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West Virginia State Symbols


Welcome to the Mountain State! Like so many Eastern states, West Virginia is represented by the ever popular sugar maple, cardinal, and brook trout. More unique are West Virginia’s official state animal, reptile, and amphibian—the black bear, timber rattlesnake, and northern red salamander. (Continued below)

West Virginia State Flag
Nicknames & Slogans
Nicknames The Mountain State, Panhandle State, Switzerland of America  
Symbols of State
Motto Montani Semper Liberi 1863
Song “West Virginia, My Home Sweet Home” 1947
Song “The West Virginia Hills” 1961
Song “This Is My West Virginia” 1963
Song “Take Me Home Country Roads” 2014
Flower big laurel (Rhododendron maximum) 1903
Tree sugar maple (Acer saccharum) 1949
Fruit Golden Delicious apple (Malus) 1972
Bird cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) 1949
Animal black bear (Ursus americanus) 1973
Reptile timber rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus) 2008
Amphibian northern red salamander (Pseudotriton ruber) 2015
Fish brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) 1973
Insect honeybee (Apis mellifera) Redundant Symbol 1978
Butterfly monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) 1995
Gem Lithostrotionella (fossil coral) 1990
Rock bituminous coal 2009
Fossil † giant ground sloth (Megalonyx jeffersonii) 2008
Soil Monongahela Silt Loam 1997
Cultural Symbols
Colors Old gold and blue 1963
Tribal Group Appalachian American Indians of West Virginia 1996
Steam Locomotive Shay No. 5 2004
Tartan West Virginia shawl 2008
Year-round Professional Theatre Greenbrier Valley Theatre 2006
Youth Ballet River City Youth Ballet Ensemble 2007
Language English Redundant Symbol 2016
Firearm Hall flintlock model 1819 2013

West Virginia has three official fossils. The giant ground sloth is the state fossil proper. The state gem is Lithostrotionella, a fancy word for a type of fossilized coral. The state rock is bituminous coal, which is the fossilized remains of ancient plants.

My three favorite West Virginia symbols are probably the state tree, flower, and motto. The sugar maple recalls the legendary beauty of the Mountain State’s fall foliage. The big laurel—a species of rhododendron—can be seen on West Virginia’s state flag, along with the state motto, which translates “Mountaineers are always free.”

Unfortunately, mottoes don’t belong on flags. Some people argue that flags shouldn’t depict people, other. My West Virginia flag proposal replaces the laurel blossoms with a maple leaf. However, the state flower is recalled by the white field (background).

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If you think state flags and flowers are nothing more than trivia, guess again. A thorough exploration of the more than 1,500 items adopted as state symbols embraces geography, history, and psychology.

You have found the best state symbols website, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg. The introduction above is adapted from Geobop’s State Symbols and My State Symbols Book, by far the biggest and most detailed state symbols references ever. You can learn still more about the symbols of the 50 states in the books Flag Quest and Grading the States. (Learn more about them here.)

After you spend some time exploring your favorite state’s symbols, you can come back here and tell us what you think about them.

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