USS West Virginia ACR-4 - History

USS West Virginia ACR-4 - History

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USS West Virginia ACR-4

West Virginia-Huntington I

(ACR-5: dp. 13,680 n.; 1. 503'11"; b. 69'7"; dr. 24'1"; s. 22 k.; cpl. 829; a. 4 8", 14 6", 2 18" tt.; cl. Pennsylania )

The first Huntington (ACR-5), an armored cruiser, was launched as West Virginia 18 April 1903 by Newport News Shipbuilding Co., Newport News, Va.; sponsored by .Miss Katherine V. White; and commissioned 23 February 190a, Captain C. H. Arnold in command.

After shakedown training, West Virginia cruised with the New York Naval Militia as a unit of the Atlantic Fleet until 30 September 1906 when she sailed for duty with the Asiatic Squadron. The ship remained with the Asiatic Squadron on training operations for 2 years, and after overhaul at Mare Island in 1908 joined the Pacific Fleet for similar exercises along thc West Coast of the United States. During 1911 and 1912 she made a cruise with the Fleet to Hawaiian waters and in 1914 steamed on special duty off the west coast of Mexico for the protection of American interests. She remained off Mexico during the Vera Cruz crisis, and returned to Bremerton, WAsh., to become a part of the Pacific Reserve Fleet.

West Virginia remained at Bremerton until 20 September 1916 when she again sailed to Mexico for the protection of American lives and property and to back up U.S. diplomacy. While on this service, she was renamed Huntington 11 November to permit the assignment of her old name to a newly-authorized battleship, BB - 8. After, months service off Mexico she steamed to Mare Island for the installation of catapult devices on the quarterdeck and equipment to accommodate four seaplanes on the boat deck ways.

Huntington was detached from the Reserve Force and placed in full commission ~ April 1917. She departed NIare Island 11 May and steamed to Pensacola, Fla., via the Panama Canal. Detached from the Pacific Fleet after her arrival in Florida 28 May, she spent the next 2 months at the Naval Aeronautic Station, Pensacola, engaging in a series of important early experiments with balloons and seaplanes launched from the deck. The cruiser then sailed for Hampton Roads 1 August and arrived New York ~ days later. There Huntington formed with a convoy of six troopships bound for France departing 8 ~September. En route, several balloon observation 'dights were made, and on one of these, 17 September, the balloon was forced down by a squall and the balloonist became entangled in its rigging. Seeing the emergency, shipfitter Patrick McGunigal jumped overboard to release the pilot from the balloon basket, by then overturned and underwater. For his heroic action McGunigal was awarded World War I's first Medal of Honor. The day after the rescue the convoy was turned over to American destroyers in European waters; andHuntington steamed back to Hampton Roads, arriving 30 September.

After replenishing at Norfolk, Huntington sailed to New York 5 October to have her catapult and seaplanes removed She got underway 27 October and arrived Halifax 2 days later to embark a high-level U.S. Commission to confer with the Allies. Presidential envoy, Colonel House; Adm. W. S. Benson; Gen. T. Bliss; and other dignitaries took passage in Huntington, arriving Davenport, England, 7 November 1917, to be met by British oficials. ~ ,Huntington departed for New York, via Hampton Roads, arriving 27 November.

Subsequently, the cruiser returned to the important duty of escorting convoys of troops and supplies to Europe, making nine such voyages to Europe and back between 19 February and 13 November 1918. In addition, Huntington made three coastal convoy passages from New York to Hampton Roads. She entered Brooklyn Navy Yard 17 November 1918 for conversion to a troop transport.

Assigned to Transport Force, Atlantic Fleet, Huntington next sailed for France to bring home veterans of the European fighting. She departed New York 17 December, arrived Brest 29 December, and brought over 1,700 passengers to New York 14 January. The ship made five more voyages to France and return, bringing home nearly 12,000 troops, and terminated her last voyage at Boston 5 July 1919. Detached from Transport Force, she was reassigned to Cruiser Force and became flagship of Flying Squadron 18 July 1919. Huntington decommissioned at Portsmoutlh Navy Yard, Portslllouth, N.H., 1 ~September 1920. She was struck from the navy List 12 March 1930 and sold in accordance with the London treaty for the reduction of naval armaments 30 August 1930.

Pearl Harbor: 16 Days To Die – Three Sailors trapped in the USS West Virginia

The sunken battleship USS West Virginia (BB-48) at Pearl Harbor after her fires were out, possibly on 8 December 1941. USS Tennessee (BB-43) is inboard. A Vought OS2U Kingfisher floatplane (marked 𔄜-O-3”) is upside down on West Virginia’s main deck. A second OS2U is partially burned out atop the Turret No. 3 catapult.

In the aftermath of the attacks on Pearl Harbour during World War Two stories emerged of sailors who were trapped in the sunken battleships, some even survived for weeks.

Those who were trapped underwater banged continuously on the side of the ship so that anyone would hear them and come to their rescue. When the noises were first heard many thought it was just loose wreckage or part of the clean-up operation for the destroyed harbour.

However the day after the attack, crewmen realised that there was an eerie banging noise coming from the foward hull of the USS West Virginia, which had sunk in the harbour.

It didn’t take long for the crew and Marines based at the harbour to realise that there was nothing they could do. They could not get to these trapped sailors in time. Months later rescue and salvage men who raised the USS West Virginia found the bodies of three men who had found an airlock in a storeroom but had eventually run out of air.

They were Ronald Endicott, 18, Clifford Olds, 20, and Louis Costin, 21. Within the storeroom was a calendar and they had crossed off every day that they had been alive – 16 days had been crossed off using a red pencil. The men would have been below deck when the attack happened, so it is unlikely that they knew what was happening.

Those who survived the attack and were crew on the USS West Virginia have remembered the story and retold it quietly as a story of bravery and determination of the young soldiers.

In truth, the US Navy had never told their families how long the three men had survived for, instead telling them that they had been killed in the attack on the harbour. Their brothers and sisters eventually discovered the truth but were so saddened that they did not speak of it.

One of Clifford’s friends and comrades Jack Miller often returned to the harbour and would pray for his friend at the site of the sunken wreck. He says that just the night before the attack they had been drinking beer together, and he had wanted to rescue him desperately in the days after the attack.

However there was no way of any rescue crews getting to them since if they cut a hole in the ship, it would flood it, and if they tried to use a blowtorch it could explode since there was too much oil and gasoline in the water.

Survivors say that no one wanted to go on guard duty anywhere near the USS West Virginia since they would hear the banging of trapped survivors all night long, but with nothing that could be done.

World War I [ edit | edit source ]

Huntington was detached from the Reserve Force and placed in full commission on 5 April 1917. She departed Mare Island on 11 May and steamed to Pensacola, Florida, via the Panama Canal. Detached from the Pacific Fleet after her arrival in Florida on 28 May, she spent the next two months at the Naval Air Station Pensacola, engaging in a series of important early experiments with balloons and seaplanes launched from the deck. The cruiser then sailed for Hampton Roads on 1 August and arrived New York five days later. There, Huntington formed with a convoy of six troopships bound for France departing on 8 September. En route, several balloon observation flights were made, and on one of these on 17 September, the balloon was forced down by a squall while being brought back on board and the observer, Lieutenant (jg) Henry W. Hoyt, was knocked out of the basket and caught underwater entangled in its rigging. Seeing the emergency, shipfitter Patrick McGunigal jumped overboard to release the crewman from the balloon basket, by then overturned and underwater. For his heroic action, McGunigal was awarded World War I’s first Medal of Honor. Ώ] The day after the rescue, the convoy was turned over to American destroyers in European waters and Huntington steamed back to Hampton Roads, arriving 30 September.

After replenishing at Norfolk, Huntington sailed to New York on 5 October to have her catapult and seaplanes removed. She got underway on 27 October and arrived Halifax, Nova Scotia, two days later to embark on a high-level U.S. Commission to confer with the Allies. Presidential envoy, Colonel Edward M. House Admiral William S. Benson General Tasker H. Bliss and other dignitaries took passage in Huntington, arriving Davenport, England on 7 November, to be met by British officials. Huntington departed for New York, via Hampton Roads, arriving on 27 November.

Subsequently, the cruiser returned to the important duty of escorting convoys of troops and supplies to Europe, making nine such voyages to Europe and back from 19 February-13 November 1918. In addition, Huntington made three coastal convoy passages from New York to Hampton Roads. She entered Brooklyn Navy Yard on 17 November for conversion to a troop transport.

USS West Virginia in Sagami Wan, Japan at end of World War II. Mt. Fujiyama is in background.
Photo courtesy of
Naval Imaging Command

USS West Virginia
at Pearl Harbor
en route to mainland,
October 1945

USS West Virginia being towed
to Bremerton Shipyards for salvage

Torching the guns of the USS West Virginia
Photo courtesy of Todd Pacific Shipyards

Disassembling the
USS West Virginia

Mast of the USS West Virginia
West Virginia University

Published Sources

Myron J. Smith, Jr., The Mountain State Battleship: USS West Virginia. Richwood, WV: West Virginia Press Club, 1981.

During the 1930s, the West Virginia participated in annual fleet exercises, and on six occasions was awarded the "Meat Ball," or Battle Efficiency Pennant, an honor given to the battleship achieving the best score in gunnery, communications, and engineering combined.

Envelope from the US Fleet,
Summer Cruise, 1938

USS West Virginia baseball team, 1938

Crew members
Photo courtesy
of Chester Elliott

Junior Officers Mess
Pearl Harbor
May 11, 1940

Top of No. 2 16"gun turret, 1940
Photo courtesy of B. A. Hannah

Golden Gate Bridge
Photo courtesy of
Chester D. Elliott

In 1936 an abandoned army post near Seattle was renamed Camp West Virginia, and was used as a weekend getaway locale for the men of the USS West Virginia. Some campers enjoyed swimming, fishing, horseshoes, hiking, softball, volleyball, basketball, bowling and tennis, while others used the time to do nothing but relax.

Informal pictures of
Camp West Virginia

James McNally, CS Division

USS Cony lays a smoke screen around the West Virginia off Leyte, October 20, 1944
Photo courtesy of National Archives

Chaplain praying for
safety from enemy fire
Photo courtesy of H. E. Wiggins

5" guns in action at Leyte
Photo courtesy of H. E. Wiggins

Giant 16" guns bellow at distant targets on Leyte in opening phase
of the Philippines Campaign,
October 19, 1944

USS West Virginia's 16" guns
Photo courtesy of
H. E. Higgins

Australian cruiser hit by Japanese kamikaze, as seen from the USS West Virginia
Photo courtesy of H. E. Higgins

En route to Lingayen Gulf to take part in the invasion of Luzon
Photo courtesy of National Archives

Mine-cutting device
Photo courtesy of
H. E. Higgins

USS West Virginia
approaching Iwo Jima
Photo courtesy of
H. E. Higgins

Japanese suicide plane shot down while attacking the USS West Virginia
Photo courtesy of H. E. Wiggins

USS West Virginia at Okinawa, April 1, 1945, same day ship was hit by kamikaze
Photo courtesy of Charles Haught

At 1903 hours, three enemy planes approached the ship. One crashed into the West Virginia, killing four and wounding seven sailors. Though the bomb carried by the plane broke loose from its shackle and penetrated to the second deck, it did not explode and was rendered harmless by the bomb disposal officer. The dead were buried at sea and the ship continued fire support duties within a short time. During the next few months, the West Virginia provided illumination and counterbattery fire in support of the Army and Marines at Okinawa, broke up Japanese troop concentrations and destroyed caves which served to shelter the enemy.

Damage to USS West
by kamikaze attack
Photo courtesy of H. E. Wiggins

Peace Treaty signing with USS
West Virginia in background
Photo courtesy of Ed Roth

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West Virginia History Timeline

Offers a chronological timeline of important dates, events, and milestones in West Virginia history.

The Mound Builders were the earliest known inhabitants. When the first Europeans arrived, however, the region was for the most part unpopulated, serving as a common hunting ground (and therefore a battleground) for the settlers and Native Americans.

When the state of Virginia voted to secede from the United States during the Civil War (1861-65), the people of the rugged and mountainous western region of the state opposed the decision and organized to form their own state, West Virginia, in support of the Union. Congress granted statehood to West Virginia on June 20, 1863.

17th Century West Virginia History Timeline

1607 - Virginia Colony established by England

  • John Lederer employed by colonial governor, William Berkeley, become the first European to view West Virginia.
  • Robert Cavelier and Sieur de La Salle explored the Ohio River and made landings at several sites in West Virginia

1670's - Exploration of West Virginia begins

1671 - Thomas Batts and Robert Fallam discover waters flowing westward into the Ohio River and help establish English claims to the Ohio Valley

18th Century West Virginia History Timeline

1712 - Baron Christopher de Graffenreid enters the Eastern Panhandle

1716 - Lt.-Gov. Alexander Spotswood enters western Virginia to the banks of the Shenandoah River.

1719 - Presbyterians founded the first church in West Virginia, Potomoke Church at Shepherdstown.

  • Virginia government encouraging settler allows families to live rent-free on land owned by the state for ten years
  • Iroquois surrender claims to land south of the Ohio River in addition to counties in the eastern panhandle.
  • Western Appalachians explored by fur traders.
  • Northern part of western Virginia explored by trader John Van Nehne

1727 - Settlement at New Mecklenburg (Shepherdstown) founded by Pennsylvania Germans.

  • Virginia began to encourage settlement in the western valley of Virginia
  • Land grants in West Virginia are made to Isaac and John Van Meter.

1731 - Morgan Morgan establishes first settlement in present West Virginia near Bunker Hill in Berkeley County.

  • Scotch-Irish, Welsh, and German pioneers settle the western portions of Virginia.
  • Harper's Ferry settled.
  • Coal discovered by John Howard and John Peter Salley (Salling) on Coal River near Racine.
  • First iron furnace west of the Blue Ridge at Bloomery on the Shenandoah River constructed by Thomas Mayberry .

1744 - Territory between the Allegheny Mountains and the Ohio River ceded to the English by Indians of the Six Nations.

  • George Washington surveys land in western Virginia for Lord Fairfax.
  • "The Harpers Ferry" begin carries passengers across the Shenandoah River.
  • First recorded settlement west of the Alleghenies made in Marlinton by Jacob Marlin and Stephen Sewell
  • Ohio Company receives a grant of 500,000 acres
  • French claims by Celeron de Bienville affirmed by lead plates buried along the Ohio River
  • Fort Ohio, built at Ridgeley, now Mineral County.
  • Greenbrier Valley and Kentucky through the Cumberland Gap explored by Thomas Walker of the Loyal Company.

1754 - 1763 - French and Indian War

1754 - December 13 - Hampshire county, created from Augusta, Frederick county also formed .

  • General Braddock defeated at Pittsburgh by the French and Indians after traveling through the eastern panhandle
  • Fort Ashby constructed in current Mineral County.
  • July 3 - Shawnee Indians attack settlement at Draper's Meadows, New River, nearly all are killed or captured.

1757 - Hampshire county organized.

1758 - Morgantown settled.

1762 - December 23 - Romney and Mecklenburg (later Shepherdstown) established when the Governor of Virginia signs bills of incorporation.

  • Harper's Ferry incorporated.
  • British government forbids occupation of lands west of the Alleghenies.

1764 - General Horatio Gates settles in Jefferson County.

1765 - Clarksburg settled.

  • Survey of Mason-Dixon Line reaches western boundary between Maryland and western Virginia.
  • Delaware and Mingo Indians destroyed community of Morgantown founded by Zackquill Morgan (son of Morgan Morgan) in 1766-1767.

1767 - Ice's Ferry, Monongalia County, settled by Frederick Ice. Adam Ice, son of Frederick was the first white child born in the Monongahela Valley..

  • Iroquois cede lands north of the Little Kanawha River to the British in the Treaty of Fort Stanwix.
  • First recorded flood of the Ohio River.
  • Williamstown founded by Isaac Williams

1770 - "Harewood," the home of Colonel Samuel Washington was built in Jefferson County near Charles Town.

1771 - Natural gas discovers in the Kanawha Valley by John Floyd.

  • Ohio and Kanawha Rivers explored by George R. Clark.
  • February - Berkeley county created from Frederick county.
  • Simon Kenton and party spent winter on the Elk River near Charleston.
  • First permanent English settler in Kanawha county, Cedar Grove at the mouth of Kelly's Creek is William Morris, Sr.
  • Fort Fincastle (renamed Henry, 1776) constructed at Wheeling.
  • Pricket's Fort constructed near Fairmont.
  • October 10 - Battle of Point Pleasant (Lord Dunmore's War) between Virginia settlers and militia and a confederacy of Shawnee, Delaware, Wyandot, Cayuga, and other Indian tribes led by Cornstalk.

1775 - Gas discovered near Charleston.

  • Western Virginia petition the Continental Congress for a separate government
  • October - Town of Bath (Berkeley Springs) established by the Virginia General Assembly.
  • October - Ohio and Monongalia counties are formed from the district of West Augusta.
  • Indian warfare begins
  • September - Indians unsuccessfully besiege Fort Henry.
  • November 10 - Chief Cornstalk, his son, and Chief Red Hawk murdered by whites at Fort Randolph.
  • October - Greenbrier county created from Botetourt, Montgomery county.
  • Martinsburg laid out by Adam Stephen,
  • Revolutionary War battle fought at Wheeling
  • Fort Henry attacked by British and Indians .
  • September 10 - Siege of Fort Henry (second).

1783 - Settlers west of the Allegheny Mountains attempt to create "Westsylvania," a new state

  • James Rumsey exhibits his "mechanical boat" at Bath, West Virginia
  • Mason and Dixon's line agreed to as the Virginia-Pennsylvania border.
  • July - Harrison county created from Monongalia county.
  • First Protestant church west of Alleghenies, Rehoboth Church built near Union in Monroe County.
  • First authorized ferry in western Virginia started by Andrew Ice.
  • December 10 - Hardy county created from Hampshire county.
  • October - Charles Town chartered by the Virginia General Assembly.
  • October - Randolph county created from Harrison county.
  • First publication printed in state at Shepherdstown, a pamphlet by James Rumsey, A Short Treatise on the Application of Steam.
  • Federal Constitution ratifies by Virginia
  • November 14 - Kanawha county created from Greenbrier and Montgomery county
  • Pendleton county created from Augusta, Hardy, and Rockingham county.
  • First permanent settlement built at Charleston.
  • Daniel Boone commissioned lieutenant colonel of the Kanawha Militia.
  • Road from Winchester reaches Clarksburg.
  • First newspaper, published in Shepherdstown," The Potomak Guardian and Berkeley Advertiser," by Nathaniel Willis.
  • US census population: 55,873.

1791 - Daniel Boone elected as a delegate to the Virginia Assembly.

1792 - June 30 - First post office established at Martinsburg.

  • First iron furnace west of the Alleghenies at King's Creek constructed by Peter Tarr.
  • "Mad Anthony" Wayne's victory at Fallen Timbers (Ohio) halts Indian attacks.
  • December 19 - Charlestown (Charleston) established by the Virginia General Assembly.

1795 - Daniel Boone leave Kanawha Valley.

1796 - November 30 - Brooke county created from Ohio county

  • Second West Virginia newspaper, the Impartial Observer, established at Shepherdstown.
  • First book printed in West Virginia , The Christian Panoply printed by the Impartial Observer
  • Harman Blennerhassett purchases an island in the Ohio River, Parkersburg.
  • December 21 - Wood county created from Harrison county.
  • Mecklenburg renamed Shepherdstown by the Virginia Assembly.

1799 - January 14 - Monroe county created from Greenbrier county.

  • 78,000 people in West Virginia , with 35,000 west of the Alleghenies. Existed 13 counties, 8 post offices, and 19 incorporated towns.

19th Century West Virginia History Timeline

1801 - January 8 - Jefferson county created from Berkeley county.

1803 - First newspaper west of the Alleghenies is the Monongalia Gazette and Morgantown Advertiser.

1804 - January 2 - Mason county created from Kanawha county.

1805 - Harman Blennerhassett and Aaron Burr plotted to conquer territory of the US south of the Ohio River on Blennerhasset Island.

1806 - First salt well drilled in Great Kanawha Valley

1807 - Wheeling's first newspaper, the Repository, published.

1808 - Lewisburg Academy (later the Greenbrier Military School) opens its doors to boys

1809 - January 2 - Cabell county created from Kanawha county.

  • Western Virginia protests unequal representation in Virginia legislature.
  • Oil discovered.
  • Parkersburg adopted new name, known previously as Newport and Stokeleyville.
  • Clarksburg's first newspaper, the Bye-Stander, published.
  • December 16 - Tyler county created from Ohio county.
  • Linsly Institute established at Wheeling.
  • Monongalia Academy established at Morgantown.

1815 - Natural gas discovered by James Wilson in Charleston.

1816 - December 18 - Lewis county created from Harrison county.

  • Kanawha Salt Company, first trust in United States, organized.
  • First bank, the Northwestern Bank of Virginia, opens.
  • Cumberland Road (or National Road) completed from Cumberland, Maryland, to Wheeling.
  • January 19 - Preston county created from Monongalia county.
  • January 30 - Nicholas county created from Greenbrier, Kanawha, Randolph county
  • Charles Town renamed Charleston.
  • First commercial coal mine at Fairmont opens.
  • March - Morgan county created from Berkeley, Hampshire county.
  • Charleston's first newspaper, the Kenawha Spectator, published.

1821 - December 21 - Pocahontas county created from Bath, Pendleton, Randolph county.

1823 - First religious newspaper, "The Christian Baptist," begins publication.

1824 - January 12 - Logan county created from Cabell, Giles, Kanawha, and Tazewell county.

1825 - Marquis de Lafayette arrive in Wheeling

1829 - Virginia counties west of the Allegheny Mountains protest constitution that favors the slave-holding counties.

1830 - Separation of western Virginia from eastern Virginia proposed by The Wheeling Gazette

  • Virginia's political division is enhanced by slavery debates
  • Fayette county created from Greenbrier, Kanawha, Logan and Nicholas county
  • March 1 - Jackson county created from Kanawha, Mason, and Wood county.

1833 - Cholera epidemic in the Wheeling district, killing 23 in one day.

1834 - First commercial coal company in the Kanawha Valley, Ohio Mining Company

  • March 12 - Marshall county created from Ohio county.
  • October 14 - Wheeling, John Templeton, John Moore, Stanley Cuthbert, and Ellen Ritchie are charged with illegally teaching blacks to read.
  • First railroad reached state at Harpers Ferry.
  • Wheeling incorporated.
  • January 15 - Braxton county created from Kanawha, Lewis, and Nicholas county.
  • March 17 - Mercer county created from Giles, Tazewell county.
  • Marshall Academy ( Marshall University) established in Guyandotte (Huntington).

1838 - April 4 - Town of Beckley created by Virginia Assembly.

1840 - Bethany College, West Virginia 's oldest degree-granting college, founded by Alexander Campbell.

1841 - Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike completed

1842 - January 18 - Wayne county created from Cabell county Marion county created from Harrison and Monongalia county.

  • March 3 - Barbour county created from Harrison, Lewis, and Randolph county
  • February 18 - Ritchie county created from Harrison, Lewis, and Wood county.
  • Fairmont so named.

1844 - January 19 - Taylor county created from Barbour, Harrison, and Marion county.

1845 - February 4 - Doddridge county created from Harrison, Lewis, Ritchie, and Tyler county Gilmer county created from Kanawha and Lewis county.

1846 - January 10 - Wetzel county created from Tyler county.

  • March 11 - Boone county created from Cabell, Kanawha, and Logan county.
  • First telegraph line reaches West Virginia at Wheeling.
  • January 15 - Hancock county created from Brooke county
  • March 11 - Putnam county created from Cabell, Kanawha, and Mason county
  • January 19 - Wirt county created from Jackson and Wood county.

1849 - October 30 - Wheeling Bridge completed. (1849- 1851, longest bridge in the world) destroyed in 1854.

  • Reform Convention is held at Richmond
  • January 23 - Raleigh county created from Fayette county
  • January 26 - Wyoming county created from Logan county.
  • Joseph Johnson, Bridgeport becomes the only governor of Virginia to chosen by popular vote and to come from the western part of the state.
  • New constitution grants concessions to the western Virginia.
  • March 26 - Upshur county created from Barbour, Lewis, and Randolph county
  • Pleasants county created from Ritchie, Tyler, and Wood county.
  • Oldest daily newspaper established in Wheeling, The Intelligencer
  • December 24 - B&O Railroad completed to Wheeling.

1854 - Wheeling Bridge destroyed by high winds.

  • March 5 - Calhoun county created from Gilmer county.
  • March 7 - Tucker county created from Randolph county.
  • March 11 - Roane county created from Gilmer, Jackson, and Kanawha county.

1857 - B&O Railroad reaches Parkersburg.

  • February 28 - McDowell county created from Tazewell county.
  • March 29 - Clay county created from Braxton and Nicholas county.
  • Woodburn Female Seminary located at Morgantown.
  • Rathbone Well, the first successful oil well drilled on Burning Springs Run in Wirt County.
  • Martinsburg incorporated.
  • October 16 - John Brown and twenty-two followers attack the United States Federal Arsenal at Harpers Ferry in an effort to incite a slave insurrection and to put an end to slavery.
  • December 2 - John Brown hanged in Charles Town.
  • US Census population of Charleston: 1,520.
  • Commercial oil well drilled at Burning Springs.
  • Webster county created from Braxton, Nicholas, and Randolph county.
  • Civil War: West Virginia contributes about 32,000 soldiers to the Union Army and about 10,000 to the Confederate.
  • Battle of Philippi mark first land battle of the Civil War.
  • Union victories forces Confederate out of the Monongahela and Kanawha valleys.
  • April 17 - Virginia state convention votes to secede contingent on approval by popular vote.
  • May 13-15 - Delegates from 25 counties meet at the First Wheeling Convention, repudiating the secession from the Union.
  • May 23 - Virginia's ordinance for secession ratified, but a majority in the western counties voice opposition.
  • June 11-25 - Second Wheeling convention: counties of western Virginia refused to secede with Virginia and created the Restored Government of Virginia in Wheeling.
  • August 6 - Second Wheeling convention reconvenes.
  • August 20 - Second Wheeling convention adopts a dismemberment ordinance that provides for the formation of a new state to be called Kanawha.
  • September 10 - Battle of Carnifex Ferry
  • September 11-13 - Battle of Cheat Mountain
  • October 24 - Public referendum, voters support creation of a new state, to be called Kanawha.
  • November 1-3 - General John B. Floyd troops attack Rosecrans yankees at Gauley Bridge
  • November 6 - Battle of Droop Mountain
  • November 11 - Guyandotte, Cabell County, burnt by Union troops in retaliation for a raid by the Confederate cavalry.
  • November 26 - Second Wheeling convention reconvenes, changes name of new state to West Virginia, begins to draft a constitution, and extends the boundaries .
  • October 1 - 3rd West Virginia Cavalry Company A - Recruited primarily from Morgantown, mustered in at Wheeling
  • December 21 - 3rd West Virginia Cavalry Company A - mustered in at Brandonville
  • January - Colored School Board of Parkersburg, West Virginia, formed by seven men and organize a day school for black children First public school for blacks.
  • April - Voters approve the new Constitution for West Virginia.
  • May 13 - (Restored) Virginia Legislature gave formal consent to the formation of a new State.
  • May 23 - Union troops defeat Confederates at Lewisburg.
  • May 29 - William T. Willey, United States Senator, presented a memorial to the United States Senate asking for the formation of a new State and requesting its admission to the Union.
  • July 14 - Senate pass the West Virginia Statehood bill, changing the slavery provision of the West Virginia Constitution to allow for the gradual emancipation of slavery.
  • September 13 - Battle of Charleston, city occupied by Union troops.
  • December 31 - President Lincoln approves the act of admission to the Union, to take effect upon the insertion into the State constitution of a clause that would provide for the gradual emancipation of slaves.
  • Parkersburg incorporated.
  • April 20 - President Lincoln issued the Proclamation
  • April 27 - Confederate General William Jones attempts to burn the suspension bridge over the Monongahela River.
  • April 29 - Union troops at Fairmont defeated by Jones
  • June 20 - West Virginia admitted to the Union as 35th state with Arthur I. Boreman of Parkersburg as the first governor.
  • July 15 - Act giving blacks the same rights to criminal trial as whites, but denying them the right to serve on a jury was approved.
  • August 7 - Battle of Moorefield
  • September 26 - State Seal
  • September 26 - Military Crest
  • September 26 - Coat of Arms
  • First free public school opens in Charleston.
  • February 3 - Governor approves an act abolishing slavery and provides for emancipation of all slaves.
  • April 9 - Civil War ends.
  • June 23 - 3rd West Virginia Cavalry mustered out of services
  • State constitution deny citizenship and suffrage to all persons who had supported the Confederacy.
  • State penitentiary to be located at Moundsville.
  • Mineral county created from Hampshire county Grant county created from Hardy county.
  • Hospital for the insane completed at Weston
  • May 24 - Voters ratify constitutional amendment denying citizenship to all who aided the Confederacy.
  • Agricultural College of West Virginia in Morgantown.
  • Lincoln county created from Boone, Cabell, Kanawha, Putnam county.
  • Fairmont State College established.
  • Storer College, one of the country's first Black colleges, opened at Harpers Ferry, Jefferson County.
  • January 16 - Legislature ratifies the Fourteenth Amendment to the US Constitution.
  • Only national cemetery in the state was established at Grafton, Taylor County.
  • The Agricultural College of West Virginia renamed West Virginia University.
  • February 10 - Charleston named the seat of government
  • March - Preston County Courthouse burns
  • March 23 - West Virginia State Senate ratifies the Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
  • Charleston incorporated.
  • 1870 census population: 442,014.
  • School for the Deaf and Blind established at Romney.
  • Huntington founded as the western terminus of the C&O Railroad
  • West Liberty State College established.
  • April 1 - State capitol moved from Wheeling to Charleston.
  • Flick Amendment to the state constitution adopted, granting suffrage to all male citizens regardless of race.
  • Summers county created from Fayette, Greenbrier, Mercer, and Monroe county.
  • April 27 - Citizenship restored to all persons stripped of their voting privileges in 1866.
  • C&O Railway completes its line across the state
  • Kanawha Chronicle (now the Charleston Gazette) established.
  • Joseph Harvey Long purchases the Huntington Herald and installed and operated the first stereotype and linotype.
  • March 12 - Governor approves acts that only white males over the age of 21 could serve on juries.
  • June 11 - Charleston Mayor Snyder and city council appoint Ernest Porterfield as a police officer, the first black to receive a public job in Kanawha County

1875 - State capital moved to Wheeling.

1876 - Broaddus College moves from Winchester, Virginia, to Clarksburg.

  • July - Governor Mathews sends the state militia to Martinsburg, where B&O Railroad workers are interfering with train movements to no avail. Federal troops dispatched to break the first national labor strike that also included Maryland, Missouri, Pennsylvania, and New York.
  • August 7 - Public referendum on permanent site of the capital Charleston, Clarksburg, or Martinsburg
  • First oil pipeline completed, running from Volcano to Parkersburg
  • Manufacture of Mail Pouch tobacco at Wheeling by Bloch brothers.
  • Telephone line installed in Wheeling between the two Behrens grocery stores
  • October - Taylor Strauder decision, US Supreme Court found the West Virginia law forbidding blacks from serving on juries to be unconstitutional
  • First major coal strike results in Governor Mathews sending militia to Hawks Nest
  • 1880 census population: 618,457.
  • Telephone exchange installed in Wheeling
  • June 22 - Beckley's first newspaper, the Raleigh County Index (later the Raleigh Register), begins publishing.

1881 - February 3 - Governor approves a bill allowing all eligible voting citizens, including blacks, to be jurors.

  • Wheeling electric light plant begins operation.
  • Telephone exchange installed in Parkersburg.
  • Twenty-year-long Hatfield-McCoy feud erupts.
  • N&W Railroad brings railway service to counties in southern West Virginia .
  • First long distance line in the state constructed, to connect Wheeling to Pittsburgh.
  • Telephone exchange installed in Charleston.
  • Ohio River floods Huntington.
  • Telephone exchanges are installed in Huntington and Moundsville.
  • Charleston becomes the permanent state capital.
  • The National Gas Company of West Virginia established
  • Mountain Brook mine disaster at Newburg claims 39 lives.
  • November 12 - Huntington get electric streetlights.

1887 - Huntington replaces Barboursville as the Cabell county seat.

  • Aretas Brooks Fleming, who appears to have lost the election for Governor by 130 votes to Nathan Goff Jr., contests the election.
  • Barboursville Seminary established at Barboursville.
  • Salem Academy (later Salem College) established at Salem.
  • Faculty of West Virginia University votes to allow admission of women.
  • Drilling operations near Mannington initiate an oil boom
  • Huntington Advertiser begins publication.
  • United Mine Workers of America formed.
  • West Virginia Wesleyan College established at Buckhannon.
  • Office of the Inspector of Mines for the coal industry created.
  • Joseph Harvey Long starts the Wheeling News.
  • 1890 census population: 762,704. Largest cities are Wheeling, 34,522 Huntington, 10,108 Parkersburg, 8408 Martinsburg, 7226 and Charleston, 6742.
  • March 4 - State Legislature passed an act establishing the West Virginia Colored Institute at Institute (later West Virginia State College). Approved by the Governor on March 17.
  • November 28 - First intercollegiate football game at West Virginia U played, against Washington & Jefferson College.

1893 - The Huntington Herald, later the Herald-Dispatch, begins publication.

  • Mingo county created from Logan county.
  • February 21 - Legislature passes an act establishing the Bluefield Colored Institute (Bluefield State College).
  • George W. Atkinson elected Governor, first Republican governor since Reconstruction period.
  • Voters elected the first African-American to the legislature, Christopher Payne of Fayette County
  • October - 6. Rural free mail delivery begins in Charles Town, first in United States.
  • Mary Harris "Mother" Jones sent into West Virginia to organize miners
  • August 3 - "The Great Lewisburg Fire" causes significant damage.
  • December 16 - Public hanging at Ripley takes place, prompting the legislature to turn over the responsibility for executions to the state government. John Morgan was the last public hanging in West Virginia .
  • Spanish American War: West Virginia furnishes two regiments of volunteer infantry.
  • November 16 - Trial of Williams v. Board of Education of Tucker County began.
  • Fairmont incorporated.
  • October 10 - First state-sponsored execution in West Virginia takes place, at the state penitentiary in Moundsville.

20th Century West Virginia History Timeline

1900 - June 8 - The Raleigh Herald (later the Beckley Post-Herald) begins publishing.

  • Governor George W. Atkinson requests the Legislature to name a state flower.
  • Fayette County citizen Morris Harvey makes large gifts to Barboursville College, which changes its name to Morris Harvey College.

1902 - Mother Jones campaigns to unionize 7,000 miners in Kanawha Valley.

1903 - January 29 - Big Laurel (Rhodedendron Maximum) adopted as state flower.

1904 - Davis and Elkins College established at Elkins.

1905 - Morgantown incorporated.

  • January 4 - 22 are killed at Coaldale mine in Mercer County.
  • January 18 - 18 are killed at Detroit mine in Kanawha County.
  • February 8 - 23 are killed at Parral mine in Fayette County.
  • March 22 - 23 are killed at Century mine in Barbour County.
  • January 29 - 84 are killed at Stuart in Fayette County.
  • February 4 - 25 are killed at Thomas mine in Tucker county.
  • December 6 -362 are killed at Monongah in the worst mine disaster in US history.
  • White Sulphur Springs incorporated.
  • Beckley newspaper, The Messenger, established.
  • January 12 - 67 killed at Switchback mine.
  • April 2 - Earthquake in Charles Town - Martinsburg area

1912-1921 - Conflicts between miners and mine owners over labor unions

  • Paint Creek-Cabin Creek miners strike to gain recognition of the United Mine Workers of America. On three separate occasions, Governor Glasscock declares martial law and sends in troops.
  • State prohibition becomes effective.
  • March 26 - 83 killed in mine disaster at Jed.
  • April 13 - Beckley fire.
  • September 21 - Mary Harris "Mother" Jones leads a march of miners' children through Charleston.
  • First units of the Greenbrier resort are built.
  • February 12 - Mary Harris "Mother" Jones leads a protest of conditions in the West Virginia mines and arrested.
  • March 27-30 - Thousands homeless in Huntington and Parkersburg after flooding by the Ohio River.
  • May 8 - Newly-elected Governor Hatfield released Mary Harris "Mother" Jones from jail.
  • April 28 - 192 killed in mine disaster at Eccles.
  • October 14 - A glass manufacturing plant, later part of the Owens-Illinois Company, begins operations in Huntington.
  • Supreme Court rules West Virginia owes Virginia more than $12.3 million as part of the state debt at the time of separation.
  • March 2 - 112 killed in mine disaster at Layland.

1916 - November - Amendment allowing suffrage for women rejected by voters.

  • US enters World War I. West Virginia Selective Service registrants number nearly 325,000. Over 45,000 see active service and 624 are killed in action.
  • May 26 - Department of Special Deputy Police, a wartime internal security force serving in the absence of the federalized West Virginia National Guard

1918 - Fire destroys the Charleston Gazette building at 909 Virginia St. , Charleston

  • Governor Cornwell discourages an armed miners' march by promising to address the miners' grievances.
  • March 31 - Governor Cornwell signs bill creating the Department of Public Safety (West Virginia State Police). The West Virginia State Police is the fourth oldest state police agency in the United States.
  • September - Miners march on Logan county to unseat Sheriff Don Chafin whose deputies assaulted and evicted union organizers who entered the county. The march was ended after federal military forces were activated at the request of Governor John J. Cornwell.
  • November - Nationwide coal strike.

1920:1921 - Coal wars in an effort to unionize West Virginia coal miners.

  • UMWA membership booms in Mingo County following the "Matewan Massacre."
  • John L. Lewis becomes President of the UMW
  • January - UMW moves its unionization campaign from Logan to Mingo County. Mother Jones delivers a speech of support.
  • April 12 - Hull of the second West Virginia (Battleship No. 48 to the Navy and Hull 211 to the builders) was laid down
  • May 19 - Matewan Chief of Police Sid Hatfield attempts to arrest detectives hired by coal operators to evict families of fired union miners from company housing. Ten people died including Matewan Mayor Cable C. Testerman. "Matewan Massacre" makes Sid Hatfield a folk hero to miners throughout the state and a national celebrity.
  • August 28 - Governor Cornwell requests federal troops to guard the mines of southern West Virginia .
  • September - Rioting in Williamson follows attempts to import strikebreakers into the area.
  • November 27 - Governor Cornwell proclaims martial law in Mingo County.
  • West Virginia miners fight with mine guards, police, and federal troops in a dispute over organizing unions.
  • KDKA, Pittsburgh broadcast first football game ever on radio. West Virginia University vs the University of Pittsburgh.
  • January 3 - State capitol at Charleston destroyed by fire.
  • May 12 - "Three Day's Battle" begins along both shores of the Tug River, with sniping by strikers at state police, deputies and coal company officials.
  • May 18 - Mingo County sheriff authorizes State Police Captain Brockus to assume responsibility for law enforcement in the county. "Volunteer state police" organized.
  • May 19 - Governor Morgan proclaims martial law in Mingo County. Major Thomas B. Davis, acting Adjutant General, named executive agent to administer the proclamation.
  • June 14 - Davis and Brockus lead state police and vigilantes in a raid on the Lick Creek tent colony, in retaliation for further sniping incidents. 47 strikers arrested.
  • July 1 - West Virginia becomes the first state to have a sales tax.
  • July 14 - US Senate Committee on Education and Labor begins a three-month investigation of the crises in West Virginia 's coal mining industry.
  • August 1 - Matewan Chief of Police Sid Hatfield shot and killed on the steps of the McDowell County Courthouse.
  • August 7 - One thousand miners present Governor Morgan with a resolution calling for an end to martial law in Mingo County.
  • August 21 - First unit of West Virginia National Guard -Company I, 150th Infantry - reactivated at Williamson.
  • August 23 - John H. Charnock appointed Adjutant General, replacing Major Davis.
  • August 25 - Governor Morgan asks President Harding for federal troops and military aircraft.
  • September 3 - Battle of Blair Mountain ends in cease fire.
  • September 4 - 10th US Infantry march up Hewitt Creek in Logan County and efforts to unionize the southern West Virginia coal fields ended.
  • Radio station WHD licensed to West Virginia University, became West Virginia's first radio station.
  • May - International Nickel Company plant begins operation in Huntington.
  • May - "Treason Trial" at Charles Town, Jefferson County, of union members accused of participating in the march on Logan and Battle of Blair Mountain.
  • September 22 - Martial law rescinded in Mingo County.

1923 - WSAZ - begins broadcasting at Pomeroy, Ohio. It later moved to Huntington.

  • April 28 -119 killed in mine disaster at Benwood9.
  • February 12 - Beckley's first daily newspaper, the Evening Post, begins publication.
  • April 1 - Strike begins against the coal operators in the north and lasted for three years.
  • Governor Morgan and his wife become the first residents of the present Governor's Mansion
  • Late March - Black leaders protest and prohibited the showing of D. W. Griffith's Birth of a Nation, scheduled to open at the Rialto Theatre in Charleston on April 1, on the grounds it violated a 1919 state law prohibiting any entertainment which demeaned another race
  • West wing of the present state capitol completed.
  • Sixth Street Bridge, opens in Huntington.
  • December 6 - Wheeling radio station WWVA signs on the air.
  • June 20 declared West Virginia Day
  • Fire destroys the temporary "pasteboard capitol," built after the old capitol burned in 1921.
  • April 30 - 97 killed in mine disaster at Everettville7.
  • October 12 - Charleston radio station WOBU (later WCHS) signs on the air.
  • January 10 - Minnie Buckingham Harper was appointed to the House of Delegates, becoming the first African-American woman to serve in a legislative body in the United States.
  • May - The Keith-Albee Theater opens in Huntington.

1929 - March 7 - State flag adopted.

1930 - March 30 - New-Kanawha Power Company breaks ground on the Hawks Nest Tunnel and Dam, part of the New River power project

1931 - December 10 - Two blacks accused of killing two white constables in Greenbrier County are lynched.

  • Democratic candidate for Governor, Herman G. Kump is elected.
  • Present state capitol dedicated.
  • March 18 - Mass murderer Harry Powers hanged.
  • Fall - Voters approve an amendment to the state Constitution to limit property taxes.
  • June 20 - New state capitol dedicated.
  • July 1 - Legislature abolishes the magisterial and independent school districts, merging them into 55 county school boards.
  • State prohibition law repealed.
  • First of more than 150 New Deal homestead communities established in Arthurdale, Preston County, by the Roosevelt Administration.
  • Morris Harvey College moves from Barboursville to Charleston.
  • State Constitution amended to allow home rule for cities with populations over 2,000.

1937 - January 26-27 - Huntington's worst flood paralyzes the entire city and leaves 6000 homeless. Parkersburg also flooded.

  • Tygart Dam on the Tygart River completed.
  • Mingo Oak, largest and oldest white oak tree in the US, declared dead and felled with ceremony.

1939 - West Virginia makes the final payment of its debt to Virginia.

  • January 10 - 91 killed in mine explosion at Bartley in McDowell County.
  • December 17 - 9 killed in a mine disaster in Raleigh.
  • US enters World War II.
  • First synthetic rubber plant in the US opens near Charleston.
  • December 19 - First German and Hungarian diplomats arrive at The Greenbrier.
  • During the war, 1700 persons from foreign countries were imprisoned at The Greenbrier.

1942 - February 6 - Governor Neely orders activation of West Virginia State Guard, an internal security force serving in the absence of the federalized National Guard.

  • US Supreme Court rules that schools cannot require students to recite the Pledge of Allegiance in West Virginia State Board of Education vs Barnett .
  • Salt deposits discovered in the northwestern West Virginia.

1944 - June 23 - North-central West Virginia battered by the Shinnston Tornado, killing 116.

  • Major chemical industries begin operating in the Ohio River valley.
  • August 15 - WCFC in Beckley, begins broadcasting.

1947 - State's coal production reaches 173.7 million tons, more than any previous year. More than 167,000 miners are employed.

  • March 7 - Sugar Maple (Acer saccarum) adopted as state tree
  • October 24 - WSAZ-TV in Huntington begin operations
  • Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) adopted as state bird.

1950 - Elizabeth Simpson Drewry of McDowell County serving until 1964 becomes the first black woman elected to the House of Delegates.

1951 - July 17 - Elizabeth Kee of Bluefield elected to complete the unexpired term of her husband, Rep. John Kee became the first woman in West Virginia history to serve in Congress.

  • Bluestone Dam on the New River completed.
  • Construction begins on the West Virginia Turnpike.
  • West Virginia Turnpike completed.
  • Law allowing blacks to attend state colleges and universities enacted.
  • Wheeling College founded.
  • August 15 - WCHS-TV at Charleston signs on the air.
  • Ravenswood aluminum plant opens.
  • November 6 - Voters approve jury service for women. Republican, Cecil H. Underwood elected Governor

1957 - George Howard Mitchell appointed the first black Assistant Attorney General.

1958 - December - James R. Jarrett named head basketball coach at Charleston High School, the first black in the state to be appointed head coach at a previously all-white public school

  • Operations begin at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, Green Bank.
  • March 1 - 101st Special Forces Operational Detachment FC formed from existing units in the West Virginia Army National Guard.
  • John F. Kennedy defeats Hubert Humphrey in West Virginia
  • January 26 - Danny Heater, Burnsville High School scoring 135 points in a high school basketball game to earn him an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records.
  • Public Employees Retirement System, the Department of Natural Resources, the Air Pollution Control Commission, the Human Rights Commission, the Industrial Development Authority, and the Department of Commerce created.
  • World's largest movable radio telescope begins regular operations at Green Bank
  • Funds to supply birth control information and aid to welfare recipients approved.
  • February 28 - "The West Virginia Hills" adopted as state song. "West Virginia, My Home Sweet Home" and "This is My West Virginia"
  • March 8 - Old Gold and Blue adopted as state colors
  • Issuance by counties or municipalities of tax-exempt industrial development bonds approved.

1966 - Summersville Dam on the Gauley River dedicated.

  • Laws to control air and water pollution and strip mining were pass.
  • December 15 - Silver Bridge at Point Pleasant collapses, 46 killed.
  • Mass dismissals of state highway workers follow a strike for union recognition, all were reinstated who would return to work.
  • November 20 - 78 killed in explosions and fire in Farmington coal mine.
  • Former Governor W. W. "Wally" Barron sentenced to a five-year prison term for jury tampering.
  • November 19 - Strongest, most widely felt earthquake in West Virginia's history
  • December 9 - Tony Boyle reelected President of the UMWA. Twenty-two days later, his challenger, Jock Yablonski and his wife and daughter were murdered
  • December 30 - Coal Mine Health and Safety Act signed by Nixon.

1970 - November 14 - Southern Airways plane crashes killing almost the entire Marshall University football team, coaches, and other athletic department personnel, All 75 aboard were killed.

1971 - November 12 - Governor Arch Moore negotiates the end of a 44-day national coal strike.

  • Arch A. Moore, Jr. first governor of West Virginia to succeed himself since 1872.
  • February 26 - Buffalo Creek coal waste dam collapses near Man. 125 people killed.
  • March 7 - Golden Delicious apple adopted as state fruit.
  • December 22 - Arnold Miller became the first native West Virginian to head the United Mine Workers (UMW) union. He appointed Levi Daniel president of District 29 in southern West Virginia, the first African-American district president in the history of the UMW.
  • Brook Trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) adopted as state fish
  • Black Bear (Ursus americanus) adopted as state animal.

1974 - September 12 - Kanawha County school board removes controversial textbooks and students at George Washington High School in Charleston walk out in protest.

1974-1975 - Coal miners staged a wildcat strike in support of the textbook critics crusading against what they considered to be unpatriotic and immoral textbooks.

1975 - Major resurgence in the state's coal industry.

  • Governor Arch Moore acquitted by a federal court of charges that he had accepted bribes.
  • Wildcat mine strike in Logan and spreads to eight other states.
  • Medical school established at Marshall University
  • October 22 - New River Gorge Bridge near Fayetteville opens.
  • December - Strike shuts down coal mines (until March 1978).
  • State records its second successive record-breaking winter of bad weather.
  • April 27 - Scaffolding at cooling tower under construction at Willow Island (St. Marys) collapses, killing 51 men.

1980 - Governor John D. Rockefeller defeats Arch A. Moore

1981 - June 8 - Miners return after a 72-day strike.

1983 - July - Governor John D. Rockefeller IV imposes major cutbacks in state spending.

  • Fairmont native Mary Lou Retton became the first woman to win a gold medal in gymnastics at the Los Angeles Olympics.
  • Arch Moore wins third term as governor John D. Rockefeller elected to the US Senate.
  • October 5 - Captain Jon A. McBride of Beckley in Raleigh County piloted the Challenger Space Shuttle on its first mission.
  • State lottery established
  • November 4-5 - Heavy flooding: Death toll - 47 (including 3 never found). Regionally, 71 were killed and damage was $1.2 billion.
  • Major oil spill on the Monongahela and Ohio rivers
  • July 15 - Portion of Interstate 64 opens in southern West Virginia.
  • November - Radio telescope at Green Bank collapsed.
  • November 19 - West Virginia University football team has first undefeated season.
  • March 10 - Lithostrotionella, Chalcedony adopted as state gemstone
  • Former Governor Arch Moore pleads guilty to federal charges of extortion, mail and tax fraud, and obstruction of justice and sentenced to prison.

1992 - December - Marshall University Thundering Herd win the NCAA I-AA National Championship at Marshall Stadium.

1993 - March 12-14 - Snow storm paralyzes West Virginia

1995 - March 1 - Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus) adopted as state butterfly

  • Coal industry sets a record for production with 174 million tons.
  • May - First woman to be nominated by major party, Charlotte Pritt wins the Democratic primary election for Governor.

1997 - Monongahela Silt Loam adopted as state soil.

1998 - November 3 - Marie Redd, a professor at Marshall University elected to the state senate from Cabell County, first female African-American to serve in the senate.

  • Homer Hickam, who grew up in the mining town of Coalwood in McDowell County and retired from NASA as a Payload Training Manager for the International Space Station, became a best-selling author with his book" Rocket Boys," upon which the award-winning 1999 motion picture "October Sky" was based.
  • August - Agriculture Secretary Glickman declares West Virginia a farm emergency area because of a drought.
  • September 1 - First National Bank of Keystone closed by the US Comptroller of the Currency, with $515 million in assets unaccounted for.

21st Century West Virginia History Timeline

  • January - Peace talks between Israel and Syria held at Shepherdstown.
  • August 25 - Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope dedicated.
  • Charleston-born composer George Crumb won a Grammy for Best Contemporary Composition. His work "Star-Child" was recorded with West Virginia Symphony Maestro Thomas Conlin conducting.
  • July 8 - 1200 to 1500 persons are left homeless in McDowell county as a result floods. Gov. Bob Wise declared a state of emergency in Wyoming, Mercer, Raleigh, Boone, Fayette, McDowell, Doddridge, and Summers counties.
  • Charleston native and George Washington High School graduate Jennifer Garner was awarded a Golden Globe for her performances on ABC's hit television drama "Alias."
  • May 5 - President Bush declares McDowell, Mingo, Wyoming, and Mercer counties disaster area following severe flooding.
  • December 26 - Andrew "Jack" Whittaker, Jr., claims a $112 million lottery prize in the Powerball Lottery.

2006 - 13 miners trapped in mine, one survived

  • Explosion at Massey Energy Co. mine killed 29 miners Sen. Robert Byrd died (longest-serving senator and longest-serving member in history of U.S. Congress -
  • Sen. Robert Byrd died (longest-serving senator and longest-serving member in history of U.S. Congress

2011 - $209 million in restitution, civil and criminal penalites by mine owner agreed to for mine explosion - largest settlement in a government investigation of a mine disaster

Sources include:
Jeff Miller's West Virginia Page
Martinsburg-Berkeley County
West Virginia History Center -
African-American History
West Virginia Tourism Wild & Wonderful

USS West Virginia

When the Japanese planes came swarming down on Pearl Harbor, the USS West Virginia, also known as “Wee Vee,” was situated among the outboard ships, which ended up absorbing most of the damage as compared to inboard ships such as the USS Tennessee.

As the bombs and torpedoes wreaked havoc at Pearl Harbor, the West Virginia was struck by torpedoes a total of nine times, a quarter of all torpedo strikes achieved by the Japanese on the fateful day of December 7th, 1941. Six of the torpedoes struck portside of the West Virginia, which was sitting in 40 feet of water. As water flooded in, causing the battleship to list 15 degrees, Lieutenant Commander John Harper jumped into action. He quickly ordered preventive measures that saved the USS West Virginia from capsizing.

Fires broke out across the ship, a result of both the explosives and the inferno caused by the destruction of the USS Arizona, which was leaking oil. This leakage can still be seen from the USS Arizona Memorial today, as drops of oil known as the “black tears of the Arizona” rise to the surface. As flames consumed Wee Vee, her crew sought safety aboard the USS Tennessee, directly inboard of the West Virginia. Immediately after regrouping, damage-control parties bravely set about efforts to save their ship. Using hoses from the Tennessee, they fought the flames consuming the ship. After burning for 30 hours, the West Virginia sank to the bottom, taking 66 sailors with her.

The water flooding the hull of the West Virginia was later pumped out, and the ship was refloated and patched up sufficiently to be able to travel to the Puget Sound Navy Yard, where she was completely refurbished and repaired. Ultimately, Wee Vee sailed back to Pearl Harbor—where she was nearly destroyed—and continued fighting in the Pacific for the remainder of World War II. After participating in various battles throughout the Pacific, the USS West Virginia was present in Tokyo Bay on September 2nd, 1945 for the formal surrender of the Japanese.

USS West Virginia (BB 48)

USS West Virginia (BB 48) was a Colorado Class battleship that was the most seriously damaged of the ships sunk at Pearl Harbor to return to combat duties, taking part in the last year of the war in the Pacific.

The West Virginia was laid down in 1920, launched in 1921 and was completed in 1923, at which date she was one of the most modern battleships in the world. She became the flagship of the Battleship Division of the Battle Fleet (Pacific fleet) in 1924. During the inter-war years her anti-aircraft guns were modified and her 3in guns were replaced with 5in/25 guns, giving her two different types of 5in gun as well as space for .50in calibre machine guns.

On 7 December 1941 the West Virginia was moored in position F-6 at Pearl Harbor, with the Tennessee inboard (between her and the quay). The West Virginia was hit by six 18in torpedoes and two bombs. The torpedo hits caused massive flooding but she was saved from capsizing partly by two seamen in Repair III who began to counterflood before receiving orders and partly by Lt. Claude V. Ricketts, the assistant fire control officer. The captain, Mervyn S. Bennion was mortally wounded by a bomb fragment from a hit on the Tennessee, and died just before fires forced the crew to abandon ship. Later in the day fire control parties volunteered to come back on board and the fires were out by the afternoon of 8 December. The West Virginia sank, but thanks to the efforts of her crew she didn't capsize.

Despite the heavy damage it was decided to try and save the ship. The holes in her side were patched, she was pumped out and on 17 May 1942 she was refloated. She reached dry dock on 9 June and underwent enough repairs to allow her to sail to Puget Sound Navy Yard, Washington State, under her own power.

The repairs took nearly three years to compete and amounted to a near-total rebuild. Her superstructure was almost totally rebuilt. The cage masts were replaced by shorter tower masts. The two funnels were gathered into one. Both the 5in/25 and 5in/51 guns were removed and replaced with dual purpose 5in/38 guns. A large number of 40mm Bofors guns and 20mm Oerlikon guns were added for close-in anti-aircraft fire.

The West Virginia finally re-joined the fleet in September 1944, in time to take part in the invasion of the Palau Islands. She then joined the Northern Attack Force Fire Support Group (FG78, Rear Admiral Weyler) for the return to the Philippines. The bombardment of targets on Leyte began on 19 October, and the troops landed on 20 October.

This meant that the West Virginia was present at the Battle of Surigao Strait (25 October 1944), the last clash between battleships. This was part of the Battle of Leyte Gulf, the Japanese surface fleet's last battle of the war. The Japanese hoped to draw the main American carriers and fast battleships away from Leyte Gulf. Other Japanese forces would then get into the gulf and cause havoc in the vulnerable invasion shipping.

Part of the plan worked. Admiral Halsey took his fast carriers north to intercept the Japanese carriers. This meant that the invasion fleets were protected by escort carriers and old battleships. The battleships were involved in the one-sided battle of Surigao Strait. Admiral Nishimura's Force C with two battleships, one cruiser and four destroyers came up against Admiral Kincaid's six old battleships, eight cruisers and a large force of destroyers and torpedo boats. By the time the Japanese came within gun range they were down to one battleship, one cruiser and one destroyer. The West Virginia's radar guided 16in guns were able to open fire at long range. The three more modernised battleships, West Virginia, Tennessee and California fired 225 rounds of 14in and 16in shells, with the West Virginia responsible for 93 shells. The second Japanese battleship, Yamashiro, was sunk and the cruiser limped away only to be sunk later. The destroyer was the only Japanese ship to escape and she was sunk soon afterwards.

In November West Virginia, Colorado, New Mexico and Maryland formed Task Group 77.2 (Rear Admiral Weyler). This group operated in Leyte Gulf in support of the ground troops. After Maryland was damaged the remaining three ships became TG 77.12 (Read Admiral Ruddock). This group took part in the invasion of Mindoro (December 1944).

At the start of 1945 the battleship force was reorganised, ready for the invasion of Luzon via Lingayen Gulf (Operation Mike I). The West Virginia formed part of Unit 1, TG 77.2 (Oldendorf), along with Mississippi and New Mexico. The West Virginia spent most of January and the first half of February supporting the fighting on Luzon.

The West Virginia joined the fleet supporting the invasion of Iwo Jima on 19 February, just as the first landings were being made. She remained there until 4 March.

All ten active 'old' battleships came together to form Task Force 54 (Rear Admiral Deyo) for the invasion of Okinawa. This task force was split into five pairs. West Virginia and Idaho formed Group 4. The pre-invasion bombardment began on 26 March. The American battleships came under attack from coastal batteries and more dangerously from kamikaze aircraft. The West Virginia was hit by one kamikaze aircraft on 1 April but the damage was minor (although four men were killed). The ship's crew were able to repair the damage and the ship stayed with the bombardment force. On 17 June the West Virginia was hit by another kamikaze, becoming the last battleship to be damaged in that way.

The West Virginia entered Tokyo Bay at the end of August and witnessed the surrender ceremony. She remained at Tokyo until 20 September and then began the journey back to the US. Three 'magic carpet' trips followed, taking troops from Pearl Harbor back to the US. After that the ship entered the mothball fleet, remaining in reserve until she was sold for scrap in 1959.