West Virginia is known for its beautifully scenic outdoor adventures. The state is called the mountain state for a reason. The atmosphere in the hills of West Virginia inspired John Denver to pen what has become the unofficial state anthem, Country Roads. West Virginia is so much more than just scenic locations, however. The following 20 tidbits of information show the many ways West Virginia shines.
Surprising Facts About West Virginia – Did You Know?
- West Virginia is the only State to be granted sovengrity by a proclamation from a United States President. On April 20th, 1863 President Abraham Lincoln admitted WV as the 35th state in the Union.
- West Virginia is the only state that was carved from another state’s territory without permission from that state. The US Constitution actually prohibits this which is why the Presidential decree was needed.
- West Virginia natives are close to family. In fact, Mother’s Day was created and first celebrated in Grafton, WV in May of 1908.
- Speaking of families, West Virginia holds the Guinness Book record for the largest family reunion ever. The 2009 Lilly family reunion at Flat Top had 2,585 registered Lilly’s and approximately 10,000 total guests.
- Women from WV have achieved some amazing accomplishments, and the state has been a strong supporter of women. One of the first newspapers addressed to women, the Lady’s Garland, was published in Harpers Ferry in 1824.
- The first African American women to become a member of a legislative body in the United States was Mrs. Minnie Buckingham Harper. She was a WV delegate in 1928.
- The first female to slam dunk a basketball during a collegiate game was Georgeann Wells of West Virginia University. She accomplished this feat in 1984.
- Speaking of women, the first federal prison for women was the Federal Industrial Institution for Women in Alderson. Its past guests include Martha Stewart.
- Remember when Volkswagen was caught in the big cheat with emissions? Basically the computer would sense when a vehicle was connected to a test and alter the emissions to achieve high standards. Once the test was complete, the computer would change engine settings to achieve better gas mileage and other enhancements. Who discovered the sham? A team at West Virginia University.
- Do you despise state sales tax? The first state sales tax was enacted in West Virginia in 1921. I guess all cool facts are not the most celebratory.
- Are you a soda fan? The first patent for a soda machine was granted to George Dulty in Wheeling in 1833.
- West Virginia has its share of talented athletes. In 1960, Danny Heater set the Guinness Book record for the most individual points scored in a high school basketball game at 135.
- The first football game to ever be broadcast on the radio was played between WVU and Pitt in 1921 on KDKA.
- Still another sports fact, the first organized golf club in the United States was formed in 1884 at Oakhurst Links in White Sulphur Springs. The golf course still exists today and can be played with the same type of equipment that existed in the late 1800s.
- West Virginia is full of american war history. The first union soldier to be killed in the civil war was Thornsbury Bailey Brown. He was killed at Fetterman, West Virginia in 1861.
- Do you despise billboards? Outdoor advertising was started in Wheeling in 1908 by the Block Brothers Tobacco Company who place their logo on bridges and barns.
- West Virginia is home to many transportation firsts. The first commercially operated electric railroad was the Huntington Electric Light and Street Railway which ran from Huntington to Guyandotte in 1892.
- The first brick street in the word was Summers St. in Charleston. It was built in 1870.
- Memorial Tunnel near Charleston was the first tunnel in the country to be monitored by cameras to improve safety. It opened in 1954 and was part of the West Virginia turnpike. It has since closed due to expansion and improvements to the turnpike.
- The first free school for African American children south of the Mason Dixon line was founded in Parkersburg in 1862. It was called the Sumner School and taught children grades one to twelve. It later became the first non segregated high school in West Virginia in 1954. Today the building houses the African American history museum.
Almost Heaven, West Virginia
These facts are all cool and West Virginia is certainly beautiful, but the thing I like most about West Virginia is the sense of dedication and belonging my home state emparts. It is difficult to put into words, but West Virginians are one big family. I have crossed paths with people far away from home who find out we are both from West Virginia and it generally ends with some kind of cheer followed by a hug or a fist bump. You share a bond that is hard to describe but is very real.
When someone from West Virginia steps out and attempts almost anything in the public eye, they find an entire state full of people cheering them on.
You Know You’re From West Virginia If…
I’m going to close with a few things everyone from West Virginia knows!
- When we hear the song Sweet Caroline we all know the proper words to sing in the chorus.
- If you find someone from West Virginia who doesn’t know the words to Country Roads, they are lying and are simply not from West Virginia.
- We all know the best breakfast biscuit sandwiches in the world come from Tudor’s Biscuit World.
- We all love pepperoni rolls.
The thing I find most beautiful about my home state is the way people are connected by and protective of everything it means to live in the place John Denver called almost heaven.
Montani semper liberi
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