West Virginia is a state situated in the southern U.S. Appalachian region and is also considered part of the southeastern Mid-Atlantic region. It is bordered on the north by Pennsylvania, on the east and northeast by Maryland, on the southeast by Virginia, on the southwest by Kentucky and on the northwest by Ohio. West Virginia, ranked 38th in population, is the 41st largest state by area. Charleston is the capital and largest city.
After the Wheeling Conventions of 1861, at the beginning of the American Civil War, West Virginia became a state. Delegates from northwestern Virginia's Unionist counties decided to break away from Virginia, which also included the new state's secessionist counties. On June 20, 1863, West Virginia was admitted to the Union and during the war was a central border state. It was the only state to emerge by splitting from a Confederate state, the first to split from any state after Maine separated from Massachusetts, and was one of two states to be admitted to the Union during the American Civil War (the other being Nevada). While some of its inhabitants kept slaves, most of the people were yeomen peasants, and the delegates supported the new state constitution for the eventual abolition of slavery.
Tourism contributed $4.27 billion to the economy of the state and in 2010, employed 44,400 people, making it one of the largest industries of the state. Many tourists are drawn to the remarkable opportunities for outdoor recreation in the area, particularly in the eastern mountains. Canaan Valley is popular for winter sports, Seneca Rocks is one of the top climbing destinations in the eastern United States, the New River Gorge / Fayetteville area draws both rock climbers and whitewater rafting enthusiasts, and Monongahela National Forest is popular with hikers, backpackers, hunters and anglers.
The state offers a number of historical and cultural sites in addition to such outdoor recreation opportunities. Harpers Ferry National Historical Park is a historic town situated at the junction of the rivers Shenandoah and Potomac. The location of John Brown's slave revolt and raid on the U.S. Armory and Arsenal in 1859 was Harpers Ferry. Harpers Ferry is the headquarters of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, situated at the approximate midpoint of the Appalachian Trail.
West Virginia is the location of the Green Bank Telescope, the National Radio Astronomy Observatory. This hosted two high school graduate delegates from each of the 50 states at the National Youth Science Camp near Bartow for the State's 1963 Centennial, and has since maintained this tradition. Weston State Hospital's main building is the largest hand-cut sandstone building in the western hemisphere, second only to Moscow's Kremlin worldwide. Building tours, which is a National Historic Landmark and part of the National Civil War Trail, are offered throughout the season and by appointment. Throughout the year, West Virginia has many famous festivals.
West Virginia has several prominent tunnels and bridges because of the mountainous nature of the entire state. The most prominent of these is the New River Gorge Bridge, at one time the world's longest single-arch steel bridge with a length of 3,031-foot (924 m). The bridge is also pictured in the state quarter of West Virginia. At the time of completion, the Fort Steuben Bridge (Weirton-Steubenville Bridge) was one of only three cable-stayed steel girder trusses in the U.S. To quote the Weirton Daily Times newspaper, "The Veterans Memorial Bridge was designed to handle traffic from the Fort Steuben Bridge as well as its own traffic load" On January 8, 2009, the 80-year-old Fort Steuben Bridge (Weirton-Steubenville Bridge) was closed permanently. The Wheeling Suspension Bridge was the first bridge built across the Ohio River in 1849 and was the longest suspension bridge in the world for some time. It is still the oldest suspension bridge still in use in the United States.Read: West Virginia Wikipedia Page