West Virginia is one of America’s most historic states. It is the site for the famous Civil War-era raid, is known for its tree-covered Appalachian Mountains, and is a beautiful place to live. Some popular cities include Charleston, Morgantown, Beckley, Huntington, and Wheeling. But did you know that the state offers interesting stories most of us have not heard about before? This article will share some of West Virginia’s most interesting facts.
The 35th state
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and the same can be said for the United States. It took the US 172 years to establish its states. On 7 December 1787, Delaware became the first state to be ratified. Eight decades later, on 20 June 1863, West Virginia was admitted as a state.
The Original Name
Can you imagine calling West Virginia something else? This was a reality. West Virginia would have been known as Kanawha to honor a Native American tribe. This was not retained because, after the succession from the Commonwealth of Virginia, officials wanted to keep some form of Virginia in the name and opted for West Virginia.
The very first Mother’s Day was celebrated here. It started in Grafton at a Methodist Church. Credited as the creator of Mother’s Day, Ann Jarvis conceptualized the idea after her mother expressed her desire to celebrate mothers. Ann then approached an apartment store owner in Philadelphia for assistance. The very first Mother’s Day celebration took place at a Methodist Church. If you’re looking to take your mom to a luxury holiday destination, the birthplace of the very first Mother’s Day is a great option.
The Jones Diamond
What is the Jones Diamond? Also known as the Punch Jones Diamond, it was the largest alluvial diamond ever found in Peterstown. The 34.48-carat rock was a mammoth discovery for the time.
Golden Delicious Apples
Among the most interesting facts about this state are Golden Delicious apples. These delicious takeaways from nature were first discovered in 1912. The first such tree was found near Porter Creek in Clay County. This particular tree would be sold to the Stark Brothers Nursery and go on to bear fruit for a whopping 50 years. In 1995, the Golden Delicious Apple was officially declared the state fruit of West Virginia.
Rural Free Delivery
It might seem frivolous now, but the 1800s and 1900s included some incredible inventions that would prove convenient to citizens. One such thing was the invention of rural free delivery mail service, and in 1896, the very first rural free delivery program commenced. This revolutionary program had mail being delivered directly to someone’s doorstep! While this may seem quite normal to us, back in the day, getting mail delivered in a formalized system was a novelty.
The Biggest Fair Is Older Than the State
You might wonder how this is possible, but it is true. When West Virginia became a state in 1863, the state’s biggest fair was already operational. The state’s first modern-day fair was around much longer, since 1854, to be exact. This fair is still functional in Lewisburg and averages approximately 160,000 visitors annually.
A Forested State
Did you know that West Virginia is the third most forested state in the country? The Monongahela National Forest is quite massive. It spans over one million acres of land, reaching across ten counties.
John Brown was known for fighting for human rights and, in particular, for being a prominent leader in the abolitionist movement — quite an unprecedented move during days of slavery in the US. John was the leader of the anti-slavery movement before the Civil War began. By 1859, he led his most famous protest. While it did not yield the results he had hoped, John’s actions would slowly change people’s views on slavery and human rights.
Did you know the state is within a day’s drive from 75% of the US population? To take it a step further, West Virginia remains one of the most untouched places in America.
Largest Sycamore Tree
The American sycamore tree is highly popular due to its durability, expansive roots, and rapid growth rate. Up until 2010, the largest one in the world could be found in West Virginia in Webster Spring. Before it fell, the tree was estimated to be approximately 500 years old.
Interesting Town Names
This is one of our favorite facts, and it cements that you do not have to travel far to see the world. In West Virginia, you will find exciting and well-known town names. You can visit Athens, a town in Mercer County. Or head to Berlin in Lewis County. There is also Cairo, named so by the earliest settlers. Then, there is a nod to Kolkata in India. Lastly, we have Shanghai — a town named after a lumber company called Shanghai Manufacturing Association.
West Virginia has a rich history and culture, from its unique journey to statehood to its association with special events such as Mother’s Day, the discovery of the Jones Diamond, the introduction of the rural free delivery, and more. The state is a treasure trove of lesser-known captivating narratives. If you are heading to West Virginia, know that you are stepping into a truly historic place.