National West Virginia Day is on June 20 every year. This day celebrates West Virginia as the last state created from one of the thirteen original colonies under the British Empire. The day marks the birth of a region that is home to some of the largest forests in the country, an industry of coal mining, and a rich cultural history. Yes, there is so much that West Virginia has that its residents can be proud of. This West Virginia Day, step out and explore the beauty and history of the state. Most importantly, let your infectious energy inspire others to celebrate, too! West Virginia has vast beautiful landscapes with three popular mountain ridges namely, Allegheny, Appalachian, and the Blue Ridge Mountains. West Virginia is the largest producer of coal east of the Mississippi River. The state has deep cultural roots and heritage from its native ancestors.
History of National West Virginia Day
Before the arrival of European settlers, West Virginia used to be a favorite hunting ground for numerous Native Americans. It has old earthen mounds constructed by different mound builder cultures. Once the Europeans arrived and settled here, the locals were pushed to the outskirts.
The earliest civilization in the region was in 10,500 B.C. when the Paleo-Indian culture appeared along the major river valleys and water sources. Subsequently, the Adena culture was the dominant influence in West Virginia in the year 500 B.C. The Adena Indians would use ceremonial pipes almost like works of art. They were also called the Woodland Indians. They lived in round wicker-sided and bark sheet roofed houses — wigwams and grew sunflowers, gourds, and squash. Their community had farmers and cultivators. They also reared dogs as pets.
The formation of West Virginia as a state in the U.S. was a tumultuous one due to the sectional differences that existed within it. In fact, around 2,000 residents had even petitioned for the creation of a 14th colony that would be named ‘Westsylvania.’ This colony would have included Maryland, Virginia, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania if the petition had been approved by the Continental Congress.
In 1829, the Virginia Constitutional Convention met in Richmond to discuss reforms to Virginia’s outdated constitution. Philip Doddridge wanted western Virginians to get a more democratic system of government but these desires were rejected by leaders from east of the Alleghenies.
The state of Virginia voted to break away from the United States during the time of the Civil War in 1861. This was unsuccessful, leading to the formation of the state called West Virginia which would be in support of the Union. When the American Civil War occurred, Virginia almost left the United States and was all set to join the Confederate States. However, on April 20, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln made a decision that changed history as we know it — he declared that West Virginia would be a part of the U.S. as a separate state. Virginia became a member of the Union in 1863. By 1864, the informal celebration of West Virginia Day was common and it formally became a state holiday in 1927.
After the formation of the state, there was also some discourse regarding making the city of Wheeling the capital. In 1870, Charleston became the capital instead, but the decision was again reversed to make Wheeling the capital in 1875. To solve the matter once and for all, a statewide vote took place in 1877, and Charleston was finally elected as the capital. Every year on West Virginia Day, ample festivities take place across the state, as well as in the Charleston capitol complex. Seeing the complicated history of West Virginia, it is not a surprise that people go all out in celebrating its creation.
National West Virginia Day timeline
The Paleo-Indian tribe appears along the major river valleys and water sources in the region.
West Virginia is populated by the first settlers.
Also called the Woodland Indians, they make contributions to arts and culture in West Virginia.
The Europeans begin colonizing the land.
The Virginia Constitutional Convention meets in Richmond to discuss its outdated constitution.
Congress grants statehood to West Virginia on June 20, 1863.
A law requires students and teachers to salute the American flag.
National West Virginia Day FAQs
What is closed on National West Virginia Day?
It’s a state holiday in West Virginia. For this reason, many government offices, libraries, and schools remain closed on this day.
Is West Virginia a Red State?
West Virginia is a Republican state currently. Republicans John McCain won the state in 2008, followed by Mitt Romney in 2012, and Donald Trump in 2016 and 2020.
What is the most common job in West Virginia?
The most common jobs held by residents of West Virginia are cashiers and sales workers. Truck drivers and registered nurses are also some of the common professions.
What is the safest city in West Virginia?
Currently, New Martinsville has been declared the safest city in the state.
How To Celebrate National West Virginia Day
Plan a trip
What’s a better way to celebrate this day than to plan a vacay to West Virginia! It’s a gorgeous state with lots to see and do.
Research the history of the state
The best way to celebrate the day is to research the heritage of West Virginia, its history, why it was formed, and how it has progressed over time. Reading up on the culture of any country, city, town, or state can truly be inspiring.
Visit their local museums
If you are visiting the state, make sure to drop by the local museums there. It will give you a lot of insight into the state’s history and culture.
5 Interesting Facts About West Virginia
It was supposed to be named ‘Kanawha’
The state was to be named after a Native American tribe, but officials went with West Virginia.
A Native American burial ground
The oldest and largest Native American burial ground in the nation is located in West Virginia.
A large discovery
North America’s largest alluvial diamond, the Punch Jones Diamond, was discovered in Peterstown.
The first rural free delivery mail service
In 1896 in Charles Town, the Post Office Department’s pilot program launched this mail service to try out the practicality for a country-wide rural delivery system.
The oldest dime store is found here
America’s oldest dime store, Berdine’s Five and Dime, is in Harrisville in West Virginia.
Why We Love National West Virginia Day
It is a beautiful state
This day makes us look closely at the many natural landscapes that this state has to offer. There are so many things to see and appreciate here. West Virginia Day brings to light the past of the state and the hurdles it had to overcome to earn the status it has today. It’s achievements like this that fuel the fire of patriotism.
To remember the history
Days such as these play a great role in highlighting the history of a country. This reminder is important so people never forget the sacrifices that were made in the past. National West Virginia Day also tells us about how West Virginia achieved statehood and the many political discussions and debates that preceded that. We must always remember the contributions of everyone who made this a reality.
To boost tourism
The increase in tourism can always help local communities in the state. It will also boost the overall economy of West Virginia if more tourists come to visit. West Virginia day excites the residents and motivates them to acknowledge the long journey the state embarked on to make a difference.
National West Virginia Day dates