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small population of Cherokee, Delaware and Shawnee Indian tribes lived
in the West Virginia region when European explorers arrived in the area.
Many of the Native Americans had died in tribal wars or disease
during the late 1500s.
1606, England established the Virginia Colony.
This very large area of land included what is now West Virginia.
During the late 1600s, explorers from Virginia entered the
Eastern Panhandle and New River area.
Settlers arrived in the early 1700s.
Germans in search of religious freedom settled what is now
Shepherdstown in 1727.
Other German and Irish farmers settled in the Eastern and
1768, peace treaties forced Cherokee and Iroquois out of West Virginia.
Colonists rushed to settle the land between the Alleghenies and
the Ohio River.
The Alleghenies Mountains separated the western and eastern
counties of Virginia, which soon became very different in social and
Virginians fought hard to keep the British out of their lands during the
Revolutionary War (1775-1783).
During the early 1800s, industries developed in West Virginia.
Iron factories opened in the Northern Panhandle.
Natural gas and large amounts of salt were produced near
Mills were built along the Mississippi River and oil was
discovered at Burning Springs.
1860, great contention had grown between west and east counties in
Huge disputes developed over issues such as slavery, taxation,
education, and equal representation within their government.
In 1861, Virginia seceded from the Union and the Civil War began.
A majority of the people in western Virginia opposed slavery and
supported the Union.
They voted to break away from Virginia and form their own
West Virginia became the 35th state on June 20, 1863.
the late 1800s, railroads expanded throughout the state.
With new advanced technology, lumber and coal production
New industries such as chemical, glass, and steel moved into the
state to use the huge amounts of natural gas produced there.
of West Virginia’s population worked in coal mines during the early
The work was dangerous and accidents killed hundreds of miners.
In 1902, the United Mine Workers labor union organized several
miners and demanded safer working conditions, shorter work hours, and
Deadly fights often broke out between mine owners and union
members, which ended for a short time under military law.
In 1933, the National Recovery Administration was established.
It protected union members and helped to bring about the needed
changes within the mines.
lost their jobs during the Great Depression (1929-1939).
A federal program, the New Deal, created jobs constructing roads.
World War II also helped industrial growth in West Virginia and
improved the economy.
Mines and factories reopened supplying the military with fuel,
steel, chemicals and other war materials.
the 1950s, the command for coal dropped dramatically.
Some mines closed and others replaced workers with machinery.
Thousands left the state to find work elsewhere.
Other industries did well, but federal aid was required to
maintain West Virginia and improve the environment.
Also during this time, stronger labor laws were passed in
response to continuing union strikes.