25 Unusual Facts about West Virginia
1. West Virginia is the only state to be created from another state (Virginia...in 1863).
2. Berkley Springs, a resort town, has more massage therapists than lawyers.
3. Berkley Springs is the only place in the U.S. to boast: "George Washington bathed here."
4. W.V. has had the nation's lowest crime rate for the past 26 years.
5. During the Cold War, a sprawling 112,000 sq. ft. bomb shelter was built to shelter members of congress in the event of a nuclear attack. It's located beneath the famous Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, WV.
6. White Sulphur Springs has the only private residence in the U.S. that is made out of coal.
7. The city of Bluefield, WV bills itself as "America's Air-Conditioned City." They back up their boast by serving free lemonade anytime the temperature reaches 90 degrees.
8. St. Andrews Methodist Church in Grafton was the site of the first Mother's Day celebration in 1908.
9. Two West Virginia men have built castles for their wives. Stephen Elkins built "Halliehurst" in 1890 for his wife Hallie Davis Elkins...the only woman in American history to be the daughter, the wife, and the mother of a U.S. senator.
10. In 1885, whiskey distiller Taylor Suite began building Berkley Castle for his new bride, Rosa Pelham, who was 31 years his junior. He died in 1908, a year before the project was finished. Rosa completed the castle but went on the squander her inheritance on extravagant living and wild parties and ended up losing the castle and living in a shack and raising chickens to make ends meet.
11. Philippi, WV was the site of the first land battle of the Civil War.
12. In 1921, West Virginia became the first state to have a sales tax. (Not all of our firsts are things to be proud of.)
13. The mother of Abraham Lincoln, Nancy Hanks, was born near Romney, WV.
14. The largest single shipment of matches...20 railroad cars full...was sent from Wheeling, WV to Memphis, TN in 1933.
15. In 1947, Chuck Yeager, a native of Hamlin, WV, became the first person to fly faster that the speed of sound.
16. The Old Stone Church, in Lewisburg, was built in 1796 while George Washington was President and has been in continuous service ever since.
17. At the end of the "Guilded Age" in the late 1890's, the town of Bramwell, WV had more millionaires per square mile than any other city in the U.S. Many of their mansions have been restored and can be visited by the public.
18. With an average altitude of 1,500 feet, WV is the highest state east of the Mississippi.
19. The first brick street in the world was laid in the city of Charleston in 1873.
20. The first concrete street in the world was laid in the town of Webster Springs, WV in 1903.
21. Indirect artillery fire (action against an unseen target) was used for the first time in military history at the Battle of Fayetteville on May 20, 1863 by a 19-year old Confederate, Sgt. Milton Humphreys. Virtually all modern artillery fire is now indirect fire.
22. James Rumsey of Shepardstown, WV invented the first steamboat. After he died suddenly in England, while raising funds for his project, his friend Robert Fulton took his plans and completed the work and is now credited with the invention of the first steamboat.
23. In 1956, Cecil Underwood (age 34) became the youngest governor in the U.S. In 1996, Underwood ran again and became the oldest governor in the U.S.
24. The hardwood flooring in the famous Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York was manufactured by the Meadow River Lumber Co. of Rainelle, WV.
25. West Virginia has the oddest shape of any state. This was because Union officials, during the Civil War, arranged all the pro-Union counties of Virginia into a state which then seceded from that Confederate state.