It had been three years since I drove underneath the enduring, forest inexperienced “Wild and Great West Virginia” signal. Even within the stoic chill of winter, the snow-covered firs, chestnuts, and maple bushes lining I-79 welcome me residence. For a lot of, the state is an anomaly — an neglected and underrated a part of the US. What most don’t know or perceive is that these of us who grew up right here will at all times know a couple of residence truths the Appalachian Mountains maintain. Here’s what you need to know earlier than crossing into West Virginia.

1. There’s a #struggletostay and it’s a factor.

In West Virginia, there’s a battle to remain within the state (#thestruggletostay). It’s a hashtag. It’s a motion. It’s a mindset that’s plaguing at present’s youth. Within the 2012 census, the demise charge really surpassed the delivery charge and greater than 19,000 persons are anticipated to go away by 2030. With residents shedding their jobs, salaries stagnant, and higher alternatives exterior, why not go? Nonetheless, one’s blood will bleed gold and blue wherever. West Virginians are leaving for a similar purpose they’re staying: perception in a greater place, higher schooling and due to these delectable pepperoni rolls.

2. Nonetheless, there’s a glimmer of hope.

Issues are starting to search for economically. The brand new highway bond was handed which can increase enterprise local weather to the state. The $1.6 billion bond ensures to enhance potholed battled roads (thanks, bomb cyclones) and likewise give jobs to many who want work.

three. Pepperoni rolls trump scorching canines any day of the week.

A Vainness Honest article through the 2016 election made gentle of West Virginia’s love of Donald Trump and scorching canines. Curiously, the journalist interviewed gun-wielders in a strip membership for the proclamation of this affliction. Each small city has “these guys” and “these scorching canines.” What they don’t have are pepperoni rolls. The spicy, meat-soaked crispiness of the roll, which was invented at Nation Membership Bakery in Fairmont, West Virginia, is a delicacy to savor at each alternative.

four. West Virginia has had very unhealthy luck with authorities and thus stay distrusting of many who’re part of it.

Whoops. Sorry, there’s no cash for schooling and everybody voting about it’s 107 years previous.

5. The state is homogenous and it’s apparent on the first relaxation cease.

There’s one thing in regards to the Appalachians and their companion, the New River. The autumn colours of foliage spinning to the bottom and the opaque white ice after a primary snow — perhaps that’s why individuals keep. The seasons altering and understanding your neighbor beckons locals to stay amongst their houses on the hills — or attempting to, anyway.

Nonetheless, the dearth of selection in pores and skin colour (93% are Caucasian) and faith (77% of the inhabitants are Christian) appears weird for at present’s nation. The rationale for that comes from historical past. The state was colonized by Italian, Polish, and Scots-Irish immigrants. It was a hub for households looking for a greater life. Males sacrificed themselves (and their lungs) within the gritty underworld of coal mining. It was a state buzzing with corruption — as many nonetheless consider it’s — from mafia and firm bosses who most popular cash over lives. So, whereas West Virginia’s popularity is stained by stereotypes of banjo enjoying forest dwellers and faucet dancing outlaws pawning opiates, its historical past is far more colourful than its inhabitants.

6. West Virginians are compassionate.

Final yr, the 100-year flood — 10 inches of rain destroying the southern a part of the state —
was telling proof of West Virginia united. Wherever anybody goes, whether or not it’s South Carolina or Japan, there’s a celebration of the gold and blue. The aid funds had been overwhelming and volunteers flocked to areas the place houses and other people had been misplaced to dashing waters. Rebuilding was a activity with over 1,200 houses misplaced and companies ruined. However neighbors rose above the waters — simply as they at all times do.

7. Tamarack hosts myriad West Virginia treasures.

It’s not only a signal on the highway for a relaxation cease. Tamarack is a mecca of West Virginia artwork. From culinary, sculpting, portray, writing, and brewing, the “museum” of kinds serves as a gratitude to native artists of every kind. It’s a solution to discover the state from all elements alongside a employees of whom are nothing however amicable. Oh, and it’s value mentioning these culinary creations are crafted by cooks from the Greenbrier.

eight. West Virginia was the place everybody essential was going to outlive the Chilly Conflict.

Beneath the Greenbrier Resort (which is unbelievable), there’s a bunker. That bunker was constructed as a US authorities relocation facility in case of a Chilly Conflict fallout. It’s chilling to see and peculiar to assume such a factor was needed. That clearly makes it the proper place to go to at the moment in political historical past.

Total, West Virginia and its persons are resilient. The license plate speaks its fact. It’s not sufficient to drive underneath the signal. One should stroll the winding footpaths of Greenbrier River Path whereas crunching fallen leaves on a crisp fall day or shake arms with a neighborhood moonshine brewer earlier than taking a sip of white lightning collectively. However perhaps it’s not till wanting down from atop the New River Bridge or into the whirling streams of The Gauley rapids after a heavy rainfall that it resonates — nearly heaven.