WV State Symbols

Bituminous Coal – The Official West Virginia State Rock

(Though it has not appeared in the West Virginia Blue Book, BITUMINOUS COAL is generally accepted as an official State Symbol.)


“In 1742, English explorer John Peter Salley navigated along the Coal River near what is now Peytona in Boone County and wrote about a “great plenty of coals.” Salley was the first European to write about the mineral that would define the region’s future. Thomas Jefferson later wrote about western Virginia coal in his Notes on the State of Virginia.

“The West Virginia coal industry dates to the western Virginia frontier of the early 1800s. The region’s first industry was salt, an essential mineral for preserving and shipping meat before refrigeration. Salt was produced by boiling brine, found abundantly along the banks of the Kanawha River. To boil the brine, salt manufacturers initially used wood to fire the furnaces; however, in 1817, when the timber supply dwindled, salt maker David Ruffner turned to coal. . .”

Explore National Coal Heritage Area and Coal Heritage Trail’s “Coal History” Website — includes links to:  Birth of the Coal Industry; Railroads; Coal Miners; Company Towns; King Coal; From Shovels to Machines; United Mine Workers; Coal Camp Baseball; End of an Era

<<More information on the mining, transportation, and use of coal is on the MH3WV Energy/Natural Resources page>>


West Virginia Gazette

June 15, 2013

State rock: What else? Coal – Bituminous coal became West Virginia’s official state rock in 2009 when Gov. Joe Manchin signed a House of Delegates resolution. The designation was based primarily on coal’s contribution to the state’s economy and history. West Virginia is the nation’s No. 2 coal producer. The resolution notes that explorer John Peter Salley found coal near Racine in 1742 and named the Coal River as a result. George Washington observed a Mason County coal fire in 1770, and Conrad Cotts opened the state’s first commercial coal mine near Wheeling in 1810, according to the resolution. In 1950, 127,000 coal miners were employed in the industry. Coal production reached its peak in 1997 at 180 million tons of coal mined.

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