West Virginia is also known as the Mountain State. The state motto
is "miners are always free". The famous singer John Denver sang this
beautiful mountain world in his world-famous song "Country
Roads". This song says that the skies are always blue and the rivers
in this mountain world are always clear.
West Virginia: facts
- Area: 62,755 sq km
- Population: 1,831,102
- Abbreviation: WV
- Capital: Charleston
- Local time: UTC -5
- Nickname: The Mountain State
Geographical location: a state characterized by mountains and
More than 65 percent of the country is forested. To the east is
the low vegetation highlands of the Dolly Sods Wilderness, to the
north the popular Blackwater Falls, to the south the wooded Canaan
West Virginia is bordered by the Appalachian Mountains in the
west, and the Ohio River forms the natural border in the
east. Neighboring states
include Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Maryland.
Although West Virginia is referred to as a mountain state, there
are certainly states with higher mountain elevations, because here
the highest point, the Spruce Knob in the Allegheny Mountains, is
just 1,481 meters high. The source of the Potomac River is located
in this mountain range.
Large parts of West Virginia are protected and so you can find
the largest protected areas near the east coast, because this is not
that far away with a few hours' drive. Charleston is the
capital with 51,000 residents. However, this should not be
confused with the large port city of the same name in South
Since West Virginia is rather small in area but largely forested,
there are only a few major cities of importance such as Pakersburg,
Wheeling, Morgantown and Huntington. However, this fact does not
mean that West Virginia has nothing to offer. On the contrary, this
region is particularly attractive because it is not as crowded as
other holiday destinations in some other states that are attractive
In West Virginia, visitors have the opportunity to spend an
active vacation in a diverse landscape far from any tourist hustle
and bustle. Outdoor activities such as fishing, golfing, mountain
biking, white water rafting, canoeing, climbing and camping are just
a few of the many opportunities for leisure and holiday activities.
If you can, you should visit this state in September, because at
that time is Indian Summer, which lets the leaves shine in the most
An extraordinary historical development
Until the outbreak of the Civil War (1861-1865), which was waged
between the northern and southern states due to the unsettled slave
question, West Virginia belonged to Virginia. While the southern
states vigorously defended slave husbandry, the northern states
under President Abraham Lincoln wanted to abolish them.
In contrast to the modern and industrialized northern states,
the aristocratic southern states were comparatively backward,
because they mainly relied on agriculture and in this area, in turn,
preferred to plant and export cotton.
In order to maintain their profit margins, the plantation owners
had to rely on the cheap work of the slaves. With the abolition of
this system, this business model and thus an entire society would be
questioned and probably no longer work. Why change a profitable and
long- established system ? However, the residents of Virginia were
far from unanimous on this issue.
While the poorer farmers could not afford to keep slaves and
therefore held back on this political question, the wealthy
plantation and slave owners naturally had a keen interest in
maintaining this system.
Shortly after the outbreak of civil war, Virginia separated from
the State Union. On April 27, 1861, the western counties of Virginia
separated from their mother state and founded the new state of West
Virginia in the city of Alexandria. Because of this defection, the
state of West Virginia now had two parliaments. The Virginia
Parliament decided to join the Confederacy, and the West
Virginia Parliament joined the Northern Union.
Actually, the American Constitution does not allow such a denial
of a particular part of the country from the respective mother
state, unless the respective state gives its consent. This
affirmative statement was made on May 13, 1862. President Lincoln
also had his doubts about the constitutionality of this defection,
but for reasons of war strategy he did not pay any further attention
to these concerns, since an ally was now available.
The area of West Virginia was correspondingly frequented during
the Civil War, because several battles between the supporters of the
southern and northern states took place here. In 1870, the Supreme
Court upheld West Virginia’s defection and recognized this part of
the country as an independent state.
However, this small federal state did not enjoy great economic
success because it was always dependent on mining. Even then, the
government imported coal from abroad at cheaper prices. As a result,
mining stagnated and many residents who could no longer find work in
this once successful branch of the economy moved away.
The residents who have stayed despite this negative development
describe their state with a lot of self-irony as Ireland of the
USA. This statement alludes to Ireland's wave of emigration to the
United States in the mid-19th century, when this green island
experienced the same adverse development as West Virginia in the
wake of a major economic crisis and starvation wave.
In the south, the principle of company town developed, with which
the workers were paid, but had to pay for accommodation and meals
themselves, which claimed a large part of the wages.
Employers were less socially inclined and cut wages, so workers
had to spend an even larger percentage on food and accommodation,
becoming indebted until they were soon only able to work to pay
This desperate situation contained social explosiveness and
violent industrial disputes, known as Mine Wars, soon
developed. These degenerated so far that soldiers had to intervene
to fight the uprisings. Because of this adverse development, West
Virginia is one of the poorest states in the United States.