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10 Fast Facts About West Virginia:
1/ The highest point in West Virginia is at Spruce Knob at a height of 4,862 feet (1,482 meters) at the summit of Spruce Mountain.
The average elevation in West Virginia is 1,500 feet (460 meters).
2/ The official state flag of West Virginia is a little unusual in its design, with a mainly white background and a blue border all around the edge. It is the only state flag that has a border of blue on all four sides (California has a red border on the very bottom, Tennessee has a light blue border on the right hand side, and Wyoming has a red border all the way around but those are the only three that share this design element significantly.)
The blue border is placed on a white background, and in the middle is the state seal. On this are a miner and a farmer to represent two of the leading industries in West Virginia, and there is a rock between the two men which shows the date when West Virginia first became a state on June 20th 1863.
On a red ribbon above all of this you can read the words, "State of West Virginia".
3/ The official state butterfly of West Virginia is the Monarch, the official state motto is "Mountaineers are always free" (Montani Semper Liberi), and the official state mammal is the Black Bear.
4/ The lowest ever recorded temperature in West Virginia occurred on the 30th December 1917 at Lewisburg, when the temperature fell to -37 F (-38 centigrade).
The highest ever recorded temperature in West Virginia was 112 F (44 centigrade) on the 10th July 1936 at Martinsburg in the Eastern Panhandle region of West Virginia.
5/ West Virginia has the third highest percentage of forested land in the United States (78.7%), only being less than second place Maine with 88.3% and New Hampshire with 86.3%.
An estimated 11,933 people are employed in Forestry in West Virginia, and it is the third largest manufacturing sector in the state.
6/ West Virginia is a significant state for coal production. Statistics from the U.S Energy Information Administration show that in 2010 West Virginia had a total of 252 coal mines (152 underground and 100 surface mines) which produced 135,220 (thousand short tons) of coal.
The total production of coal for the United States as a whole was 1,084,368,000 tons and so in 2010 West Virginia was responsible for 12.47% of the coal production of the United States.
(The only state that produces more is Wyoming, which produced 442,522,000 tons and hence accounted for 40.81% of U.S Coal Production in 2010.)
7/ The population of West Virginia has actually net dropped in the last 70 years between 1940 and 2010 (with some fluctuations in the middle).
In 1940 the population of West Virginia was 1,901,974
In 2010 the
population of West Virginia was 1,852,994
This is a population decrease of 48,980 or 2.58% and stands in stark contrast to neighboring Virginia.
In 1940 the population of Virginia was 2,677,773
In 2010 the
population of Virginia was 8,001,024
This is a population increase of 5,323,251 or 198.79%.
8/ The 2nd largest cave system in West Virginia is the Organ Cave System which can be found in Greenbrier County.
It has a length of 61,882 meters (38.452 miles) which have been surveyed which makes it the 8th longest in the U.S, the 2nd longest in West Virginia, and the 35th longest in the world.
The Friars Hole Cave System in West Virginia is longer than the Organ Cave System at a length of 73,288 meters (45.539 miles).
Both of these are however dwarfed by the largest cave system in the world which is also in the United States in Kentucky and is appropriately called the Mammoth Cave System. It has a length of 367 miles (590,629 meters)!
9/ The last public hanging in West Virginia was that of triple murderer John Morgan on December 16, 1897. It was witnessed by 5,000 people who turned up to watch the spectacle in Ripley, many of whom had ridden for up to two days to make sure that they saw it in a town that normally only had 500 residents.
The time between him committing the crimes to arrest, trial, conviction and finally carrying out the sentence of death was less than a month.
A theater company had set up a performance in expectation of a large crowd, and there were stalls, a Punch and Judy Show, and peanut sellers to accompany the hanging that was largely greeted as a good excuse for a party according to contemporary newspaper accounts of the event.
It was largely due to the large crowds that public hangings were stopped in West Virginia, and between 1899 and 1959 ninety-four men were electrocuted or hanged at the West Virginia Penitentiary instead.
The death penalty was finally abolished in West Virginia in 1965, but in recent years there have been strong calls to re-instate it.
10/ The largest alluvial diamond ever found in North America was discovered in Peterstown, West Virginia on April 1928 and has been named the 'Jones Diamond'. It was found on the ground by William P "Punch" Jones and his father Grover C Jones, and was so large that they thought it was just a pretty piece of quartz, keeping it in an old shoebox, largely forgotten until 1942.
In 1942, Punch finally took the stone to a Geology Professor at Virginia Polytechnic University to find out definitively what it was, and it was authenticated as a bluish-white diamond weighing 34.48 carats (6.9 grams).
It was kept at the Smithsonian Institute for a number of years for safe keeping, but in 1984 the family finally sold it at Sotheby's Auction house in New York to a Private Collection for an undisclosed sum.