On June 20, 1863, West Virginia officially became a state — therefore we celebrate West Virginia Day on June 20 every year. 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!
History of West Virginia Day
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.
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.
West Virginia Day timeline
West Virginia is populated by the first settlers.
The Europeans begin colonizing the land.
West Virginia becomes the 35th state of the United States of America.
A law requires students and teachers to salute the American flag.
West Virginia Day FAQs
Is West Virginia Day a national holiday?
West Virginia Day is a holiday in West Virginia. Businesses, as well as schools, are closed for the day.
When was West Virginia a state?
West Virginia was granted statehood on June 20, 1863.
What is the safest city in West Virginia?
For now, New Martinsville has been declared the safest city in the state.
How to Celebrate West Virginia Day
Research the heritage 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.
To celebrate West Virginia Day, head out to a museum, some heritage sites, and a few landmark places that best define the state.
Light some fireworks
Though this form of celebration is clichéd, it sure is fun! It is activities like these that often grab the attention of the youth who tend to combine patriotism with extravagant celebrations.
5 Fun Facts You Need To Know About West Virginia
It produces 15% of the nation’s coal.
Launching sales tax
The state was the first to have sales tax effective from 1921.
75% of West Virginia is covered by forests.
A Native American burial ground
The oldest and largest Native American burial ground in the nation is located in West Virginia.
The largest tree
The world’s largest sycamore tree is located in the state.
Why West Virginia Day is Important
It’s a reminder of 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.
It motivates the citizens
West Virginia day excites the residents and motivates them to acknowledge the long journey the state embarked on to make a difference.
It endorses patriotism
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.
West Virginia Day dates