August 1, 2012

West Virginia – “The Crossroads of America”

West Virginia map

 

Just the Facts…

 

bird – Cardinal
flower – Rhododendron
tree – Sugar Maple
capital – Charleston
union – 35th state on June 20, 1863
population – almost 2 million

 

 

 

The Basics 

Almost the entire state of West Virginia is part of the Appalachian mountain range.  As a result, it is very rugged – mountains, river gorges, forests, and valleys.

The different regions of West Virginia are each very distinct – the extreme northeast panhandle associates itself with Pittsbugh, the eastern tip associates itself with Washington DC, the northwest has farm communities similar to Ohio, and the southern part of the state feels like the South.

 

Its Claim to Fame

West Virginia was the only state to separate from a Confederate state during the Civil War.  West Virginia applied for statehood after Virginia seceded from the Union and joined the Confederacy.  It joined America as a Union state that prohibited slavery.  But, interestingly enough, it provided almost as many soldiers to the Confederate Army as to the Union Army.  And, many battles were fought on West Virginia soil.

West Virginia’s natural resources provide the raw materials needed to make pottery and glass – like sand, clay, natural gas, coal and timber.  Starting in the 1800’s, many “glass houses” moved to West Virginia.  They flourished until the Great Depression.  Even today, West Virginia makes more marbles than any other state.  Marble King produces over one million marbles per day!  It was started in 1949 and made the first cat’s eyes marbles as well as many other designs.  Do you have a bag of marbles that you play with? Maybe they were made in West Virginia!

The New River Gorge Bridge is a famous landmark within West Virginia.  It is a steel arch bridge over the New River Gorge and took 3 years to construct (1974-1977).  For almost 30 years, it was the highest bridge in the world!  When the Bridge was opened in 1977, many of the West Virginia citizens walked across it.  The opening of the Bridge is celebrated annually on “Bridge Day” – it is closed to cars and there are bungee jumping demonstrations!

 

What Makes it Tick

The mountains of West Virginia contain some rich mineral deposits, including coal.  Coal is a black rock that takes thousands of years to be created.  Long ago, plant life decomposed and rock and sediment piled on top of it, compressing that decomposed plant material until it is hard.  The process takes place over thousands of years.  Coal exists deep under the ground, usually in large deposits or “seams.”  West Virginia has a long history of coal mining, which started during the Civil War.  Now, it leads the nation in underground coal production.  In fact, coal is found in 53 out of the 55 counties within West Virginia.

West Virginia also has a strong timber industry – most of the mountains in West Virginia are covered in forests.  It took about 40 years for most of the old growth forests to be cut down in West Virginia (starting in the 1880s).  A very extensive railroad system was developed in nearly every mountain and valley within West Virginia to haul the lumber away to the east coast.

 

If You Visited

If you visited West Virginia, you might visit the West Virginia State Folk Festival.  The Festival has been a tradition since 1950 and has a wide variety of traditional Appalachian music and crafts.  There are banjo and fiddle contests, square dancing, a spelling bee and quilt contest.  The crafts include handmade items like baskets, pottery, weaving and wood carving.  You might even make your own instrument!

You might go white-water rafting, canoeing or kayaking on West Virginia’s many rivers.  Or, you may go hiking or rock climbing in one of its mountains.  West Virginia is known for its white water rafting – the most famous being the New River Gorge.  The New River flows fast and strong through a deep valley called the New River Gorge.  It is one of the most popular places east of the Mississippi for white water rafting.

 

Want to Know More? 

Check our West Virginia state scrapbook for an industry map, state symbols and information we received from the Governor and Board of Tourism.

Do you live in West Virginia?  Or, maybe you have visited West Virginia?  We want to hear from you!!  Post a comment at the end of this page.

  • What is your very favorite thing about West Virginia?
  • What is your favorite thing to eat?
  • What is your favorite thing to do?
  • What other special or unique facts do you want to share about your home state?

Do you have any photos of West Virginia to share? Email them to: info@grandtourkids.com. Or, post them to our Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/GrandTourKids

Our tour includes just a few things that are interesting and special about West Virginia.  Visit these websites to learn more:

http://wvtourism.com/default.aspx

http://www.wv.gov/

http://www.newrivergorgecvb.com/

http://www.wvstatefolkfestival.org/