West Virginia is a state located in the Appalachian region in the Southern United States, considered to be a part of the Middle Atlantic States. It is bordered by Pennsylvania to the north, Maryland to the east and northeast, Virginia to the southeast, Kentucky to the southwest, Ohio to the northwest. West Virginia is the 41st largest state by area, is ranked 38th in population; the capital and largest city is Charleston. West Virginia became a state following the Wheeling Conventions of 1861, after the American Civil War had begun. Delegates from some Unionist counties of northwestern Virginia decided to break away from Virginia, although they included many secessionist counties in the new state. West Virginia was admitted to the Union on June 20, 1863, was a key border state during the war. West Virginia was the only state to form by separating from a Confederate state, the first to separate from any state since Maine separated from Massachusetts, was one of two states admitted to the Union during the American Civil War.
While a portion of its residents held slaves, most of the residents were yeomen farmers, the delegates provided for gradual abolition of slavery in the new state Constitution. The Census Bureau and the Association of American Geographers classify West Virginia as part of the Southern United States; however the Bureau of Labor Statistics classifies West Virginia as a part of the Mid-Atlantic. The northern panhandle extends adjacent to Pennsylvania and Ohio, with the West Virginia cities of Wheeling and Weirton just across the border from the Pittsburgh metropolitan area, while Bluefield is less than 70 miles from North Carolina. Huntington in the southwest is close to the states of Ohio and Kentucky, while Martinsburg and Harpers Ferry in the Eastern Panhandle region are considered part of the Washington metropolitan area, in between the states of Maryland and Virginia; the unique position of West Virginia means that it is included in several geographical regions, including the Mid-Atlantic, the Upland South, the Southeastern United States.
It is the only state, within the area served by the Appalachian Regional Commission. The state is noted for its mountains and rolling hills, its significant logging and coal mining industries, its political and labor history, it is known for a wide range of outdoor recreational opportunities, including skiing, whitewater rafting, hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, hunting. Many ancient man-made earthen mounds from various prehistoric mound builder cultures survive in the areas of present-day Moundsville, South Charleston, Romney; the artifacts uncovered in these give evidence of village societies. They had a tribal trade system culture. In the 1670s during the Beaver Wars, the powerful Iroquois, five allied nations based in present-day New York and Pennsylvania, drove out other American Indian tribes from the region in order to reserve the upper Ohio Valley as a hunting ground. Siouan language tribes, such as the Moneton, had been recorded in the area. A century the area now identified as West Virginia was contested territory among Anglo-Americans as well, with the colonies of Pennsylvania and Virginia claiming territorial rights under their colonial charters to this area before the American Revolutionary War.
Some speculative land companies, such as the Vandalia Company, the Ohio Company and Indiana Company, tried to legitimize their claims to land in parts of West Virginia and present day Kentucky, but failed. This rivalry resulted in some settlers petitioning the Continental Congress to create a new territory called Westsylvania. With the federal settlement of the Pennsylvania and Virginia border dispute, creating Kentucky County, Kentuckians "were satisfied, the inhabitants of a large part of West Virginia were grateful."The Crown considered the area of West Virginia to be part of the British Virginia Colony from 1607 to 1776. The United States considered this area to be the western part of the state of Virginia from 1776 to 1863, before the formation of West Virginia, its residents were discontented for years with their position in Virginia, as the government was dominated by the planter elite of the Tidewater and Piedmont areas. The legislature had electoral malapportionment, based on the counting of slaves toward regional populations, the western white residents were underrepresented in the state legislature.
More subsistence and yeoman farmers lived in the west and they were less supportive of slavery, although many counties were divided on their support. The residents of this area became more divided after the planter elite of eastern Virginia voted to secede from the Union during the Civil War. Residents of the western and northern counties set up a separate government under Francis Pierpont in 1861, which they called the Restored Government. Most voted to separate from Virginia, the new state was admitted to the Union in 1863. In 1864 a state constitutional convention drafted a constitution, ratified by the legislature without putting it to popular vote. West Virginia abolished slavery by a gradual process and temporarily disenfranchised men who had held Confederate office or fought for the Confederacy. West Virginia's history has been profoundly affected by its mountainous terrain and vast river valleys, rich natural resources; these were all factors driving its economy and the lifestyles of its residents, who tended to live in many small isolated communities in the mountain valleys.
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Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge
The Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge in Tucker County, West Virginia, was the 500th National Wildlife Refuge to be established in the United States. The refuge preserves a moist valley with unique wetlands and uplands at a high elevation in the Allegheny Mountains, it is administered by the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Advocacy for the establishment of a wildlife refuge in Canaan Valley began as early as 1961. In the 1970s, environmental and citizens' groups battled with Allegheny Power Systems, which had owned more than 13,000 acres of Canaan Valley since 1923, over construction of a long-anticipated hydroelectric facility that would have flooded about a quarter of the valley. In 1977, the Federal Power Commission issued a license to APS for construction of a pumped storage hydroelectric project, formally known as the Davis Power Project. However, the following year the Project was denied a Clean Water Act permit by the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers; the Corps' decision cited adverse impacts upon the Valley's wetlands, a new concept at the time.
Canaan Valley NWR was approved following an Environmental Impact Statement on May 30, 1979. APS appealed the Corps' decision all the way to the Supreme Court, which in 1988 declined to hear the case, thus clearing the way for creation of the refuge. About 86 acres were purchased in the valley to establish the refuge on July 11, 1994. Another 12,000 acres were purchased from APS in 2002. With other additions, most 120 acres in 2008 and 325 acres in 2011, the refuge now encompasses some 16,628 acres of a total authorized size of 25,459 acres; this represents 70% of the valley's 25,000 acres. Several habitat types can be found in the wet soils of the forests and open spaces in the refuge. White-tailed deer, raccoons and squirrels are common, minks, black bears, barred owls can be seen. Beaver dams affect local water levels. Gamebird species include wild turkeys, ruffed grouse, woodcocks; the area is an important habitat for many declining North American bird species, including the bobolink, clay-colored sparrow, Henslow's sparrow, northern saw-whet owl, cerulean warbler.
The fish fauna introduced species of trout and bass. Facilitated refuge activities include wildlife observation and photography, fishing, environmental education, nature programs; the refuge maintains 31 miles of designated trails, including: 31 miles for pedestrian use 23 miles for bicycle use 22 miles for horseback useThe refuge maintains 7 miles of roads for licensed vehicles to provide public access. Canaan Valley Resort State Park Freshwater Institute and West Virginia Audubon Council, The Canaan Valley: A National Treasure, 12 minute educational film. Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge Canaan Valley at American Byways
Gauley River National Recreation Area
The Gauley River National Recreation Area, located near Summersville, West Virginia, protects a 25-mile portion of the Gauley River and a 5.5-mile segment of the Meadow River in southern West Virginia. Little of the park is accessible via roads. At the upstream end of the park is the Summersville Dam, the only area of the park accessible by vehicle. Within the park are a number of Class V rapids, they have been given names such as: Insignificant Pillow Rock Lost Paddle Iron Ring Sweet's Falls Official NPS Site Summersville Lake water levels and outflow
Harpers Ferry National Historical Park
Harpers Ferry National Historical Park is located at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers in and around Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. The park includes land in the Shenandoah Valley in West Virginia; the park is managed by the National Park Service, an agency of the U. S. Department of the Interior. Designated Harpers Ferry National Monument in 1944, the park was declared a National Historical Park by the U. S. Congress in 1963; the park includes the historic town of Harpers Ferry, notable as a center of 19th-century industry and as the scene of John Brown's failed abolitionist uprising. Consisting of 4,000 acres, it includes the site of which Thomas Jefferson once wrote, "The passage of the Potomac through the Blue Ridge is one of the most stupendous scenes in Nature" after visiting the area in 1783. Due to a mixture of historical events and ample recreational opportunities, all within 50 miles of Washington, D. C. the park was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on October 15, 1966.
The Park's Superintendent is presently Tyrone Brandyburg. The park was planned as a memorial to John Brown, responsible for what is by far the most famous incident in Harpers Ferry's history. "NPS officials in the 1930s focused on John Brown's Raid and the Civil War to justify acquiring parts of Harpers Ferry for a historical and military park." Like the figure of John Brown himself, this proved enormously controversial, with opposition from the United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Sons of Confederate Veterans. Today there is no mention of John Brown on the Park's home page, although the raid is covered in the history section of the website. Native American history in the region dates back to at least 8,000 years ago; the Tuscarora people were the last of the native peoples known to inhabit the area in large numbers vanishing in the early 18th century. One of these European immigrants, Robert Harper, obtained a patent for the land from the Virginia legislature in 1751. Note that prior to 1863, West Virginia was still a part of Virginia.
The town was known as Shenandoah Falls at Mr. Harper's Ferry due to the ferry business Robert Harper managed and operated. Today, the original house built by Robert Harper is the oldest remaining structure in the lower part of the park. George Washington visited the area during his trip to the rivers' confluence in 1785, searching for a waterway to ship goods westward. Washington began the construction of the federal Harpers Ferry Armory on the site, utilizing waterpower from the rivers for manufacturing purposes. Meriwether Lewis, under government contract, procured most of the weaponry and associated hardware that would be needed for the Lewis and Clark Expedition at the armory in Harpers Ferry. Blacksmiths built a collapsible iron boat frame for the expedition. Between the years 1820 to 1840, John H. Hall worked to perfect the manufacturing of interchangeable parts at the armory. Utilizing precision molds and jigs, this was one of the birthplaces of precision manufacturing so that armaments and related mechanical equipment could be standardized and parts would be interchangeable.
Subsequently, the development of the modern bullet to replace the round lead slug was achieved by James H. Burton and this improvement was adopted by the U. S. Army in 1855. Employing at times up to 400 workers, the armory produced over half a million muskets and rifles between 1801 and 1860. Abolitionist John Brown led an armed group in the capture of the armory in 1859. Brown had hoped he would be able to arm the slaves and lead them against U. S. forces in a rebellion to overthrow slavery. After his capture in the armory by a group of Marines, Brown was hanged, predicting in his last words that civil war was looming on the horizon, a prediction that came true less than two years later; the most important building remaining from John Brown's raid is the firehouse, now called John Brown's Fort, where he resisted the Marines. The American Civil War found Harpers Ferry right on the boundary between the Union and Confederate forces; the strategic position along this border and the valuable manufacturing base was a coveted strategic goal for both sides, but the South due to its lack of manufacturing centers.
The town exchanged hands no less than eight times during the course of the war. Union forces abandoned the town after the state of Virginia seceded from the Union, burning the armory and seizing 15,000 rifles. Colonel Thomas J. Jackson, who would become known as "Stonewall", secured the region for the Confederates a week and shipped most of the manufacturing implements south. Jackson spent the next two months preparing his troops and building fortifications, but was ordered to withdraw south and east to assist P. G. T. Beauregard at the First Battle of Bull Run. Union troops began to rebuild parts of the armory. Stonewall Jackson, now a major general, returned in September 1862 under orders from Robert E. Lee to retake the arsenal and to join Lee's army north in Maryland. Jackson's assault on the Federal forces there, during the Battle of Harpers Ferry led to the capitulation of 12,500 Union troops, the largest number of Union prisoners taken at one time during the war; the town exchanged hands several more times over the next two years.
Storer College was built in Harpers Ferry as one of the first integrated schools in the U. S. Frederick Douglass served as a trustee of the college, delivered a memorable oration on the subject of John Brown there in 1881. Subsequent rulings known as Jim Crow Laws led
Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park
The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park is located in the District of Columbia and the states of Maryland and West Virginia. The park was established in 1961 as a National Monument by President Dwight D. Eisenhower to preserve the neglected remains of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal and many of its original structures; the canal and towpath trail extends along the Potomac River from Georgetown, Washington, D. C. to Cumberland, Maryland, a distance of 184.5 miles. In 2013, the path was designated as the first section of U. S. Bicycle Route 50. Construction on the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal began in 1828 and ended in 1850 when the canal reached Cumberland, far short of its intended destination of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. There was talk of extending the 184.5-mile canal: for example, an 1874 proposal to dig an 8.4-mile tunnel through the Allegheny Mountains, there was a tunnel built to connect with the Pennsylvania canal. Though the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad beat the canal to Cumberland by eight years, the canal was not obsolete.
Only in the mid-1870s did larger locomotives and the adoption of air brakes allow the railroad to set rates lower than the canal, sealing its fate. The C&O Canal operated from 1831 to 1924 and served to transport coal from the Allegheny Mountains to Washington D. C; the canal was closed in 1924, in part due to several severe floods that devastated the canal's financial condition. In 1938, the abandoned canal was obtained from the B&O Railroad by the United States in exchange for a loan from the federal Reconstruction Finance Corporation; the government planned to restore it as a recreation area. Additionally, it was viewed as a project for employment for the jobless during the Great Depression. By 1940, the first 22 miles of the canal were repaired and rewatered, from Georgetown to Violettes lock and returned to operating condition by African-American enrollees with the Civilian Conservation Corps; the first Canal Clipper boat, giving mule driven rides, began in 1941. It was replaced by the John Quincy Adams in the 1960s.
The project was halted when the United States entered World War II and resources were needed elsewhere. In 1941, Harry Athey suggested to President Franklin Roosevelt that the canal could be converted into an underground highway or a bomb shelter with its roof for landing airplanes; the whole idea was deemed impractical due to the river's periodic flooding. In 1942, freshets destroyed the rewatered sections of the canal. National Park Service official Arthur E. Demaray pressed that the canal from Dam #1 be restored, to supply water to the Dalecarlia Reservoir in case sabotage or bombing destroyed the normal conduits of water. Since this transformed the canal into a concern of national security, in 1942, the War Production Board approved the work. By 1943, Congress had funded the work, repairs were done, the Park Service resumed boat trips in October 1943; the Congress expressed interest in developing the towpath as a parkway. Because of the flooding from the 1920s to the 1940s, the Army Corps of Engineers proposed building 14 dams, that would have permanently inundated 74 miles of towpath, as well as the Monocacy and Antietam aqueducts.
Around 1945, the Corps wanted to remove Dam #8, which would destroy any hope of rewatering the canal above Dam #5, as well as put a levee around in the Cumberland area. Much of this was done, with the NPS cooperating with the Corps, since maintaining an operating canal all the way to Cumberland was too expensive, as well as wanting to preserve the western parts of the canal; the idea of turning the canal over to automobiles was opposed by some, including United States Supreme Court Associate Justice William O. Douglas. In March 1954, Douglas led an eight-day hike of the towpath from Cumberland to D. C. Although 58 people participated in one part of the hike or another, only nine men, including Douglas, hiked the full 184.5 miles. Following this hike, Justice Douglas formed a committee to be known as the C&O Canal Association in 1957, which would draft plans to preserve and protect the Canal. Serving as the chairman of this group, his commitment to the park proved successful. In 1958, a bicycle trail was built on the 12 miles of the towpath, from Georgetown's Mule Bridge at 34th Street in Washington, DC to Widewater, MD.
The trail was built by laying crushed blue stone over the muddy towpath. It opened on November 22, 1958. In 1961, President Dwight Eisenhower made the canal a National Monument under the Antiquities Act, but that hardened the opposition to making the canal a national park. There was some support for making the Potomac River a national river instead. Within ten years, the political climate had changed, realizing that the national river plan was unsupportable, the idea of turning the canal into a historic park had little opposition; the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park Act established the canal as a National Historical Park and President Richard Nixon signed it into law on January 8, 1971. The winter and summer of 1996 saw two separate floods. Following a blizzard in January, heavy rains washed away the snow and caused extreme flooding and run-off; this major winter flood swept across 80 to 90 percent of the canal and towpath, causing high waters, along with the adjacent Potomac River.
Erosion due to the floods lead to heavy damages to the towpath and much of the infrastructure of the canal and park. Following the winter flood, there was an overwhelming need for volunteers in response to the damages caused. In September, Hurricane Fran caused more damage to the canal in multiple parts, requiring workers and volunteers to restore and reconstruct the towpath and re-water the canal, sever
Beech Fork State Park
Beech Fork State Park is a state park located in Cabell County and Wayne County, West Virginia. The park is located on the tailwater shores of Beech Fork Lake, a flood control impoundment of the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers on the Beech Fork of Twelvepole Creek. Since its development in the mid-1970s, Beech Fork State Park has proven to be a popular recreation spot for the residents of nearby Barboursville and Huntington, West Virginia, as well as those living in the surrounding region; the park is located about 10 miles south of the Hal Greer Exit of Interstate 64. Access to the park is available from Exits 8, 15, 20 of I-64; the Beech Fork Lake Dam and Marina are about a 20-mile drive from the park. Corps of Engineers lake rules restrict boat motors to smaller. Boat launch access to Beech Fork Lake 4 Campgrounds with 275 campsites total 6 cabins 50-meter swimming pool Hiking trails Mountain biking trails Fishing access Tennis court Volleyball court Basketball court Softball field Picnic area Dump station Water Fill station Paddle boat and canoe rental 100-yard rifle and pistol range Pontoon and fishing boat rentals are available from the operated Beech Fork Lake Marina.
Accessibility for the disabled was assessed by West Virginia University. The assessment found the campground, picnic areas, swimming pool, the doors and ramps of public buildings to be accessible; the 2005 assessment found issues with signage on buildings and parking lots, with aspects of access to restrooms. List of West Virginia state parks Official website U. S. Army Corps of Engineers Beech Fork Website
United States National Forest
National Forest is a classification of protected and managed federal lands in the United States. National Forests are forest and woodland areas owned collectively by the American people through the federal government, managed by the United States Forest Service, a division of the United States Department of Agriculture; the National Forest System was created by the Land Revision Act of 1891, signed under the presidency of Benjamin Harrison. It was the result of concerted action by Los Angeles-area businessmen and property owners who were concerned by the harm being done to the watershed of the San Gabriel Mountains by ranchers and miners. Abbot Kinney and forester Theodore Lukens were key spokesmen for the effort. In the United States there are 155 National Forests containing 190 million acres of land; these lands comprise 8.5 percent of the total land area of the United States, an area about the size of Texas. Some 87 percent of National Forest land lies west of the Mississippi River in the mountain ranges of the Western United States.
Alaska has 12 percent of all National Forest lands. The U. S. Forest Service manages all of the United States National Grasslands, around half of the United States National Recreation Areas. There are two distinctly different types of forests within the National Forest system; those east of the Great Plains in the Midwestern and Eastern United States were acquired by the federal government since 1891, may be second growth forests. The land had long been in the private domain and sometimes logged since colonial times, but was purchased by the United States government in order to create new National Forests; those west of the Great Plains in the Western United States, though established since 1891, are on lands with ownership maintained by the federal government since the U. S. acquisition and settling of the American West. These are lands that were kept in the public domain, with the exception of inholdings and donated or exchanged private forest lands. Land management of these areas focuses on conservation, timber harvesting, livestock grazing, watershed protection and recreation.
Unlike national parks and other federal lands managed by the National Park Service, extraction of natural resources from national forests is permitted, in many cases encouraged. However, the first-designated wilderness areas, some of the largest, are on National Forest lands. There are management decision conflicts between conservationists and environmentalists, natural resource extraction companies and lobbies, over the protection and/or use of National Forest lands; these conflicts center on endangered species protection, logging of old-growth forests, intensive clear cut logging, undervalued stumpage fees, mining operations and mining claim laws, logging/mining access road-building within National Forests. Additional conflicts arise from concerns that the grasslands and forest understory are grazed by sheep, and, more rising numbers of elk and mule deer due to loss of predators. Many ski resorts and summer resorts operate on leased land in National Forests. List of U. S. National Forests United States National Grassland National Forests of the United States topics State forest National Forest Management Act of 1976 Protected areas of the United States USDA Forest Service USDA Forest Service - The First Century 100 Years of Federal Forestry