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People and places that shaped West Virginia

Jun. 20, 2013 @ 12:01 AM

In recognition of West Virginia’s 150th birthday today, The Herald-Dispatch has compiled a list of 150 interesting things to know about the Mountain State — from places to go and things to see to the people and historical events that have shaped the state.

You can share even more great things about West Virginia by going to The Herald-Dispatch on Facebook and sharing what you love about West Virginia.

Head out to a festival

  • 1. Appalachian String Band Festival in Clifftop: This old-time music festival draws about 3,000 annually but folks travel from all over the world to the festival nicknamed Clifftop.
  • 2. West Virginia Pumpkin Festival in Milton: Held on the 86-acre West Virginia Pumpkin Park, the four-day fest attracts more than 55,000 people for a wide range of events including the giant pumpkin auction to bluegrass music and apple-butter making.
  • 3. Italian Heritage Festival in Clarksburg: The festival celebrating all things Italian will celebrate its 35th anniversary on Aug. 30 through Sept. 1. The festival has been rated among the top festivals in the country.
  • 4. Mountain State Art and Craft Fair in Ripley: Celebrating its 50th year on July 4-6, the festival is packed with more than 150 Appalachian region artisans selling and demonstrating products ranging from wood, glass, metal, one-of-a-kind clothing and fine art..
  • 5. FestivALL Charleston in Charleston: Based on the citywide Spoleto Festival in Charleston, S.C., FestivALL Charleston has hundreds of art, music, dance, national-act concerts, cookoffs and community events rolled into 10 days.
  • 6. Feast of the Ransom in Richwood: The event celebrating ramps just marked its 75th anniversary with the Ramp Feed and Ramp Festival at Richwood High School.
  • 7. Bridge Day in Fayetteville: Held on the third Saturday in October, BASE jumpers come from around the world to jump and catapult themselves off the bridge. The festival draws 100,000 plus in a day to myriad events.
  • 8. State Fair of West Virginia in Fairlea, W.Va.:To be held Aug 9-17, the State Fair of West Virginia is celebrating its 89th year of hosting carnivals and exhibitions, horse racing and concerts. More than 200,000 people attend each year.
  • 9. Oglebay Winter Festival of Lights in Wheeling: Since 1985, The light display at Oglebay Park has grown into one of the nation's largest, covering more than 300 acres over a six-mile drive throughout the resort.
  • 10. ChiliFest in Huntington: The 30th annual West Virginia State Chili Championship draws more than 20,000 people each September and raises more than $50,000 annually for Ronald McDonald House.

Exploring the arts

  • 11. Tamarack near Beckley: Built in 1996, Tamarack: The Best of West Virginia is the tourist destination at Exit 45 above the Beckley service area of the West Virginia Turnpike. Known for its red-peaked roof, Tamarack offers the best of the Mountain State’s arts and crafts, music, food, theater and interactive programs and demonstrations. It draws more than 500,000 visitors annually.
  • 12. Huntington Museum of Art in Huntington: Located on 52 acres,the museum is home to a tropical conservatory and trails, ever changing contemporary art exhibits, the world-renowned Walter Gropius workshops and studios, permanent collections of glass, firearms, British silver, Near Eastern works and prints from its collection of more than 15,000 objects.
  • 13., Mountain Stage in Charleston: Celebrating its 30th year in 2013, Mountain Stage is a two-hour music radio show produced by West Virginia Public Broadcasting and distributed worldwide by National Public Radio (NPR) and the Voice of America's satellite radio service. Hosted by Larry Groce, the program showcases diverse music, from the traditional to modern and is recorded before a live audience, usually at the Culture Center Theater in Charleston, but occasionallyat other venues elsewhere in the United States.
  • 14. Blenko Glass in Milton: Blenko Glass Company has been a family owned and operated company since 1893. In addition to its world-famous tableware items such as its pitcher, Blenko Glass also created the CMA Awards, as well as stained glass for the world’s greatest cathedrals and The White House.
  • 15. West Virginia Culture Center in Charleston: The center opened in 1976 to showcase West Virginia's artistic, cultural and historic heritage. The lower level of the West Virginia State Museum recently reopened after a complete renovation. You can also view the art and history exhibits in the Lobby and the Balcony Galleries; browse the State Archives library, or join in one of the dozen festivals and events held throughout the year.
  • 16. Museum of American Glass in Weston: The Museum of American Glass in West Virginia was established in Weston, in 1993 as a non-profit organization with a goal to discover, publish and preserve whatever may relate to the glass industry in West Virginia, and other hand-blown glass.
  • 17. Point Pleasant River Museum in Point Pleasant: The Point Pleasant River Museum focuses on river life and commercial enterprise on the Ohio and Kanawha Rivers. Displays, video demonstrations and special guests will highlight topics such as great floods, boat construction, sternwheel steamers, river disasters and more. The museum also offers a working pilot house and a research library.

Places to take the kids

  • 18. Camden Park: Celebrating its 110th anniversary this month, Camden Park is located along U.S. 60 in northern Wayne County and features 30 rides and attractions.
  • 19. Clay Center for the Arts & Sciences: Along with being a premier performance venue in the region and museum, this multi-purpose Charleston facility offers a discovery museum and several special activities for kids and families.
  • 20. Heritage Farm Museum and Village: History awaits children and families at this museum in Wayne County, which hosts special events throughout the year to bring Appalachian pioneer days back to life.
  • 21. Waves of Fun: Located at Valley Park in Hurricane, this newly renovated, 180-foot-long wave pool starts at six inches deep and deepens to 8 feet, with waves that roll by every eight minutes.
  • 22. Good Zoo & Benedum Theatre at Oglebay Resort: One of many attractions at this Wheeling resort, the Good Zoo features more than 50 species of animals and a dinosaur and outback exhibits, along with the planetarium, which features programs about nature and the universe as well as laser shows.
  • 23. Mystery Hole: This gravity-defying, quirky roadside attraction has garnered national attention and is located in Ansted.
  • 24. Three Rivers Aviation Center: Bird experts from this Summers County facility visit schools and festivals throughout the state providing educational opportunities for children.
  • 25. West Virginia State Wildlife Center: In French Creek in Upshur County, find this modern zoological facility displays West Virginia’s wildlife and an interpretative, one-mile trail through the forest.
  • 26. Valley Worlds Of Fun: Fairmont is home to this entertainment center, which boasts seven acres of fun, including bowling lanes, Lasertag, inflatables, rides, miniature golf, a climbing wall and the popular Valley Free Fall ride.
  • 27. Kruger Street Toy and Train Museum: In Wheeling, a 1905 former elementary school building now houses model trains and toys from past and current generations, featuring different rooms spotlighting dolls, miniatures, transportation, games and more.

Great snapshots

  • 28. Hawk’s Nest: This peak on Gauley Mountain near Ansted that overlooks the New River Gorge became a popular stopping place for travelers when the James River and Kanawha Turnpike was constructed in the 1820s.
  • 29. Seneca Rocks: This towering formation of whitish rocks rises 1,000 feet above the forest floor near the confluence of Seneca Creek and North Fork of the South Branch of the Potomac River in Pendleton County.
  • 30. Cass Scenic Railroad: The historic logging railroad line in Pocahontas County that was once part of large network built in 1900 to harvest timber for a pulp mill in Covington, Va., now offers restored locomotives that carry tourists up steep grades to scenic views of the Greenbrier Valley.
  • 31. Blackwater Falls: Located on the Blackwater River in Tucker County near Davis, these falls send water plunging almost 60 feet over sandstone. The falls are accessible by steps, and several viewing platforms are available.
  • 32. New River Gorge Bridge: Located in Fayette County, the bridge is one of West Virginia’s best-known landmarks. It is the third-highest bridge and until 2003 was the world’s longest single-arch steel span.
  • 33. Glade Creek Grist Mill: The mill was built in 1976 at Babcock State Park as a replica of one that once ground grain on Glade Creek long before Babcock became a state park.
  • 34. Dolly Sods: The striking topography is part of the Allegheny Plateau and features boulder-strewn plains, azalea, mountain laurel, rhododendron, blueberries, cranberries and the carnivorous sundew plant.
  • 35. National Radio Astronomy Observatory: Located near Green Bank, the observatory offers several towering, dish-shaped telescopes that gather radio waves.
  • 36. State Capitol: The Cass Gilbert-designed structure was officially dedicated on June 20, 1932, and offers breathtaking photos, from its dome to chandeliers to European marble.

Places with some history

  • 37. West Virginia Independence Hall: The birthplace of West Virginia, this three-story structure in downtown Wheeling is now a museum dedicated to the history of statehood and the Civil War.
  • 38. Grave Creek Mound: At 62 feet high and 240 feet in diameter, its the largest conical earthen mound in North America. Located in Moundsville.
  • 39. The Greenbrier: The resort became established as a gathering place for wealthy business executives and political figures in the early 1900s, and a secret underground bunker served as an emergency relocation center for Congress from 1962-1992.
  • 40. Weston State Hospital: Originally called the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, this 269-acre site in Lewis County housed the state’s mentally ill from 1864 to 1994.
  • 41. Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church: The first Mother’s Day observance in the United States took place at this church in Grafton on May 10, 1908. It became a national historic landmark in 1992.
  • 42. Wheeling Suspension Bridge: This bridge over the Ohio River opened to traffic in 1949 and, at 1,010 feet, was the longest clear span in the world. It still serves local traffic and has been designated a national landmark by the National Park Service and American Society of Civil Engineers.
  • 43. Blennerhassett Island: Now a state historical park, the Ohio River’s fifth-largest island became home to Harman and Margaret Blennerhassett in 1798. The estate for these wealthy Irish aristocrats became headquarters for Aaron Burr’s military expedition to the Southwest.
  • 44. Birthplace of Pearl Buck: The Hillsboro home of the first American woman to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1938 is now the Pearl S. Buck Birthplace Museum.
  • 45. Traveller’s Rest: Located in Jefferson County, this house is one of the few documented works of 18th-century architect John Ariss and was designated a national historic landmark because of its association with Gen. Horatio Gates of the Revolutionary War.
  • 46. Harpers Ferry National Historical Park: One of West Virginia’s most visited historic sites. The 2,000-plus acre park has an emphasis on historical events such as John Brown, the Civil War, African-American history, industry, transportation and natural heritage.

Key moments in state history

  • 47. Founding: On June 20, 1863, West Virginia became the 35th state in the union, the only state born out of the cauldron of the Civil War. Declared a state by President Abraham Lincoln, West Virginia is the only state to be designated by presidential proclamation.
  • 48. Rural mail delivery: The first rural free mail delivery was started in Charles Town on Oct. 6, 1896, and then spread throughout the United States.
  • 49. Memorial: The county’s first memorial building to honor World War I veterans was dedicated on May 30, 1923, in Welch.
  • 50. Silver Bridge collapse: The Silver Bridge — which connected Point Pleasant, W.Va., to Gallipolis, Ohio, over the Ohio River — collapsed on Dec. 15, 1967, killing 46 people whose vehicles were on the bridge during rush-hour traffic. It was replaced by the Silver Memorial Bridge, which was completed in 1969.
  • 51. 1937 Flood: On Jan. 27, 1937, the Ohio River crested in Huntington at a depth of 69.45 feet, more than 19 feet above flood stage, because of snow in December and 19 straight days of warm rain in January resulting in houses being ripped from their foundations. The Cabell County Courthouse lawn became a boat landing with vessels tied up on parking meter posts.
  • 52. Matewan Massacre: The Battle of Matewan, also known as the Matewan Massacre, was a shootout the Mingo County town on May 19, 1920, between local miners and the Baldwin-Felts Detective Agency, that killed Detective Albert Felts and his brother, Lee Felts, and the Matewan mayor Cabell Testerman.
  • 53. Farmington Mine Disaster: The Farmington Mine disaster was an explosion that took place at approximately 5:30 a.m. Nov. 20, 1968, at the Consol No. 9 coal mine north of Farmington and Mannington, large enough to be felt about 12 miles away in Fairmont. Only 21 of 99 miners survived, and recovery efforts took about 10 years, with 19 bodies never found.The disaster led to the landmark Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969.
  • 54. Blair Mountian: The Battle of Blair Mountain was one of the largest civil uprisings in United States history and the largest armed rebellion since the American Civil War, lasting five days in late August and early September 1921, in Logan County, where about 10,000 armed coal miners confronted 3,000 lawmen and strikebreakers, called the Logan Defenders, who were backed by coal mine operators during an attempt by the miners to unionize the southwestern West Virginia coalfields.
  • 55. State Hospital Fire: On Nov. 26, 1952, a ward building at Huntington State Hospital, now Mildred Mitchell-Bateman Hospital along Norway Avenue, caught fire, killing 17 people, eventually leading to the Hartley Act in the 1980s that mandated that all state hospitals eliminate open wards and provide only two-bed, semi-private rooms for mentally ill patients.
  • 56. Buffalo Creek Flood: The Buffalo Creek Flood occurred on Feb. 26, 1972, when the Pittston Coal Company's coal slurry impoundment dam #3, located on a hillside in Logan County, burst four days after having been declared 'satisfactory' by a federal mine inspector, releasing about 132 million gallons of black waste water, cresting over 30 feet high, on the residents of 16 coal mining hamlets in Buffalo Creek Hollow; killing 125 and injuring 1,121.

Tasty treats

  • 57. Pepperoni rolls: Recently named West Virginia’s state food, the pepperoni roll is believed to have originated from Giuseppe Argiro, who moved from Calabria, Italy, in 1920 to work in the coal mines around Clarksburg.
  • 58. Wild ramps: The wild leeks are celebrated at festivals throughout the state and are sometimes used by top chefs throughout the country.
  • 59. Biscuits and gravy: One of the favorite comfort foods of West Virginians everywhere, local cooks have been known to use bacon grease for added flavor in the milk gravy placed atop a homemade biscuit.
  • 60. Hot dogs: With the core elements of coleslaw and chili, West Virginia dogs took home top prize in the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council’s recent national March Madness-style competition.
  • 61. Helvetia cheese: Born in W.Va.’s small Swiss community of Helvetia at the Cheese Haus, this Swiss cheese called Helvetia Gold was originally made from whole milk and aged 60 days before being sold.
  • 62. Apple butter: Apple butter festivals across the state spice up the autumn season, with recipe ingredients ranging from powdered spices to cinnamon oil cooked best in a copper-lined kettle over an open fire.
  • 63. Beans/cornbread: This folk food calls for pinto (brown) beans slow-cooked for hours and cast iron-baked cornbread hot from the kitchen, often with chopped or sliced onions on the side.
  • 64. Blue Smoke Salsa: A salsa company that started in a West Virginia basement, Blue Smoke Salsa ranges in flavor from Peach to Triple-X Hot.
  • 65. Holl’s Chocolate: Traditional, authentic Swiss chocolates made in a West Virginia family-owned business, with best sellers including truffles and milk and dark chocolate almond bark.
  • 66. Mister Bee’s Potato Chips: West Virginia’s only potato chip, manufactured in the state since 1951, is available in original, dip style, barbeque and sour cream and onion varieties.

Athletes and coaches

  • 67. William C. Campbell: Campbell, who grew up and resides in Huntington, had a distinguished amateur golf career. Campbell was a 15-time winner of the West Virginia Amateur championship. The World Golf Hall of Fame and West Virginia Golf Hall of Fame member won the U.S. Amateur championship in 1964, along with winning U.S. Senior Amateur championships in 1979 and 1980. He is a former president of the USGA and captain of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews.
  • 68. Jerry West: Chelyan, W.Va., native was a basketball All-American at West Virginia University and All-NBA player for the L.A. Lakers. He also coached the Lakers and as general manager guided the franchise to six championships. His likeness was used for the official NBA logo. Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame inductee in 2010.
  • 69. Chad Pennington: Record-setting Marshall University quarterback also had a successful NFL career. Tennessee native and his wife, Robin, created the 1st and 10 Foundation with the goal of improving the quality of life throughout southern West Virginia, including the Tri-State, and east Tennessee.
  • 70. Hal Greer: Marshall University's first black scholarship student athlete played basketball for the Thundering Herd from 1955 to 1958. Graduate of Douglass High School in Huntington. Hal Greer Boulevard in his hometown is named for him. Played for 15 seasons in the NBA and was part of the NBA 50th Anniversary Team named in 1996. Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame inductee in 1982.
  • 71. Sam Snead: Although born in Virginia, Snead is a member of the West Virginia Golf Hall of Fame. Wearing his trademark straw hat "Slammin' Sammy" won a record 82 PGA Tour events. He was three-time winner of The Masters, won three PGA Championships and won one British Open. Snead won the West Virginia Open title 17 times. The longtime pro at The Greenbrier Resort died in 2002.
  • 72. Mary Lou Retton: Fairmont, W.Va., native became the first American woman to win an Olympic gold medal in gymnastics at the 1984 Los Angeles Games. Elected to the West Virginia Sports Hall of Fame in 2008.
  • 73. Frank "Gunner" Gatski: A former Marshall University and Cleveland Browns and Detroit Lions offensive lineman named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1985. The east Huntington span across the Ohio River is Frank Gatski Memorial Bridge. The Farmington, W.Va., native won seven league championships with the Browns between 1946 and 1955 and added one more with the Lions in 1957.
  • 74. Cam Henderson: Marshall University's all-time winningest coach with 430 victories in football and men's basketball. Coached the football team to a 68-46-5 record from 1935 to 1949. His basketball teams were 362-160 from 1935 to 1955, including the championship of the 1947 NAIB (now NAIA) title.
  • 75. Nick Saban: University of Alabama football coach won national championships in 2012, 2011 and 2009 after winning the title at LSU in 2003. Native of Fairmont, W.Va.
  • 76. Randy Moss: Marshall University football star from Rand, W.Va., helped the Thundering Herd win the 1996 NCAA Division I-AA championship and the 1997 Mid-American Conference title and Motor City Bowl. A seven-time NFL all-pro selection with several teams Last played in 2012 with the San Francisco 49ers. Considered a future Pro Football Hall of Fame selection.
  • 77. Sam Huff: All-American linebacker at West Virginia University in 1955. Won an NFL championship with the N.Y. Giants in 1956. Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee in 1982 was born in a Marion County, W.Va., coal camp.
  • 78. Bobby Pruett: Head coach of Marshall University's undefeated 1996 NCAA Division I-AA championship football team. Compiled a 94-23 record in nine seasons from 1996 to 2004 with two undefeated teams, six conference championships and victories in five of seven bowl games. Beckley native was participated in football, track and field and wrestling at Marshall.
  • 79. Major Harris: College Football Hall of Fame member from Pittsburgh, Pa., was an All-American quarterback at West Virginia University in 1989.
  • 80. George Brett: Glen Dale, W.Va., native and member of the Baseball Hall of Fame. As a third baseman for the Kansas City Royals, won American League batting titles in 1976, 1980 and 1990.
  • 81. Gale Catlett: West Virginia University's all-time winningest basketball coach with a 439-276 record. Hedgesville, W.Va., native led his alma mater to the NCAA Sweet 16 in 1998. His teams won 20 or more games in 11 of 24 seasons.
  • 82: Mike D'Antoni: Los Angeles Lakers head coach was born in Mullens, W.Va., and had an All-American playing career at Marshall University. Played in the NBA and Italy, where his coaching career began.
  • 83. Jackie Hunt: Huntington High graduate stayed at home to play for Marshall University and had a College Football Hall of Fame career. Scored 27 touchdowns in the 1940 season and was a Little All-America first team selection.
  • 84. Clair Bee: Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame member was considered as the inventor of the 1-3-1 zone defense as the coach at Long Island University where his teams won the NIT in 1939 and 1941. Native of Grafton, W.Va.
  • 85: Earle "Greasy" Neale: Parkersburg native is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame and the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Coaches at several colleges including West Virginia Wesleyan. His 1922 team at Washington and Jefferson went to the Rose Bowl. Coached the independent professional Ironton Tanks before going to the Philadelphia Eagles where he won NFL titles in 1948 and 1949.
  • 86. Charlie Slack: Marshall University basketball player set the NCAA career rebounding record with a 25.6 average in the 1954-55 season. A native of Pomeroy, Ohio.
  • 87. Rick Huckabay: Louisiana native had a 129-59 record as Marshall University's basketball coach from 1983-89. Guided Marshall to the NCAA tournament in 1984, 1985 and 1987 and to the NIT in 1988.

Movies with a West Virginia connection

  • 88. “We Are Marshall”: Starring Matthew McConaughey, Matthew Fox, David Strathairn and Anthony Mackie, this 2006 film tells the story of the 1970 plane crash that killed 75 Marshall University football players, coaches and supporters, and the following year of rebuilding the football program. The movie was partially filmed in Huntington.
  • 89. “The Mothman Prophecy”: This 2002 movie stars Richard Gere, Laura Linney and Debra Messing and tells of the mysterious happenings near Point Pleasant, which were attributed to the mythical Mothman, including the 1967 collapse of the Silver Bridge.
  • 90. “Super 8”: Written and directed by J.J. Abrams, this 2011 movie filmed in Wheeling, is set in 1979 and tells of a group of friends who witness a train crash and investigate unexplained events that follow.
  • 91. “Matewan”: Starring Chris Cooper and Mary McDonnell, this 1987 movie, filmed in Thurmond, W.Va., portrays the story of a labor union organizer who comes to a mining community mistreated by its mining company.
  • 92. “Gods and Generals”: Filmed in 2003 in portions of the Eastern Panhandle and starring Stephen Lang, Jeff Daniels and Robert Duvall, this movie was a prequel to “Gettysburg” and tells of the story of Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson and his Civil War successes from 1861 to 1863.
  • 93. “Hatfields & McCoys”: The History Channel broadcast this documentary miniseries in 2012, starring Kevin Costner, Bill Paxton and Tom Berenger and produced by Milton native Darrell Fetty. It is about the legendary conflict between the West Virginia Hatfields and the Kentucky McCoys.
  • 94. “The Silence of the Lambs”: The Oscar winning 1991 movie starring Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins is about a West Virginia born FBI cadet and her encounters with Hannibal Lecter as she chases a serial killer.
  • 95. “The Deer Hunter”: This 1979 post-Vietnam war drama starring Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken and Meryl Streep (in her first Oscar nomination) was partially filmed in the Northern Panhandle.
  • 96. “The Night of the Hunter”: The 1955 thriller stars Robert Mitchum and Shirley Winters and is about a criminal who tries to get a wife and son to tell him the location of money stashed by a fellow criminal. It was filmed in West Virginia’s Marshall, Tyler and Wetzel counties.
  • 97. “October Sky”: The 1999 movie starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Chris Cooper and Laura Dern is a adaption of Homer Hickam’s autobiographical book “Rocket Boys” about how the Sputnik launch inspired a group of boys from Coalwood, W.Va., to build a rocket.


  • 98. Jennifer Garner: Before she became Ben Affleck’s sweetheart and was named one of People magazine’s “50 Most Beautiful People,” Garner was the pride of Charleston’s George Washington High School and a trained ballerina.
  • 99. Steve Harvey: The multi-talented Harvey, who hails from Welch, W.Va., is a standup comedian, author of “Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man,” and host of “Family Feud.”
  • 100. Don Knotts: Though he died in 2006, Morgantown’s own is remembered fondly as a legendary television character actor, most notably as Deputy Barney Fife on “The Andy Griffith Show.”
  • 101. Soupy Sales: Raised in Huntington, Sales earned a journalism degree from Marshall University before become a pie-throwing television personality.
  • 102. Brad Dourif: Douriff was raised by his stepfather and champion golfer Bill Campbell, and later went on to appear in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and as the voice of the evil doll Chucky in “Child’s Play” and its sequels.
  • 103. John Corbett: Corbett earned an Emmy nomination for his work on “Northern Exposure,” after a back injury forced him out of his job as a steel laborer in the hills of West Virginia.
  • 104. Brad Paisley: A Grammy, CMA and ACM honoree, Paisley, who was born and raised near Wheeling, has two boys with wife/actress Kimberly Williams-Paisley.
  • 105. Peter Marshall: The original host of “The Hollywood Squares,” Marshall, born Ralph Pierre LaCock in Huntington, reportedly derived his stage name from the then Marshall College.
  • 106. Michael W. Smith: A contemporary Christian artist with three Grammys and 40 Dove awards, Smith hails from Kenova and is probably best known for his hit “Friends.”
  • 107. Kathy Mattea: The country songstress who was born in South Charleston has recorded 17 albums with hits including “Eighteen Wheels and a Dozen Roses” and “Come From the Heart.”
  • 108. Landau Eugene Murphy Jr.: Logan County native Murphy, who was homeless at age 19, received national attention — and $1 million — for winning the sixth season of NBC’s “America’s Got Talent.”
  • 109. Conchata Ferrell: After 30 years in the entertainment industry, Ferrell, from Charleston, achieved television stardom as the housekeeper “Berta” in the comedy “Two and a Half Men.”
  • 110. Katie Lee: Lee from Huntington was married briefly to Billy Joel, and has appeared as a judge on “Top Chef” and other television cooking shows.
  • 111. Morgan Spurlock: Once homeless before becoming a filmmaker, Spurlock, who was born in Parkersburg, once famously gained 25 pounds eating nothing but McDonald’s for a month for his documentary “Super Size Me.”
  • 112. Bill Withers: Singer, songwriter and guitarist Bill Withers was born in the coal mining town of Slab Fork, and recorded favorites such as “Ain’t No Sunshine” and “Lean on Me.”

Notable politicians

  • 113. Robert C. Byrd: Represented West Virginia in the U.S. Senate from Jan. 3, 1959, until his death June 28, 2010, making him the nation’s longest serving senator to date.
  • 114. Jay Rockefeller: Served two terms as governor before moving to the U.S. Senate, where he has represented West Virginia since 1985. He plans to retire late 2014.
  • 115. Cecil Underwood: Holds the distinction of having been West Virginia’s youngest and oldest governor, serving as its 25th governor from 1957 to 1960 and its 32nd from 1997 to 2000.
  • 116. Arch Moore: Served three terms as governor from 1969 to 1977 and 1985 to 1989, albeit the final term ended with corruption allegations that led to a federal conviction with hefty financial penalties and prison.
  • 117. Jennings Randolph: Served in the U.S. Congress for 40 years having represented West Virginia in both the House and Senate.
  • 118. Ken Hechler: Also a previous professor at Marshall College, he represented West Virginia for 18 years in the U.S. House and became the Secretary of State in 1985 to 2000.
  • 119. Arthur Ingram Boreman: Previously a Virginia assemblyman, he became West Virginia’s first governor elected in 1863 and resigned in 1869 to join the U.S. Senate.
  • 120. Elizabeth Kee: Born as Maude Etta Simpkins, she later changed her name, then married would-be Congressman John Kee and in 1951 became West Virginia’s first woman elected to Congress upon her husband’s death.
  • 121. John W. Davis: A U.S. congressman and solicitor general, the 1924 Democratic candidate for president failed to carry both West Virginia and his native Clarksburg in losing to Republican Calvin Coolidge.
  • 122. Albert Jenkins: A confederate general from Cabell County who served as congressman for both the Union and the Confederacy.
  • 123. Johnson Newlon Camden: A U.S. Senator and industrialist who opened one of the first oil wells in West Virginia and later helped John D. Rockefeller establish Standard Oil’s national monopoly.

Other prominent figures

  • 124. Chuck Yeager: The World War II veteran became the first person to break the sound barrier on Oct. 14, 1947.
  • 125. Carter G. Woodson: The 1896 graduate of Huntington’s Douglass High School became the “Father of Black History” as a historian, author and publisher.
  • 126. Pearl S. Buck: In 1938, the noted author became the first American woman to receive the Nobel Prize for literature.
  • 127. Booker T. Washington: The influential black educator founded the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. He was born in Virginia and raised in Malden, W.Va.
  • 128. John Forbes Nash: A Nobel Prize mathematician was hospitalized for schizophrenia and became the subject of the biography and movie “A Beautiful Mind.”
  • 129. Milan Puskar: Philanthropist and cofounder of Mylan pharmaceuticals, a maker of generic drugs.
  • 130. Jon McBride: An astronaut who piloted 1984 Challenger space shuttle flight, he lost a bid for West Virginia governor in 1996.
  • 131. Roger Price: A Charleston native, humorist, author and publisher who created Mad Libs.
  • 132. Woody Williams: Received the Medal of Honor for actions in the Battle of Iwo Jima in World War II, making him the state’s only living recipient in 2013.

Odd facts

  • 133. The nation's oldest five-and-dime store, Berdine's Five and Dime, is located near Parkersburg in Harrisville.
  • 134. The first state sales tax in the United States went into effect in West Virginia on July 1, 1921.
  • 135. West Virginia's first Capital city was located in Wheeling, Ohio County. It was later moved to Charleston, then back to Wheeling, and then back to Charleston.
  • 136. Mother's Day was founded by Anna Jarvis in Grafton, W.Va. Her first celebration was 1908 followed by her lobbying to expand the holiday.
  • 137. West Virginia has the oldest population of any state. The median age is 40.
  • 138. The first brick street in the world was laid in Charleston on October 23, 1870, on Summers Street, between Kanawha and Virginia Streets.
  • 139. Towns in West Virginia named after cities in other countries include Athens, Berlin, Cairo, Calcutta, Geneva, Ghent, Glasgow, Killarney, Lima, London, Moscow, Odessa, Ottawa, Palermo, Rangoon, Santiago, Shanghai, Vienna and Wellington.
  • 140. Weirton is the only city in the United States that extends from one state border to another.
  • 141. In 1928, Minnie Buckingham Harper of Welch became the first black woman legislator in the U. S. She was appointed by the governor to the House of Delegates to fill the vacancy caused by the death of her husband.
  • 142. The first federal prison exclusively for women in the United States was the Federal Industrial Institution for Women in Alderson, which opened in 1926. Among its inmates have been: Axis Sally; Tokyo Rose; Lolita Lebron, who opened fire on the House of Representatives chamber in 1954; Lynette 'Squeaky' Fromme and Sara Jane Moore, who attempted to assassinate President Ford; Billie Holiday and Irene Smith, the sister of country music legend Hank Williams Sr., both on drug convictions; and Martha Stewart, the celebrity homemaker, convicted of lying to investigators about a stock sale.

Key facts about Marshall University

  • 143. Marshall University was formally incorporated as Marshall College on March 30, 1838, by the Virginia General Assembly. The Civil War forced it to close for several years, until it was renewed in 1867 by the West Virginia Legislature as the State Normal School of Marshall College to train teachers. Marshall achieved university status on March 1, 1961, with approval from the West Virginia Legislature. The following day, Gov. W.W. Baron came to campus to sign the bill.
  • 144. Old Main: The oldest building at Marshall University, Old Main is actually five buildings joined together in a series of additions constructed between the years 1868 and 1908.
  • 145. John Marshall: Justice Marshall served as Chief Justice from 1801-1835 and is credited with laying the basis for U.S. constitutional law. Local lawyer John Laidley was close friends with Marshall and lobbied for the new school in Huntington to be named for him.
  • 145. Plane crash: Marshall lost most of its football team, coaches, staff and a number of community supporters on Nov. 14, 1970, in a plane crash near the Tri-State Airport, upon returning from a loss at East Carolina.
  • The Memorial Student Center Fountain was dedicated in November 1972 to the memory of the airliner crash victims, and a monument is erected in Spring Hill Cemetery in Huntington which marks the gravesites of six of the players whose remains were never identified.
  • The “We Are Marshall” Memorial Bronze piece by Sissonville native, Burl Jones, was dedicated on Nov. 11, 2000, attached to the Joan C. Edwards Stadium on the west facade.
  •  Following the plane crash in November 1970, Marshall pieced together a football team for the following season, which was dubbed by the media as the “Young Thundering Herd.” It was only possible because the NCAA granted Marshall a waiver so that freshmen could play, something the the NCAA expanded to all of college sports in 1972.
  • 146. Joan C. Edwards Stadium: In the fall of 1991, the $30 million Marshall University Stadium hosted its first game and was the third-largest stadium in Division I-AA football. In November 2003, it was named the Joan C. Edwards Stadium, the first Division I-A stadium named for a woman.
  • 147. Marco: A real, live Marco bison was popular at football games in the late 1960s and early 1970s, but the the bison became so rambunctious — it tried to graze on the new artificial turf at Fairfield Stadium — the animal had to be kept in a specially constructed trailer.
  • 148. School of Medicine: The former railway hospital next to campus became the home of the new School of Medicine that admitted its first class in 1978. The school eventually closed that building and facilities at the VA Medical Center on Spring Valley Road, the Erma Ora Byrd Clinical Center on 15th Street, and the teaching and clinical center next to Cabell Huntington Hospital.
  • 149. Ambrose: Marshall Medical School alumnus Dr. Paul Ambrose died aboard American Air Lines light 77, when it was hijacked by terrorists and flown into the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001. Efforts continue to build and raise funds for the Paul Ambrose Trail for Health, a pedestrian and bike pathway through Cabell and Wayne counties.
  • 150. Football championship: Marshall won the school’s first football championship in 1992, defeating Youngstown State, 31-28, for the I-AA crown.