The most interesting facts about West Virginia

West Virginia is a state rich with history and unique features. It was once a part of Virginia until it broke away from the Union in 1863.

John Denver called the state “almost heaven” in his song, but there’s so much more to know about this mountainous paradise! Read on to discover some of the most interesting facts about WV.

1. It’s the First State to Have a Sales Tax

In response to the Great Depression, states began to rely on sales taxes to raise additional revenue. Today, more than 18 states rely on sales taxes, and it’s the second largest source of state revenue.

Whether you’ve fully set up shop in West Virginia or just ship to it once in a while, you need to know what sales tax you have to pay. This guide will walk you through everything from what sales are taxable to where to report your sales.

To make things easier, some marketplaces like Amazon and Etsy offer integrated sales tax rate determination and collection. You can also use hosted stores and mobile point-of-sale systems to manage your tax rates and collections from your dashboard.

2. It’s the First State to Have a State Bird

West Virginia is one of seven states to honor the northern cardinal (scientific name: Cardinalis cardinalis) as its state bird. These red birds are a common sight in the mountains and forests of the state.

They are non-picky omnivores and love to forage at bird feeders. Seeds top their list, but they also eat insects and fruits.

3. It’s the First State to Have a State Flower

If you’re a true West Virginian, you’ll be familiar with the state’s many symbols. These symbols represent the state’s culture, history and values.

The first West Virginia state flower was the Rhododendron maximum, or “great laurel.” It was selected by the legislature on January 29, 1903.

This shrub is native to Western Asia and grows in a variety of habitats, including open woodlands, grasslands, wetlands and forests. The delicate pale pink or white bloom is mottled with either red or yellow flecks.

4. It’s the First State to Have a State Name

The first state to have a state name was West Virginia. The state was separated from Virginia and admitted to the Union as a separate state on June 20, 1863, as the 35th state.

The split was the result of sectional differences between the western and northern counties in the area. Slave-holding plantation owners in the eastern part of Virginia dominated politics and economy, leaving the rural residents of the rugged Western counties feeling ignored.

After the Civil War, a group of Pro-Union Virginians set up a new government called the Restored Government of West Virginia. Many delegates wanted the new state to have a name that showed connection to Virginia, but this idea was discarded.

5. It’s the First State to Have a State Bathtub

One of the earliest tourist attractions in West Virginia is Berkeley Springs State Park, known for its soothing mineral springs and spa treatments. But there’s another attraction here that’s unique to the state: George Washington’s Bathtub.

The only outdoor monument to presidential bathing, the stone tub is a 1930s reconstruction of the type of primitive enclosure President Washington likely soaked in during his visits to the natural health spa.

Today, people from across the country and around the world come here to relax in the pristine mineral waters. And an annual event celebrates the anniversary of President Washington’s first visit here in 1748.

6. It’s the First State to Have a County Name

Counties West of the Allegheny Front broke away from Virginia during the Civil War. They established a new capital in Wheeling, while the far southwestern counties remained loyal to the state based in Richmond.

As the western counties voted to break away from Virginia, they debated the name that would represent their new state. Several options were considered, including Kanawha and Vandalia, but West Virginia won in the end.

The two easternmost counties, Berkeley and Jefferson, refused to recognize their inclusion in the new state. This forced them to petition Congress for recognition. After a long and emotional battle, the courts eventually determined that Berkeley County and Jefferson County were part of West Virginia.