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West Virginia Homeland Security and Emergency Services Resources
The Virginia Colony, which included the region that is now West Virginia, was established by England in 1606. But, by 1860, many controversies had developed between the eastern and western counties in Virginia. Disputes over equal presentation in the government, taxation, slavery and education had plagued the state.
When Virginia seceded from the Union in 1861 at the beginning of the Civil War, the western counties remained loyal to the Union. The people voted to break away from the rest of the state and delegates from 40 western counties formed their own government. On June 20, 1863, West Virginia became the 35th state.
The first permanent white settlement in the region that would become West Virginia was established in 1731 near Bunker Hill by Colonel Morgan. Although, this has been disputed and some claim that the first permanent settlers were most likely Germans who in search of religious freedom established a settlement near Shepherdstown.
Coal was first discovered in 1742 and today, West Virginia ranks second as the largest producer of coal in the nation. Other important natural resources in the state include natural gas and oil. And, hardwood forests cover almost 75 percent of the state providing a major lumber industry.
The state is also one of the nation's leaders in the production of aluminum, steel, glass and chemicals. Agricultural commodities include dairy products, poultry, eggs and apples. West Virginia has over a million acres that are divided into two national forests, nine state forests and 37 state parks.
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