Did you know that…
1. There are five states in the country that have directions in their names: North and South Dakota, North and South Carolina, and West Virginia.
2. West Virginia, however, is the one of only two states succeed from another state. The other was Maine, which voted to leave Massachusetts in 1820.
3. West Virginia is the only state totally Appalachian cultural state, as defined by the Appalachian Regional Commission.
4. The white silhouette in the NBA logo is actually West Virginia native Jerry West. He was born in Kanawha County in 1938 and helped take the West Virginia University Mountaineers to the Final Four before playing for the Los Angeles Lakers.
5. The first Mother’s Day service was held in Grafton in 1908.
6. The holiday’s founder, Grafton native Anna Jarvis, would die penniless inside a Pennsylvania sanatarium protesting the commercialization of her holiday.
7. Jackson’s Mill in Lewis County was the first statewide 4-H camp in the country. It was the boyhood home of Confederate General Stonewall Jackson.
8. Jackson is perhaps the best known Confederate general after Robert E. Lee, and died from complications half way through the Civil War after being accidentally shot by his own men.
9. Most of Huntington is in Cabell County, but a small portion actually sits in Wayne County.
10. The man for whom Huntington is named, Collis P. Huntington, would eventually become one of the most hated railroad men in the county. One textbook even read that he came to “symbolize the greed and corruption of late-nineteenth-century business.”
11. Beckley gets about 55 inches of snow a year. The only city in West Virginia to get more is Elkins.
12. After the Civil War, West Virginia would continue to fight with Virginia—over money owed for infrastructure improvements paid for by Virginia. In 1915, the United States Supreme Court ruled that West Virginia owed Virginia $12,393,929.50. It was paid off by 1939.
13. West Virginia was the first state to enact a statewide sales tax in 1923.
14. Charles Town in the Eastern Panhandle is named after George Washington’s brother, who owned an estate in the town.
15. Martinsburg is closer to five other state capitals than its own: Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, and New Jersey’s state capitals are all closer than Charleston.
16. Just 10 years ago, West Virginia had 41,000 miners. Today there are less than 12,000 working miners in the state according to the Charleston Gazette-Mail.
17. In 1950, some 100,000 people lived in McDowell County at the southern tip of West Virginia. Today less than 20,000 do.
18. Bolivar in Jefferson County is named for for South American Revolutionary hero Simon Bolivar, who helped establish independence for Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Peru and Colombia.
19. The last game played at the Old Mountaineer Field was a 24-17 loss to Pitt in 1979. The stadium wasn’t fully torn down until 1987.
20. Beckley is a popular spot to campaign for President. A partial list of campaigners include: Barack Obama, John Kerry, Bill and Hillary Clinton, George W. Bush, Eleanor Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Hubert Humphrey, just to name a few.
21. President James Madison once owned land near Mannington in Marion County.
22. The smallest church in the continuous United States, Our Lady of the Pines, is located off Route 50 in Preston County.
23. Berkeley Springs in the Eastern Panhandle has three times as many massage therapists as lawyers.
24. Wheeling was the state’s first (and third) state capital.
25. The main industry of Charleston and the Kanawha Valley was once salt. As larger salt reserves were found out west, Charleston’s salt became a primary draw for the chemical industry.
26. Even though it’s called South Charleston, the city actually lies to the northwest of Charleston.
27. At the center of South Charleston is a burial mound, also known as the Criel Mound. It was built by the Adena people. They lived along the banks of the Kanawha between 1000 and 200 B.C.
28. Two counties in the state border only one other West Virginia county. Hancock County at the top of the Northern Panhandle borders only Brooke County; Jefferson in the Eastern Panhandle borders only Berkeley County.
29. In a 1968 visit to Beckley, then Presidential candidate Sen. Robert Kennedy (D-NY) called West Virginia his “second home.”
30. The largest city in West Virginia is Charleston with just over 50,000 people.
31. That makes it the nation’s 19th smallest state capital. It’s right behind Trenton, NJ and in front of Lincoln, NE.
32. The smallest incorporated town in the state is Aurora in Preston County. Only 201 people live there. (See a list of the smallest towns in the state.)
33. When it was built in 1977, the New River Gorge Bridge was the longest single arch bridge in the world. It’s now the third largest.
34. The oldest jumper to jump off the bridge was Donald Cripps, who was 84 when he jumped in 2013.
35. The southernmost city in the state is War, McDowell County.
36. Guyandotte is the French name for Wyandotte (or Huron) Native Americans.
37. Until the early 19th century, the Wyandotte held significant land in the Ohio River valley. In 1842 they lost all land east of the Mississippi River and were forced to move west. Only remnants of the tribe remain on reservations in Kansas, Oklahoma and southern Quebec.
38. There are no federally recognized Native American tribes in West Virginia today.
39. A unique rock formation in Hampshire County called Ice Mountain once allowed ice to be found along the mountain’s slope well into September. Today ice is only found through June, but cool air can be felt all summer.
40. The first land battle of the Civi War was fought in Philippi in Barbour County in 1861.
41. When Daniel Boone was elected to the Virginia State Legislature from Kanawha County in 1791, it’s said he walked the entire distance to Richmond. According to Google Maps, that would take you 109 hours to walk today.
42. The inventor of the Big Mac is from Fairmont.
43. The PRT in Morgantown is the only one of its kind in the United States.
44. When it opened in 1975, it was three years behind schedule and cost 3-4 times what had been estimated. Expanding the PRT would cost an estimated $30-40 million per mile.
45. The Grave Creek Mound for which Moundsville is named is one of the largest in the United States. About 60,000 tons of dirts were moved to build it—pretty impressive considering it was built 100-200 years before the birth of Jesus of Nazareth.
46. Canaan Valley is the headwater of the Blackwater River which spills out of the valley at Blackwater Falls in Tucker County.
47. The first account of Blackwater Falls was published in 1853.
48. With just under 2,000 students, the largest high school in the state is Cabell-Midland near Huntington. (Here’s a list of the 7 Biggest High Schools in West Virginia.)
49. Don Knotts worked at Morgantown’s Warner Theater on High Street while he attended WVU.
50. Even though it’s named after the Biblical land of Canaan, locals (and West Virginians) pronounce it Can-nane rather than Cane-in.
51. West Virginia is the third most heavily forested state in the nation. At 78%, it’s behind only New Hampshire and Maine.
52. In 1892, McDowell county residents voted to make Welch the county seat. The election was so continuous that county records had to be moved from the old seat of Perryville at night to the new seat to avoid violence.
53. Shepherdstown may be the oldest town in the entire state. It was charted by the Virginia General Assembly in 1762.
54. Lessons learned in the construction of the Wheeling Suspension Bridge were used in the building of New York’s Brooklyn Bridge.
55. During the Great Depression, Marshall accepted “IOU’s” and even potatoes in exchange in lieu of tuition payment.
56. Total undergraduate enrollment at Marshall is just under 10,000 students, slightly half of WVU’s.
57. The only private residence in the world built entirely of coal is in White Sulphur Springs. It’s no longer a house, though, it was converted into a gift shop.
58. The Greenbrier Resort was once home to the secret bunker that would house the United States Congress in the event of a nuclear war. It wasn’t decommissioned until the early 1990’s.
59. Diplomats from Axis Powers were held at the Greenbrier in the 40’s until they could be exchanged for American diplomats similarly stranded overseas after the U.S. entered the war.
60. The Huntington Mall is the largest mall in West Virginia though it’s technically in Barboursville.
61. Camden Park, also near though not in Huntington, is the state’s only amusement park.
62. The pepperoni roll was invented at the Country Club Bakery in Fairmont in 1927 by Giuseppe “Joseph” Argiro.
63. At one point before the Civil War, nearly one third of Martinsburg’s population was enslaved.
64. The discount store chain Hecks was founded in Charleston. The name comes from it’s four founders: Fred Haddad, Tom Ellis, Lester Ellis, and Douglas Cook.
65. The Shoney’s Restaurant chain also began in Charleston. Alex “Shoney” Schoenbaum opened the Parkette Drive-In next to his father’s bowling alley in 1947.
66. The lowest point in the state is Harper’s Ferry, where the Shenandoah River meets the Potamac River. It’s most famous as being the site of John Brown’s failed pre-Civil War raid which he hoped would spark an uprising among slaves.
67. John Denver sang “Country Roads” at the new Mountaineer Field on the day it opened: September 6, 1980.
68. The entire length of the Mon River is navigable, thanks to a series of locks and dams.
69. Four rivers are part of West Virginia’s boundaries with other states: The Potomac (Maryland), The Ohio (Ohio), The Big Sandy and Tug Fork (Kentucky).
70. The Elk River is the only known home of a critically-endangered fish, the Diamond Darter. It’s unclear what effect the Freedom Industries chemical spill will have on the species.
71. Ben Franklin proposed and nearly succeeded in establish a British colony in the 1760’s that would have included most of present-day West Virginia and Kentucky.
72. He would have named it Vandalia, after King George’s wife, Queen Charlotte, who claimed to descend from the Vandals (who by the way, destroyed the Roman Empire). The yearly Vandalia Gathering held at the state capitol is named in the lost colony’s honor.
73. The state’s first newspaper, The Potomac Guardian and Berkley Advertiser, was published in Shepherdstown in the 1790’s.
74. Romney contests Shepherdstown’s assertion that its the oldest town in the state (or vice versa). Both were chartered in 1762.
75. Hampshire County is named after fat hogs. No really. When Sir Thomas Fairfax, who owned the royal grant to establish the county, saw some rather large hogs from the area, he named it after Hampshire in England, which similarly produced fat hogs.
76. West Virginia is actually #2 in coal production. We’re behind Wyoming, but ahead of Kentucky.
77. The first event ever held at the WVU Coliseum in Morgantown was a Grand Funk Railroad concert in 1970.
78. A famous astrologer predicted the Coliseum would collapse on its opening night. It didn’t.
79. During World War II, the state was home to the West Virginia Maneuvering Area. Covering five counties, soldiers used the Allegheny Mountains to train for mountain warfare in the alps.
80. Part of that included Dolly Sods, which was used a mortar training ground. Foresters warn there still may be unexploded bombs in the backcountry.
81. The USS West Virginia was the only ship attacked at Pearl Harbor present when Japan surrendered in Tokyo Bay.
82. Welch is home to the nation’s longest running Veteran’s Day Parade. It’s been going for over 96 years.
83. The town is also home to the nation’s first municipal parking garage.
84. The three counties of the Eastern Panhandle were included in the new state of West Virginia because of the B&O Railroad. It was Washington’s link to Cincinnati, St. Louis and all points west.
85. Martinsburg is now sadly known as “Little Baltimore” because of its drug epidemic.
86. Seneca Rocks in Pendleton County began to form 425 million years ago when an ocean covered what is now West Virginia.
87. West Virginia’s only nudist resort is located in Hampshire County. Their yearly July 4th fireworks attract people from the tristate area.
88. Cranberry Glades is the largest bog (swamp) in the state and is the southern most home for many of the plants found there.
89. The first West Virginia Strawberry Festival in Buckhannon was held in 1936 as a Depression-ear way to help strawberry growers increase their sales.
90. A bar in Morgantown, Fat Daddy’s, holds the world record for most Fireball shots taken in one night.
91. With an elevation of 2,449 feet, Princeton in Mercer County is the highest county seat east of Denver, Colorado.
92. The entirety of eight West Virginia Counties and parts of ten more were carved from Harrison County.
93. Marshall’s Joan C. Edwards Stadium is one of only two NCAA-Division I stadiums named exclusively after a woman. The other is South Carolina’s Williams-Brice Stadium.
94. In 1930, 17 passenger trains rolled through Elkins every day. All passenger service had stopped by 1958.
95. The name of Huntington’s Keith-Albee Theatre was a ploy to get top vaudeville acts to stop there. The Keith-Albee-Orpheum Corporation was one of the top performance chains of its time and it was hoped the name would get directors to perform in Huntington.
96. When the B&O finished the bridge connecting Parkersburg with Belpre across the Ohio in 1870, it was the longest bridge in the world.
97. It’s believed country singer Hank Williams was last seen alive in Bluefield. The 29-year-old singer died at Oak Hill, Fayette County, in route to a performance in 1953.
98. Paw Paw in Morgan County is named after the wild fruit that grows in abundance in the area. It’s also known as West Virginia Banana.
99. On weekends, many bars in Morgantown will stop the music at midnight to play “Take Me Home, Country Roads.”
100. Huntington’s Great Flood of 1937 killed five people in the city and left tens of thousands homeless and led to the creation of the city’s floodwalls.
101. Bob Denver, who played Gilligan on “Gilligan’s Island” retired to Mercer County. Though he’s since passed, his foundation still owns and operates a radio station—WGOG, Little Buddy Radio.