Interesting Facts About West Virginia

  • West Virginia is considered the southern most northern state and the northern most southern state.
  • The first major land battle fought between Union and Confederate soldiers in the Civil War was the Battle of Philippi on June 3, 1861.
  • Mother’s Day was first observed at Andrews Church in Grafton on May 10, 1908.
  • The first state sales tax in the United States went into effect in West Virginia on July 1, 1921.
  • West Virginia covers about 24,000 square miles and has a population of about 1.8 million.
  • The New River Gorge Bridge near Fayetteville is the second highest steel arch bridge in the United States. The bridge is also the longest steel arch bridge (1,700 feet) in the world. Every October on Bridge Day, the road is closed and individuals parachute and bungee cord jump 876 feet off the bridge. Its West Virginia’s largest single day event and attracts about 100,000 people each year.
  • West Virginia’s Memorial Tunnel was the first in the nation to be monitored by television. It opened November 8, 1954.
  • The first rural free mail delivery was started in Charles Town on October 6, 1896, and then spread throughout the United States.
  • Cecil Underwood is the nation’s oldest governor. He turned 77 on November 5, 1999.
  • On January 26, 1960 Danny Heater, a student from Burnsville, scored 135 points in a high school basketball game earning him a place in the Guinness Book of World Records.
  • West Virginia has the oldest population of any state. The median age is 40.
  • Jackson’s Mill is the site of the first 4-H Camp in the United States.
  • The first federal prison exclusively for women in the United States was opened in 1926 in West Virginia.
  • According to the crime index for 1997, West Virginia had the lowest crime rate in the country.
  • One of the nation’s oldest and largest Indian burial grounds is located in Moundsville. Its 69 feet high, 900 feet in circumference, and 50 feet high. An inscribed stone was removed from the vault and is on display at the Smithsonian Institute in West Virginia, D.C.
  • 15% of the nation’s total coal production comes from West Virginia.
  • Nearly 75% of West Virginia is covered by forests.
  • West Virginia’s nickname is the Mountain State and its motto is “Mountaineers Are Always Free.”
  • Some famous individuals from West Virginia include: Pearl Buck (author), Peter Marshall (television host), Chuck Yeager (test pilot /Air Force General), Don Knotts (actor), Mary Lou Retton (Olympic gold medallist for gymnastics), and Kathy Mattea (country music singer).
  • The world’s largest sycamore tree is located on the Back Fork of the Elk River in Webster Springs.
  • West Virginia was the first state to have a sales tax. It became effective July 1, 1921.