West Virginia, The Mountain State

West Virginia, The Mountain State

by Sandra Merville Hart

West Virginia’s nickname is the Mountain State for all its beautiful, mountains.

West Virginians voted against seceding from the Union when the Civil War started in 1861. Virginia seceded. Citizens in the western part of the state decided to part with Virginia.

On December 3, 1861, delegates from the western side met at a constitutional convention and agreed to remain with the Union. They argued over their new state’s name. Should it be Allegheny, Kanawha, or West Virginia?

They decided on West Virginia.

The early history of West Virginia

People living in the eastern portion of Virginia tended to be wealthier. Many owned plantations where slaves worked.

Folks in the western side lived in the mountains with mostly small farms. Some owned slaves but not as many as the eastern part of the state so when Virginia seceded, West Virginians set up a separate government in Wheeling.

West Virginia becomes a state

While the Civil War is still going on, West Virginia becomes the 35th state on June 20, 1863.

Railroads built

train-1728537_960_720In the late 1800s, railroads were built in the state that boosted West Virginia’s industries.

Logging towns sprang up with the demand for wood. Cass, a logging town founded in 1900, was built by the West Virginia Pulp & Paper Company. About 2,500 – 3,000 worked there during the peak of its milling operation. Though the business was sold in 1943, it operated until 1960.

Cass Scenic Railroad State Park

When folks feared the town would die, Russel Baum believed that tourists would come to ride the Shay engines running over old logging tracks. Cass Scenic Railroad State Park is the result of his and other businessmen’s planning.

Ride a logging train pulled by a century-old Shay engine at Cass, West Virginia. Two daily trains depart from the Cass Depot up the mountain to locations of old logging camps.

Free rural postal delivery

Free mail delivery to rural areas was introduced by Postmaster General William Wilson on October 1, 1896. They started delivering to folks in Charles Town. It then spread throughout the United States.

Other fun facts about West Virginia

Head to Clay County for the annual Golden Delicious Festival in the fall and enjoy apples grown in the state.

In 1908, the first Mother’s Day was celebrated in Grafton.

John Denver’s song “Take Me Home, Country Roads” calls West Virginia “Almost Heaven.” It has been adopted as the state’s song.

The state capital is Charleston.

The state bird is the northern cardinal.

The state flower is the rhododendron.



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Cheney, Lynne. Our 50 States: A Family Adventure Across America, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2006.

Davis, Kenneth C. Don’t Know Much About The 50 States, HarperCollins Publishers, 2001.

Fast Facts About the 50 States. Children’s Press, 2010.

Keenan, Sheila. Greetings from the 50 States, Scholastic Inc., 2008.


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