West Virginia, Mountain Mama..

I want to do an extended post on some of the States I have visited in order to get to know them better. I will start this project out with the State I really know very little about and that is West Virginia.  I have been through it a few couple of times but have never spent much time there.  My initial source of information about WV is from the old John Denver song, thus the title of the post. Here are some of the lyrics from that song:

Almost heaven, West Virginia, Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah River.
Life is old there, older than the trees, younger than the mountains, blowing like a breeze.
Country roads, take me home to the place I belong. 
West Virginia, mountain mamma, take me home, country roads. 
WV is a picturesque State that seems to have been left in time from another age. My first thoughts of the State have always been coal mines and company towns where backward-educated people allowed coal mine owners to use them as slave labor in a very unhealthy environment.  I’m sure the folks living there disagree with my vision, I wouldn’t expect it otherwise.
Here are some of what I learned about the State in my recent studies:
  • The biggest city in the State is less than 51,000 inhabitants. That is very small compared to all the States surrounding it.
  • Family income is about $43,000 and is the 48th State for personal income. The national median income is $59,000.
  • WV is one of the few States that has been consistently losing population for some time now.  One reason is low birthrates. The other is a constant youth migration to other areas.
  • The State is 95% white which makes it one of the least diverse in the nation.
  • 50% of its citizens are Evangelicals which of course accounts for the wide margin of the Trump victory there.
  • Less than 20% of the population has a college degree. It is the least educated State in the country.
  • The State, according to a CNBC study ranks at the bottom as being the worst State for business. There are practically no major businesses besides coal companies. The number one employer is Walmart and coal miners make up only about 2% of the total households.

These are the factual things I learned. I am sorry that it is not more encouraging. There just doesn’t seem to be much going for the State. I always thought that Alabama and Mississippi were at the bottom of most of these statistics, so it surprised me to see WV there in too many cases.

Despite all these things, West Virginia is indeed a beautiful State. The Shenandoah Valley, which is mainly in Virginia, is one of the most beautiful areas in the eastern US. That accounts for tourism being one of the biggest attractions.  Maybe West Virginia needs to go back to the John Denver song and concentrate on their beauty to bring higher paying jobs to the region?  I want to end this post on a positive level by saying that the West Virginia State Museum located in the State capital complex is one of the best I have ever visited. 

Here are some pictures I took there and in the countryside.