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 Wonderful Facts About West Virginia


West Virginia’s Wild and Wonderful Facts!

• Jackson’s Mill is the site of the first 4-H camp in the United States.

• The first state sales tax established in the United States went into effect July 1, 1921 in West Virginia.

• Our New River Gorge Bridge is the second highest steel arch bridge in the United States. It is the longest steel arch bridge in the world.

• The first major land battle of the Civil War was the battle of Philippi on June 3, 1861.

• West Virginia’s memorial tunnel was the first in the nation to be monitored by television.

• Coal House, the only residence in the world built entirely of coal, is located in White Sulphur Springs.

• Mrs. Minnie Buckingham Harper was appointed to the House of Delegates in 1928, making her the first African American woman to become a member of a legislative body in the United States.

• Chester Merriman of Romney was 14 years of age when he enlisted in WWI, making him the youngest solider of that particular war.

• The first brick street in the world was laid in Charleston on October 23, 1870, on downtown Summers Street.

• Jerry West, of Cheylan, was a two time All-American at West Virginia University and led the Lakers to 1972 title as a player.  He is also the current face for the NBA logo.

• Mary Lou Retton, of Fairmont, became the first U.S. gymnast to win gold in women’s all around competition at the 1984 Olympics.

• Hack Wilson, a Martinsburg native, played for the Chicago Cubs, with his time there, he had records that stood for 68 years.

• The nation’s largest and oldest burial ground is located in Moundsville, West Virginia.

• Weirton is the only city in the U.S. that extends from one state border to another.

• West Virginia University played Pitt in the first football game ever broadcast on the radio, in 1921 on KDKA.

• During WWII, 1700 people from foreign countries, many of them diplomats, were held as prisoners at the Greenbrier resort.

• On January 26, 1960, Danny Heater of Burnsville High School scored 135 points in a high school basketball game.  With this record be earned his spot in the Guinness Book of World Records.  

• The first federal prison exclusively for women in the U.S. was the Federal Industrial Institution for Women, in Alderson. Previous inmates include:  Lolita Lebron, who opened fire on the House of Representatives chamber in 1954; Lynette Fromme who attempted to assassinate President Ford; and Martha Stewart, the celebrity homemaker convicted of lying to investigators about a stock sale.

• Governor Cecil Underwood was the state’s youngest governor when he was first elected in 1956, and then he was elected again in 1996 making him the nation’s oldest governor. 

• Pocahontas County has the highest average elevation of any county east of the Mississippi River.

• Charleston Municipal Court in 1967 was the first court in the U.S. to admit videotaped evidence, convicting a drunk driver.

• The first patent for a soda fountain was granted in 1833 to George Dulty in Wheeling.

• The Lilly Family Reunion held each year at Flat Top in Mercer County is said to be the largest family reunion in the United States.  It attracts 10,000 guests each summer.

• Hank Williams, the legendary country music singer/entertainer died in the back seat of a car traveling the roads of southern West Virginia on New Year’s Day 1953.

• Outdoor advertising had its origin in Wheeling about 1908 when the Block Brothers Tobacco Company painted bridges and barns with the wording: “Treat Yourself to the Best, Chew Mail Pouch.”

• The first electric railroad in the world, built as a commercial enterprise, was constructed between Huntington and Guyandotte.

• The 1500 Block of Virginia Street in Charleston is considered the longest city block in the world.

• The last public hanging in West Virginia was held in Jackson County in December 1897.

• Stone that was quarried near Hinton was contributed by West Virginia for the Washington Monument and arrived in Washington in February 1885.

• Mother’s Day was fist observed at Andrew’s church in Grafton on May 10, 1908.

• The first spa open to the public was at Berkeley Springs.

• The first trust in the U.S. was the salt trust organized    November 10, 1817, by the salt manufactures of Kanawha.  It went into operation on January 1, 1818, at the Kanawha Salt Company. 

• The first municipally owned parking building in the U.S. was opened September 1, 1941 in Welch.  It showed profit the first year.

•  ESPN’s Scholastic picked The Poca High School Dots as the best sports team nickname in America. 

• The first rural free mail delivery was started in Charles Town on October 6, 1896.

• The first steel cut nails were manufactured in West Virginia in 1883.

• On October 23, 1998 J.R. House, Nitro High’s quarterback, broke the national high school career passing record of 12,104 yards.  That record had been previously set by Cleveland Browns quarterback, Tim Couch.



Disclaimer: These facts were obtained through various West Virginia book supplements and search engines.


Jake Glance
(304) 558-6000