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50 Fun Facts about West Virginia We Bet You Didn’t Know
Looking for interesting facts about West Virginia? You’re in the right place. This page is crammed with 50 WV fun facts across a broad range of topics to serve up something exciting for everyone. From the founding of West Virginia to the legendary mysterious Mothman, you had better strap in for these West Virginia state facts.
📜 West Virginia History Facts
Whether you’re a history buff or not, these interesting facts about WV history will likely interest you.
1. The Founding of West Virginia
West Virginia was formed during the Civil War when the western counties of Virginia seceded and joined the Union, making West Virginia the 35th state on June 20, 1863. The state’s name was originally proposed as Kanawha, but was ultimately changed to “West Virginia” to reflect its location in the western Appalachian Mountains.
2. Eight – Zero
Despite eight US presidents hailing from the neighboring state of Virginia, including George Washington, not a single president has been born in West Virginia yet.
3. 14,000 Years and Counting
Archeological evidence suggests that West Virginia has had nomadic people in the area for over 14,000 years, who likely went on to form the Native American tribes that settled there.
4. Looking for Your First Real Six-String?
Harrisville, West Virginia, is home to Berdine’s Five and Dime, the oldest Five and Dime store in the US, which has been running since 1908.
🏔️ Nature Facts about WV
Here are some fun facts about nature around West Virginia:
5. Webster Sycamore
The Mountain State was home to the largest sycamore tree in the world, located in the town of Gauley Bridge. The tree, known as the Webster Sycamore, was likely over 350 years old, stood over 112 feet tall, and had a whopping trunk diameter of over 25 feet. Unfortunately, the tree had to be felled in 2010 after a malicious fire three years prior left the tree a safety risk.
6. The Mountain State
Affectionately known as The Mountain State, West Virginia is the only state entirely encompassed by the Appalachian Mountain Range. There are also over 1,600 named mountains in the state’s borders.
7. Tons of Nature
One of the fun facts about West Virginia that may ignite a sense of adventure is that there are over 35 state parks, nine protected state forests, and six national parks within West Virginia’s borders.
8. New River Gorge National Park
West Virginia’s beautiful national park is named the New River Gorge, even though the river is supposedly one of the oldest rivers in the world and older than the mountains that now encompass parts of it. It’s also the newest national park in the country.
🏐 Mountain State Sports Facts
Sports fans may be interested to know about these six cool facts about the sports teams in West Virginia and their achievements:
9. Pro Golf at the Greenbrier
The Greenbrier Course at White Sulphur Springs is a heavily wooded course once home to various professional tours, including the PGA tour. It is now open to guests as a 9-hole walking course.
10. Milan Puskar Stadium
With a rated capacity of over 60,000, the Milan Puskar Stadium is West Virginia’s largest stadium. Officially opened in 1980, the stadium saw a record attendance of just over 70,000 people in 1993. The stadium is built on the old Mountaineer Field at West Virginia University.
11. Greyhound Racing Still Legal
West Virginia is the last remaining state to allow and actively practice greyhound racing, with only Wheeling Island Casino & Racetrack and Mardi Gras Casino & Resort offering up the controversial sport.
12. Rifle Shooting Champions
While athletes at West Virginia University enjoy a diverse range of sports, the West Virginia Mountaineers, as they are known, have won 19 NCAA national championships in rifle shooting.
13. Legal Online Sports Betting
West Virginia joined the ranks of states with legalized online sports betting in March 2018, with the first sports bet made some months later, in August 2018.
14. Bridge Day BASE Jumping
Fearless folk can BASE jump from the New River Gorge Bridge one day per year in an adrenaline-fueled event, where a high level of organization helps protect first-time BASE jumpers, provide training, and ensuring safety where possible.
🧑🚀 The People of West Virginia
Here are five influential West Virginians you may like to know about:
15. Jim Justice
West Virginia’s 36th Governor Jim Justice, owner of the Greenbrier Hotel and Casino in White Sulphur Springs, pushed for online casino gaming in West Virginia. However, this wasn’t a wholly altruistic move to earn more money for the state, as Jim Jones would seek to profit by licensing online casino skins through his own land-based casino.
16. Steve Harvey
Smooth-talking television personality Steve Harvey hails from Welch, West Virginia. Starting his career in observational comedy, Harvey proceeded to expand into becoming a self-help guru and relationship counselor, usually in front of a camera.
17. Randy Moss
NFL fans are likely to know the name Randy Moss, a legendary football player who grew up in the Mountain State. With a career spanning 14 years across five teams, Moss is regarded as one of the best wide receivers of all time.
18. Brad Smith
The current richest person in West Virginia is Brad Smith, who has an estimated net worth of $700 million.
19. Mary Lou Retton
In the 1984 Summer Olympics, West Virginian Mary Lou Retton became the first woman from the US to win a gold medal in gymnastics.
🏛️ Places to See in West Virginia
Here are four facts about WV’s most interesting places:
20. New River Gorge Bridge
West Virginia is home to the New River Gorge Bridge, a 3,030 ft steel arch bridge, which would become the longest single-span steel arch bridge in the world upon its completion in 1977, after three years under construction. The bridge, which stands tall over New River Gorge, Fayette County, cost $37 million to build and claimed the life of one construction worker.
21. The Greenbrier
The Greenbrier Casino and Hotel is West Virginia’s answer to the world’s demand for luxury. With 710 rooms set in a well-maintained period property established on 11,000 acres, the resort has a spa, a 103,000-square-foot casino, a golf course, and plenty more for guests to enjoy.
22. Where’s the Capitol?
Charleston is the West Virginia state capitol, although this hasn’t always been the case. The state capitol has actually flip-flopped between Wheeling and Charleston twice. Charleston is also the largest city in the state, with a population of around 48,000.
23. Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine
Are you wondering what is West Virginia known for? One word: Coal. Now you can learn all about how these coal mines operate at the Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine.
📚 Cultural Facts about West Virginia
Culture is everywhere in West Virginia. Here are four cultural facts about the state:
24. Take Me Home, New Mexico
One of our favorite West Virginia fun facts is about John Denver’s classic tune, Take Me Home, Country Roads. This song, known by millions across the globe, has cemented its place as one of the four West Virginia state anthems. But did you know John Denver is actually from Roswell, New Mexico?
25. Old Gold and Blue
The state colors of West Virginia are Old Gold and Blue, which were adopted in 1963. These colors are also used by the West Virginia Mountaineers at WVU.
26. Happy Mother’s Day
A day beloved by caregivers across the world, Mother’s Day was first observed in Grafton, West Virginia, as a means of promoting friendship and health.
27. Augusta Heritage Festival
Culture is important in West Virginia, and for the last 20 years or so, an annual festival has been held in Elkins to celebrate Appalachian culture in all its forms.
🍲 The Foods of West Virginia
Hungry? Here are four fun facts about WV and its food.
28. Biscuits and Gravy
If you’re looking for breakfast in West Virginia, most locals would probably suggest trying classic biscuits and gravy, a true West Virginian staple from back in the late 1800s.
29. Pepperoni Rolls
Pepperoni rolls are also popular in the Mountain State, once primarily used by Italian-American coal miners. Thanks to their tasty, filling center, and hardy ingredients, these delicious rolls could satisfy the rumbliest of tummies without the need for refrigeration.
30. Golden Delicious Apples
Originating on the Mullins family farm in Clay County in 1905, the Golden Delicious apple was designated the official state fruit of West Virginia in 1995. The fruit is not closely related to the Red Delicious apple and was originally named Mullins Yellow Seedling and Annit.
31. Maple Syrup
When outsiders think of maple syrup, they probably don’t think of West Virginia. However, it is a widely enjoyed treat and is celebrated annually on the 3rd Saturday in March at the Maple Syrup Festival. In fact, the Sugar Maple is the WV state tree.
🎰 Casinos and Gambling in WV
With legalized sports betting, online gambling, and five great casinos, here are some interesting facts about WV and gambling:
32. Five Casinos to Choose From
West Virginia is home to five land-based casinos:
- The Casino Club at the Greenbrier;
- Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races;
- Mardi Gras Casino and Resort;
- Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack, and Resort;
- Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino-Racetrack.
33. Up to 15 Online Casinos Legal
Each of West Virginia’s five land-based casinos is allowed to operate up to three WV online casinos, known as skins. This effectively leaves room for up to 15 online casinos in the state.
34. The Largest Casino
Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races is West Virginia’s largest casino, with a 181,000-square-foot gaming floor and over 1,900 slot machines.
35. The Most Exclusive Casino
The Casino Club at the Greenbrier is the state’s most exclusive casino, with only hotel guests and resort members permitted on the gaming floor. A dress code is in place to ensure the place feels classy.
36. Gambling Legalization and Operation
West Virginia became the fifth state to legalize online casino gambling on March 27, 2019. DraftKings WV Casino became the first online casino to take advantage of the new law, opening its doors on July 15, 2020.
37. The Gambling Industry
West Virginia’s online gambling industry has seen plenty of interest from major operators, including BetMGM, BetRivers, Caesars, and more. There are now eight online casinos operating within the state.
38. Look Out, Vegas!
Retired teacher Beverly Whitten’s luck changed forever when she walked out of Mountaineer Casino $3.7 million better off, earning her the record for the largest jackpot win in WV from the Golden Chambers slot machine.
📈 Facts about the WV Economy
West Virginia isn’t exactly known for its booming economy. Here are some interesting facts about it:
39. Coal Feeds West Virginia
A fun fact about West Virginia is that the state’s biggest export is coal, which often makes up over 45% of WV’s $7B+ exports.
40. Lower Than Average Income
The median income per capita in West Virginia is $28,761, considerably lower than the US average of $37,638.
41. Fewer College Grads
West Virginia has around 30% fewer graduates than the US average, with 21.8% of the population holding a bachelor’s or above versus the 33.7% national average.
42. North Hills
North Hills, Wood County, is West Virginia’s richest CDP, with an average household income of $145,735 across its 991 residents.
43. Online Gambling Boosts Public Outreach
Online gambling in West Virginia was legalized to help boost the economy, with revenues going towards funding schools, tourism and state parks and supporting the elderly.
44. Organized Labor Unions
The state was home to the first organized labor strike in the United States, which took place in 1877 and was led by the Knights of Labor. The Knights of Labor, which was also the first major labor union in the United States, had a peak membership of over 700,000 workers in various industries.
👻 We Bet You Didn’t Know These Ones
Below are some weird West Virginia facts that many people don’t know about, so strap in! If you know someone from the Mountain State, be sure to test out these weird facts about West Virginia on them.
45. West Virginia Penitentiary
Constructed in 1866 and decommissioned in 1995, this former state pen now plays host to escape rooms, a haunted house, ghost hunts, and day tours.
46. Nuclear Bunker
Another of the weird facts about West Virginia is that there is a nuclear bunker under the Greenbrier that is designed to house congresspeople in the event of nuclear war. The bunker was supposed to be a secret but has long been public knowledge and is now open for tours.
47. Lake Shawnee Amusement Park
After a violent dispute between Mitchell Clay and the local Shawnee Native American Tribe ended in the death of three Clay children and a handful of Shawnee warriors, some say the land, which was turned into an amusement park where several more fatalities occurred, is cursed.
As the oldest town in West Virginia, dating back to 1730, Shepherdstown has been a hotspot of mystery and intrigue since before the founding of the United States. The TV series The Ghosts of Shepherdstown painted the area as a bustling zone of paranormal activity in which residents lived in constant fear and dread. But is that really the case, or is it just an old town? Go find out!
49. Green Means Go
There are no traffic lights in the whole of Calhoun County or in Clay County, meaning drivers can sail through those areas without ever having to hit the breaks for a red light.
A list of interesting facts about West Virginia wouldn’t be complete without Mothman. According to legend, residents in Point Pleasant reported seeing a tall, winged creature with glowing red eyes. This figure was later named Mothman and has since become an icon in the area, with a 12-foot statue dedicated to his likeness.
How Big is West Virginia?
In landmass, West Virginia is 24,038 square miles, or about the same size as the countries of Latvia and Lithuania.
What’s the Population of West Virginia?
According to a 2022 census, the population of West Virginia is steadily declining and now sits at 1.775 million people, down from 1.854 million in 2010.