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West Virginia History Trivia

West Virginia History Trivia Quizzes

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2 quizzes and 20 trivia questions.
  West Virginia History   top quiz  
Multiple Choice
 10 Qns
I was surprised there were no history quizzes on the state where I was born. So here is one!
Average, 10 Qns, littlepup, Oct 11 16
437 plays
  Harpers Ferry, WV -- Full of History   great trivia quiz  
Multiple Choice
 10 Qns
The town of Harpers Ferry, WV, is in the eastern panhandle of the state where the Shenandoah River joins the Potomac below a beautiful hillside overlook. It was the center of deadly conflict before and during the Civil War.
Average, 10 Qns, littlepup, Dec 12 16
183 plays
Related Topics
  West Virginia [Geography] (6 quizzes)

West Virginia History Trivia Questions

1. West Virginia became a state in the midst of what war?

From Quiz
West Virginia History

Answer: Civil War

West Virginia split from Virginia and became a Union State during the Civil War, in a controversial wartime vote.

2. Who was the first governor of West Virginia?

From Quiz West Virginia History

Answer: Arthur Boreman

Boreman was the first governor of West Virginia, after it split off from Virginia. He became governor after Francis Pierpont agreed to give up the western counties, following a vote. Pierpont was the disputed loyal governor of all of Virginia after it seceded. Letcher was governor of secessionist Virginia. Lincoln was president of the U.S. at the time. Breckinridge was the early-war governor of Kentucky, just to the west.

3. In 1796, the US government purchased the land now known as Harpers Ferry, for a special purpose. There was only one other site like this in the US, at Springfield, Mass., but both were vital to the country. What was the purpose?

From Quiz Harpers Ferry, WV -- Full of History

Answer: an arsenal and armory to build and store guns

The government bought 125 acres of land from Robert Harper's heirs to build the armory and arsenal, which they finally began constructing in 1799. The Massachusetts one had been around since 1777, but both were necessary to produce all the weapons required by the US Army between 1801 and 1861. The Harpers Ferry area, squeezed between the rivers and the mountainsides, became a busy factory town. The armory manufactured over 600,000 pistols, muskets and rifles between those years. Concerning the wrong answers: There were many iron furnaces around the country, usually close to where iron ore was found, and the government purchased what it needed from private sellers. The same was true for boots and shoes, which were sometimes assembled in factories or sometimes given out as piece work, and the same for uniforms. Militia companies usually had to furnish their own uniforms. That left only regular Army contracts to be let, and the regular Army was quite small at times, falling to six or seven thousand before the Mexican War, then dropping back to around ten thousand before the Civil War.

4. What was the first capital of West Virginia? It was also a city where conventions were held to create the state.

From Quiz West Virginia History

Answer: Wheeling

Wheeling, in the northern panhandle, is actually north of the Mason Dixon line. It was the safest place for politicians to meet in Virginia to discuss the formation of a union state. Charleston, near the center of the state, has been the capital since 1877. Charles Town, in the eastern panhandle, received some fame as the place John Brown was tried and hanged. Harpers Ferry, near Charles Town, contained a military arsenal which John Brown tried to capture.

5. What political party was West Virginia's first governor?

From Quiz West Virginia History

Answer: Republican

Arthur Boreman was a Republican, the same as Abraham Lincoln, the current president at that time.

6. What natural resource has West Virginia been most famous for?

From Quiz West Virginia History

Answer: Coal

The country ran on coal in the late 19th century, just when West Virginia had become a state. Railroads and steamboats switched from wood to coal, and later, electric power plants used coal to generate electricity where other sources like rivers weren't available. Coal polluted and caused health problems for miners, but such issues weren't as great a concern in the 19th and early 20th centuries as they are today.

7. Matewan and Blair Mountain are remembered as the site of battles in West Virginia where dozens of people were killed in 1920-1921. The US Army, state police and sheriff fought on one side. Who fought on the other?

From Quiz West Virginia History

Answer: Coal miners

Coal miners fought for unions and better working conditions. Members of the Baldwin-Felts Detective Agency, hired by the Stone Mountain Coal Corporation, were surrounded and several killed in Matewan, WV, and the success led miners to engage in further conflict as they tried to unionize, including at Blair Mountain the next year. That proved to be a victory for the coal companies, and unionization failed until the government helped during the Great Depression.

8. The Battle of Harper's Ferry, Sept. 12-15, 1862, began with Confederate General Stonewall Jackson surrounding the Union-occupied town by placing artillery on the high ground around it. Who won the battle?

From Quiz Harpers Ferry, WV -- Full of History

Answer: Confederate General Jackson won, capturing 12,000 US soldiers

Once Union General Miles realized the town was surrounded with artillery, he immediately suggested surrender, but was mortally wounded by an artillery shell. Miles was not well liked by his men, and some historians have even speculated the artillery came from friendly fire. The surrender of over 12,000 Union soldiers was the largest until the Battle of Bataan in World War II, and Jackson also captured the armory of Harper's Ferry, with its thousands of small arms and dozens of artillery pieces. Both sides lost a few dozen killed and a few hundred wounded, mostly in the preliminary skirmishing before the artillery was in position, when defense appeared imposssible. After processing the prisoners, Jackson and his men were immediately ordered to Antietam, to take part in the bloody battle there.

9. In 1977 a well-known high bridge was built in West Virginia, named after the river valley it spanned. What is the bridge called?

From Quiz West Virginia History

Answer: New River Gorge Bridge

The new River Gorge Bridge in Fayette County, WV has been not only practical for travelers in cars, it's a scenic site by itself. Amtrak trains run below it, white water rafters can see it from the New River, and once a year, the bridge is opened for "BASE jumpers" to parachute off the 876-foot high span.

10. The Niagara Movement held its second annual meeting at Storer College in Harpers Ferry, and members walked to see where John Brown had made his stand, taking off their shoes in reverence. What was the Niagara Movement?

From Quiz Harpers Ferry, WV -- Full of History

Answer: a black civil rights organization

The Niagara Movement, which met first in 1905 at Niagara Falls, was founded by W. E. B. Du Bois, a leading African-American writer and scholar in his day, and William Monroe Trotter, a black businessman, editor, and spokesman for black rights. An organization to promote black civil rights, it wanted to end segregation and confront whites rather than be conciliatory, bringing a change as great as the "mighty current" of the Niagara River. The movement held its 1906 meeting on Aug. 15-18 at Storer College, now within the land owned by Harpers Ferry National Historical Park. Those attending could walk to the arsenal where John Brown made his stand. When they got there, they took their shoes off in reverence. DuBois said the convention was "one of the greatest meetings that American Negroes ever held." The Niagara Movement soon died out, though. Storer College refused to let the members back, saying there was friction after the first meeting from its supporters. The group met in Boston, but was having its own problems over whether or not to let women join. That was solved, but continuing problems made the movement decline. In 1910, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People was founded and grew to become the leading representative of blacks, spelling the final end of the Niagara Movement.

11. What John Denver song was added most recently as West Virginia's state song?

From Quiz West Virginia History

Answer: Take Me Home, Country Roads

West Virginia had three state songs in 1963, "The West Virginia Hills," "This Is My West Virginia," and "West Virginia, My Home Sweet Home," but the well-loved John Denver song that specifically mentioned the state was too good to pass up, and it has since been made official.

12. What famous trail runs through Harpers Ferry on its way from Maine to Georgia?

From Quiz Harpers Ferry, WV -- Full of History

Answer: the Appalachian Trail

The approximately 2,200-mile Appalachian Trail runs through 14 states, making a passage directly through the scenic town of Harpers Ferry in West Virginia. The Appalachian Trail Conservancy moved its headquarters from Washington, DC, to Harpers Ferry in 1972.

13. What does the West Virginia state flag look like?

From Quiz West Virginia History

Answer: The state coat of arms on a white background

The white background has a narrow blue border and the coat of arms has laurel branches surrounding it, with a red ribbon saying "State of West Virginia," but I hope the brief descriptions were different enough for you to guess. The current flag is surprisingly new, 1962, though the state seal it's based on goes back to the state's founding. The wrong answers are 'mixed-up' versions based on Ohio, Virginia and South Carolina's flags.

14. In 1944, a major step forward took place in recognizing the historic aspect of Harpers Ferry as a whole. What was it?

From Quiz Harpers Ferry, WV -- Full of History

Answer: Harpers Ferry National Historic Park was created

The majority of the town was incorporated into Harpers Ferry National Historic Park. Many of the individual homes have been recognized by the National Register of Historic Places, but the park allowed the National Park Service to take over control, so that the many historic structures, roads, paths, etc. would be retained, keeping the historic flavor of the town as it was at the time of John Brown's raid. The population of the town, according to the US census, was 1,339 in 1860 when the armory was underway, fell after that, reaching a 20th Century high of 822 in 1950, then dropped below 300 in the early 21st Century.

15. What is the English translation of West Virginia's state motto, adopted in the 1872 state constitution?

From Quiz West Virginia History

Answer: Mountaineers are Always Free

"Montani Semper Liberi" is the official Latin version. Fittingly, West Virginia is called the Mountain State, and state residents are nicknamed Mountaineers. There's also an official seal of the governor with a motto in Latin: "Libertas E Fidelitate" meaning "Liberty out of Fidelity".

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