Ever wonder why our state has such an odd shape—with a big eastern panhandle that some think has little to do culturally with the rest of the state? It’s actually not a complicated reason at all.

Including the Eastern Panhandle meant keeping the entire B&O Railroad in Union hands.

That’s right. Hardy, Hampshire, Morgan, Berkeley and Jefferson counties were included in the new state of West Virginia because the Union needed to control the Baltimore & Ohio railroad.

The B&O Railroad was the most important rail line in the country, linking Washington, D.C. with both the North and the West.

After the war, Virginia would eventually go to court to try and get back Berkeley and Jefferson counties. The case was appealed to the Supreme Court which refused to hear the case.

MORE: 23 Things You Didn’t Know About Berkeley County

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