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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”

West Virginia Facts and Figures

Gleaned from the Historical Marker Database

 

on February 4, 2023

 
1876 artwork by Henry Mitchell, via Wikimedia Commons

 West Virginia ranks 18th among states and provinces with markers in this database. West Virginia is a state in the United States of America located in the American South. It is also in the Appalachia region. West Virginia is some 24 thousand square miles in size with a population of around 1.8 million people. The state is divided into 55 counties and all of them have entries in this database. In West Virginia we have discovered historical markers in 486 cities and towns lying in 371 different ZIP Codes.

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There are at least 3,005 historical markers in West Virginia, by our count. We have cataloged 2,914 historical markers and 397 war memorials—each individually presented on 3,266 illustrated, annotated, and searchable pages of the Historical Marker Database. Pages for historical markers from this state make up 1.6% of our total. In addition, we are reasonably certain of another 91 historical markers in West Virginia that we don’t yet have, and instead show on our Want List. Our correspondents have been finding and adding hundreds of markers a month to the database from all over the world, so next time you visit this page you will probably find that the numbers here have changed.

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The first West Virginia marker in the database, The Mingo, was added May 10, 2006. It was photographed in Wheeling in Ohio County and was erected in 1928. The last one added was submitted on January 5, 2023, and titled Dr. Carter Godwin Wilson. It is in Huntington in Cabell County. Keeping in mind that the erection date of many markers in the database is not known, the earliest historical marker we know of in West Virginia was erected in 1867. It was this one: Confederate Memorial, and one of our correspondents found it in Romney in Hampshire County on May 29, 2020.

West Virginia Historical Topics
867 • Civil War
541 • Settlements and Settlers
511 • Industry and Commerce
253 • Education
200 • Churches and Religion
182 • Colonial Era
182 • Military
179 • Railroads and Streetcars
172 • African Americans
171 • Government and Politics
    ... and others ...

West Virginians don’t want to forget their Civil War history. How do we know? Because there are more historical markers in the database from West Virginia about the Civil War—867 of them—than about any other historical topic. It is followed by Settlements and Settlers with 541 markers.

The first marker added to the database with the Civil War topic was Paw Paw, added July 21, 2006. It had been erected in Paw Paw in Morgan County. The last one submitted was submitted on December 9, 2022, and titled Confederate Headquarters. It had been erected in Philippi in Barbour County. The earliest marker erected with the Civil War topic that we have listed was erected in 1867. It is Confederate Memorial, found in Romney in Hampshire County on May 29, 2020.

What is the most interesting historical marker in West Virginia? What we know is that Hatfield Cemetery is the most viewed entry in the database from West Virginia since it was added in 2011. It is located near Sarah Ann in Logan County. This year so far, the most viewed West Virginian entry is located in Point Pleasant in Mason County. It is “Legend of the Mothman”.

Counties, Cities and Towns

The West Virginia county with the most historical markers listed in this database is Jefferson County, with 348 of them. It is followed by Monongalia County with 217 markers. The Harpers Ferry area of Jefferson County has the highest number of markers within its limits, 127. In Monongalia County the area with the most markers, 149, is Morgantown.

Historical Markers in These
West Virginia Counties
348 • Jefferson County
217 • Monongalia County
165 • Kanawha County
157 • Ohio County
114 • Wood County
113 • Fayette County
109 • Morgan County
107 • Preston County
106 • Berkeley County
104 • Randolph County
    ... and others ...

Checking the database for the city or town in West Virginia with the most markers we again find Morgantown at the top of the list with 149 markers in or near it. It is followed by Wheeling in Ohio County with 131 markers. For the ZIP Code with the most markers it’s 25425 at the top of the list with 184 markers in its delivery area. (ZIP Code 25425 is assigned to Harpers Ferry WV including the Bolivar delivery area.) It is followed by ZIP Code 26003 with 150 markers. (26003 is assigned to Wheeling WV including the Bethlehem, Elm Grove, Mozart, Overbrook, and Warwood delivery areas.)

Historical Markers Near These
West Virginia Cities and Towns
149 • Morgantown
131 • Wheeling
127 • Harpers Ferry
93 • Berkeley Springs
84 • Point Pleasant
78 • Charleston
78 • Parkersburg
67 • Charles Town
63 • Fairmont
60 • Shepherdstown
    ... and others ...

Getting back to Jefferson County, the first marker added to the database from there, Keyes Gap, was added April 29, 2007. near Harpers Ferry. The last one submitted was uploaded on August 16, 2022, and is titled Emancipation In Jefferson County and was erected in 2019, in Charles Town. The earliest marker erected in Jefferson County that we have listed was erected in 1870. It was Confederate Dead, found in Shepherdstown on August 30, 2017.

Latest entry from West Virginia. Click to go there
By Don Morfe, April 14, 2014
Latest Entry from West Virginia
“Dr. Carter Godwin Wilson”

And finally the first, last, and oldest markers from Morgantown. The first: Easton Roller Mill, was added December 3, 2008. It had been erected in 1984. The last: Mountaineer Legends added on November 27, 2022. It had been erected in 2022. The earliest marker erected was erected in 1905: Monongalia County War Memorial, added on July 10, 2009.

Who Puts Up Historical Markers?

West Virginia Archives and History is currently in charge of the familiar silver and black double-sided official historical markers found all over the state. You will also find official markers erected by the West Virginia Historic Commission, a predecessor. We have 875 of their markers in the database.

In addition, West Virginia Civil War Trails—not government affiliated—also erected numerous historical markers, and we have 883 of their West Virginia markers in the database. Also, a number of counties have erected historical markers on their streets and roads and within their public areas, as have some cities and towns.

Latest entry from West Virginia. Click to go there
By Mike Wintermantel, March 19, 2017
A West Virginia Archives and History Historical Marker

Then there are federal government agencies that put up historical markers, especially in national parks and other areas under their jurisdiction. And finally, there are the numerous public and private organizations and individuals that erect markers. Some do this as a continual endeavor, and others once in a while, to mark something, someone, or someplace they find important or interesting. When one of our correspondents comes across one that satisfies our criteria, we add it to the database.

Off the Beaten Path

You’ll find that even the smallest, least populated, or most rural areas of West Virginia have been marked with history. Check out Calhoun County, Clay County and Lincoln County. We've only found, respectively, 12, 11, and 9 historical markers there. Visiting one or more of these parts of West Virginia might make for a pleasant road trip, and maybe you’ll discover more historical markers while you’re there. If you do, perhaps you’ll take the time to photograph them and, when you get home, become an HMdb correspondent by adding them to the database. Happy Hunting!

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Feb. 4, 2023