Agriculture is the science, art and practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentism, sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of ...
. 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
Potomac
and
James rivers
James rivers
. Tribes that inhabited West Virginia as of 1600 were the Siouan
Monongahela Culture The Monongahela culture were a Native American cultural manifestation of Late Woodland peoples from AD 1050 to 1635 in present-day western Pennsylvania, western Maryland Maryland ( ) is a U.S. state, state in the Mid-Atlantic (United Stat ...
to the north, the
Fort Ancient Fort Ancient is a name for a Native American culture Culture () is an umbrella term which encompasses the social behavior and Norm (social), norms found in human Society, societies, as well as the knowledge, beliefs, arts, laws, Social norm, ...

Fort Ancient
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 The Tutelo (also Totero, Totteroy, Tutera; Yesan in Tutelo) were Native American Native Americans may refer to: Ethnic groups * Indigenous peoples of the Americas, the pre-Columbian peoples of North and South America and their descendants * Nati ...
and Moneton tribes in the southeast. There was also the Iroquoian
Susquehannock The Susquehannock people, also called the Conestoga by English settlers, are Iroquoian-speaking Native Americans Native Americans may refer to: Ethnic groups * Indigenous peoples of the Americas, the pre-Columbian peoples of North and South Am ...

Susquehannock
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 The Manahoac, also recorded as Mahock, were a small group of Siouan-language Indigenous peoples of the Americas, Native Americans (Indigenous people) in northern Virginia at the time of European contact. They numbered approximately 1,000 and lived p ...
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-speaking indigenous people of the Northeastern Woodlands Indigenous peoples of the Northeastern Woodlands include Native American tribes The term tribe is used in many different contexts to refer to a categor ...

Shawnee
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 a Native American Native Americans may refer to: Ethnic groups * Indigenous peoples of the Americas, the pre-Columbian peoples of North and South America and their descendants * Native Americans in the United States * Indigenous ...
, 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 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 news ...

North Carolina
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 Abraham Wood (1610–1682), sometimes referred to as "General" or "Colonel" Wood, was an English fur trade The fur trade is a worldwide industry dealing in the acquisition and sale of animal fur. Since the establishment of a world fur market ...
, at the direction of Royal Governor William Berkeley of the
Virginia Colony , legislature = House of Burgesses The House of Burgesses was the elected representative element of the Virginia General Assembly The Virginia General Assembly is the State legislature (United States), legislative body of the Virgini ...
, 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, West Virginia, 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 than Harrisonburg, Virginia. John Van Metre, an Indian trader, penetrated into the northern portion in 1725. The same year, Germans, German settlers from Pennsylvania founded New Mecklenburg, the present Shepherdstown, West Virginia, Shepherdstown, on the Potomac River, and others followed. King Charles II of England, in 1661, granted to a company of gentlemen the land between the Potomac and Rappahannock River, Rappahannock rivers, known as the Northern Neck. Thomas Fairfax, 6th Lord Fairfax of Cameron ultimately took possession of this grant, and in 1746 a Fairfax Stone, stone was erected at the source of the North Branch Potomac River to mark his grant's western limit. George Washington 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, 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 Virginians of the Ohio Country (approximately the present state of Ohio) and to trade with the Native Americans. The ...
, which was composed chiefly of Virginians, explored the country along the Ohio River north of the mouth of the Kanawha River between 1751 and 1752. The company sought to have a 14th colony established with the name "Vandalia (colony), 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 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 (1775–1783), also known as the Revolutionary War and the American War of Independence, was initiated by delegates from Thirteen Colonies, thirteen American colonies of British America in Continental Congress ...
, in 1774 Crown Governor of Virginia John Murray, 4th Earl of Dunmore, led a force over the mountains. A body of militia under Andrew Lewis (soldier), then-Colonel Andrew Lewis dealt the Shawnee Indians, under Cornstalk, 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 Cherokee, Chickamauga, a band of Cherokee known for the area where they lived. Native American attacks on settlers continued until after the
American Revolutionary War The American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), also known as the Revolutionary War and the American War of Independence, was initiated by delegates from Thirteen Colonies, thirteen American colonies of British America in Continental Congress ...
. During the war, the settlers in western Virginia were generally active Patriot (American Revolution), Whigs; many served in the Continental Army. 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 American, 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 Allegheny Mountains, Alleghenies was revived and a petition for the establishment of "
Westsylvania Westsylvania was a proposed state of the United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country Contiguous United States, primarily located in North America. It consists ...
" was presented to United States Congress, Congress, 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 (Virginia politician), Philip Doddridge 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 Allegheny Mountains, Alleghenies 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, effectively disenfranchising poorer farmers in the west whose families did much of the farm work themselves. In addition, the Virginia Constitutional Convention of 1829–1830, 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, 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 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 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 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), '' ...

Virginia
) 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, while 30 voted against (with two abstentions). Almost immediately after that vote, a mass meeting at Clarksburg, West Virginia, 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 The 1861 Wheeling Convention was an assembly 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 ...
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 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 Confederate States of America, 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 (minister), Gordon Battelle, who also represented Ohio County, and who proposed resolutions to establish public schools, as well as to limit 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 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, Virginia, 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 in ''Virginia v. West Virginia.'' Berkeley County, West Virginia, Berkeley and Jefferson County, West Virginia, 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 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, 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 Amendment to the United States Constitution, Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, Fifteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution caused a reaction. The Democratic Party (United States), Democratic party secured control in 1870, and in 1871 the constitutional amendment of 1866 was abrogated. Republican Party (United States), Republicans had taken the first steps toward this change in 1870. On August 22, 1872, an entirely new constitution was adopted. Beginning in Reconstruction Era, Reconstruction, 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. Virginians—led by former Confederate general William Mahone—formed a political coalition based upon this: the Readjuster Party. 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 Virginia v. West Virginia (1911), finally settled in 1915, when the Supreme Court of the United States 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 County, West Virginia, Mineral and Grant County, West Virginia, Grant Counties and parts of Hampshire County, West Virginia, Hampshire, Hardy County, West Virginia, Hardy, Tucker County, West Virginia, Tucker and Pendleton County, West Virginia, Pendleton Counties). The Supreme Court rejected these claims in two separate decisions in 1910.


Development of natural resources

After Reconstruction era, Reconstruction, the new 35th state benefited from the development of its mineral resources more than any other single economic activity. Potassium nitrate, Saltpeter caves had been employed throughout Appalachia for munitions; the border between West Virginia and
Virginia Virginia (), officially the Commonwealth of 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), '' ...

Virginia
includes the "Saltpeter Trail", a string of limestone caverns containing rich deposits of calcium nitrate which were rendered and sold to the government. The trail stretched from Pendleton County, West Virginia, Pendleton County to the western terminus of the route in the town of Union, Monroe County, West Virginia, Union, Monroe County, West Virginia, 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. The bones were named ''Megalonyx jeffersonii'', 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 List of U.S. state minerals, rocks, stones and gemstones, state rock is bituminous coal, and the official List of U.S. state minerals, rocks, stones and gemstones, state gemstone is silicified Mississippian fossil Lithostrotionella coral. The limestone also produced a useful quarry 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 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, West Virginia, 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. It would fuel much of the Industrial Revolution 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 was the only practical development. After the War, with the new railroads came a practical method to transport large quantities of coal to expanding U.S. and export markets. As the anthracite 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. Geologists 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 (C&O) across the state to the new city of Huntington on the Ohio River in 1872 opened access to the New River (West Virginia), New River Coal Field. Soon, the C&O was building its huge coal pier at Newport News, Virginia on the large harbor of Hampton Roads. In 1881, the new Philadelphia-based owners of the former Atlantic, Mississippi and Ohio Railroad (AM&O), which stretched across Virginia's southern tier from Norfolk, Virginia, Norfolk, had sights clearly set on the Mountain State, where the owners had large landholdings. Their railroad was renamed Norfolk and Western (N&W), and a new railroad city was developed at Roanoke, Virginia, 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, Virginia, Bluefield, in Virginia. In the northern portion of the state and elsewhere, the older Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (B&O) and other lines also expanded to take advantage of coal opportunities. The B&O developed coal piers in Baltimore, Maryland, Baltimore and at several points on the Great Lakes. Other significant rail carriers of coal were the Western Maryland Railway (WM), Southern Railway (US), Southern Railway (SOU), and the Louisville and Nashville Railroad (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 N. Page, William Nelson Page (1854–1932), a civil engineer and mining manager in Fayette County, West Virginia, 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 chartered to stretch between the C&O at its line along the Kanawha River and the N&W at Matoaka, West Virginia, 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 Partnership, silent partner investors Page had enlisted was millionaire industrialist Henry H. Rogers, 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 pocket, "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 under high demand at Great Lakes ports. The VGN and the N&W ultimately became parts of the modern Norfolk Southern 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 is 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 Mountains, 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 reason to 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. About 75% of the state is within the Cumberland Plateau and Allegheny Plateau 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 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), '' ...

Virginia
, high peaks in the Monongahela National Forest region give rise to an island of colder climate and ecosystems similar to those of northern New England and eastern Canada. The highest point in the state is atop Spruce Knob, at , and is covered in a boreal forest of dense spruce 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 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 (Kanawha River), New River. The National Park Service 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, while the higher elevations along the eastern border and in the panhandle lie within the Appalachian-Blue Ridge forests. The native vegetation for most of the state was originally mixed hardwood forest of oak, chestnut, maple, beech, and Eastern white pine, white pine, with willow and American sycamore along the state's waterways. Many of the areas are rich in biodiversity 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" by John Denver). Before the song, it was known as "The Cog State" (Coal, Oil, and Gas) or "The Mountain State". The underlying rock strata are sandstone, shale, bituminous coal beds, and limestone laid down in a near-shore environment from sediments derived from mountains to the east, in a shallow inland sea on the west. Some beds illustrate a coastal swamp environment, some river delta, some shallow water. Sea level rose and fell many times during the Mississippian age, Mississippian and Pennsylvanian (geology), Pennsylvanian eras, giving a variety of rock stratum, strata. 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 (Köppen climate classification ''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 zones range from zone 5b in the central Appalachian Mountains, Appalachian mountains to zone 7a in the warmest parts of the lowest elevations. In the Eastern Panhandle and the Ohio River Valley, temperatures are warm enough to see and grow subtropical plants such as southern magnolia (''Magnolia grandiflora''), Lagerstroemia, crepe myrtle, ''Albizia julibrissin'', American sweetgum 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, West Virginia, 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. Slightly more than half the rainfall occurs from April to September. Dense fogs are common in many valleys of the Kanawha County, West Virginia, Kanawha section, especially the Tygart Valley. West Virginia is also one of the cloudiest states in the nation, with the cities of Elkins, West Virginia, Elkins and Beckley, West Virginia, 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, West Virginia, Snowshoe 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 ( , elsewhere ; pdc, Pennsilfaani), officially the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, is a landlocked A landlocked country is a country that does not have territory connected to an ocean or whose coastlines lie on endorheic basi ...

Pennsylvania
(North) *
Maryland Maryland ( ) is a U.S. state, state in the Mid-Atlantic (United States), Mid-Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and Delaware ...

Maryland
(Northeast) *
Kentucky Kentucky ( , ), officially the Commonwealth of Kentucky, 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), ...
(Southwest) *
Virginia Virginia (), officially the Commonwealth of 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), '' ...

Virginia
(East) *
Ohio Ohio () 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 Co ...

Ohio
(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, West Virginia, Clarksburg, and Martinsburg. Charleston was selected, and it has remained the capital since. There are 232 incorporated municipalities in West Virginia.


Metropolitan areas

* Beckley, West Virginia metropolitan area, Beckley * Charleston, West Virginia metropolitan area, Charleston * Huntington-Ashland, WV-KY-OH Metropolitan Statistical Area, Huntington-Ashland * Morgantown metropolitan area, Morgantown * Parkersburg-Marietta-Vienna metropolitan area, Parkersburg-Marietta-Vienna * Weirton-Steubenville metropolitan area, Weirton-Steubenville * Wheeling metropolitan area, Wheeling Other metropolitan areas that contain cities in West Virginia, but are primarily in other states include: * Cumberland, MD-WV Metropolitan Statistical Area, Cumberland * Hagerstown Metropolitan Area, Hagerstown-Martinsburg * Washington Metropolitan Area, Washington-Arlington-Alexandria * Winchester, VA-WV Metropolitan Statistical Area, Winchester


Micropolitan areas

* Bluefield, West Virginia, Bluefield * Clarksburg, West Virginia, Clarksburg * Elkins, West Virginia, Elkins * Fairmont, West Virginia, Fairmont * Logan, West Virginia, Logan * Point Pleasant micropolitan area, Point Pleasant


Demographics

The United States Census Bureau 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, 2010 United States census. The center of population of West Virginia is located in Braxton County, West Virginia, Braxton County, in the town of Gassaway, West Virginia, 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 Human migration, migration of 14,209 into the state. West Virginia is the least populous Southeastern United States, southeastern state. Immigration to the United States, Immigration 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 American, German (18.9%), Irish American, Irish (15.1%) Ethnic American, American (12.9%), English American, English (11.8%) and Italian American, 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 Germans, German ancestry are present in the northeastern counties of the state. People of English American, English ancestry are present throughout the entire state. Many West Virginians who self-identify as Irish American, Irish are actually Scots-Irish American, 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 of West Virginia, Northern Panhandle, and North-Central West Virginia, North-Central region feel an affinity for Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Also, those in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia, 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, bordering Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and Delaware ...

Maryland
and
Virginia Virginia (), officially the Commonwealth of 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), '' ...

Virginia
, and southern West Virginians often consider themselves Southern United States, Southerners. Finally, the towns and farms along the mid-Ohio River, which forms most of the state's western border, have an appearance and culture somewhat resembling the Midwestern United States, Midwest.


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 and Latino Americans, White Hispanic 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 with 136,000 members in 1,200 congregations. The second-largest Protestant church was the American Baptist Churches USA with 88,000 members and 381 congregations. The Southern Baptist Convention, Southern Baptist church had 44,000 members and 232 congregations. The Churches of Christ had 22,000 members and 287 congregations. The Presbyterian Church (USA) had 200 congregations and 20,000 members. A survey conducted in 2015 by the Pew Research Center found that West Virginia was the seventh most "highly religious" state in the United States.


Economy


Overview

The economy of West Virginia nominally would be the 62nd largest economy globally behind Iraq and ahead of Croatia according to 2009 World Bank projections, and the 64th largest behind Iraq and ahead of Libya according to 2009 International Monetary Fund projections. The state has a projected nominal GSP of $63.34 billion in 2009 according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis 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, West Virginia, Morgantown was ranked by ''Forbes'' 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, 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 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 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, WV, Fayetteville area draws rock climbers as well as whitewater rafting enthusiasts, and the Monongahela National Forest is popular with hikers, backpackers, hunters, and anglers. In addition to such outdoor recreation opportunities, the state offers a number of historic and cultural attractions. Harpers Ferry National Historical Park is a historic town situated at the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac rivers.
Harpers Ferry Harpers Ferry, population 286 at the 2010 census, is a historic town in Jefferson County, West Virginia, United States, in the lower Shenandoah Valley The Shenandoah Valley () is a geographic valley A valley is an elongated low ar ...

Harpers Ferry
was the site of John Brown (abolitionist), John Brown's 1859 John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry, raid on the U.S. Armory and Arsenal. Located at the approximate midpoint of the Appalachian Trail, Harpers Ferry is the base of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. The Greenbrier hotel and 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, 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 near Bartow, and has continued this tradition ever since. The main building of Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, 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 and part of the Civil War Discovery Trail, 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. According to the Energy Information Administration, 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, and 60,000 GWh from 40,000 MW of photovoltaics, including 3,810 MW of rooftop photovoltaics. 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 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 is levied at 6% on most products except for non-prepared foods. West Virginia counties administer and collect property taxes, 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 Sheriffs in the United States, sheriff 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. Because of the phase-out of the federal estate tax 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 2014 Elk River chemical spill, 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 in the United States, 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 2018 West Virginia teachers' strike, West Virginia teachers' strike in 2018 inspired 2018–19 education workers' strikes in the United States, 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, West Virginia, McDowell County had the highest rate of United States drug overdose death rates and totals over time, 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 (1802–2017), DuPont had been knowingly polluting water with perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) in Parkersburg, West Virginia, since the 1980s. This battle with DuPont is depicted in the film ''Dark Waters (2019 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, West Virginia, McDowell County to a high of 79.3 years in Pendleton County, West Virginia, 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. It consists of the West Virginia House of Delegates, House of Delegates and the West Virginia Senate, Senate, 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 (United States), Lieutenant Governor is assigned by statute to the Lieutenant Governor of West Virginia, 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 (United States), Lieutenant Governor is assigned by statute to the Lieutenant Governor of West Virginia, senate president. West Virginia's current governor is Jim Justice.


Judicial branch

West Virginia is one of nineteen states that do not have a Capital punishment in the United States, death penalty, and it is the only state in the southeastern United States to have abolished it. 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 beverage, distilled spirits only.


Politics

At the state level, West Virginia's politics were largely dominated by the Democratic Party (United States), Democratic Party from the Great Depression 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. 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 US Presidential Election, 2000, West Virginians have supported the Republican candidate in every presidential election. The state is regarded as a Red states and blue states, "deep red" state at the federal level. In 2012 US Presidential Election, 2012 Republican Mitt Romney won the state, defeating Democrat Barack Obama with 62% of the vote to 35% for Obama. In the 2016 presidential election, Republican Donald Trump won the state with 67.86% of the popular vote, with West Virginia giving him the highest vote share of any state. The 2008 United States presidential election in West Virginia, 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, 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 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.


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 United States Department of Transportation, 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 in Morgantown boasts the Morgantown Personal Rapid Transit, PRT (personal rapid transit) system, the state's only single-rail public transit system. Developed by Boeing, the WVU School of Engineering and the United States Department of Transportation, 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 South Branch Valley Railroad, Potomac Eagle Scenic Railroad. West Virginia is crossed by seven Interstate Highways. Interstate 64, I-64 enters the state near White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, White Sulphur Springs in the mountainous east, and exits for
Kentucky Kentucky ( , ), officially the Commonwealth of Kentucky, 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), ...
in the west, near Huntington. Interstate 77, I-77 enters from
Virginia Virginia (), officially the Commonwealth of 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), '' ...

Virginia
in the south, near Bluefield, West Virginia, Bluefield. It runs north past Parkersburg, West Virginia, Parkersburg before it crosses into
Ohio Ohio () 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 Co ...

Ohio
. Interstate 64, I-64 and Interstate 77, I-77 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. Interstate 68, I-68's western terminus is in Morgantown, West Virginia, 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, bordering Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and Delaware ...

Maryland
. At the Interstate 68, I-68 terminus in Morgantown, it meets Interstate 79, I-79, which enters from Pennsylvania and runs through the state to its southern terminus in
Charleston Charleston most commonly refers to: * Charleston, South Carolina Charleston is the largest city in the U.S. state of South Carolina, the county seat of Charleston County, South Carolina, Charleston County, and the principal city in the Charle ...
. Interstate 70, I-70 briefly runs through West Virginia, crossing the northern panhandle through Wheeling, while Interstate 470 (Ohio–West Virginia), I-470 is a bypass of Wheeling (making Wheeling among the smallest cities with an interstate bypass). Interstate 81, I-81 also briefly runs in West Virginia through the
Eastern Panhandle The Eastern Panhandle is the eastern of the two panhandles in the U.S. state of West Virginia. It is a small stretch of territory in the northeast of the state, bordering Maryland Maryland ( ) is a U.S. state, state in the Mid-Atlantic ( ...
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, Virginia, 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's ''Cardinal (train), Cardinal'' roughly parallels I-64's path through the state. MARC Train, MARC trains serve commuters to Washington, D.C. in the eastern panhandle. In 2006 Norfolk Southern 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 Intermodal freight transport, 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 was the first bridge built across the Ohio River 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 Musical styles (violin)#Fiddle, fiddling, ballad singing, and other styles that draw on Ulster Scots people, Scots-Irish music. Camp Washington-Carver, a Mountain Cultural Arts Center located at Clifftop, Fayette County, West Virginia, Clifftop in Fayette County, West Virginia, 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, West Virginia, Elkins in Randolph County, West Virginia, 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, according to the orchestra's website. The Pulitzer Prize-winning 20th-century composer George Crumb 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. The program also travels to other venues in the state such as the West Virginia University 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, 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 and is currently going through renovation to restore it to its original splendor. Every summer Elkins, West Virginia, Elkins hosts the Augusta Heritage Festival, which brings folk musicians from around the world. The town of Glenville, West Virginia, Glenville has long been home to the annual West Virginia State Folk Festival. The Mountaineer Opera House in Milton, West Virginia, Milton hosts a variety of musical acts. John Denver's hit song "Take Me Home, Country Roads" describes the experience of driving through West Virginia. The song mentions the Shenandoah River and the Blue Ridge Mountains, both features traversing the easternmost extremity of the state's "eastern panhandle", in Jefferson County, West Virginia, 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 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 * ''''


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, 38.6409, -80.6227, dim:300000_region:US-WV_type:adm1st, name=State of West Virginia, display=title West Virginia, 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