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West Virginia, US (Population: 1,818,470)

State Capitol: Charleston

Major Cities: Huntington, Parkersburg, Wheeling, Morgantown, Weirton, Fairmont, Beckley, Clarksburg, Martinsburg

State Nickname/Motto: Mountain State - Montani semper liberi: Mountaineers are always free

Statehood Granted: June 20, 1863

History:The area now known as West Virginia was not only a favorite hunting ground of numerous American Indian peoples before the arrival of European settlers but it also the homeland for Cherokee, Seneca, Shawnee, Mingo, and Lenne Lenape communities. Many ancient man-made earthen mounds from various mound builder cultures survive, especially in the areas of Moundsville, South Charleston, and Romney. There have also been several remains of settlements unearthed from the river banks of the Tygart, Monongahalia, and New River Gorge areas. One such settlement was just discovered a few years ago in the southeastern area known as Seneca Rocks. Although little is known about these civilizations, the artifacts uncovered give evidence of a complex, stratified culture that practiced metallurgy.

Geography: Highest point - Spruce Knob; 4,863 feet. West Virginia is the only state in the nation located entirely within the Appalachian Mountain range, and in which all areas are mountainous; for this reason it is nicknamed The Mountain State. About 75% of the state is within the Cumberland Plateau and Allegheny Plateau regions. Though the relief is not high, the plateau region is extremely rugged in most areas.

Ethnic Diversity: One Race (98.9%), White (95.0%), Black or African American (3.1%), American Indian and Alaska Native (0.1%), Asian (0.4%), Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander (0.1%), Some other race (0.2%), Two or more races (1.1%), Hispanic or Latino (1.6%)*

Famous State People:

  • Mary Lou Retton (1968 - ) Olympic gold medallist of gymnastics; born in Fairmont.
  • Jerry West (1938 - ) Basketball Hall of Famer that played for the Los Angeles Lakers; born in Cabin Creek.
  • George Brett (1953 - ) Former major league baseball player with the Kansas City Royals; born in Glen Dale.
  • Don Knotts (1924 - ) Actor best known for appearances in movies like The Incredible Mr. Limpet and The Apple Dumpling Gang and the television series The Andy Griffith Show; born in Morgantown.
  • Kathy Mattea (1959) Country music singer; born in South Charleston.
  • Chuck Yeager (1923 - ) First pilot to fly faster than the speed of sound; born in Myra.
  • Pearl Buck (1892 - 1973) Author best known for her novel The Good Earth; born in Hillsboro.
  • Harold Tucker Webster (1885 - 1952) Cartoonist and creator of Caspar Milquetoast; born in Parkersburg
  • Thomas Stonewall Jackson (1824 - 1863) Confederate general; born in Clarksburg.
  • Walter Reuther (1907 - 1970) One of the most influential labor leaders of the 20th Century; born in Wheeling.
  • Steve Yeager (1948 - ) Baseball player; born in Huntington.

  • Major Colleges/Universities: West Virginia University, Marshall University, Bluefield State College, Fairmont State University, Glenville State College, West Virginia State College, Huntington Junior College, Alderson Broaddus College, University of Charleston, Salem International University, Mountain State University, Mountain State College

    State and National Parks: New River Gorge State Park, North Bend State Park, Cedar Creek State Park, Pipestem State Park, Appalachian National Scenic Trail, Bluestone National Scenic River, Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge, and the Chesapeake, Ohio Canal National Historical Park, Gauley River National Recreation Area, George Washington National Forest, Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, and the Ohio River Islands National Wildlife Refuge.

    Misc:The famous Greenbrier hotel and resort, located in the Monongahelia National Forest area in the southeastern portion of the state was originally built in 1778, and has long been considered a premier hotel frequented by numerous world leaders and U.S. Presidents over the years. It was also revealed several years ago that underneath the Greenbriar the U.S. Government built a bunker for high ranking government officials and military personnel in case of a catastrophic enemy attack on the country. West Virginia is also home to the Green Bank Telescope at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory that was part of the movie Contact.

    *U.S. Census - 2005