Uncovering America's Heritage... Coin by Coin
2005 West Virginia Quarter
I'm glad I picked the West Virginia quarter as December's coin. I dug up some data on the state and am happy to say that I finally have the answer to the question I've been asking for a long time: How come there's a West Virginia but no East Virginia?
The answer is: Virginia was first, but it was bigger than it is now. West Virginia broke away just before the Civil War. When Virginia's leaders decided to follow other Southern states in leaving the Union, leaders from western Virginia formed a new state that was loyal to the Union. President Lincoln recognized the new pro-Union state government.
December was an important month 1862 for West Virginia's statehood. On December 10, the House of Representatives passed the bill that would make West Virginia a state. On the 31st, President Lincoln signed the bill into law. West Virginia was finally created in June of 1863, by the will of the state's voters.
To celebrate its statehood, West Virginia shows the New River Gorge Bridge on its quarter. The New River and its gorge divided Fayette County before the bridge was built in 1977. Now, drivers can cross the river in about a minute instead of having to go 40 miles out of their way. This scene shows both the natural beauty of West Virginia and the wonder of one of the longest such bridges in the world.
And one other great thing about the New River Gorge Bridge: it hosts Bridge Day every October. On Bridge Day, the bridge is closed to motor vehicles and people enjoy the festival's food and fun on foot. The first Bridge Day was really just the bridge's "grand opening." But people liked so much being able to walk out on the bridge and enjoy the view that it became a yearly event.