June 20, 2013 / 5:39 PM / 4 years ago

West Virginia, born in war, marks 150th birthday

CHARLESTON, W.Va., June 20 (Reuters) - West Virginia, born in the turmoil of the U.S. Civil War and now a growing energy hub, marks its 150th birthday on Thursday with statewide bell-ringing, a giant cake and beard-growing contests.

The four-day festival commemorates when Union sympathizers in western Virginia, opposed to their state’s support for the slave-owning Confederacy, voted in Wheeling on June 20, 1863, to form their own state.

To celebrate the Mountain State’s anniversary at the Capitol, Governor Earl Ray Tomblin is cutting a birthday cake that measures 8 feet (2.4 meters) long and more than 3 feet (1 meter) high.

Tomblin addressed the legislature in Wheeling to signal the start of festivities for the state of 1.9 million people. He will officiate from the Capitol over a statewide bell-ringing celebration.

West Virginia, the 35th state admitted to the Union, has planned more than 140 events to mark the sesquicentennial. They include concerts, fireworks, beard-growing contests, free steamboat rides, exhibitions, Civil War re-enactments and a baseball game using period rules and equipment.

West Virginia has a long history of poverty, and median household income in 2008 was 49th among the 50 states. But a surge in energy production has helped put joblessness at 6.2 percent, below the national average. (Reporting by Geno Lawrenzi; Writing by Ian Simpson; Editing by Xavier Briand)

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
0 : 0
  • narrow-browser-and-phone
  • medium-browser-and-portrait-tablet
  • landscape-tablet
  • medium-wide-browser
  • wide-browser-and-larger
  • medium-browser-and-landscape-tablet
  • medium-wide-browser-and-larger
  • above-phone
  • portrait-tablet-and-above
  • above-portrait-tablet
  • landscape-tablet-and-above
  • landscape-tablet-and-medium-wide-browser
  • portrait-tablet-and-below
  • landscape-tablet-and-below