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West Virginia Cultural Symbols

West Virginia is a beautiful place, but most of its official cultural symbols are a little lame, in my opinion.

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 Cultural Symbols

The official tartan is called the West Virginia Shawl. The symbolism is explained in the legal code.


My vision of a West Virginia tartan (below) celebrates the state’s riotous fall foliage. White and lavender represent the state flower, big laurel. Red represents the state bird and amphibian, the cardinal and northern red salamander. Black represents West Virginia’s official state animal and rock, the black bear and bituminous coal.


West Virginia’s official firearm is the Hall Flintlock Model 1819. Many people have complained that firearms shouldn’t be adopted as state symbols. It would be easy to dismiss flintlocks as artifacts used to hunt game. In the hands of white settlers, however, they were instruments of genocide.

West Virginia State Firearm(By Antique Military Rifles, CC BY 2.0link.)

Some people might also ask why West Virginia needs four state songs. But you can’t argue with the newest state song, “Take Me Home Country Roads.” It nicely ties all of West Virginia’s other symbols together with the magic of music.

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