Collier's New Encyclopedia (1921)/West Virginia

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WEST VIRGINIA, a State in the South Atlantic Division of the North American Union; bounded by Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, Kentucky, and Ohio; admitted to the Union, June 19, 1863; capital, Charleston; number of counties, 55; area, 24,170 square miles. Pop. (1890) 762,794; (1900) 958,800; (1910) 1,221,119; (1920) 1,463,701.

Topography.—The State is hilly and mountainous. The Allegheny Mountains form the Virginia boundary line. A continuation of the Cumberland Mountains of Tennessee crosses the State about 20 miles W. of the Alleghenies. This range embraces the Flat Top, Cotton Hill, Greenbrier, Gauley, and Rich mountains. The surface W. of these mountains gradually descends to the Ohio river, this river forming the principal water system of West Virginia. The chief rivers are the Big Sandy, Kanawha, Guyandotte, and Monongahela, all of which are navigable and enter the Ohio. The Kanawha is fed by the Greenbrier, Gauley, Elk, and Coal rivers. The Potomac river forms part of the N. boundary line. There are numerous waterfalls in these streams all of which afford excellent water power, the falls at Harper's Ferry being especially noted.

Geology and Mineralogy.—The E. portion of the State is of Eozoic formation. This is bordered by Lower Silurian shales, limestone and medina sandstone, and by coal measures covering over 16,000 square miles.

Agriculture.—The soil consists of disintegrated limestones, sand, clay, and loam, giving it exceeding fertility. Nearly all garden vegetables and cereals grow abundantly.

The acreage, production and value of the principal crops in 1919, was as follows: corn, 735,000 acres, production 24,990,000 bushels, value $40,984,000; oats, 190,000 acres, production 4,750,000 bushels, value $4,320,000; wheat, 400,000 acres, production 5,400,000 bushels, value $11,880,000; tobacco, 15,000 acres, production 10,500,000 pounds, value $5,250,000; hay, 810,100 acres, production 1,215,000 tons, value $31,104,000; potatoes, 57,000 acres, production 5,130,000 bushels, value $8,978,000.

Mineral Production.—The State is among the most important in the production of minerals. In the order of their importance, they are coal, natural gas, petroleum, and clay products. The coal production in 1919 was 75,500,000 short tons, a decrease of 14,436,000 short tons over that of 1918. The State ranks second in the quantity of coal produced, and is surpassed only by Pennsylvania. The production of natural gas in 1918 was 265,160,917 thousand cubic feet. West Virginia ranks first in the production of natural gas. The production of petroleum in 1918 was 7,886,628 barrels, valued at $31,652,108. There are important quarries of sandstone and limestone, and the mining of salt is also an important industry.

Manufactures.—There were in the State, in 1914, 2,749 manufacturing establishments, employing 71,078 wage earners. The capital invested was $175,995,000; wages paid $43,784,000; value of materials used $110,033,000; and the value of the products $193,512,000.

The principal articles of manufacture were iron and steel, lumber, and timber products, flour and grist, coke, railroad cars, packed meat, tobacco, cigars, and cigarettes, pottery, glass, foundry and machine shop products, and clothing.

Banking.—On Oct. 31, 1919, there were repoi-ted 119 National banks in operation, having $11,244,000 in capital; $9,313,000 in outstanding circulation; and $25,371,000 in United States bonds. There were also 214 State banks, with $14,741,000 capital, and $8,962,000 surplus. The exchanges at the United States clearing house at Wheeling, during the year ending Sept. 30, 1919, aggregated $226,320,000.

Education.—Elementary education is free from the ages of 6 to 21 years, and school attendance is compulsory for children between the ages of 8 and 14. There are about 7,000 public elementary schools, with about 315,000 pupils, and about 11,000 teachers. There are 164 public high schools and 6 public normal schools. The annual expenditure for education is about $8,000,000. The institutions for higher education include the West Virginia University at Morgantown, Bethany College, and West Virginia Wesleyan College.

Charities and Corrections.—The institutions under the control of the State Board of Control are as follows: Hospitals at Weston, Spencer, Huntington, Welch, McKendree and Fairmont; penitentiary at Moundsville; industrial home for girls at Industrial; school for the deaf and blind at Romney; tuberculosis sanatorium at Terra Alta; colored tuberculosis sanatorium at Denmar; children's home at Elkins; and colored orphans' home at Huntington.

Churches.—The strongest denominations in the State are the Methodist Episcopal, North; Regular Baptist; Methodist Episcopal, South; Roman Catholic; United Brethren; Methodist Protestant; Presbyterian, South; Disciples of Christ; Presbyterian, North; Colored; and Dunkards.

Railways.—The railway mileage in 1919 was 4,007.7. The roads having the longest mileage are the Baltimore and Ohio and the Norfolk and Western.

Finances.—The receipts for the fiscal year 1918-1919 were $5,010,573, and the disbursements $6,693,653. There was a balance at the end of the year of $2,218,091. The assessed value of real estate in 1919 was $767,653,310, and of personal property $372,631,062. The total bonded indebtedness of the State on Jan. 1, 1920, was $13,500,000.

State Government.—The governor is elected for a term of four years. Legislative sessions are held biennially in odd years beginning on the second Wednesday in January, and are limited in length to 45 days each. The Legislature has 39 members in the Senate, and 94 in the House. There are 6 Representatives in Congress under the new appointment.

History.—The history of the State prior to 1861 is identified with that of Virginia proper, of which State it formed part till after the outbreak of the Civil War. The Allegheny Mountains, however, formed a natural line of demarkation between the two sections of the original State, and conditions favoring separation had long existed. These reached a climax on the passage by Virginia of an ordinance of secession, the popular vote in the section W. of the mountains being strongly opposed to it. A convention of loyalists met at Wheeling in June, 1861, and in August adopted an ordinance providing for the formation of a new State to be called Kanawha. In November a constitution was adopted and the name West Virginia chosen. This constitution was adopted by the people by a very large majority in April, 1862, and the State was formally admitted to the Union by Act of Congress and the approval of President Lincoln, June 19, 1863.

Copyright, L. L. Poates Eng. Co., 1921