A History of West Virginia: Exploring Its Unique Culture

West Virginia is a state in the southeastern region of the United States. It’s known for many wonderful things, but mostly the Appalachians. Nestled entirely within the Appalachian Mountain Range, West Virginia’s landscape is uniquely mountainous.

The sprawling woodlands, rolling hills, and rugged peaks make the Mountain State a tourist magnet.

Besides the great outdoors packed with plenty of outdoor activities, one of the most attractive features of West Virginia is its unique heritage.

An Overview of West Virginia’s History

If you didn’t know, West Virginia is the only state that came to be as a direct result of the Civil War. The mountainous region west of Virginia politically disagreed, particularly on the issue of slavery.

As the rift deepened, West Virginia split from the pro-confederacy Virginia, and on June 20, 1863, the new state was admitted to the Union.

Today, the historic sites and Civil War reenactments have become a huge part of preserving the state’s bold legacy during the Northern and Southern conflict.

A Look at West Virginia’s Culture

West Virginia has a rich and unique culture courtesy of mixed Scots-Irish, English, German, and Swiss ancestry. Here is a look at the cultural practices that make the Mountain State unique.

1.       Appalachian Tradition

West Virginia is known for its Appalachian tradition that has endured since the Civil War. Much of it is expressed in what is known as Appalachian folk music, a heritage from the 18th-century Scottish and Irish settlers.

Appalachian folk music also has some African American influences, as seen in the use of the banjo. Throughout the years, African American blues, a big part of West Virginia’s culture, was also influenced by Appalachian Music.

Some of the notable features of Appalachian folk music are the use of instruments like the fiddle, banjo, flute, and Mountain Dulcimer.

When visiting WV, it wouldn’t take long to notice that West Virginians are proud of their folk songs. Festivals are held yearly to celebrate this tradition, with Appalachian musicians coming out to entertain and keep the tradition alive.

2.     The Healing Springs

At one point, wealthy residents and visitors would travel to the countryside of southern West Virginia for the famous springhouses. The belief during the early 1800s was that the waters in these springs had healing powers.

Today, the mountain trails lead tourists in droves to some of the springhouses still standing, like Sweet Springs and Grecian Springhouse.

The fascinating long carriage travels to the mountains of West Virginia in search of healing is part of the state’s identity and one that remains profitable today.

3.     West Virginia Day

On June 20 of every year, West Virginians celebrate the most important day in the history of the state: West Virginia Day.

The holiday marks the day West Virginia became an independent state after President Abraham Lincoln approved the secession of 50 Virginian counties from the State of Virginia. That day was June 20, 1863.

The state capital, Charleston, witnesses the biggest West Virginia Day celebrations involving much fanfare and activities like Civil War displays, art festivals, and historical exhibitions.

West Virginia Day is a big part of the culture of Western Virginia. For residents, it’s a day of appreciation for the beautiful land they call home. For visitors, it’s an excellent day to be part of the cultural experience.

4.     Friendly Culture

West Virginia is known as one of the friendliest states, with perhaps the nicest people you’ll ever meet. One of the reasons for the neighborliness is the simplicity of life in the Mountain State.

The semi-seclusion in the Appalachians has contributed to the more laidback lifestyle and a strong sense of community.

While West Virginia has a neighborly and welcoming culture, it also appears to be closed off to certain trends. For instance, the state is one of the slowest in embracing cannabis legalization.

As of 2023, marijuana for recreational use is still illegal in West Virginia. But with the certification of a medical marijuana doctor in WV, patients can access the drug for medicinal purposes.

Final Thoughts

As one of the least populated states, West Virginia tends to fly under the radar. But it’s one of the most picturesque states in the nation, with a rich culture and an exciting array of historical sites.

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Elijah Lucas

Elijah is a professional blogger who writes about technologies to inspire their target audience.