US States/West Virginia

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The learning goals of this page are to familiarize the reader with the state of West Virginia by studying the states symbols,topography,key historical points, culture and people and biodiversity.


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West Virginia is the only state in the nation that resides completely within the Appalachian Mountain range. This is the reason WV is called the Mountain state. During the Civil War, the majority of Virginians voted to secede from the Union to join the Confederacy, but support for the North was great enough in the Western counties that on June 20, 1863, West Virginia became officially recognised as a separate state by the United States, and proceded to take up arms against Virginia. As a result, several key battles and events took place in WV during the civil war. Droop Mountain was the site of a bloody battle, and is now protected as a State Park. Guyandotte WV also was a site of historical signifigance when the town changed hands several times and was eventually burned during the Civil War. Of course possibly most famous is the location of Harper's Ferry where abolitionist John Brown protested slavery and was perhaps a key figure in starting the Civil War.

West Virginia's motto is Montani Semper Liberi or Mountaineers are always free. The state symbols are as follows; bird;cardinal,fish;Brown Trout,Tree;Sugar Maple, Animal;Black Bear, flower; Rhodadendron,Insect; European Honeybee.

The capitol city is Charleston, it is also the largest metropolitan area in the state. Other major cities are Huntington,and Wheeling.

The main economic resources come from coal. Other major industries in the state are manufacturing and travel and tourisim. W.V has a long history of logging and coal mining that has defined the state and involved the state in several serious disputes. Matewan, WV, a coal mining town, was the location of a long labor struggle and resulted in a bloody dispute between miners and management. Eventually the miners won the right to organize and as a result labor unions were developed to help protect the employees from unlawful and unsafe working conditions. Later a Hollywood movie called Matewan was filmed documenting the events.

West Virginia has found itself in front of Hollywood cameras on more than one occasion. Not only the movie Matewan, but also October Sky a movie about Homer Hickman,a Nasa scientist, was set in WV. Also most recently the movie "We are Marshall" was filmed in Huntington. The movie documented the Marshall University college football team the year after a horrible plane crash claimed the lives of 75 of the athletes and alumni from the 1970 team. This remains the worst single air tragedy in NCAA history.

West Virginia is home to two major public universities. West Virginia University located in Morgantown, and Marshall University located in Huntington WV. Both schools have major athletics programs heavily relying on Basketball and Football. Within the state a huge rivalry exists between WVU and Marshall during football season. There are many private universities in WV also.

West Virginia maintains a long heritage of Appalachian heritage and culture. Music and Handicrafts continue to have an influence on the state. Tamarack near Beckeley is a modern craft center where art and handcrafts from artists all over the state are exhibited and offered for sale. Some of the traditional crafts you might find here include quilting, wood-working, painting, sculpture, and needlework.

Music has always rung through the hills in WV and continues to do so. There are many musical venues in the state, including Mountain stage, and The Milton Opery house, where traditional Appalachian music can be heard. There are also many unofficial local groups throughout the state that still play traditional "Old-Time" tunes, who keep the music alive in jam sessions and informal recitals, emerging at festivals to compete and share with the public. Popular Appalachian instruments include the guitar, mandolin, banjo, fiddle, auto harp, mountain or "lap" dulcimer, hammered dulcimer, and pennywhistle-- many of which are common to Irish music, also popular in groups around the state.

West Virginia is a beautiful,rugged state. Nearly completely mountainous,opportunities abound for outdoor adventure. Whitewater rafting,canoeing,camping,mountain biking,hiking,and fishing are major tourist activities in the state. State and National Parks are prevalent,and amenities vary from luxurious resorts to backcountry camping.

Some famous West Virginian's are: John Henry, steel driving man; Donn Knotts, actor; Mary Lou Retton, Olympic Gymnast; Chuck Yeager, pilot who broke sound barrier; Cynthia Rylant, children's author; Pearl Buck, author of _The Good Earth_; and Anna Jarvis, woman who lobbied for the creation of Mother's Day.

West Virginia is a beautiful state that has a long and unusual history that is worth exploring, and people who would love to tell you all about it!