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Guest writer, Lisa Sheldon


Earlier this month, bituminous coal became the official West Virginia state rock. The choice is obviously for its contribution to the state’s economy and history. West Virginia is the nation’s second largest coal producer to Wyoming. It is a key source of energy.


The state rock is the newest of the state symbols. The first was the state flower, the rhododendron or great laurel, designated in 1903. The choice was by vote of public school children.


The year of other state symbols is as follows:


1949 - Bird: Cardinal


1949 - Tree: Sugar Maple


1972 - Fruit: Apple; in 1995, it became the Golden Delicious Apple, first discovered in Clay County in 1905


1973 - Animal: Black Bear


1973 - Fish: Brook Trout


1990 - Gem: Fossil Coral (actually, it is a fossil, not a gem)


1995 - Butterfly: Monarch


1997 - Soil: Monongahela Silt Loam


2002 - Insect: Honeybee


2008 - Reptile: Timber Rattlesnake


2008 - Fossil: bones of the Megalonyx jeffersonii or ground sloth


Each of these symbols was chosen because of its significance to West Virginia, and each has an interesting story.


Take some time to investigate the creatures, flora, fauna and other things that represent the state. You can also check out the state colors, seal, flag and songs that coincide with West Virginia history, natural resources and economy. It will be a reminder of why West Virginia is “Wild and Wonderful.” The information is available online by searching for West Virginia state symbols or check out the subject at Calhoun County Library.


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