THE STATE OF WEST VIRGINIA
The West Virginia flag features the state motto (Mountaineers Are Always Free), a wreath of Rhododendron (the state flower), and the state coat-of-arms.
The rhododendron was adopted as the official state flower of West Virginia in 1903 (with the recommendation of the Governor and a vote by the public and school pupils).
West Virginia designated the northern cardinal as official state bird in 1949. One of America's favorite backyard birds, cardinals are distinctive in appearance and song - known for their "cheer cheer cheer," "whit-chew whit-chew" and "purty purty purty" whistles.
Male cardinals are a brilliant scarlet red, females a buffy brown with reddish wings - both have a jet -black mask, pronounced crest, and heavy bill. The cardinal sings nearly year-round, and the male aggressively defends his 4-acre territory (male cardinals have been seen attacking small red objects mistaken as other males).
Northern cardinals breed 2-3 times each season. The female builds the nest and tends the hatchlings for about 10 days while the male brings food. The male then takes over the care of this first brood while the female moves on to a new nest and lays a second clutch of eggs.
West Virginia designated the sugar maple as the official state tree in 1949, after a vote by public school students and civic organizations.
Sometimes called hard maple or rock maple, sugar maple is one of the largest and more important of the hardwoods. Sap from the trunks of sugar maples is used to make maple syrup. Sugar maple trees seldom flower until they are at least 22 years old, but they can also live 300 to 400 years.
THINGS TO DO
Nestled in the mountains of West Virginia, Cass Scenic Railroad State Park offers excursions that transport you back in time to relive an era when steam-driven locomotives were an essential part of everyday life. Trips to Cass are filled with rich histories of the past, unparalleled views of a vast wilderness area, and close-up encounters with the sights and sounds of original steam-driven locomotives.
The New River Gorge has more than 70,000 acres of natural beauty, cultural history and adventure opportunities. Hiking along the many park trails, rafting the river, or biking along an old railroad grade, the visitor will be confronted with spectacular scenery that certainly makes this place worthy of being included in our national park system. However, the significance of this place goes well beyond the beautiful scenery. When looking out from Grandview, Diamond Point, Long Point, or one of the many other viewpoints in the park, we are actually looking at a globally significant forest containing the most diverse flora of any river gorge in the south and central Appalachian Mountains.
The history of Seneca caverns is long, you could say it started over 460 million years ago. That's when the limestone bed where the Caverns formed was laid under an inland sea. Limestone is formed from the remains of shells from clams, coral and other shellfish, which settle on the bottom of the sea over time. The first verifiable history of human contact with the cave was in the early 1400's when the Seneca Indians used the cave. The Caverns are located on a great Indian trading route through the Appalachian Mountains. Many tribes used this trading route but it was the Seneca Indians who lived here and used the cave for shelter, storage and special ceremonies. Three hundred years later the first German settlers came to the area. As history goes, a man named Laven Teter rediscovered the cave in 1742 on a quest for water to supply his livestock. At this time the area was not even considered part of the original 13 colonies. The Teter family maintained ownership until 1928. The new owners opened it to the public in 1930 as a show cave.