You’re welcome! 13 things WV brought the world

West Virginia has been a trailblazer from the very beginning.

The state was formed on the eve of the Civil War, by proclamation of President Lincoln, after seceding from the Confederate State of Virginia. Since then, our history has been full of firsts, from holidays to sports.

Here are a few of our mountain firsts (You’re welcome!):

1. First Grandparent’s Day celebration

In 1970, Marian McQuade of Oak Hill began a campaign for a holiday to celebrate grandparents. She succeeded when Governor Moore proclaimed the first Grandparents Day in 1973 in West Virginia. President Carter adopted it nationally just a few years later.

2. First brick road in America

When engineer Mordicai Levi paved the country’s first brick road, Summers Street in Charleston, in 1870, he also paved a new path for American road systems. He later perfected and patented his paving method.


Philippi Covered Brideg Largest Covered Bridge in WV Philippi, Barbour Co., WV photo by David Fattaleh

3. First land battle of the Civil War

The Battle of Philippi on June 3, 1861 was a surprise attack as part of the Western Virginia Campaign of the American Civil War. They fought over the scenic Philippi Covered Bridge, a historic landmark which has been stunningly restored.

4. First pilot to break the sound barrier

On October 14, 1947, West Virginia native Chuck Yeager rocketed the future of air travel forward when he became the first pilot ever to fly faster than sound. The Bell X-1 plane he used, named the “Glamorous Glannis” after his wife, has been on display at The Smithsonian.

5. Nation’s first golf course

Oakhurst Links, built in 1884, was America’s first golf course. The 9-hole course was converted to a pasture in 1912, but restored in the 1990’s. Players today still use traditional hickory-shaft clubs and sand tees.

6. First Mother’s Day

When her own mother died, Grafton resident Anna Jarvis made a promise to carry on one of her passions in her honor— establishing a Mother’s Day holiday. She kept true to her word, becoming the first to celebrate Mother’s Day with a memorial ceremony on May 12, 1907, then helping springboard it nationally in 1914.

7. First African-American woman to serve in a U.S. Government body

With a unanimous recommendation from the Republican Executive Committee to support her, Minnie Buckingham of McDowell County was appointed by Governor Gore to fill her husband’s unexpired term in the state House of Delegates in 1928.

8. First 4-H camp in America

Jackson’s Mill near Weston in Lewis County became the first state 4-H camp in the country in 1921. It’s still a beloved retreat for campers, with new amenities like a living farmstead museum, where campers and the public can watch heritage crafters at work.

9. First woman to dunk a basketball in a college game

West Virginia University player Georgeann Wells made the groundbreaking dunk in 1984, and no other female player matched her accomplishment for another 10 years after.


WV Spa luxury

10. First public spa

Berkeley Springs was the first spa open to the public in 1756, and soon became one of George Washington’s favorite getaways. You can still take a dip in the same healing mineral waters.

11. First radio broadcast football game

In 1921, West Virginia University played Pittsburgh University in a clash of their longstanding “Backyard Brawl” rivalry— making it a particularly exciting matchup to become the first football game ever broadcast on the radio in 1921 on KDKA.

12. First U.S. Gymnast to win gold in Women’s All-Around

In an incredibly tight competition at the 1984 Olympics, Mary Lou Retton of Fairmont edged over her leading competitor’s near-flawless 9.9 with 2 perfect 10s in the final events.

13. First American woman to win the Nobel Prize for literature

Pearl Buck of Hillsboro was first American woman to win the Nobel Prize for Literature for her touching novel, The Good Earth.

Learn more WV tidbits >


This post was last updated on July 21, 2020