West Virginia

West Virginia is a state of the United States in the Appalachian Mountains, popularly called The Mountain State. It is bordered by Virginia to the southeast, Kentucky to the southwest, Ohio to the northwest, Pennsylvania to the north, and Maryland to the northeast. West Virginia, which broke away from Virginia during the Civil War, is also known as a mining country, as well as for its labor disputes and relative poverty.



1 Charleston — Capital and cultural center of the state.
2 Beckley — Site of the Tamarack mine ("the best of West Virginia") and a show coal mine.
3 Bluefield — Virginia's highest town, located in the East River Mountains.
4 Charles Town — historic town founded by George Washington's youngest brother, Charles.
5 Harpers Ferry — Civil War site, West Virginia's most popular tourist destination.
6 Huntington — Home of Marshall University.
7 Morgantown — stomping grounds of the West Virginia University Mountaineers.
8 Parkersburg — site of Blennerhassett Island.
9 Wheeling — Victorian architecture and a well-known casino.


Other destinations

Bluestone River is a picturesque river that carved an awe inspiring gorge in the South West Virginia.

Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum is one of the largest and one of the most haunted places in West Virginia and all of USA.


Getting here

By plane
Yeager Airport (IATA: CRW)
Raleigh County Memorial Airport (IATA: BKW)

By train
Amtrak serves stations in Harpers Ferry (HFY) and Martinsburg (MRB). As well as in White Sulfur Springs (WSS), Alderson (ALD), Hinton (HIN), Prince (PRC), Thurmond (THN), Montgomery (MNG), Charleston (CHW) and Huntington (HUN).

By car
I64 Lexington KY - Huntington WV - Charleston WV - Beckley WV - Lexington VA
I77 Fort Chiswell VA - Beckley WV - Charleston WV - Cambridge OH
I79 Charleston WV - Clarksburg WV - Washington PA



It is the only state located completely within the Appalachians, and in which all its areas are mountainous; For this reason it is nicknamed The Mountain State. Approximately 75% of the state is within the Cumberland Plateau and Allegheny Plateau regions. Although the relief is not very high, these regions are extremely rugged in most areas.

At the eastern state line with Virginia, the high peaks in the Monongahela National Forest region create an island of colder climate and ecosystems similar to those of northern New England and eastern Canada. Its highest point is Spruce Knob, at 1,482 meters above sea level and is covered by a dense boreal spruce forest at altitudes above 1,220 m. This is in the Monongahela National Forest and is a part of the Spruce Knob-Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area. A total of six areas of moorland can also be found within the forest. Coming out of the forest to the south, the New River Gorge is a 1,000-foot deep canyon carved by the New River. Other areas under protection and control include:

Appalachian National Scenic Trail
Bluestone National Scenic River
Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge
Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park
Gauley River National Recreation Area
George Washington National Forest
Harpers Ferry National Historical Park
Ohio River Islands National Wildlife Refuge

The native vegetation was originally hardwood forest with a mix of oak, chestnut, maple, beech and white pine, with willow and American sycamore along the waterways. Many of the areas are rich in biodiversity and scenic beauty, a fact that is appreciated by the population, who refer to their home as Almost Heaven.

The underlying rock strata are sandstones, shales, bituminous coal beds, and limestones deposited near the edge of sediments from the mountains to the east, and in a shallow inland sea to the west. Some beds have a coastal swamp environment, some river delta, some surface water. Sea level rose and fell many times during the Mississippian and Pennsylvanian eras (Carboniferous Period Epochs), creating a variety of rock strata. The Appalachian Mountains are some of the oldest on earth, at 300 million years old.



The climate is between a humid subtropical climate (Köppen climate classification Cfa) in the lower elevations of the southwestern part (including Huntington) and parts of the Eastern Panhandle east of the Appalachians with warm, humid summers and mild winters. The remainder has a humid continental climate (Köppen climate classification Dfa, except Dfb in higher areas) with hot, humid summers and cold winters, which increase in severity with increasing elevation. However, the weather is changeable in all parts of the state. The most rigorous zones extend from zone 5b in the central Appalachians to zone 7a in the hottest parts of the lower foothills. In the Eastern Panhandle and Ohio River Valley temperatures are warm enough to see and grow subtropical plants such as magnolia grandiflora, albizia julibrissin, sweetgum and occasionally some needle palms and lesser sabales. These plants do not thrive in other parts of the state.

Average temperatures in January range from -2°C near the Cheat River to 5°C along sections of the Kentucky border. The July average ranges from 19°C along the North Branch of the Potomac River to 24°C in the western part. The climate is colder in the mountains than in the lower elevations.

Annual precipitation ranges from less than 810 mm in the lower section of the East, to more than 1,400 mm in the upper parts of the Allegheny Front. Virtually more than half of the rainfall occurs from April to September. Dense fogs are common in many valleys of the Kanawha section, especially the Tygart Valley. Snow usually lasts only a few days at lower elevations, but can persist for weeks in higher mountain areas. An average of 86 cm of snow falls annually in Charleston, although during the winter of 1995-1996 more than three times that amount fell in several cities, setting new highs in snowfall records.



The region has been populated since prehistory. In Moundsville, South Charleston and Romney there are many traces of mound culture. They are evidence of ancient societies formed by people who had a tribal cultural system based on trade.

Around 1670, the Iroquois expelled the other tribes from the region and reserved it for themselves as a hunting reserve during the Beaver War. The area was also inhabited by other Sioux-speaking tribes.

It was a disputed territory, even by European Americans. Pennsylvania and Virginia claimed it before the Revolutionary War. Some companies that speculated in land, such as Vandalia, and later the Ohio & Indiana Company, tried unsuccessfully to legitimize their claims and settle in West Virginia and Kentucky.

With the final agreement on the border dispute between Pennsylvania and Virginia, which led to the creation of Kentucky, the inhabitants of the latter "were satisfied [...], and the inhabitants of most of West Virginia were grateful."

It belonged to the British Colony of Virginia between 1607 and 1776, and between that year and 1863 it constituted the western part of Virginia (known as Trans-Allegheny Virginia before the formation of West Virginia). Strong discontent with electoral representation and underrepresentation in the state Parliament caused residents to be divided over secession from the Union during the Civil War.

The western and northern counties established a separate government led by Francis Pierpont in 1861, which they called the "restored government." The majority voted to secede from Virginia, and the new state was admitted to the Union in 1863. A year later, a constitutional convention wrote the state's Constitution. Although Parliament ratified it, it was not submitted to a popular vote. In this period, he abolished slavery and temporarily deprived those who had worked in Confederate positions or had fought for The Confederacy.


The exploration and colonization of Europeans

In 1671, General Abraham Wood, under the orders of the royal governor of the colony of Virginia, William Berkeley, sent a group of men led by Thomas Batts and Robert Fallam to Fort Henry, who discovered Kanawha Falls. Some sources say that Governor Alexander Spotswood's 1716 Ultramontane Expedition had already penetrated Pendleton County, although original excursion stories modern historians suggest that none of the pilots had ventured west of the Blue Ridge, Harrisonburg .

John Van Meter, an Indian trader, went to the northern part in 1725. That same year, German settlers from Pennsylvania founded New Mecklenburg, present-day Shepherdstown, on the Potomac River, and were followed by many.

In 1661, Charles II gave that company the strip between the Potomac and the Rappahannock, known as the Northern Neck. The land eventually became the property of Thomas Fairfax, and in 1746 an obelisk was erected at the headwaters of the North Branch of the Potomac, to mark the western boundary of the territory.

Between 1748 and 1751, George Washington surveyed much of the region. The diary of that time indicates that many occupants, mainly of German origin, behaved abusively. Christopher Gist was an explorer with the Ohio Company, a company composed almost entirely of Virginians, which between 1751 and 1752 explored the lands along the Ohio River north of the mouth of the Kanawha.

The Ohio Company sought to found a new colony called Vandalia. Many settlers crossed the mountains starting in 1750, hampered by indigenous resistance. Some natives lived permanently within the state's current boundaries, but the region was considered a hunting preserve, crisscrossed by many routes. During the French and Indian War, the British settlements, scattered throughout the territory, were almost completely destroyed.

In 1774, Virginia Crown Governor John Murray led an expedition beyond the mountains. In turn, a corps of militia under Colonel Andrew Lewis dealt the Shawnee, led by Cornstalk, a devastating blow at the Battle of Point Pleasant at the confluence of the Kanawha and the Ohio. In the Treaty of Camp Charlotte that ended Dunmore's War, Cornstalk recognized the new frontier with Ohio, with the Long Knives of Virginia.

In 1776, however, the Shawnee waged a new war, and in this they were joined by the Chickamauga. Native American attacks continued until the Revolutionary War. Settlers in this area were generally active Whigs and many joined the Continental Army. The Claypool Rebellion of 1780 to 1781, in which a group of men refused to pay colonial taxes, showed weariness with war.


The Virginia Transallegheny

Social conditions in western Virginia were very different from those in the eastern part. The population was not homogeneous, as much of the immigration came from Pennsylvania and included Germans, Scots-Irish Protestants, and settlers from more northern states. The eastern and southern counties were mainly settled by people from eastern Virginia.

During the Revolutionary War, the movement to create a state beyond the Allegheny was revived, and a petition for the birth of "Westsylvania" was presented to Congress, arguing that to the east the mountains were an almost impenetrable barrier. Wild nature also made slavery unnecessary and unprofitable.

In 1829 a commission was created to draft a new constitution. This, contrary to the claims of the ultramontane counties, established that it was necessary to own land to be able to vote and gave the slave counties an advantage corresponding to three-fifths of their slave population in the allocation of state seats. in the House of Representatives. As a result, all counties beyond the Allegheny (except one) voted against the Constitution, which was passed, however, to the support of the eastern counties.

The Virginia Constitutional Convention of 1850 and 1851, known as the Reform Convention, extended the right to vote to all white men over the age of 21 and provided that the governor, lieutenant governor, judges, sheriffs, and all offices of the county were to be decided by popular election. In turn, the composition of the General Assembly changed: representation in the House of Delegates was assigned on the basis of whiteness and the 1850 census, while the Senate was divided arbitrarily, between West, which received 20 senators and East 30.

The Westerners accepted this clause because they were promised that the seats would be redistributed based on the 1865 census, or a referendum. In any case, this gave a fiscal advantage to the east, since a property tax was levied based on the real and present value of assets, with the exception of slaves. Slaves under 12 years of age were not taxed, while those over 12 years of age had to be paid $300, that is, a fraction of their real value. However, the goods, animals and lands of small farmers did have to pay their full value. Despite this and the lack of improvements in the West, the new Constitution received 75,748 in favor and 11,063 against, especially from the East, dissatisfied with the advantages for the West.

Because of this, many in the West continued to seek to form a separate state, among them the lawyer Francis Harrison Pierpont. In addition to differences over slavery, in that region the central government was perceived to have little interest in repairing roads and railroads.


Separation of Virginia

West Virginia was the only territory to secede from a Confederate state, Virginia, during the Civil War, forming a separate state. At the Richmond convention, called for the sole purpose of deciding on the separation of Virginia from the United States on April 17, 1861, of the 49 delegates delegated from western Virginia, 17 did so in favor of secession. , 30 against and 2 abstained.

Almost immediately thereafter, a mass meeting in Clarksburg recommended that each county in the northwest (present-day West Virginia) send delegates to a convention in Wheeling, to begin its work on May 13, 1861. When it met, there were 425 delegates from 25 counties.

Some delegates were in favor of the new state. Others argued that, since secession had not been approved by a referendum, it was an act against the United States. It was decided that if Virginia approved secession, another convention would be formed in Wheeling in June 1861, including the elected members of the state legislature. In the May 23 vote throughout Virginia, secession was ratified by a large majority of the state as a whole. But in the western counties, there were 34,677 votes against secession and 19,121 in favor.

The Second Wheeling Convention met as agreed on June 11 and declared that since the Secession Convention had been called without popular consent, all its acts were void and all who had adhered to it had ceased from office. public. On June 19, a law was approved to reorganize the government. The next day, convention delegates elected Francis Harrison Pierpont as governor of Virginia, and other officials from a rival state government and two U.S. senators (Willey and Carlile) to replace the secessionists, before adjourning. The federal government quickly recognized the new government and Congress accepted the two new senators. Thus there were two state governments in Virginia: one loyal to the United States and the other to the Confederacy.

The Wheeling Convention and its delegates were never actually elected by the people to act on behalf of West Virginia. Of the 103 members of this Convention, 33 had been elected to the Virginia General Assembly, in the regular election of May 23 . This number also includes some state senators elected in 1859, who abandoned their offices to meet in Wheeling. Other members "were elected even more irregularly: some at mass meetings, others by the county committee, and still others were apparently self-nominated." This irregular assembly appointed Unionists to the rest of the state offices.

The Wheeling Convention reconvened on August 20 and called for a popular vote for the formation of a new state and for a convention to draft a constitution, in the event of a vote in favor of the creation of the new state. In the elections of October 24, 1861, 18,408 people voted in favor of the new State and only 781 against. The results of these elections have been questioned several times, as the Union Army occupied the area and its troops were present in many voting centers, discouraging Confederate sympathizers from voting. The majority of votes in favor of statehood (or separation of the territory from the rest of Virginia) came from 16 counties in its northern zone. If some 50,000 voters had participated in the Secession vote (on May 23), only a little more than 19,000 participated in the vote on the independence of the state.

In Ohio County, seat of the Convention, only 25% of registered voters went to the polls. At the Constitutional Convention in November 1861, Mr. Lamb of Ohio County and Mr. Carskadon claimed that in Ohio County of Hampshire, of a total of 195 votes, only 39 were cast by citizens, while the rest were illegal votes by Union soldiers. In most of the territory that would become West Virginia, there were even no elections, since two-thirds of the territory of West Virginia had voted to secede, and the elected officials of those counties were still loyal to Richmond. Votes cast in the counties that had voted to secede were cast by unionist refugees in other counties.

Despite this controversy, the delegates met to draft a constitution for the new state. The Convention began on November 26, 1861 and completed the work on February 18, 1862. The constitution was ratified April 11, 1862, with 18,162 votes in favor and 514 against.

On May 13, the state legislature of the reorganized government of Virginia (acting on behalf of all Virginia, as a government loyal to the Union and with its recognition) approved the formation of the new state. A petition for admission to the Union was presented to Congress, by Senator Waitman Willey of the Restored Government of Virginia. On December 31, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Act admitting West Virginia as a state, provided that a provision for the gradual abolition of slavery be inserted into its constitution. Although many thought that West Virginia's entry was illegal and unconstitutional, Lincoln stood by his opinion on the legality of West Virginia's admission, saying that "the body which consents to the entry of West Virginia is the Legislature of Virginia" and that the Therefore, his entry was both constitutionally convenient.

The Convention met again on February 12, 1863 and approved the changes required by the federal government. The revised Constitution was adopted March 26, 1863, and on April 20, 1863, President Lincoln issued the official announcement that the state was admitted to the Union, effective June 20, 1863. Meanwhile, government officials were elected of the state, while Governor Pierpont moved Virginia's capital to the Union-occupied city of Alexandria, and exercised jurisdiction over all remaining counties in Virginia.

The question of the constitutionality of the formation of the new state was then brought before the Supreme Court. Berkeley and Jefferson counties, situated on the Potomac River east of the mountains, voted in 1863 to annex West Virginia, with the consent of the reorganized Virginia government. Many voters in these strongly pro-Southern counties were serving in the Confederate army at the time of the vote, and therefore upon their return, refused to recognize the transfer.

The Virginia General Assembly repealed this act of secession and in 1866 sued West Virginia, asking the Supreme Court to declare those counties part of Virginia, which would have made West Virginia's admission as a state unconstitutional. Meanwhile, on March 10, 1866, Congress passed a joint resolution recognizing the transfer. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of West Virginia in 1870.

During the Civil War, the forces of Union General George B. McClellan took control of the main part of the territory in the summer of 1861, culminating in the Battle of Rich Mountain, and Unionist control was never seriously threatened again, despite an attempt by Robert Edward Lee in the same year. In 1863, General John D. Imboden, with 5,000 Confederates, recovered a considerable part of the state. Guerrilla bands broke out and looted some areas, and were not completely suppressed until the war ended. The counties in the eastern section were most affected by the war, with military control changing several times over the years.

The area that became West Virginia provided a nearly equal contingent of both the Union and Confederate armies, approximately 22,000-25,000 soldiers each. Because of this, in 1865 the Wheeling government removed the right to vote. to the soldiers of the new state, who had served in the Confederate army, to remain in power. James Ferguson, who proposed the law, said that without it he would have lost the election by 500 votes. Confederate property could also be confiscated, by an amendment to the state Constitution to expropriate those who had served the Confederacy. The 14th and 15th amendments to the United States Constitution sparked reactions in the state. The Democratic Party returned to power in 1870 and in 1871 the 1866 amendment was repealed, although the first steps towards this change had been taken by the Republican Party in 1870. On August 22, 1872, a completely new Constitution was approved.

Beginning in the Reconstruction era and for several decades, both states repeatedly argued over the division of Virginia's antebellum debt, and the funds that were used to finance public infrastructure such as canals, highways, and railways. railways by the Virginia Public Works Agency. Virginians, led by former Confederate general William Mahone, formed a political coalition that was based on precisely this, and was called the Readjustment Party. Although West Virginia's first constitution had laid the foundation for assuming part of Virginia's debt, negotiations that opened in 1870 were unsuccessful. In 1871 Virginia decided to assume two-thirds of the debt and arbitrarily assign the rest to West Virginia. The issue was finally resolved in 1915, when the United States Supreme Court ruled that West Virginia owed Virginia $12,393,929.50. The last installment of this sum was paid in 1939.



According to the 2000 national census of the United States Census Bureau, the population in 2000 was 1,808,344 inhabitants, a growth of 0.8% in relation to the population in 1990, which was 1,793,477 inhabitants. . An estimate made in 2005 estimates the population at 1,816,856 inhabitants, a growth of 1.3% in relation to the population in 1990, 0.5% in relation to the population in 2000, and 0.2% in relation to the estimated population in 2004.

The decrease in the natural population between 2000 and 2005 was 3,296 inhabitants - 108,292 births 111,588 deaths - the population growth caused by immigration was 14,209 inhabitants, while interstate migration increased by 3,691 inhabitants. Between 2000 and 2005, the population grew by 8,506 inhabitants.

5.6% of the population is less than 5 years old, 22.3% is less than 18 years old and 15.3% of the population is 65 years or older. The female population makes up approximately 51.4% of the population.



Upon becoming a state in 1863, it established a public school system. In 1933, the state's 398 school districts were reorganized into 55 districts, each operating within each county.

Currently, all educational institutions need to follow rules and regulations dictated by the Council of Education, made up of nine members chosen by the governor for terms of up to nine years. This council is administered by a superintendent, elected for four years. It has 55 school districts, each operating in a county. Each school district has its own superintendents. Charter schools - independent public schools, which are not managed by school districts, but depend on public budgets to operate, are not permitted to operate. Schooling is compulsory for all children and adolescents over six years of age, until the completion of secondary education or until the age of fifteen.

In 1999, public schools served approximately 291,800 students, employing approximately 21,100 teachers. Private schools served nearly 15,900 students, employing approximately 1,500 teachers. The public school system accounted for about $1,987 million, and public school spending is approximately $7,200 per student. About 78.7% of inhabitants over 25 years of age have a secondary education diploma.

The first library was founded in 1808, in Wheeling. The first public library, for its part, was founded on May 18, 1859, in Ohio County. Currently, it has about 97 public library systems, which move an average of 4.4 books per inhabitant.

West Virginia University has 37 higher education institutions, of which 15 are public and 22 are private. The state's first institution of higher learning, West Virginia University, was founded in 1867 in Morgantown. This is the largest institution of higher learning.



The gross domestic product was 53,782 million dollars in 2005. The per capita income, for its part, was 29,602 dollars, the second smallest in the country, only behind Mississippi. The unemployment rate is 5.3%.

The primary sector accounts for 5% of GDP. Together, agriculture and livestock account for 1% of the GDP, and employ approximately 29,900 people. The effects of the logging and fishing industries are not of great magnitude on the economy. It has about 21,000 farms, covering approximately 85%. The main products of the agricultural industry are poultry, cattle meat and milk, straw, corn, tobacco, apples and peaches.

The secondary sector contributes 18% of the GDP. The manufacturing industry, with 16% of GDP, employs approximately 84,600 people. The total value of products manufactured in the state is $9 billion. The main industrialized products manufactured in the state are chemical products, wooden furniture and transportation equipment. Mining contributes 7% of GDP, employing around 26,300 people. The main natural resource extracted in the state is coal. The state of West Virginia is the second largest coal producer in the United States. The extraction of coal from mountain tops is a common practice in different regions, which has produced several ecological consequences such as soil erosion, ecosystem degradation and deforestation. Despite these impacts, few studies demonstrate evidence that these extractive practices provide benefits to local communities. Other important natural resources are oil and granite. The construction industry accounts for 5% of GDP, employing approximately 48,900 people.

The services sector accounts for the majority of the GDP, with 77%. About 18% of GDP is generated through community and personal services. This sector employs around 263,600 people. Government services account for 16% of GDP, employing approximately 84,600 people. Wholesale and retail trade accounts for 15% of GDP, and employs approximately 192,800 people. Financial and real estate services account for about 15% of GDP, employing approximately 46,900 people. Transport, telecommunications and public services employ some 44,900 people, and account for 11% of the GDP. 99.5% of the electricity generated in the state is produced in coal-fired thermoelectric plants. The rest is produced in small hydroelectric plants and in thermoelectric plants powered by oil or natural gas.

The Bush administration has promoted the interests of the mining industry, facilitating mountaintop coal mining, and more generally has responded to companies' demands, including relaxing health regulations.​




Its main transportation center is Charleston. In 2002 it had 3,595 kilometers of railway tracks. Coal accounts for 95% of the railway cargo transported. In 2003, it owned 59,534 kilometers of public roads, of which 884 kilometers were interstate highways, considered part of the United States federal highway system.



The first newspaper, the Potomak Guardian and Berkeley Advertiser, was first published in 1790, in Shepherdstown. The oldest newspaper still in circulation, meanwhile, is The Intelligencer, first printed in Wheeling in 1852. There are currently 97 newspapers published, of which 21 are dailies.

The first radio station was founded in 1923, in Huntington. The first television station was founded in 1949, also in Huntington. Currently, it has 123 radio stations - of which 51 are AM and 72 are FM - and 11 television stations.