West Virginia State Overview

By | October 5, 2022

West Virginia is a federal state located in the eastern part of the United States of America. It borders the states of Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kentucky. Until 1861, West Virginia was part of neighboring Virginia, which was named after Queen Elizabeth I of England. On June 20, 1863, West Virginia entered the Union, becoming the 35th US state.

West Virginia’s terrain is mostly mountainous. From the lowlands around the Ohio River rises the Allegheny Plateau, which gradually passes into the Appalachian Mountains. The highest mountain is Spruce Knob measuring 1427 meters above sea level. About three quarters of the surface is forested. The state has a temperate climate. The Ohio River, Guyandotte River, and Greenbrier River flow through the state. Two larger lakes were also created here – Tygart Lake and Bluestone Lake.

In the past, this wild landscape belonged to members of ancient Indian tribes, especially the people of the Hopewell culture. Some remains of their prehistoric buildings can still be seen today near Charleston. The territory was subsequently inhabited by the Indian tribe of the Iroquois, who definitely did not sympathize with European white immigrants. The first white settlers came to West Virginia in the early 18th century over the Appalachian Mountains from Virginia. People established farms here, devoted themselves to agriculture and took care of the fertile land. Slavery did not work here, and almost all of West Virginia was divided into small farms.

Mountain people became dissatisfied with the government and opinions of eastern Virginia. In 1859, there was an incident and the subsequent seizure of the federal armory in Harper’s Ferry. This move hastened the civil war. In 1861, Virginia decided to join the Union, but some residents of the Northwest refused to follow suit, thus the state of West Virginia was formed.

The end of the civil war brought the development of industry and the construction of the railway. West Virginia had large reserves of minerals, especially salt, limestone, and hard coal. It could thus provide energy and raw materials to neighboring states, but this brought with it environmental pollution and even the growth of social problems. Mining of hard coal, natural gas, oil and limestone is also important today. The metallurgical, engineering, chemical, glass, textile and cement industries are important. Agriculture is focused on the cultivation of grain, sugar beet, potatoes, cattle, pigs and sheep. Tourism is also gaining in importance, bringing more and more money to the state coffers every year.

West Virginia covers an area of 62,758 km2 and has a population of around 2 million. The population density is thus 29 persons per square kilometer. The majority of the population is white, with smaller percentages of blacks, Indians, mixed race and Asians. About 75% are of the Christian faith, Protestants significantly predominate. Another numerous church is the Roman Catholics. Approximately 13% of West Virginia residents are of no religious affiliation.

The capital and at the same time the largest city is Charleston, located at the confluence of the Elk and Kanawha rivers. Around 60,000 people live in the city today and it is the center of trade, business, culture and entertainment. Other large cities in West Virginia include Huntington, Parkersburg, Wheeling, Morgantown, Weirton, Fairmont, Beckley, Clarksburg, and Martinsburg.

Bluestone National Scenic River

About 10.5 miles of the Bluestone River in West Virginia has been designated a National Scenic River protected by the National Park Service. It flows through Summers and Mercer counties in the southern part of the country. It was established in 1988 to preserve the local unique nature and untouched landscape. A portion of this river is also protected by the West Virginia State Park.

The river skirts the diverse and beautiful landscape of the southern part of the Appalachian Mountains. More than a thousand species of plants grow in its basin and up to two hundred species of birds live. The area is therefore often sought after by botanists and ornithologists. However, it is also ideal for tracking other animals, especially mammals, amphibians, reptiles and many types of insects. A variety of aquatic invertebrates live here, and numerous species of fish inhabit the waters. The water of the Bluestone River is relatively warm and is considered one of the best quality waters in the state of West Virginia.

Native American Indians called the river Momongosenka. Today, the river is a popular location especially for canoeing and kayaking. It also offers great fishing opportunities, especially at its confluence with the New River. Catfish, perch and perch are found in the waters. However, you must have a special fishing license to fish.

Gauley River National Recreation Area

The area of West Virginia is especially sought after by boaters and mountaineers. Some are attracted here by the wild rivers Gauley River and New River, while others are attracted by the high rock walls at Summersville Lake, The Beauty Mountain or the long wall with the corresponding name Endless Wall.

The Gauley River National Recreation Area is located near the town of Summersville and protects a 25-mile (40 km) stretch of the river as well as an approximately 5-mile (9 km) stretch of the Meadow River in southern West Virginia. Thousands of enthusiastic rafters and kayakers try to cross Gauley River with its massive rapids every year. The surroundings are covered with endless and mysterious forests, which are especially charming in autumn, when the local maples, beeches and oaks play with all the colors.

Along the course of the river, cliffs stretch up to The New River Bridge, which is the second largest arch bridge in the world. The span of its arc is 518 meters. There is also a visitor center near it, where you can learn interesting things about the history of local coal mining and the construction of the bridge. The area offers plenty of recreational opportunities, with its wild nature, pristine landscape and raging river attracting adventurers in every season.

Gauley River National Recreation Area