West Virginia’s nickname is the Mountain State

November 28, 2012 7:48 am

West Virginia
West Virginia’s nickname is the Mountain State. That’s because the heart of the state is in the Appalachian Mountains. These rugged mountains are thick with forests and divided by deep river valleys. In fact, the state is so rugged that large areas of level land are scarce.
The mountains give West Virginia its magnificent scenery. West Virginia’s state motto is Montani semper liber(Mountaineers are always free).
Facts About West Virginia
1,810,000 people
Rank among states in population
Major cities
Charleston, Huntington, Parkersburg
24,200 square miles
62,800 square kilometers
Rank among states in area
June 20, 1863, the 35th state
State nickname
The Mountain State
Name for residents
West Virginians
State bird
State flower
Rhododendron Maximum
State tree
Sugar Maple
West Virginia is the tenth smallest state in land area. It has less than 2 million people. Most West Virginians live in rural areas rather than in cities. Charleston, the biggest city and state capital, has just over 50,000 people.
The cities and towns of West Virginia lie mainly in the western half of the state. In the east are the beautiful Allegheny and Blue Ridge mountains. Both of these ranges are part of the Appalachians.
West Virginia has many rivers winding through deep valleys. Rivers are one reason for the state’s irregular borders.
The Ohio River forms West Virginia’s border with Ohio in the north and west. The Big Sandy and the Tug Fork rivers form the border with Kentucky in the southwest. The Potomac and North Branch Potomac rivers form the long, wavy border with Maryland.
Rivers flow through the middle of the state, too. They include the Monongahela, Kanawha, New River, Bluestone, and Shenandoah. Part of the Bluestone forms a National Scenic River. It attracts many hikers, fishers, and boaters. The New River Gorge has some of the best white-water rapids in the country.
West Virginia was once part of Virginia. But the mountains divided the state and the people. By the 1850s, many disputes divided the two sides, including the issue of slavery. Many people in western Virginia opposed slavery while those in eastern Virginia supported it.
In 1861, eastern Virginia left the to join the Confederate States of America. The Confederacy was a group of states that wanted to form their own country. The American Civil War was fought to hold the Union together.
But Virginians in the west remained loyal to the Union. They formed their own state instead. On June 20, 1863, West Virginia became the 35th state to join the United States.
In 1859, an antislavery activist named John Brown and his followers attacked a U.S. armory at Harpers Ferry, Virginia. Harpers Ferry is now part of West Virginia. Brown wanted to steal the weapons and use them to free slaves.
Instead, Brown was captured. He was tried and hanged in Charles Town, which later became part of West Virginia. Afterward, many saw Brown as a hero. He became the subject of songs and books. Today, Harpers Ferry has a National Historical Park. Some of the buildings still stand from the days of John Brown’s raid.
West Virginia’s mountains make for great outdoor fun. The state has one of the best park systems in the country. The first state park was Droop Mountain Battlefield, the site of a Civil War battle. The largest park is Watoga State Park. Cathedral State Park is home to a famous old forest.
The Appalachian National Scenic Trail passes through West Virginia’s George Washington National Forest. The trail is a long hiking path that runs all the way from Georgia to Maine.
At Moundsville you can see the Grave Creek Mound Historic Site. It’s an ancient earthen mound built by Native Americans about 2,000 years ago. Grave Creek Mound is the largest mound of its kind in the United States.
The mountains of West Virginia are famous for folk music. The music originated with settlers from the British Isles. It developed its own unique style in the isolated mountains.
One unusual instrument popular in West Virginia is the Appalachian dulcimer (or mountain dulcimer). It’s a stringed instrument with a bright, twangy sound. Many musicians still play it today.
West Virginia is a coal-mining state. The state’s mountains and deep valleys are full of a kind of coal called bituminous coal. Other minerals are also mined in West Virginia, including oil and natural gas. But coal mining is the most important.
West Virginia is still one of the leading producers of bituminous coal in the United States. But manufacturing is now West Virginia’s biggest industry. The state makes chemicals, metals, auto parts, and other goods.
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