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Official State Symbols of West Virginia

State Flag

West Virginia State Flag
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, 'Montani Semper Liberi' (Mountaineers Are Always Free). Above the coat-of-arms of the State of West Virginia there shall be a ribbon lettered, 'State of West Virginia,' 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."

State Seal

West Virginia State Seal
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 the State was admitted to the Union, June 20, 1863. The farmer with his ax represents agriculture, and the miner holding 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 Constitution of West Virginia, Article 2, Section 7, provides that: "The present seal of the state, with its motto 'Montani Semper Liberi,' 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 reverse side of laurel and oak leaves, log house, hills, factories and boats is the Governor's Official Seal.

State Animal - Black Bear

West Virginia State Animal
The Black Bear was selected as West Virginia's official State Animal by a poll of students, teachers and sportsmen conducted by the Division of Natural Resources in 1954-1955. It was officially adopted by the Legislature during the 1973 Regular Session with the approval of House Concurrent Resolution 6.

State Bird - Cardinal

West Virginia State Bird
On March 7, 1949, legislation was passed allowing for the adoption of an official bird and tree, to be decided by a vote. The cardinal was named the state's official state bird with the adoption of House Resolution 12 on March 7, 1949, which authorized pupils from public schools and civic organizations to name the bird.

State Fish - Brook Trout

West Virginia State Fish
The Brook Trout was officially adopted as the state fish of West Virginia by the Legislature during the 1973 Regular Session with the approval of House Concurrent Resolution 6. This native fish is perhaps the most-sought-after trout by anglers, as it puts up an excellent fight for its size. It thrives in small, cold, spring-fed streams and is unable to withstand warmer temperatures. The brook trout is olive with lighter sides and a reddish belly (in males) and is easily identified by the light-colored edges of the lower fins. Its hatchery growth averages six to eight inches in length soon after birth.

State Tree - Sugar Maple

West Virginia State Tree
The adoption of House Concurrent Resolution 12 on March 7, 1949, authorized a vote by public school students and civic organizations to name the Sugar Maple as the official state tree.

State Flower - Rhododendron

West Virginia State Flower
With the recommendation of the Governor and a vote by public school pupils, the Legislature adopted House Joint Resolution 19 on January 29, 1903, naming the Rhododendron the official state flower.

State Fruit - Golden Delicious Apple

West Virginia State Fruit
Designated as the official state fruit by Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 7, adopted by the Legislature on February 20, 1995. Anderson Mullins discovered this apple variety in Clay County in 1905. The plain apple had been previously designated as the official state fruit by House Concurrent Resolution No. 56, adopted March 7, 1972.

State Insect - Honeybee

West Virginia State Insect
The honeybee became West Virginia's official state insect in 2002 by the Legislature's Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 9. In addition to its flavorful honey, the honeybee pollinates many of the state's most important crops including fruits, vegetables and grasses. Its activity produces more benefit to the state's economy than any other insect. The honeybee has six legs, four wings and its coloring ranges from dark yellow to gold with three dark bands on its abdomen.

State Butterfly - Monarch Butterfly

West Virginia State Butterfly
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 you see in the spring are the great grandchildren of the ones that lived in Mexico during the winter.

State Gem/Fossil - Silicified Mississippian Fossil Coral

West Virginia State Gem/Fossil
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 Hillsdale Limestone in portions of Greenbrier and Pocahontas counties and is often cut and polished for jewelry and display. Lithostrotionella coral lived in the warm, shallow waters covering much of North America during the Mississippian Period (~ 350-325 million years ago).

State Soil - Monongahela Silt Loam

West Virginia State Soil
Monongahela silt loam was made West Virginia's official state soil by Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 5 on April 2, 1997, making West Virginia the 12th state to have an official state soil. Monongahela silt loam covers over 100,000 acres in 42 counties throughout West Virginia and is used extensively for crops, hay, pasture, woodland, housing and prime farmland.

State Colors - Old Gold & Blue

West Virginia State Colors
Old Gold and Blue were designated as official state colors by Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 20, adopted by the Legislature on March 8, 1963.

State Songs - "West Virginia My Home Sweet Home", "The West Virginia Hills", "This is My West Virginia"

West Virginia State Songs
"West Virginia, My Home Sweet Home" by Julian G. Hearne, Jr. was designated as the official state song by Senate Concurrent Resolution No.11 on March 3, 1947. On February 3, 1961, and without knowledge of the fact that a state song had already been designated, "The West Virginia Hills" by Ellen King and H. E. Engle was adopted as the official state song by Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 5. Realizing the error and wanting to add the song "This is My West Virginia" by Iris Bell, on February 28, 1963 the Legislature adopted House Concurrent Resolution No. 19 designating all three the official state songs of West Virginia.

West Virginia Day

West Virginia was proclaimed a state in 1863. "West Virginia Day", June 20, became a legal WV holiday by Chapter 59, Acts of the Legislature, Regular Session, 1927.

State Motto - Montani Semper Liberi (Mountaineers Are Always Free)

Montani Semper Liberi (Latin for "Mountaineers are Always Free") is the official motto of the state of West Virginia. It was adopted as the official motto of the state in Article II, Section 2-7, of the state constitution signed in 1872. This article specifically states:

"The present seal of the state, with its motto, "Montani Semper Liberi," 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 phrase was suggested as the motto by Joseph H. DisDebar, the artist who created the state's Great Seal.



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