5 things your out-of-state spouse ought to know about your WV roots

West Virginia is an anomaly. We do things differently around here, so you may find it hard to describe your home to out-of-staters.

Some things may come as a shock as you begin to explain what we’re all about:

We’re small-towners.

Our population hovers around 1.85 million people. That’s right, our entire state’s population is comparable to that of some single cities, like Philadelphia or Phoenix (which both house about 1.5 million).

We are community-minded, and our small towns are tight-knit and neighborly. The town of Thurmond has just 6 people and 1 dog. (And the proud residents there still have regular council meetings!)

That’s not to say we don’t have bustling cities, too— they just have that same down-home, community-minded character, too.

We aren’t afraid of a little dirt.

We grew up frog-giggin’, catching fireflies and riding bikes in the woods. The outdoors are simply a part of who we are. Forests cover a vast 78% of our state, so there are plenty of chances to get a little muddy.

West Virginia is home to one of the largest off-road trail systems in the world, the Hatfield-McCoy Trails. Countless adventure outfitters will take you out to try anything from rock climbing and spelunking to whitewater rafting and paddle boarding— a real taste of wild mountain thrills.

Silence doesn’t freak us out.

In fact, we like the overwhelming quietness that engulfs a lot of our state. Fewer people means fewer cars, less light pollution and much less noise in general.

Case in point: Green Bank, population 143. This tight-knit town is home to the world’s largest fully steerable telescope (an almost 500-foot tall behemoth weighing in at more than 17 million pounds.) In order for the telescope to work in peace, it’s in a National Radio Quiet Zone, which limits cell phones, Wi-Fi and even microwaves in the surrounding areas.

Also because of its sparse population, the Mountain State showcases some of the East Coast’s finest stargazing, including popular spots at Dolly Sods and Spruce Knob.

We like the unusual.

Ever seen 100s of people willingly jump off of a nearly 900-foot bridge? Bridge DayWell, we have. We call it Bridge Day, and it is one of the world’s largest extreme sporting events. Some call it crazy, but to us, it’s just another heart-throbbing, adrenaline-inducing celebration in the recreational haven of Fayetteville.

We’ve also got a house made of coal, a kitschy roadside stop that defies gravity (the Mystery Hole), the world’s largest teapot and an affinity for some strange foods— like pepperoni rolls, ramps and roadkill. Don’t worry, we don’t really eat roadkill, but we do try lots of interesting (cooked!) game— like squirrels, bear and rabbit— at the annual Roadkill Cook- off.

We like to go against the flow.

As we mentioned above, we West Virginians don’t always do what’s expected. We fight for what we believe in, and we feel a fierce loyalty to our land. In 1863, West Virginia voted to become its own state, seceding from Virginia and ultimately breaking free of the Confederacy.

Our mountains are also home to another great example of defiant strength: the New River. This powerful body of water chipped away at the surrounding Appalachians for years, carving deeper and deeper into its valley home. It is one of the oldest rivers in the world— so old that geologists estimate it’s from 3 million to a whopping 320 million years old.

This post was last updated on March 16, 2022