Think you know WV? Bet you didn’t know these 9 wild facts!
1. What is the name of the tiny (as 2×4 inch tiny!) sculpture that hangs out on a building in downtown Charleston?
Mortar Man – Sometime when you’re strolling Capitol Street, stop at 108 and look up about 12 feet. He’s there – peeking out from the bricks between the first and second stories. P. Joseph Mullins – designer of the Veteran’s Memorial at the Capitol – was working on a project next door when he crafted Mortar Man out of some leftover cement. The tiny statue has gained a bit of a cult following, and even has its own Facebook page.
2. What unusual attraction can you find at the Barbour County Historical Museum?
The Mummies of Philippi – In 1888 Graham Hamrick bought 2 female cadavers from the West Virginia Hospital for the Insane (aka Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum) to experiment on with his homemade embalming potion, hoping to recreate the preservation secrets of the pharaohs. The mummies toured Europe with P.T. Barnum for several years before returning home to Philippi.
3. Which legendary newspaper’s practical joke stunk … literally?
The West Virginia Hillbilly (1957-2001) – As a tribute to Richwood’s Feast of the Ramson, editor Jim Comstock – a known practical joker – once mixed ramp oil into the newspaper’s ink. Now, the ramp is a wild leek that smells a bit like garlic – and the Hillbilly in its heyday had as many as 30,000 subscribers in 40 states and 6 foreign countries – so you can guess how that turned out! Comstock received a stern reprimand from the U.S. postmaster general for the fragrant mailing.
4. Which famous West Virginian was the inspiration for the NBA logo?
Jerry West – A native of Cheylan and a standout player at WVU, West was playing for the Los Angeles Lakers in 1969 when designer Alan Siegel found a photo of him to use as a model for the logo, which features the silhouette of a player dribbling the ball.
5. Which WV store holds the distinction of being “America’s oldest dime store”?
Berdine’s Five & and Dime – This Harrisville store has been in continuous operation since 1908. Entering Berdine’s is like taking a step back in time, with barrels full of bulk candy, old-fashioned toys, nostalgic books, home remedies and all sorts of collectibles.
6. Where can you find a larger-than-life Muffler Man, Santa Claus, and Yogi Bear – all in one spot?
The Farnham Fantasy Farm – This colorful hodge-podge of statues was amassed by collectors George and Pam Farnham. You’ll also see several dinosaurs, a Hamburger Man – and even the Simpsons cartoon family riding a rollercoaster – at this quirky drive-by attraction in rural Morgan County.
7. Which city is nicknamed “Nature’s Air-Conditioned City”?
Bluefield – Due to its mountain setting, the temperature rarely tops 90 degrees here even on the hottest summer days. But when it does, Bluefield’s Chamber of Commerce provides free lemonade to all the townsfolk!
8. Which WV city stood in for the steel town of Clairton in the 1978 film “The Deer Hunter”?
Weirton – Parts of the Academy Award-winning movie were filmed in the Northern Panhandle cities of Weirton and Follansbee. Seems these places have a certain star quality, because both cities were also used as filming locations for the 2011 J.J. Abrams sci-fi blockbuster, “Super 8.”
9. Where can you find a visitor’s center made entirely of coal?
Williamson – The Coal House – home of the Tug Valley Chamber of Commerce – was built in 1933 out of 65 tons of bituminous coal. Stop by the Coal House to visit the gift shop and pick up travel material about the Hatfield and McCoy feud, ATV trails and the area’s rich coal mining history.
This post was last updated on July 30, 2020