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.
State soil: Monongahela silt loam is productive
"There's always been plenty of dirt in state government. On Monday, Gov. Cecil Underwood made it official," Gazette reporter Phil Kabler wrote in 1997.
The day before, on Nov. 10, the governor accepted the new official seal for the official state soil, Monongahela silt loam.
In passing the concurrent resolution, legislators made West Virginia the 12th state to have an official soil.
"The state has a number of symbols that represent its natural resources, and soil is one of the most important natural resources," said Rob Pate, president of the West Virginia Association of Professional Soil Scientists.
"People are a lot farther removed from the soil these days," Pate said. By having to learn about the official state soil, students will get the opportunity to study soil conservation, he said.
Monongahela silt loam was selected as the state soil because it is highly productive and covers more than 100,000 acres in 45 of the 55 counties.
The seal for the state soil was painted by Bill Dawson of Huntington and features a pastoral scene with a barn and a hillside cross-sectioned to reveal the layers that make up Monongahela silt loam.
State firearm: Not just any flintlock, but the 1819 Hall Model
The newest official state symbol is the firearm -- specifically the Hall Model 1819 flintlock rifle.
Senate Majority Leader John Unger sponsored the measure, which the Senate passed in mid-March. The Berkeley County Democrat has said it was the first such rifle adopted by the U.S. Army.
John Hall developed the rifle and had it manufactured at the National Armory in Harpers Ferry. The early 1800s weapon was one of the first breach-loading military rifles.
"The flintlock was the first entirely machine-made weapon ever devised," West Virginia Public Broadcasting reported in March. "The weapon was first to be able to be loaded by removing a block from the barrel near the operator instead of pouring powder and ramming the bullet into the muzzle."
The WVPB report said the Army first commissioned Hall to make 100 rifles, then 1,000 more in 1819. It is thought to be one of the guns laying at the feet of the miner and farmer on the Great Seal of West Virginia.
The resolution cleared the House of Delegates on April 4.
State colors: Old gold and blue
For the West Virginia centennial celebration in 1963, a concurrent resolution of the Senate and House of Delegates made official what many people already assumed was official: that West Virginia's colors were those of West Virginia University -- gold and blue.
"The colors, according to the widely used Pantone color matching system, are PMS 286 (blue) and PMS 124 (gold)," noted an article in the West Virginia Encyclopedia, published by the West Virginia Humanities Council.
State tartan: West Virginia shawl
Reprinted from Today in the Legislature, a blog of the West Virginia Legislature, on March 13, 2008:
On March 6, the Legislature adopted House Concurrent Resolution 29, designating an adaptation of the "West Virginia Shawl" as the official state tartan.
Many Americans can claim Celtic roots, and, as a result, more than 20 other states have adopted official state tartans. According to the resolution, a majority of West Virginia's earliest settlers were of Celtic descent.
The pattern for the tartan is based on a previously undiscovered "West Virginia Shawl" found at the Daughters of the American Revolution Museum in Barboursville. The official state tartan is based on this design and contains the following colors, each one representing a different aspect of the state: