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About 15% of the total U.S. coal comes from West Virginia, which ranks second in production. The state is a major supplier of steel, glass and agricultural commodities including poultry and eggs. Today the state is a popular tourist destination with plenty of outdoor activities.
The state’s early history is closely tied to Virginia, but it almost became a 14th colony when the first settlers set out to establish a settlement on the Ohio River in 1751. The area saw some minor engagements, including several raids by Native Americans, during the final of the French and Indian Wars. Following the American Revolution Virginia was one of the original 13 states, and this included the western part that is today modern West Virginia.
Settlers attempted to form a new state in 1783 called “Westsylvania,” west of the Alleghany Mountains, but it would be 80 years before a separate state was founded. With the outbreak of the American Civil War the Virginia state convention voted to secede from the Union, while delegates from 25 western counties met to repudiate the secession. This leads to the formation of a new state of West Virginia, which joins the union in 1863.
The state’s capital was originally Wheeling, but moved to Charleston in 1870, then back to Wheeling in 1875, and finally back to Charleston in 1885, which remains the capital today.