West Virginia - Fast Facts & Trivia

View of the iconic New River Gorge Bridge from the overlook at the north end of the New River Gorge (facing southwards), near Fayetteville.

  • Organ Cave, near Ronceverte, is the third largest cave in the United States and the largest in the state.

  • A variety of yellow apple, the Golden Delicious, originated in Clay County. The original Grimes Golden Apple Tree was discovered in 1775 near Wellsburg.

  • West Virginia has an average elevation of 1,500 feet, making it the highest average altitude east of the Mississippi.

  • The first iron furnace west of the Alleghenies was built in 1794 by Peter Tarr at Kings Creek.

  • One of the world's first suspension bridges was completed in November 1849 in Wheeling.

  • The outdoor advertising originated in Wheeling around 1908, when the Block Brothers Tobacco Company painted bridges and barns bearing the inscription "Treat yourself to the best, chew mail pouch".

  • Moundsville is the site of the largest conical prehistoric burial mound on the continent. It is 69 feet high and 900 feet in circumference at the base and was opened on 19 March 1838.

  • The world's first electric train, built as a trading company, was built between Huntington and Guyandotte.

  • On September 10, 1938, Mingo Oak, the largest and oldest white oak in the United States, was declared dead and ceremonially felled.

  • Coal House, the only all-charcoal residence in the world, is located in White Sulfur Springs. The house was occupied on 1 June 1961.

  • The world's largest matchbox shipment (20 truckloads or 210,000,000 matches) was shipped on August 26, 1933 from Wheeling to Memphis, Tennessee.

  • Daniel Boone made his last survey of Charleston on September 8, 1798. He left the state in 1799.

  • William Tompkins used natural gas to vaporize brine in 1841, becoming the first person in the United States to use natural gas for industrial purposes.

  • The last public event in West Virginia took place in December 1897 in Jackson County.

  • The first glass factory in West Virginia was in Wellsburg in 1815. The first ceramics factory was in 1785 in Morgantown.

  • In May 1860, the first drill hole for the production of crude oil was drilled in Burning Springs.

  • Stone, which was mined near Hinton, was contributed by West Virginia to the Washington Monument and arrived in Washington in February 1885.

  • West Virginia University was founded on February 7, 1867 under the name "Agricultural College of West Virginia."

  • Bailey Brown, the first Union soldier killed in the Civil War, died May 22, 1861 in Fetterman, Taylor County.

  • On May 31, 1910, the Supreme Court ruled that the Maryland-West Virginia border was the low-water mark of the south bank of the Potomac River.

  • The first public spa was in 1756 at Berkeley Springs, West Virginia (then Bath, Virginia).

  • The Christian church was started in West Virginia by Alexander Campbell in Bethany.

  • Mrs. Minnie Buckingham Harper, by appointment in 1928 as a member of the House of Delegates, was the first African American woman to become a member of a legislative body in the United States.

  • Romney's Chester Merriman was the youngest World War I soldier at the age of 14.

  • The world's first brick road was constructed on October 23, 1870, in Charleston, West Virginia, on Summers Street, between the streets of Kanawha and Virginia.

  • West Virginia is the only state in the Union that has acquired its sovereignty through the proclamation of the President of the United States.

  • West Virginia is considered the southernmost state and the northernmost state.

  • Mother's Day was first observed on May 10, 1908, at Andrews Church in Grafton.

  • West Virginia has the oldest population of any state. The average age is 40 years.

  • Jackson's Mill is home to the first 4-H camp in the United States.

  • The largest Sycamore tree in the world is located on the back fork of the Elk River in Webster Springs.

  • The first state sales tax in the United States came into force on July 1, 1921 in West Virginia.

  • On January 26, 1960, Danny Heater, a student from Burnsville, scored 135 points in a high school basketball game, earning him a place in the Guinness Book of Records.

  • The first federal women-only federal prison in the United States was opened in 1926 in West Virginia.

  • Cecil Underwood is the nation's oldest governor. He became 77 years old on 5 November 1999.

  • The New River Gorge Bridge near Fayetteville is the second tallest steel arch bridge in the United States. The bridge is also the world's longest steel arch bridge (1,700 feet). Every October on the day of the bridge, the road is closed and individuals parachute and bungee rope jump 876 meters from the bridge. It is the largest one-day event in West Virginia and attracts approximately 100,000 people annually.

  • The first major land battle between the Union and the Confederates in the Civil War was the Battle of Philippi on 3 June 1861.

  • One of India's oldest and largest burial grounds is located in Moundsville. Its 69 feet high, 900 feet in circumference, and 50 feet high. An inscribed stone was removed from the vault and is at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C.

  • West Virginia's nickname is the Mountain State and its motto is "Mountaineers Are Always Free."

  • Some famous West Virginia celebrities include: Pearl Buck (author), Peter Marshall (television host), Chuck Yeager (test pilot / General of the Air Force), Don Knotts (actor), Mary Lou Retton (Olympic gold medalist), and Kathy Mattea (country singer).

  • Almost 75% of West Virginia is covered by forests.

  • West Virginia covers about 24,000 square miles and has a population of about 1.8 million.

  • 15% of the country's total coal production comes from West Virginia.

  • According to the 1997 crime index, West Virginia had the lowest crime rate in the country.

  • West Virginia Memorial Tunnel was the first in the nation to be watched by television. It was opened on November 8, 1954.

  • On October 6, 1896, the first shipment of free rural mail was launched in Charles Town and then distributed in the United States.

  • West Virginia was the first state to have a sales tax. It came into force on 1 July 1921.

  • The first steamer was launched on 3 December 1787 by James Rumsey at the Potomac in New Mecklensburg (Shepherdstown).

  • During the civil war, a naval battle was fought in West Virginia. The armored steamers of the United States Navy were active on 19 July 1863 at the Battle of Buffington Island near Ravenswood.

  • On February 14, 1824, at Harper's Ferry, John S. Gallaher published the Ladies Garland, one of the first newspapers in the nation dedicated to the interests of women.
West Virginia Fast Facts & Trivia . West Virginia Fast Facts & Trivia