West Virginia Symbols: History And Symbolism

West Virginia is a state rich in history and symbolism, with a variety of official state symbols that represent the state’s heritage and natural beauty. From the state bird to the state flag, each symbol has a unique story and significance to West Virginia. In this article, we’ll explore the history and symbolism behind some of West Virginia’s most beloved state symbols.

The Symbols of West Virginia

West Virginia, also known as the Mountain State, has several symbols that represent its beauty and culture. From the state flag to the state bird, each symbol holds significant meaning to those who call West Virginia home.

State Flag

The West Virginia state flag has a white field surrounded by a blue border with the state’s name and its Latin motto “Montani Semper Liberi” (Mountaineers are Always Free) written in blue. In the center of the flag is the state coat of arms. The coat of arms features two men representing agriculture and industry, a rock with the date of West Virginia’s admission to the Union, and a banner with the state motto. The state’s colors, blue and gold, are also represented on the flag.

State Seal

The West Virginia state seal features a boulder with the date “June 20, 1863” inscribed on it, the day West Virginia became a state. Two men representing agriculture and industry stand on either side of the boulder, and a banner with the state motto “Montani Semper Liberi” is displayed above them. The outer ring of the seal contains the state’s name and the date of admission to the Union.

State Bird

The state bird of West Virginia is the northern cardinal. With its vibrant red color, the cardinal is a popular bird among birdwatchers and a familiar sight throughout the state. The cardinal represents both the state’s beauty and its love for nature.

State Flower

The state flower of West Virginia is the rhododendron. These beautiful pink and purple flowers can be found throughout the state, especially in the Appalachian Mountains. The rhododendron symbolizes the state’s natural beauty and its rugged terrain.

In conclusion, each symbol of West Virginia holds a special place in the hearts of its residents. From the state flag to the state flower, each symbol represents the state’s unique culture and natural beauty.

Discovering the History Behind the Symbols of the State

Origin of the Symbols

The symbols of the state of California, including the state flag and seal, have a rich history that dates back to the 19th century. The state flag features a grizzly bear, a representation of California’s wildlife, while the seal features a miner, a representation of the state’s mining industry. These symbols were adopted by the California State Legislature in 1911, and have since become an important part of the state’s identity.

Changes Over Time

Over time, the symbols of the state have undergone several changes. The original state flag featured a grizzly bear facing inwards, while the current flag features a grizzly bear facing outwards. The miner on the state seal has also undergone several changes, including the removal of his handgun and the addition of a pickaxe and spade.

Importance of the Symbols

The symbols of the state of California represent the state’s rich history and culture. They are important not only to the people of California but also to the rest of the country. The state flag and seal are often displayed in public spaces, and are also featured on various state documents and official paperwork.

Adoption of the State Flag and Seal

The adoption of the state flag and seal was a significant moment in California’s history. It was a way for the state to establish its own unique identity and to differentiate itself from other states. The adoption of these symbols also helped to promote a sense of unity among the people of California.

In conclusion, the symbols of the state of California have a rich history and have undergone several changes over time. They are important to the state’s identity and culture, and serve as a reminder of California’s unique history and heritage.

The State Seal

When it comes to official state symbols, the state seal is one of the most significant. The state seal is an emblem or device that represents the official authority of the state. Here is a closer look at the state seal, including its design, meaning, historical significance, and controversies.

Design and Elements of the Seal

The state seal of most states in the United States has similar designs. The state seal of California, for instance, features a round shape with a central image of a grizzly bear. The bear is walking on a patch of grass, and the picture is surrounded by the words “The Great Seal of the State of California” and “1850,” the year California became a state. There are other elements in the seal, including a miner, a sheaf of wheat, and a sailing ship, among others.

Meaning Behind the Seal

The state seal is a visual representation of the state’s values, history, and culture. In California’s seal, the bear represents strength and independence, while the miner symbolizes the state’s Gold Rush era, and the sheaf of wheat represents agriculture. The sailing ship, on the other hand, represents the state’s trade and commerce, and the words “Eureka” (I have found it) on the bear’s flag symbolize the discovery of gold.

Historical Significance of the Seal

The state seal is a significant part of California’s history. It has been in use since 1849, even before California became a state. Over the years, the seal has undergone some changes, with the current design being adopted in 1937. The seal is used on official documents, public buildings, and other state properties, representing the state’s authority and sovereignty.

Controversies Surrounding the Seal

Like any other state symbol, the state seal has not been without controversy. Some people have criticized the use of the grizzly bear in the seal, as the species is extinct in California. Others have raised concerns about the image of a miner in the seal, arguing that it does not reflect the state’s diversity. Nonetheless, the state seal remains a vital symbol of California’s identity and heritage.

The State Bird: Northern Cardinal

West Virginia’s state bird is the Northern Cardinal, also known as the Redbird. It is easily recognizable by its vibrant red plumage with a crest on its head, black face, and a short, thick bill. The female cardinals are duller in color, with brownish-red feathers.

The Northern Cardinal is a beloved symbol in West Virginia due to its cheerful song and beautiful appearance. It is also a year-round resident of the state, making it a familiar sight in backyards and parks. In addition, the cardinal is a popular bird for birdwatchers due to its striking coloration and vocalizations.

The Northern Cardinal is significant in West Virginia’s history as it was chosen as the state bird in 1949, replacing the state’s original bird, the Skylark. It was chosen for its association with Christmas and its beautiful appearance. The cardinal has since become an important symbol of the state, representing the beauty and resilience of West Virginia’s natural resources. It is also a reminder to West Virginians to stay strong and sing out, even during difficult times.


West Virginia is a state rich in history and symbolism. From the majestic Appalachian Mountains to the flowing waters of the Ohio and Shenandoah rivers, West Virginia is full of natural beauty. The state symbols, including the state bird, animal, and flower, are a testament to the state’s unique identity and heritage. The symbols represent the state’s history, culture, and values. They remind us of the importance of preserving our natural resources and celebrating our state’s unique identity. West Virginia’s symbols are a source of pride for its residents and a beacon of hope for those who seek to learn more about the state’s rich history and traditions.

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