Pharmacy Shelving West Virginia
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Barboursville Beckley Berkeley Springs Bluefield Bridgeport Buckhannon
Charles Town Charleston Clarksburg
Fairmont Fayetteville
Hinton Huntington Hurricane
Keyser Kingwood
Lewisburg Logan
Martinsburg Milton Moorefield Morgantown Moundsville
New Martinsville Nitro
Oak Hill
Parkersburg Petersburg Philippi Point Pleasant Princeton
Ravenswood Ripley Romney
Saint Albans Scott Depot Shepherdstown Spencer Summersville
Weirton Welch Wellsburg Weston Wheeling Williamson


West Virginia is a state of the United in the region of Appalachia, also known as The Mountain State. West Virginia broke away from the Commonwealth of Virginia during the American Civil War and was admitted to the Union as a separate state on June 20, 1863 (an anniversary now celebrated as West Virginia Day in the state). It is the only state formed as a direct result of the American Civil War.

The Census Bureau considers West Virginia part of the South because much of the state is below the Mason-Dixon Line. The USGS designates it as a Mid-Atlantic state, despite the state's Southern culture, speech pattern, and politics. Many citizens of West Virginia claim they are part of Appalachia, rather than the Mid-Atlantic or the South, while the state's Northern Panhandle, and North-Central region, feel an affinity for Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Also, those in the Eastern Panhandle feel a connection with the Washington, D.C. suburbs in Maryland and Virginia, and southern West Virginians often consider themselves Southerners. Finally, the towns and farms along the mid-Ohio River have an appearance and culture somewhat resembling the Midwest.

The state is noted for its great natural beauty, its timber and coal mining heritage and labor union organizing, mine wars in particular. It is also well known as a tourist destination for those people interested in outdoor activities such as skiing, whitewater rafting, rock climbing, fishing and hunting.

Contents [hide]
1 Geography
2 History
2.1 Prehistory
2.2 European exploration and settlement
2.3 Trans-Allegheny Virginia, 1776-1861
2.4 Separation from Virginia
2.5 Hidden resources
3 Demographics
4 Economy
5 Transportation
6 Law and government
6.1 Legislative Branch
6.2 Executive Branch
6.3 Judicial Branch
6.4 Politics
7 Important cities and towns
7.1 Large cities (+ 10,000 population)
7.2 Towns and small cities
7.3 Metropolitan Statistical Areas
7.4 Micropolitan Statistical Areas
8 Education
8.1 Colleges and universities
9 Professional sports teams
10 Miscellaneous topics
10.1 State symbols
10.2 Film
10.3 Music
10.3.1 Appalachian Music
10.3.2 Classical Music
10.3.3 Musical Innovation
11 Notes
11.1 Further reading
11.2 Primary sources
12 See also

Main article: Geography of West Virginia
See also: List of counties in West Virginia and List of West Virginia county seats

Shaded relief map of Cumberland Plateau and Ridge and Valley AppalachiansWest Virginia is bordered by Pennsylvania to the north; by Ohio to the north and west; by Kentucky to the west; by Maryland to the north and east; and by Virginia to the east and south. The Ohio and Potomac rivers form parts of the boundaries.

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.

The summit of Spruce Knob is often covered in clouds.On the southeastern state line with Virginia, high peaks in the Monongahela National Forest region give rise to an island of colder climate and ecosystems similar to those of northern New England and eastern Canada. The highest point in the state is atop Spruce Knob, which at 4,863 feet (1,482 m) is covered in a boreal forest of dense spruce trees at altitudes above 4,000 feet (1,220 m). Spruce Knob lies within the Monongahela National Forest and is a part of the Spruce Knob-Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area. [2] A total of six wilderness areas can also be found within the forest. Outside the forest to the south, the New River Gorge is a 1,000 foot (304 m) deep canyon carved by the New River. The National Park Service manages a portion of the gorge and river which has been designated as the New River Gorge National River, one of only 15 rivers in the U.S. with this level of protection.

Other areas under protection and management include:

Appalachian National Scenic Trail
Bluestone National Scenic River
Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park on the Potomac River
Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network
Gauley River National Recreation Area near Summersville
Harpers Ferry National Historical Park
The native vegetation for most of the state was originally mixed hardwood forest of oak, chestnut, maple, beech, and white pine, with willow and American sycamore along the state's waterways. Many of the areas are rich in biodiversity and scenic beauty, a fact that is appreciated by native West Virginians, who refer to their home as Almost Heaven. Ecologically, most of West Virginia falls into the Appalachian mixed mesophytic forests ecoregion.

The underlying rock strata are sandstones, shales, bituminous coal beds, and limestones laid down in a near shore environment from sediments derived from mountains to the east, in a shallow inland sea on the west. Some beds illustrate a coastal swamp environment, some river delta, some shallow water. Sea level rose and fell many times during the Mississippian and Pennsylvanian eras, giving a variety of rock strata. The Appalachian Mountains are some of the oldest on earth, having formed over 300 million years ago.

Main article: History of West Virginia
The area now known as West Virginia was a favorite hunting ground of numerous Native American peoples before the arrival of European settlers. Many ancient man-made earthen mounds from various mound builder cultures survive, especially in the areas of Moundsville, South Charleston, and Romney. Although little is known about these civilizations, the artifacts uncovered give evidence of a complex, stratified culture that practiced metallurgy.

European exploration and settlement

Thomas Lee, the first manager of the Ohio Company of VirginiaIn 1671, General Abram Wood, at the direction of Royal Governor William Berkeley of the Virginia Colony, sent a party which discovered Kanawha Falls. In 1716, Governor Alexander Spotswood with about thirty Pharmacymen made an excursion into what is now Pendleton County. John Van Metre, an Indian trader, penetrated into the northern portion in 1725. The same year, German settlers from Pennsylvania founded New Mecklenburg, the present Shepherdstown, on the Potomac River, and others followed.

King Charles II of England, in 1661, granted to a company of gentlemen the land between the Potomac and Rappahannock rivers, known as the Northern Neck. The grant finally came into the possession of Thomas Fairfax, 6th Lord Fairfax of Cameron, and in 1746, a stone was erected at the source of the North Branch Potomac River to mark the western limit of the grant. A considerable part of this land was surveyed by George Washington between 1748 and 1751. The diary kept by the surveyor indicates that there were already many squatters, largely of German origin, along the South Branch Potomac River. Christopher Gist, a surveyor in the employ of the first Ohio Company, which was composed chiefly of Virginians, explored the country along the Ohio River north of the mouth of the Kanawha River between 1751 and 1752. The company sought to have a fourteenth colony established with the name Vandalia. Many settlers crossed the mountains after 1750, though they were hindered by Native American depredations. Presumably, few Native Americans lived within the present limits of the state, but the region was a common hunting ground, crossed also by many war trails. During the French and Indian War the scattered settlements were almost destroyed.

In 1774, the Crown Governor of Virginia John Murray, 4th Earl of Dunmore, led a force over the mountains, and a body of militia under General Andrew Lewis dealt the Shawnee Indians, under Cornstalk, a crushing blow during the Battle of Point Pleasant at the junction of the Kanawha and the Ohio rivers. Native American attacks continued until after the American Revolutionary War. During the war, the settlers in Western Virginia were generally active Whigs and many served in the Continental Army.

Trans-Allegheny Virginia, 1776-1861
For more details on this topic, see Virginia.
Social conditions in western Virginia were entirely unlike those in the eastern portion of the state. The population was not homogeneous, as a considerable part of the immigration came by way of Pennsylvania and included Germans, Protestant Ulster-Scots, and settlers from the farther north. During the American Revolution, the movement to create a state beyond the Alleghanies was revived and a petition for the establishment of "Westsylvania" was presented to Congress, on the grounds that the mountains made an almost impassable barrier on the east. The rugged nature of the country made slavery unprofitable, and time only increased the social, political and economic differences between the two sections of Virginia.

The convention which met in 1829 to form a new constitution for Virginia, against the protest of the counties beyond the mountains, required a property qualification for suffrage and gave the slave-holding counties the benefit of three-fifths of their slave population in apportioning the state's representation in the U.S. House of Representatives. As a result, every county beyond the Alleghenies except one voted to reject the constitution, which nevertheless passed because of eastern support. Though the Virginia constitution of 1850 provided for white male suffrage, the distribution of representation among the counties continued to give control to the section east of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Another grievance of the west was the large expenditure for internal improvements at state expense by the Virginia Board of Public Works in the East compared with the scanty proportion allotted to the West.

Separation from Virginia
See also: West Virginia in the Civil War

John S. Carlile, a leader during the First Wheeling ConventionIn 1861, only nine of the forty-six delegates from the area located in present state of West Virginia voted to secede. Almost immediately after the vote to proceed with secession prevailed in the Virginia General Assembly, a mass meeting at Clarksburg recommended that each county in northwestern Virginia send delegates to a convention to meet in Wheeling on May 13, 1861. When this First Wheeling Convention met, 425 delegates from 25 counties were present, but soon there was a division of sentiment. Some delegates favored the immediate formation of a new state, while others argued that, as Virginia's secession had not yet been passed by the required referendum, such action would constitute revolution against the United .[1] It was decided that if the ordinance was adopted (of which there was little doubt), another convention including the members-elect of the legislature should meet at Wheeling in June. At the election on May 23, 1861, secession was ratified by a large majority in the state as a whole, but in the western counties 40,000 votes out of 44,000 were cast against it. Thus, the Restored Government of Virginia was formed with its capital in Wheeling.

The Second Wheeling Convention met as agreed on June 11 and declared that, since the Secession Convention had been called without the consent of the people, all its acts were void, and that all who adhered to it had vacated their offices. An act for the reorganization of the government was passed on June 19. The next day Francis H. Pierpont was chosen governor of Virginia, other officers were elected and the convention adjourned. The legislature, composed of the members from the western counties who had been elected on May 23 and some of the holdover senators who had been elected in 1859, met at Wheeling on July 1, filled the remainder of the state offices, organized a state government and elected two United senators who were recognized at Washington, D.C. At that point, therefore, there were two state governments in Virginia, one pledging allegiance to the United and one to the Confederacy.

The Wheeling Convention, which had taken a recess until August 6, then reassembled on August 20, and called for a popular vote on the formation of a new state and for a convention to frame a constitution if the vote should be favorable. At the election on October 24, 1861, 18,489 votes were cast for the new state and only 781 against. The convention began on November 26, 1861, and finished its work on February 18, 1862, and the instrument was ratified (18,162 for and 514 against) on April 11, 1862.

Harpers Ferry (as it appears today) changed hands a dozen times during the American Civil War.On May 13, the state legislature of the reorganized government approved the formation of the new state. An application for admission to the Union was made to Congress, and on December 31 1862, an enabling act was approved by President Abraham Lincoln admitting West Virginia, on the condition that a provision for the gradual abolition of slavery be inserted in the Constitution. The Convention was reconvened on February 12, 1863, and the demand was met. The revised constitution was adopted on March 26 1863, and on April 20, 1863, President Lincoln issued a proclamation admitting the state at the end of sixty days (June 20, 1863). Meanwhile officers for the new state were chosen and Governor Pierpont moved his capital to Alexandria where he asserted jurisdiction over the counties of Virginia within the Federal lines.

The question of the constitutionality of the formation of the new state was brought before the Supreme Court of the United in the following manner: Berkeley and Jefferson counties lying on the Potomac east of the mountains, in 1863, with the consent of the reorganized government of Virginia voted in favor of annexation to West Virginia. Many voters absent in the Confederate Army when the vote was taken refused to acknowledge the transfer upon their return. The Virginia General Assembly repealed the act of secession and in 1866 brought suit against West Virginia asking the court to declare the counties a part of Virginia. Meanwhile, Congress, on March 10, 1866, passed a joint resolution recognizing the transfer. The Supreme Court, in 1871, decided in favor of West Virginia.

During the American Civil War, West Virginia suffered comparatively little. George B. McClellan's forces gained possession of the greater part of the territory in the summer of 1861, and Union control was never seriously threatened, in spite of the attempt by Robert E. Lee in the same year. In 1863, General John D. Imboden, with 5,000 Confederates, overran a considerable portion of the state. Bands of guerrillas burned and plundered in some sections, and were not entirely suppressed until after the war ended.

First Confederate Memorial, Romney.The area which became West Virginia furnished about 36,000 soldiers to the Federal armies and somewhat less than 10,000 to the Confederate. The absence in the army of the Confederate sympathizers helps to explain the small vote against the formation of the new state. During the war and for years afterwards partisan feelings ran high. The property of Confederates might be confiscated, and in 1866 a constitutional amendment disfranchising all who had given aid and comfort to the Confederacy was adopted. The addition of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the United Constitution caused a reaction, the Democratic party secured control in 1870, and in 1871, the constitutional amendment of 1866 was abrogated. The first steps toward this change had been taken, however, by the Republicans in 1870. On August 22, 1872, an entirely new constitution was adopted.

Beginning in Reconstruction, and for several decades thereafter, the two disputed the new state's share of the pre-war Virginia government's debt, which had mostly been incurred to finance public infrastructure improvements, such as canals, roads, and railroads under the Virginia Board of Public Works. Virginians, led by former Confederate General William Mahone, formed a political coalition which was based upon this theory, the Readjuster Party. Although West Virginia's first constitution provided for the assumption of a part of the Virginia debt, negotiations opened by Virginia in 1870 were fruitless, and in 1871, that state funded two-thirds of the debt and arbitrarily assigned the remainder to West Virginia. The issue was finally settled in 1915, when the United Supreme Court ruled that West Virginia owed Virginia $12,393,929.50. The final installment of this sum was paid off in 1939.

Hidden resources
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The new state benefited from development of its mineral resources more than any other single economic activity after Reconstruction. Salt mining had been underway since the 18th century, though it had largely played out by the time of the American Civil War, when the red salt of Kanawha County was a valued commodity of first Confederate, and later Union forces. There was a greater treasure not yet developed, however, that would fuel much of the Industrial Revolution in the U.S. and the steamships of many of the world's navies.

The residents (both Native Americans and early European settlers) had long-known of the underlying coal, and that it could be used for heating and fuel. However, very small "personal" mines were the only practical development. After the War, with the new railroads came a practical method to transport large quantities of coal to expanding U.S. and export markets. As the anthracite mines of northwestern New Jersey and Pennsylvania began to play out during this same time period, investors and industrialists focused new interest in West Virginia. Geologists such as Dr. David T. Ansted surveyed potential coal fields and invested in land and early mining projects.

The completion of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway (C&O) across the state to the new city of Huntington on the Ohio River in 1872 opened access to the New River Coal Field. Soon, the C&O was building its huge coal pier at Newport News, Virginia on the large harbor of Hampton Roads. In 1881, the new Philadelphia-based owners of the former Atlantic, Mississippi and Ohio Railroad (AM&O) which stretched across Virginia's southern tier from Norfolk, had sights clearly set on the Mountain State, where the owners had large land holdings. Their railroad was renamed Norfolk and Western (N&W), and a new railroad city was developed at Roanoke to handle planned expansion. After its new president Frederick J. Kimball and a small party journeyed by Pharmacyback and saw firsthand the rich bituminous coal seam which his wife named "Pocahontas", the N&W redirected its planned westward expansion to reach it. Soon, the N&W was also shipping from new coal piers at Hampton Roads.

In the northern portion of the state and elsewhere, the older Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (B&O) and other lines also expanded to take advantage of coal opportunities as well. By 1900, only a large area of the most rugged terrain of southern West Virginia was any distance from the existing railroads and mining activity.

Beginning in 1898, Dr. Ansted's protégé William Nelson Page, a civil engineer and mining manager in Fayette County, teamed with investors to take advantage of the undeveloped area. They acquired large tracts of land in the area, and Page began the Deepwater Railway, a short-line railroad which was chartered to stretch between the C&O at its line along the Kanawha River and the N&W at Matoaka, a distance of about 80 miles (130 km). Although the Deepwater plan should have provided a competitive shipping market via either railroad, leaders of the two large railroads did not appreciate the scheme. In secret collusion, each declined to negotiate favorable rates with Page, and they did not offer to purchase his railroad since they had many other short-lines. However, if the C&O and N&W presidents thought they could thus eliminate the Page project, they were to be proved mistaken.

One of the silent partner investors Page had enlisted was millionaire industrialist Henry Huttleston Rogers, a principal in John D. Rockefeller's Standard Oil Trust and an old hand at competitive "warfare" with deep pockets. Instead of giving up, Page (and Rogers) quietly planned and then built their tracks all the way east to across Virginia, using Rogers' private fortune to finance the $40 million cost. When the renamed Virginian Railway was completed in 1909, three major railroads were shipping ever-increasing volumes of coal to export from Hampton Roads. West Virginia coal was also under high demand at Great Lakes ports as well.

As coal mining and related work became a major employment activities in the state, there was considerable labor strife as working conditions, safety issues, and economic concerns arose. Even in the 21st century, mining safety and ecological concerns were challenging to the state whose coal continued to power electrical generating plants in many other .

Coal is not the only valuable mineral found in West Virginia, as the state was the site of the 1928 discovery of the 34.48 carat (6.896 g) Jones Diamond.

Historical populations
of West Virginia Year Population
1790 55,873
1800 78,592
1810 105,469
1820 136,808
1830 176,924
1840 224,537
1850 302,313
1860 376,688
1870 442,014
1880 618,457
1890 762,794
Year Population
1900 958,800
1910 1,221,119
1920 1,463,701
1930 1,729,205
1940 1,901,974
1950 2,005,552
1960 1,860,421
1970 1,744,237
1980 1,949,644
1990 1,793,477
2000 1,808,344

West Virginia Population Density MapAs of 2005, West Virginia has an estimated population of 1,816,856, which is an increase of 4,308, or 0.2%, from the prior year and an increase of 8,506, or 0.5%, since the year 2000. This includes a natural decrease since the last census of 3,296 people (that is 108,292 births minus 111,588 deaths) and an increase from net migration of 14,209 people into the state. Immigration from outside the United resulted in a net increase of 3,691 people, and migration within the country produced a net increase of 10,518 people.

Demographics of West Virginia (csv)
By race White Black AIAN Asian NHPI
AIAN is American Indian or Alaskan Native - NHPI is Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
2000 (total population) 96.01% 3.49% 0.59% 0.66% 0.05%
2000 (hispanic only) 0.63% 0.04% 0.02% 0.01% 0.01%
2005 (total population) 95.99% 3.56% 0.56% 0.69% 0.05%
2005 (hispanic only) 0.80% 0.04% 0.02% 0.01% 0.01%
Growth 2000-2005 (total population) 0.46% 2.49% -3.96% 5.57% -2.80%
Growth 2000-2005 (non-hispanic only) 0.28% 2.30% -4.24% 5.96% -0.52%
Growth 2000-2005 (hispanic only) 27.74% 21.51% 5.56% -20.22% -16.67%

Only 1.1% of the state's residents were foreign-born, placing West Virginia last among the 50 in that statistic. It has the lowest percentage of residents that speak a language other than English in the home (2.7%).

The five largest ancestry groups in West Virginia are: American (23.2%), German (17.2%), Irish (13.5%), English (12%), Italian (4.8%).

Many West Virginians identify their ancestry as "American." It is the largest reported ancestry in most counties in the state, and the state has the highest percentage of residents of "American ancestry" in the nation. This choice often corresponds to Scots-Irish American heritage.

Large numbers of people of German ancestry are present in the northeastern counties of the state.

5.6% of West Virginia's population were reported as under 5, 22.3% under 18, and 15.3% were 65 or older. Females made up approximately 51.4% of the population.

Main article: Economy of West Virginia
The economy of West Virginia is one of the most fragile of any U.S. state. According to U.S. Census Bureau data, West Virginia is the third lowest in per capita income [3], ahead of only Arkansas and Mississippi. It also ranks last in median household income.[4] The proportion of West Virginia's adult population with a bachelor's degree is the lowest in the U.S. at 15.3%.[5]

One of the major resources in West Virginia's economy is coal. West Virginia also engaged in oil drilling, but currently only has a few small to medium sized oil and natural gas fields. Farming is also practiced in West Virginia, but on a limited basis because of the mountainous terrain over much of the state.

Bituminous coal seam in southwestern West VirginiaWest Virginia personal income tax is based on federal adjusted gross income (not taxable income), as modified by specific items in West Virginia law. Citizens are taxed within 5 income brackets, which range from 3.0% to 6.5%. Although the state's consumers' sales tax is levied at 6 cents for $1, 12 cents for $2, 18 cents for $3, and so on, this tax is not a flat 6% applied against the purchase price. Rather, the consumer sales tax is computed on a bracket system.

West Virginia counties administer and collect property taxes, although property tax rates reflect levies for state government, county governments, county boards of education and municipalities. Counties may also impose a hotel occupancy tax on lodging places not located within the city limits of any municipality that levies such a tax. Municipalities may levy license and gross receipts taxes on businesses located within the city limits and a hotel occupancy tax on lodging places in the city. Although the Department of Tax and Revenue plays a major role in the administration of this tax, less than one-half of one percent of the property tax collected goes to state government. The primary beneficiaries of the property tax are county boards of education. Property taxes are paid to the sheriff of each of the state's 55 counties. Each county and municipality can impose its own rates of property taxation within the limits set by the West Virginia Constitution. The West Virginia legislature sets the rate of tax of county boards of education. This rate is used by all county boards of education statewide. However, the total tax rate for county boards of education may differ from county to county because of excess levies. The Department of Tax and Revenue supervises and otherwise assists counties and municipalities in their work of assessment and tax rate determination. The total tax rate is a combination of the tax levies from four state taxing authorities: state, county, schools, and municipal. This total tax rate varies for each of the four classes of property, which consists of personal, real, and intangible properties. Property is assessed according to its use, location, and value as of July 1. All property is reappraised every three years; annual adjustments are made to assessments for property with a change of value. West Virginia does not impose an inheritance tax. Because of the phase-out of the federal estate tax credit, West Virginia's estate tax is not imposed on e of persons who died in 2005.


New River Gorge BridgeMain article: Transportation in West Virginia
Highways form the backbone of transportation systems in West Virginia, with over 37,300 miles of public roads in the state.[2] Airports, railroads, and rivers complete the commercial transportation modes for West Virginia. Commercial air travel is facilitated by airports in Charleston, Huntington, Beckley, Lewisburg, Clarksburg, Martinsburg, Morgantown, Wheeling and Parkersburg. Cities like Charleston, Huntington, Clarksburg, Fairmont and Logan have bus-based public transit systems. Charleston also has a limited number of trolley cars that run primarily through the downtown area. West Virginia University in Morgantown boasts a PRT (personal rapid transit) system, the state's only single rail public transit system. Developed by Boeing, the WVU School of Engineering and the Department of Transportation, it was a model for low-capacity light transport designed for smaller cities. Recreational transportation opportunities abound in West Virginia, including hiking trails,[3] rail trails,[4] ATV off road trails,[5] white water rafting rivers,[6] and two tourist railroads (Cass Scenic RR,[7] and the Potomac Eagle.[8]

West Virginia is crossed by several interstate highways. I-64 enters the state near White Sulphur Springs in the mountainous east, and exits for Kentucky in the west, near Huntington. I-77 enters from Virginia in the south, near Bluefield. It runs north past Parkersburg before it crosses into Ohio. I-64 and I-77 are merged in a stretch of toll road known as the West Virginia Turnpike, on which construction began in 1952. It runs from just east of Charleston south to the exit for Princeton. I-68's western terminus is in Morgantown. From there it runs east into Maryland. I-79 enters from Pennsylvania and runs through the state to its southern terminus in Charleston. I-70 briefly runs through West Virginia, crossing the northern panhandle through Wheeling. I-81 also briefly runs through the eastern panhandle where it goes through Martinsburg.

Rail lines in the state used to be more prevalent, but many lines have been discontinued because of increased automobile traffic. Many old tracks have been converted to rail trails for recreational use, and the state is still served by a few commercial lines for hauling coal and by Amtrak.

Because of the mountainous nature of the entire state, West Virginia has several notable tunnels and bridges. The most famous of these is the New River Gorge Bridge, which was at a time the longest steel-arch bridge in the world with a 3,031 foot (924 m) span. The bridge is also pictured on the West Virginia state quarter.

Law and government
Main article: Law and government of West Virginia
West Virginia's capital and seat of government is the city of Charleston, located in the southwest area of the state.

Legislative Branch
Further information: West Virginia Legislature
The West Virginia Legislature is bicameral, consisting of the House of Delegates and the Senate. It is a citizen's legislature, meaning that legislative office is not a full-time occupation, but rather a part-time position. Consequently, the legislators often hold a full-time job in their community of residence.

Typically, the legislature is in session for 60 days between January and early April. The final day of the regular session ends in a bewildering fury of last-minute legislation in order to meet a constitutionally imposed deadline of midnight. During the remainder of the year, legislators gather periodically for 'special' sessions when called by the governor.

Executive Branch

Joe Manchin was inaugurated as governor in 2005.Further information: List of Governors of West Virginia
The governor is elected every four years, on the same day as the U.S. President, sworn in during January. The current governor, inaugurated in 2005, is Democrat Joe Manchin who was elected in 2004 in a landslide.

Judicial Branch
Further information: Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia
West Virginia is one of twelve that does not have a death penalty.

For the purpose of courts of general jurisdiction, the state is divided into 31 judicial circuits. Each circuit is made up of one or more counties. Circuit judges are elected in partisan elections to serve eight-year terms.

West Virginia’s highest court is the Supreme Court of Appeals. The Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia is the busiest appellate court of its type in the United . West Virginia is one of 11 with a single appellate court. The state constitution allows for the creation of an intermediate court of appeals, but the Legislature has never created one. The Supreme Court is made up of five justices, elected in partisan elections to 12-year terms.

West Virginia is an alcoholic beverage control state. However, unlike most such , it does not operate retail outlets, having exited that business in 1990. It retains a monopoly on wholesaling of distilled spirits only.


The West Virginia State CapitolMain article: Politics of West Virginia
West Virginia's politics are largely dominated by the Democratic Party, Democrats dominate most local and state offices. West Virginia also has a very strong tradition of union membership. While the state continued its Democratic tradition by supporting Bill Clinton by large margins in 1992 and 1996, a majority of West Virginia voters supported George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004. Bush easily won the state's five electoral votes in 2004 by a margin of 13 percentage points with 56.1% of the vote.

The most consistent support for Democrats is found in the coal fields of southern West Virginia (especially McDowell, Mingo, Logan, Wyoming, and Boone Counties), while Republicans are most numerous to the east of the Allegheny Mountains, especially in the state's Eastern Panhandle and Potomac Highlands.

Important cities and towns
See also: List of cities in West Virginia, List of towns in West Virginia, List of villages in West Virginia, List of census-designated places in West Virginia

Charleston is West Virginia's most populous city[edit]
Large cities (+ 10,000 population)
Charleston, 53,421 (2005 estimate: 51,176)
Huntington, 51,475 (2005 estimate: 49,198)
Parkersburg, 33,099 (2005 estimate: 32,020)
Wheeling, 31,419 (2005 estimate: 29,639)
Morgantown, 26,809 (2005 estimate: 28,292)
Weirton, 20,411 (2005 estimate: 19,544)
Fairmont, 19,097 (2005 estimate: 19,049)
Beckley, 17,254 (2005 estimate: 16,936)
Clarksburg, 16,743 (2005 estimate: 16,439)
Martinsburg, 14,972 (2005 estimate: 15,996)
South Charleston, 13,390 (2005 estimate: 12,700)
Teays Valley, 12,704 (2005 estimate: N/A)
St. Albans, 11,567 (2005 estimate: 11,105)
Bluefield, 11,451 (2005 estimate: 11,119)
Vienna, 10,861 (2005 estimate: 10,770)
Cross Lanes, 10,353 (2005 estimate: N/A)

Towns and small cities
Berkeley Springs
Charles Town
Harpers Ferry
New Martinsville
Oak Hill
Paden City
Pleasant Valley
Point Pleasant
White Sulphur Springs

Metropolitan Statistical Areas
Charleston, WV MSA
Cumberland, MD-WV MSA
Hagerstown-Martinsburg, MD-WV MSA
Huntington-Ashland, WV-KY-OH MSA
Morgantown, WV MSA
Parkersburg-Marietta-Vienna, WV-OH MSA
Pittsburgh, PA-WV MSA
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV MSA
Weirton-Steubenville, WV-OH MSA
Wheeling, WV-OH MSA
Winchester, VA-WV MSA

Micropolitan Statistical Areas
Beckley, WV Micropolitan Statistical Area (MSA)
Bluefield, WV-VA MSA
Clarksburg, WV MSA
Fairmont, WV MSA
Oak Hill, WV MSA
Point Pleasant, WV-OH MSA

Main article: Education in West Virginia
Colleges and universities
Further information: List of colleges and universities in West Virginia
Alderson-Broaddus College
Appalachian Bible College
Bethany College
Bluefield State College
Concord University
Davis and Elkins College
Fairmont State University
Glenville State College
Marshall University
Mountain State University
Ohio Valley University
Salem International University
Shepherd University
University of Charleston
West Liberty State College
West Virginia Northern Community College
West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine
West Virginia State University
West Virginia University
Potomac State College of West Virginia University
West Virginia University Institute of Technology
West Virginia University at Parkersburg
West Virginia Wesleyan College
Wheeling Jesuit University

Professional sports teams
Main article: Sports in West Virginia
Club Sport League
Bluefield Orioles Baseball Appalachian League
Princeton Devil Rays Baseball Appalachian League
West Virginia Power Baseball South Atlantic League
Wheeling Nailers Ice hockey ECHL
West Virginia Wild Basketball International Basketball League
Huntington Heroes Indoor football World Indoor Football League
Ohio Valley Greyhounds Indoor football United Indoor Football
West Virginia Chaos Soccer USL Premier Development League
Miscellaneous topics
The state has a rich, lush beauty reflecting its temperate topography. Tourist sites include the New River Gorge Bridge,[9] Harpers Ferry National Historical Park and many state parks. The Greenbrier hotel and resort, originally built in 1778, has long been considered a premier hotel frequented by numerous world leaders and U.S. Presidents over the years. West Virginia is also home to the Green Bank Telescope at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory.

State symbols
State colors Old Gold and Blue 1963
State motto Montani Semper Liberi ("Mountaineers Are Always Free") 1863
State nickname Mountain State, Panhandle State (unofficial)
State slogan Wild and Wonderful
State flower Rhododendron Rhododendron maximum 1903
State tree Sugar Maple Acer saccharum 1949
State fruit Golden Delicious Apple Malus domestica 1995
State bird Cardinal Richmondena cardinalis 1949
State animal Black Bear Ursus americanus 1973
State fish Brook Trout Salvelinus fontinalis 1973
State butterfly Monarch Butterfly Danaus plexippus 1995
State insect Honey Bee Apis mellifera 2002
State gem Silicified Mississippian Fossil Coral Lithostrotionella 1990
State soil Monongahela Silt Loam 1997
State songs "The West Virginia Hills"
"This Is My West Virginia"
"West Virginia, My Home Sweet Home"
"Country Roads"by John Denver (unofficial) 1963
See also: List of television shows and movies in West Virginia
Silent Hill (2006): adapted from the Konami video game series of the same name, this film is set in the fictional Toluca County, West Virginia.

We Are... Marshall (slated for 2006, currently in production): set at Marshall University in Huntington. Filmed in Huntington and Atlanta, Georgia.

Wrong Turn (2003): set in West Virginia, although the movie was filmed in Ontario, Canada.

Bubble (2005): set and filmed in Belpre, Ohio and Parkersburg.

The Mothman Prophecies (2002): set in Point Pleasant, but filmed in Pennsylvania.

October Sky (1999): set in Coalwood in McDowell County, but filmed in Tennessee.

Matewan (1987): set in Matewan, filmed in Thurmond and the New River Gorge.

Reckless (1984) film by James Foley, starring Aidan Quinn and Daryl Hannah, partially filmed in Weirton.

The Deer Hunter (1978): partially filmed in Weirton.

Fool's Parade (1971): set in 1930s West Virginia, filmed in Moundsville.

Holy Ghost People (1967): documentary on a congregation in Scrabble Creek, West Virginia. "Silence of the Lambs" 1987 Partly filmed in Wierton, WV

Main article: Music of West Virginia
Appalachian Music
West Virginia's folk heritage is a part of the Appalachian folk music tradition, and includes styles of fiddling, ballad singing, and other styles that draw on Scots-Irish music. Camp Washington-Carver, a Mountain Cultural Arts Center located at Clifftop in Fayette County, hosts an annual Appalachian String Band Festival [6]. The Capitol Complex in Charleston hosts The Vandalia Gathering, where traditional Appalachian musicians compete in contests and play in impromptu jam sessions and evening concerts over the course of the weekend [7].

Classical Music
The West Virginia Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1939, as the Charleston Civic Orchestra, before becoming the Charleston Symphony Orchestra in 1943. The first conductor was William R. Wiant, followed by the prominent conductor Antonio Modarelli, who was written about in the November 7, 1949 Time Magazine for his composition of the River Saga, a six-section program piece about the Kanawhah River according to the Charleston Gazette's November 6, 1999 photo essay, "Snapshots of the 20th Century".[8]. Prior to coming to Charleston, Modarelli had conducted the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra and the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra, according to the orchestra's website. [9]

Musical Innovation
The West Virginia Cultural Center in Charleston[10] is home to the West Virginia Division of Culture and History[11] which helps underwrite and coordinate a large number of musical activities. The Center is also home to Mountain Stage, the internationally broadcast live-performance music radio program established in 1983.[12] The program also travels to other venues in the state such as the West Virginia Creative Arts Center in Morgantown.[13]

The Center hosts concerts sponsored by the Friends of Old Time Music and Dance, which brings an assortment of acoustic roots music to West Virginians.[14] The Center also hosts the West Virginia Dance Festival, which features classical and modern dance.[15]

The town of Glenville has long been home to the annual West Virginia State Folk Festival. [10]

The Mountaineer Opera House in Milton hosts a variety of musical acts.

^ The United Constitution provides that no state may be divided without its consent.
^ West Virginia Department of Transportation, accessed 9 June 2006
^ de Hart, A, and Sundquist, B., Monongahela National forest Hiking Guide, West Virginia Highlands Conservancy, Charleston, WV 1993.
^ West Virginia Rails-to-Trails Council, accessed 9 June 9, 2006
^ Hatfield and McCoys Trail web site, accessed 6 June 2006
^ WV White Water web site, access 6 June 2006
^ Cass Scenic Railroad web site, accessed 6 June 9, 2006
^ Potomac Eagle Scenic Railroad, accessed 6 June 2006
^ The New River Gorge Bridge is one of just two U.S. sites which have granted explicit permission for BASE jumping. This occurs each year on the third Saturday in October, known as "Bridge Day". Bridge Day website, accessed January 17, 2006.
^ West Virginia Cultural Center accessed January 19, 2006.
^ West Virginia Division of Culture and History accessed January 19, 2006
^ In 2001, Mountain Stage debuted a television show featuring many of the radio program's guests. Mountain Stage, accessed January 20, 2006.
^ Greater Morgantown Convention & Visitors Bureau, accessed January 20, 2006.
^ A list of events can be found on the FOOTMAD website [1].
^ West Virginia Dance Festival, accessed January 20, 2006.
Further reading
Charles H. Ambler, A History of Education in West Virginia From Early Colonial Times to 1949 (1951)
Charles H. Ambler and Festus P. Summers. West Virginia, the Mountain State (1958)
Jane S. Becker, Inventing Tradition: Appalachia and the Construction of an American Folk, 1930-1940 1998.
Richard A. Brisbin, et al. West Virginia Politics and Government (1996)
James Morton Callahan, History of West Virginia (1923) 3 vol
John C. Campbell, The Southern Highlander and His Homeland (1921)reissued 1969.
Richard Orr Curry, A House Divided: A Study of Statehood Politics and Copperhead Movement in West Virginia (1964)
Donald Edward Davis. Where There Are Mountains: An Environmental History of the Southern Appalachians 2000.
Ronald D, Eller. Miners, Millhands, and Mountaineers: Industrialization of the Appalachian South, 1880–1930 1982.
Carl E. Feather, Mountain People in a Flat Land: A Popular History of Appalachian Migration to Northeast Ohio, 1940–1965. Athens: Ohio University Press, 1998.
Thomas R. Ford ed. The Southern Appalachian Region: A Survey. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1967.
Horace Kephart, Our Southern Highlanders. Rev. ed. New York: Macmillan, 1922. Reprinted as Our Southern Highlanders: A Narrative of Adventure in the Southern Appalachians and a Study of Life among the Mountaineers . With an Introduction by George Ellison. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1976.
Gerald Milnes, Play of a Fiddle: Traditional Music, Dance, and Folklore in West Virginia. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1999.
Otis K. Rice, The Allegheny Frontier: West Virginia Beginnings, 1730-1830 (1970),
Otis K. Rice and Stephen W. Brown, West Virginia: A History, 2d ed. ( Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1993), standard
Curtis Seltzer, Fire in the Hole: Miners and Managers in the American Coal Industry (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1985), conflict in the coal industry to the 1980s.
Joe William Trotter Jr., Coal, Class, and Color: Blacks in Southern West Virginia, 1915-32 (1990)
John Alexander Williams, West Virginia: A History for Beginners. 2nd ed. Charleston, W.Va.: Appalachian Editions, 1997.
John Alexander Williams. West Virginia: A Bicentennial History (1976)
John Alexander Williams. West Virginia and the Captains of Industry 1976.
John Alexander Williams. Appalachia: A History (2002)
Primary sources
Elizabeth Cometti, and Festus P. Summers. The Thirty-fifth State: A Documentary History of West Virginia. Morgantown: West Virginia University Library, 1966.
This article incorporates text from the Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain.
See also
West Virginia State Highways
List of West Virginia wildlife management areas
List of West Virginia state parks
List of West Virginia state forests
List of newspapers in West Virginia
List of Registered Historic Places in West Virginia
List of television stations in West Virginia
List of radio stations in West Virginia
Lost counties, cities, and towns of Virginia
Scouting in West Virginia
List of people from West Virginia
List of high schools in West Virginia

West Virginia

State of West Virginia Government
West Virginia Legislature Homepage
Governor Joe Manchin III's Homepage
Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia Homepage
Constitution of West Virginia
West Virginia Code
Pictures of WV


State of West Virginia
Topics Cities | Towns | Villages | Census-designated places | Governors | Colleges and universities

Capital Charleston

Regions Allegheny Mountains | Allegheny Plateau | Baltimore-Washington Metropolitan Area | Charleston Metropolitan Area | Cumberland Plateau | Eastern Panhandle | North-Central West Virginia | Northern Panhandle | Potomac Highlands | Ridge-and-valley Appalachians | Southern West Virginia

cities Charleston | Huntington | Parkersburg | Wheeling | Morgantown

cities Beckley | Bluefield | Clarksburg | Cross Lanes | Fairmont | Martinsburg | Saint Albans | South Charleston | Teays Valley | Vienna | Weirton

Counties Barbour | Berkeley | Boone | Braxton | Brooke | Cabell | Calhoun | Clay | Doddridge | Fayette | Gilmer | Grant | Greenbrier | Hampshire | Hancock | Hardy | Harrison | Jackson | Jefferson | Kanawha | Lewis | Lincoln | Logan | Marion | Marshall | Mason | McDowell | Mercer | Mineral | Mingo | Monongalia | Monroe | Morgan | Nicholas | Ohio | Pendleton | Pleasants | Pocahontas | Preston | Putnam | Raleigh | Randolph | Ritchie | Roane | Summers | Taylor | Tucker | Tyler | Upshur | Wayne | Webster | Wetzel | Wirt | Wood | Wyoming