Background: Harper's Ferry from Maryland side of Potomac River
Photo by Kevin Smith

Living in West Virginia

West Virginia - Wild and Wonderful

History, Geography, Homes, and State Resources of West Virginia

West Virgina USA State
West Virgina USA State

Located in the middle of the Appalachians, West Virginia the most mountainous state in the eastern United States and it  relies heavily on its super-maintained infrastructure. When relocating to West Virginia, stay on the main interstates for the safest and best access roads. Observe strict adherence to posted speed limits, particularly the mountain highways, and check on your brakes often when going down-hill.

If you relocate to the state, you can not help but take in its rich Appalachian traditions and heritage. Plan on taking in a traditional Appalachian folk music festival and behold Scots-Irish ballad singing and fiddling first-hand. Native arts, poetry and crafts continue to be kept full of life and well by these friendly people who proudly refer to themselves as West Virginians.

From sleepy Weirton, a place where numerous Pittsburg professionals locate affordable housing, to scenic Charleston situated on the banks of the Kanawha River, relocating to West Virginia signifies uncovering a location that goes with both your lifestyle and employment needs. Other cities include revitalized Parkersburg, along with many educational opportunities; Huntington, a center of industry; Morgantown, which is happens to be one of the better small towns in the nation to live; and fast-growing Clarksburg and Martinsburg where many federal and private organizations are located.

Harper's Ferry changed hands a dozen times during the American Civil War and was annexed by West Virginia.

In 1731 Morgan Morgan established the first permanent white settlement on Mill Creek in present-day Berkeley County. Coal, a mineral asset that would figure significantly in West Virginia's history, was discovered in 1742. Other important natural resources are oil, natural gas, and hardwood forests, which cover about 75% of the state's area.

Climate

Click for latest Charleston, West Virginia, weather<
West Virginia has a somewhat humid continental climate, with hot summers (cooler in the mountains) and cold winters. The winter temperatures vary from an average of slightly more than 34 F  in the central part of the state, to an average of nearly 40 F.

Demography

  • West Virginia Geography, Facts and History
  • West Virginia Facts & Trivia
  • West Virginia Flags
  • Famous People from West Virginia
  • West Virginia Timeline
  • West Virginia Official Song
  • Education

    West Virginia Colleges. The West Virginia Board of Education was founded in the constitution of West Virginia. The board has a general supervision of 834 primary and secondary schools in West Virginia. Its twelve members include nine citizens appointed by the governor and three ex officio non-voting members: the state superintendent of the schools, the chancellor of the West Virginia Education Policy Commission and the chancellor of community and technical education. The State Superintendent is a constitutional official who serves the will of the Board. The members of the Board of Directors have a term of office of nine years and no more than five citizens may belong to the same political party

    Economy

    West Virginia is a global hub for chemicals, a national hub for biotech industries and a leader in energy, while having a diverse economy in aerospace, automotive, healthcare and education, metals and steels, media and telecommunications, manufacturing, hospitality, biometrics, forestry, and tourism.

    Flora and Fauna

    With its varied topography and climate, West Virginia provides a natural habitat for more than 3,200 species of plants in three life zones: Canadian, Alleghenian, and Carolinian. Oak, maple, poplar, walnut, hickory, birch, and such softwoods as hemlock, pine, and spruce are the common forest trees. Rhododendron, laurel, dogwood, redbud, and pussy willow are among the more than 200 flowering trees and shrubs. Rare plant species include the box huckleberry, Guyandotte beauty, and Kate's mountain clover. The Cranberry Glades, an ancient lake bed similar to a glacial bog, contains the bog rosemary and other plant species common in more northern climates. In 2003, four plant species were listed as endangered, including shale barren rock-cress, harperella, northeastern bulrush, and running buffalo clover. The Virginia spirea and small whorled pogonia were the two species listed as threatened that year.

    West Virginia fauna includes at least 56 species and subspecies of mammals and more than 300 types of birds. The gray wolf, puma, elk, and bison of early times have disappeared. The whitetailed (Virginia) deer and the black bear (both protected by the state) as well as the wildcat are still found in the deep timber of the Allegheny ridges; raccoons, skunks, woodchucks, opossums, gray and red foxes, squirrels, and cottontail rabbits remain numerous. Common birds include the cardinal, tufted titmouse, brown thrasher, scarlet tanager, catbird, and a diversity of sparrows, woodpeckers, swallows, and warblers. Major game birds are the wild turkey, bobwhite quail, and ruffed grouse; hawks and owls are the most common birds of prey. Notable among more than 100 species of fish are smallmouth bass, rainbow trout, and brook trout (the state fish). The copperhead and rattlesnake are both numerous and poisonous. In 2003, 15 animal species were listed as threatened or endangered in West Virginia, including the bald eagle, three species (gray, Indiana, and Virginia big-eared) of bat, fanshell, flat-spired three-toothed snail, and several species of pearlymussel.

    THE CARDINAL GROSBEAK.
    (State Bird of Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia and West Virginia State Bird (Northern Cardinal)

  • West Virginia Official State Flower (Rhododendron)
  • West Virginia Official State Tree (Sugar Maple)
  • Government

    West Virgina State Capitol
    West Virgina State Capitol
    The West Virginia State Capitol is the seat of government for West Virginia, and houses the West Virginia Legislature and the office of the Governor of West Virginia. Located in Charleston, West Virginia, the building was dedicated in 1932. Along with the West Virginia Executive Mansion it is part of the West Virginia Capitol Complex, a historic district listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

    Elected officials of the executive branch of government are the governor, secretary of state, auditor, attorney general, commissioner of agriculture, and treasurer, all elected for four-year terms. The governor, who may serve no more than two terms in succession, must be at least 30 years old, a registered voter, a citizen of the state for at least five years, and a resident for at least one. His successor is the president of the senate (there is no lieutenant governor).

    Voters in West Virginia must live in the state, be US citizens, and at least 18 years old. Restrictions apply to those convicted of certain crimes and to those judged by the court as mentally incompetent to vote.

  • West Virginia Official Government Website
  • Attractions

    With some of the east coast's most beautiful and rugged scenery, West Virginia is filled with year-round outdoor adventure opportunities. Its wild mountain country, densely-forested wilderness areas, and fast-running rivers are playgrounds for hiking, camping, caving, rock climbing, whitewater rafting, boating, and fishing. In the winter, ski resorts offer a range of snow sports. While many visitors come to the state for these outdoor activities and scenic landscapes, West Virginia offers much more, from the historic sights of Harper's Ferry and the impressive State Capitol building in Charleston to some very unusual attractions, including a penitentiary to tour

  • West Virginia Department of Commerce
  • Amusement Parks

    Camden Park, Huntington

    National Parks

    Appalachian National Scenic Trail, Maine to Georgia, CT,GA,MA,MD,ME,NC,NH,NJ,NY,PA,TN,VA,VT,WV
    Bluestone National Scenic River, Athens, Pipestem, and Hinton, WV
    Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park, Potomac River, DC,MD,WV
    Coal National Heritage Area, WV
    Gauley River National Recreation Area, Summersville, WV
    New River Gorge, Hinton, Beckley, Glen Jean, and Fayetteville, WV
    Wheeling National Heritage Area, Wheeling, WV

    National Forests

    Monongahela National Forest - 920,583 acres
      Monongahela National Forest includes Spruce Knob-Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area and eight wilderness areas. Spruce Knob is the highest point in West Virginia at 4,863 feet, and Seneca Rocks is a 900 feet quartzite crag

    Sports

    West Virginia is home to college sports teams from two schools West Virginia and Marshall that play in NCAA Division I. West Virginia is also home to several professional minor league baseball, football, soccer, and other sports teams.

  • West Virginia Sports
  • Taxes

    West Virginia Tax Facts
    • Income tax: 3% - 6.5%
    • Sales tax: 6% - 7%
    • Property tax: 0.59% average effective rate
    • Gas tax: 35.7 cents per gallon of regular gasoline and diesel

    Transportation

    Yeager Airport
    Yeager Airport
    West Virginia Airports. There are 37 airports in West Virginia for the public to use. West Virginia Airports are well connected to many major US cities. West Virginia Airports are customer focused in the services and facilities they provide.

    There are no international airports in West Virginia. West Virginia's main regional airports are the Raleigh County Memorial Airport at Beckley, the Yeager Airport at Charleston, the Harrison-Marion Regional Airport at Clarksburg, the Tri-State Airport at Huntington, the Greenbrier Valley Airport at Lewisburg, and the Morgantown Municipal Airport the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport in Parkersburg.

    The Yeager Airport in Charleston is located on a hill that is falling sharply from all sides and the construction of this airport was nothing short of a technical marvel. The airport has many facilities and services to allow travelers a smooth journey. There are ATMs, many restaurants and smart carts that make it easy to carry your luggage. It also has a TDD phone for people with hearing impairments. The airport has hangars and is often used as a stopover by airmen.

    Rail

    Rail lines in the state were more prevalent at one time, however many lines have been discontinued due to increased automobile traffic. Many old tracks have been converted to rail trails for recreational use, although the coal producing areas still have railroads running at near capacity.

    Amtrak's Cardinal roughly parallels I-64's path through the state. MARC trains serve commuters in the eastern panhandle. In 2006 Norfolk Southern along with the West Virginia and U.S. Government approved a plan to modify many of the rail tunnels in West Virginia, especially in the southern half of the state, to allow for double stacked cars (see inter-modal freight). This is expected to also help bring economic growth to the southern half of the state. An Intermodal Freight Facility is under construction near Prichard, south of Huntington.

    Roads

    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 single-arch bridge in the world with a 3,031-foot span. The bridge is also pictured on the West Virginia state quarter. The Fort Steuben Bridge (Weirton-Steubenville Bridge) was at its time of construction one of only three cable-stayed steel girder trusses in the United States. "The Veterans Memorial Bridge was designed to handle traffic from the Fort Steuben Bridge as well as its own traffic load", to quote the Weirton Daily Times newspaper. The 80-year-old Fort Steuben Bridge (Weirton-Steubenville Bridge) was permanently closed on January 8, 2009. The Wheeling Suspension Bridge was the first bridge built across the Ohio River in 1849 and for a time was the longest suspension bridge in the world. It is still the oldest vehicular suspension bridge in the nation still in use.

    West Virginia Housing

    The median home value in West Virginia is $96,800. West Virginia home values have gone up 5.2% over the past year and predictions are they will rise 1.0% within the next year. The median list price per square foot in West Virginia is $94. The median price of homes currently listed in West Virginia is $159,000 while the median price of homes that sold is $159,400. The median rent price in West Virginia is $995.
    West Virginia Association of Realtors
    West Virginia Real Estate Commission
    West Virginia Real Estate Listings

    West Virginia Cities & Towns

    There are 55 counties, 300 towns of which 80 are cities in West Virginia, Logan is home to the most CDPs, with 22, followed by Fayette, with 18, and Raleigh, with 15. The largest CDP by population is Teays Valley, with 13,175 residents, while Bowden, with nine residents over 0.12 square miles, represents the state's smallest CDP by both population and area. Upper Falls, which covers 17.18 square miles, is the largest West Virginian CDP by area.
  • West Virginia Cities and Towns
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