The Black Bear, or Ursus americanus, is actually deeply tinted with brown. Its habitat in West Virginia is primarily in the eastern mountain region. The black bear still roams freely throughout 36 states and Canada. Either one or two cubs, rarely three, are born at a time, weighing about eight ounces each. The adult reaches an average maximum weight of 250 pounds.
The Cardinal was made West Virginia³s official bird by concurrent resolution of the 1949 Legislature. The male of the species is a rich scarlet with a mask and shading of black, while the young birds and females are a less brilliant color. The cardinal measures approximately eight inches long and is found from New York state to the Gulf of Mexico and as far west as Oklahoma. Its scientific name is Cardinalis cardinalis.
The Monarch Butterfly was designated West Virginia's official state butterfly on March 1, 1995 by the Legislature, after declaration by Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 11. The orange and black insect dines on milkweed as a caterpillar, sips nectar from flowers as a butterfly and, at summer's end, migrates south to Mexico. The butterflies that you see in the spring are the great grandchildren of the ones that lived in Mexico during the winter.
The Brook Trout, a native of West Virginia waters, is perhaps the most sought after trout. It puts up an excellent fight for its size. Not being able to withstand higher temperatures, it does best in small, cold, spring-fed streams. The brook trout is olive with lighter sides and a reddish belly (in males) and easily identified by the light colored edges of the lower fins. Its hatchery growth averages six to eight inches in length soon after birth.
By Senate Joint Resolution Number 18, approved by the Legislature March 7, 1929, West Virginia adopted the present State Flag. The resolution in part is as follows: "That the Legislature of West Virginia hereby adopts a State Flag of the following design and proportions, to-wit:
The proportions of the flag of the State of West Virginia shall be the same as those of the United States ensign; the field shall be pure white, upon the center of which shall be emblazoned in proper colors, the coat-of arms of the State of West Virginia upon which appears the date of the admission of the State into the Union, also with the motto, ÆMontani Semper Liberi³ (Mountaineers Are Always Free). Above the coat-of-arms of the State of West Virginia there shall be a ribbon lettered, ÆState of West Virginia,³ and arranged appropriately around the lower part of the coat-of-arms of the State of West Virginia a wreath of Rhododendron maximum in proper colors. The field of pure white shall be bordered by a strip of blue on four sides. The flag of the State of West Virginia when used for parade purposes shall be trimmed with gold colored fringe on three sides and when used on ceremonial occasions with the United States ensign, shall be trimmed and mounted in similar fashion to the United States flag as regards fringe, cord, tassels, and mounting."
The Rhododendron maximum, or "big laurel," is the state flower of West Virginia. It was selected on January 23, 1903, by the Legislature, following a vote by pupils of the public schools. It is a shrub of the heath family and may be recognized by its large dark evergreen leaves and delicate pale pink or white bloom, mottled with either red or yellow flecks.
Golden Delicious Apple. Designated as the official State Fruit by Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 7, adopted by the Legislature on February 20, 1995. This apple variety was discovered by Anderson Mullins in Clay County, W. Va. in 1905. The plain apple had been previously designated as the official State Fruit by House Concurrent Resolution No. 56, adopted March 7, 1972.
The Sugar Maple, or Acer saccarum as it is known scientifically, was made West Virginia's official tree by a resolution of the 1949 Legislature. Its wood is excellent for furniture and it produces maple syrup. A single tree is 70-120 feet high and produces two to three pounds of sugar when "sugared-off." It has a five-lobed leaf and a small wing-shaped seed pod. In the fall the leaves turn bright yellow.
Joseph H. Diss Debar, an artist from Doddridge County, was chosen by a committee of the Legislature to prepare drawings for an official seal for the state of West Virginia. The artist submitted his drawings with an explanation of each detail and from these was adopted, by the Legislature, a seal which has remained without change, the Official Seal of West Virginia. The seal contains the Latin motto, Montani Semper Liberi, which means "Mountaineers Are Always Free." A large stone in the center of the seal stands for strength. On the stone is the date on which the State was admitted to the Union, June 20, 1863. The farmer with his axe represents agriculture and the miner with his pick represents industry. In front of the rock are two rifles, crossed and surmounted at the place of contact by the Phrygian cap, or cap of liberty, indicating that freedom and liberty were won and will be maintained by the force of arms. While the seal was designed and adopted with two sides, only the front side is in common use.
The reverse side of laurel and oak leaves, log house, hills, factories and boats is the Governor³s Official Seal. The Constitution of West Virginia, Article 2, Section 7, provides that: "The present seal of the state, with its motto ÆMontani Semper Liberi,³ shall be the great seal of the state of West Virginia, and shall be kept by the secretary of state, to be used by him, officially as directed by law."
"The Mountain State"
The West Virginia Hills, words and music by Ellen King and H.E. Engle; This is My West Virginia, by Iris Bell; and West Virginia, My Home Sweet Home by Julian G. Hearne, Jr. Adopted by the Legislature as official songs February 28, 1963.
June 20th. West Virginia was proclaimed a state in 1863. "West Virginia Day" became a legal holiday by Chapter 59, Acts of the Legislature, Regular Session, 1927.
The State Gem is technically not a gemstone, but rather the silicified Mississippian Fossil Coral, Lithostrotionella, preserved as the siliceous mineral chalcedony. Designated by House Concurrent Resolution No. 39, March 10, 1990. It is found in the Hillsdale Limestone in portions of Greenbrier and Pocahontas counties and is often cut and polished for jewelry and for display.
The State Soil is Monongahela Silt Loam, adopted by concurrent resolution in 1997, making West Virginia the twelfth state to have an official state soil.
Old Gold and Blue were designated as Official State Colors by Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 20, adopted by the Legislature on March 8, 1963.