A couple times a year we drive from Martinsville, Virginia to West Virginia. It’s the half-way point between us and the grandparents, who live in Pittsburgh.
We’ve met in Charleston, which the kiddos thought was cool because they have talked to Astronaut Jon McBride and who doesn’t love Jennifer Garner?! This summer we met at the Fayette Mine on County Hwy 82 in Lansing. It has spectacular views!
There is also a beautiful bridge, which we drove across to get too the visitor center.
My kiddos love traveling and learning about new places.
It’s even more fun thanks to a new Children’s book that explores the U.S.A with 50 Fact-filled Maps! It brings the states to life. Suddenly, a state has beauty and diversity with the lavishly-illustrated collect and fact-filled maps. This book shares the thousands of wonderous locations waiting to be explored, hundreds of historical moments to remember and the people that make America what it is today.
Let’s talk more about West Virginia, as shared by The 50 States.
WELCOME TO THE MOUNTAIN STATE: West Virginia
The rugged geography of West Virginia gives one of the country’s smallest states its nickname. The beauty of its mountainous scenery, dense with spruce trees, is rightfully a source of pride for West Virginians. Locals refer to their state as “Almost Heaven,” taking a line from John Denver’s well-loved song “Take Me Home, Country Roads.”
This state has captured the attention of other musicians, artists, and writers, too, making an appearance in the songs of Johnny Cash and Loretta Lynn, as well as books like Betsy Byars’s The Summer of the Swans, Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games, and Phyllis Reynolds Naylor’s Shiloh. The movie Super 8 was also filmed here!
Lovers of the great outdoors will adore the Allegheny Highlands, where you can go climbing, caving, hiking, rafting, biking, and skiing. You’ll find wild leeks—called ramps by the locals—growing across the state, and some towns even host ramp-eating contests. Just mind that onion breath!
Famous People from West Virginia.
b.1972 This country music star and winner of three Grammy Awards learned to play the guitar as an 8-year-old in Glen Dale.
b.1923 This West Virginian ace pilot was the first person in the world to break the sound barrier.
b.1954 The award-winning author of the Henry and Mudge books grew up in Beaver.
HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR.
b.1950 Born in Keyser, this award- winning writer and filmmaker is Professor of African American Studies at Harvard.
JOHN FORBES NASH, JR.
1928-2015 This genius mathematician from Bluefield won the Nobel Prize in Economics for his game theory.
MARY LOU RETTON
b.1968 This exuberant Olympic gold medalist fell in love with gymnastics in Fairmont.
West Virginia Moments to Remember:
The Adena people begin building Grave Creek Mound in what is now Marshall County; it is the largest conical burial mound in the
moments to remember
OCTOBER 16, 1859: The abolitionist John Brown leads an antislavery raid to seize weapons from the U.S. armory in Harpers Ferry.
OCTOBER 1, 1896: Postmaster General William Wilson introduces free rural mail delivery in Charles Town; it then spreads throughout the U.S.
C: moments to remember
1943: During WWII, the government seizes an important ingredient from West Virginia’s Fiesta dinnerware company. It is uranium, used by Fiesta to make its red glaze. The government needs it to build the atomic bomb!
1962-1992: The government operates a secret bomb shelter in West Virginia’s Greenbrier Resort, stocked with supplies for members of Congress.
DECEMBER 30, 1970: John Denver first sings “Take Me Home, Country Roads” in Washington, D.C., and is rewarded by a five-minute ovation. It is now West Virginia’s official state song.
AUGUST 3, 1984: Gymnast Mary Lou Retton, born in Fairmont, becomes the first U.S. woman to win an Olympic gold for the All-Around event.
JANUARY 24, 1993: Cynthia Rylant, who grew up in Coalridge, wins the Newbery Medal for Missing May.
MARCH 3, 2010: Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., born in Keyser, becomes the first African American to have his genome fully sequenced.
West Virginia Icons:
BLACK BEAR :The state animal eats fish, flowers, fruit, nuts, insects, and squirrels, among other things!
CHUCK YEAGER Born in Myra, this air force pilot made history in 1947 by flying his aircraft faster than the speed of sound.
EXHIBITION COAL MINE Retired miners lead tours through the passages of an old coal mine in Beckley.
FIESTA COLORS The rainbow colors of Fiesta dinnerware include paprika, peacock, poppy, and plum! The Fiesta factory is in Newell.
GAULEY RIVER Every September the water in the Summersville Dam is released, creating a thrilling whitewater rafting run.
GOLDEN DELICIOUS FESTIVAL Every year Clay County celebrates the state apple, discovered here in 1905.
GRAVE CREEK MOUND Around 250 BC, the ancient Adena people buried arrowheads and animal carvings inside this mound.
HARPERS FERRY NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK runs workshops on making bread in a beehive oven—just like they did in 1809!
HELVETIA This hamlet celebrates its Swiss and German heritage with events like Fasnacht and the Feast of St. Nicholas.
MARBLE KING This marble company in Paden City makes one million marbles a day!
MONONGAHELA NATIONAL FOREST Fierce winds keep branches from growing on the western side of trees on Spruce Knob.
MOTHER’S DAY was first celebrated in 1908 in Grafton, where there is now a shrine.
NEW RIVER GORGE BRIDGE During the annual Official Bridge Day festival in October, hundreds of base jumpers leap 876 feet into the river below.
PEPPERONI ROLL Invented by Italian coal miner Giuseppe Argiro as a snack that didn’t need refrigeration, the pepperoni roll is now a state icon.
RED BRICK ROAD The U.S.’s first brick street was laid in Charleston in 1870.
SANDSTONE FALLS These waterfalls on the New River are considered one of the state’s seven natural wonders.
SAVING SHILOH Phyllis Reynolds Naylor’s three novels about a rescued beagle take place in the town of Friendly.
SENECA ROCKS Rock climbers flock to this 900-foot sandstone crag.
SHENANDOAH RIVER Fishing is popular in this river, which features in John Denver’s song “Take Me Home, Country Roads.”
THE BLUESTONE RIVER is home to northern water snakes. Unlike many other snakes, they incubate their eggs inside their bodies, then give birth to live young.
THE GREEN BANK TELESCOPE sits within the National Radio Quiet Zone. Cell phones are banned to protect the radio telescope from interference.
THE GREENBRIER RESORT in White Sulphur Springs was the secret location of a nuclear bomb shelter, built in the late 1950s. These days it’s not so secret, and visitors can take a tour.
THE HATFIELDS & MCCOYS were rival 19th-century families who lived along the Big Sandy River and had a decades long feud . . . involving the theft of a pig!
THE LEGEND OF MOTHMAN Some say that a strange creature reportedly seen in Point Pleasant in 1966 was a mutant born from a chemical dump!
WEST VIRGINIA STATE CAPITOL The gold leaf that covers the 293-foot dome was applied in 3.4-inch squares.