West Virginia at the New York World's Fair

State Papers and Public Addresses, Homer Adams, Holt, Twentieth Governor of West Virginia, January 18, 1937 to January 13, 1941. Compiled and Annotated by William E. Hughes.


AUGUST 3,1940

My fellow West Virginians, and Friends:

It is indeed a pleasure to participate in the observance of "West Virginia Day" at the great New York World's Fair during this the second year of the exhibition.

I bring to the Empire State and to the city of New York the hearty greetings and sincere good wishes of the people of West Virginia, and especially do I extend to the distinguished governor of the great state of New York, the Honorable Herbert H. Lehman, and to the able mayor of your great city, the Honorable Fiorello H. LaGuardia, my personal compliments and the compliments of the people of my State.

For my fellow West Virginians, not only those present but those who are attending by radio, may I again compliment those who have borne the heavy responsibility in the organization and management of the New York World's Fair upon the magnificent success that it is attaining and for the wholesome influence it has in the dissemination of good will throughout our nation and throughout the world.

There are many social and economic ties between New York and West Virginia. The great state of New York and the magnificent city are large producers and are, also, large consumers. In the extensive industrial productions of New York are consumed large quantities of many of West Virginia's raw materials. In turn. West Virginia uses or consumes an appreciable part of many of New York's manufactured products.

West Virginians may appropriately take pride in the West Virginia Building and Exhibit. West Virginia's representation in this great Fair, however, is by no means limited to the exhibits of the West Virginia Building. West Virginia, in addition, is well represented by the very attractive exhibits of many large industrial and commercial organizations which operate and produce in whole or in part in our State.

On behalf of the New York World's Fair Commission of the State of West Virginia, may I express to Miss Eleanor Steber our deep appreciation for the wonderful contribution that she has made to this West Virginia Day program through her beautiful voice. Miss Steber is a talented West Virginian, admired by all music lovers, and especialy [sic] by those of her native state.

(Here Governor Holt informally complimented and thanked the Lions Club quartet of Bluefield - composed of Dick Morgan, Otis Bivens, Frank Roberts, and Joseph Wilds, assisted by Miss Marian Smith - and the accompanist, William McDougle, for their contribution to the musical program. - Ed.)

I also personally thank the members of our West Virginia Commission - especially Speaker Thomas and Commissioner McLaughlin - for the work that they have done in making the West Virginia Exhibit so outstanding and in making the ceremonies of this "West Virginia Day" a success. The members of the Commission have relieved me of much responsibility in which, otherwise, I might have been called upon to share more heavily.

West Virginia is truly a Mountain State. The average elevation, one thousand five hundred feet, exceeds that of any state east of the Rockies. Spruce Knob, with an elevation of four thousand eight hundred sixty feet, is the highest point, while the lowest elevation, two hundred seventy-five feet, is found at historic Harper's Ferry, the place of the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers.

West Virginia's area exceeds twenty-four thousand square miles, and her population is, approximately, one million nine hundred thousand.

In West Virginia are located many State parks with well-equipped tourist cabins and excellent recreational facilities. National forest areas embody nearly nine hundred thousand acres. These forest and park areas offer excellent opportunities for those who love the great out-of-doors for both its scenic and sports features. There are other accommodations to meet the most exacting needs of tourists.

West Virginia is traversed and cross-sectioned by a splendid system of highways affording convenient and expeditious travel, made pleasant by constantly changing panoramas, including the rugged scenery of mountain top beyond mountain top, the quiet pastoral scenes of the lovely valleys, and modern industrial centers.

Our highways are patrolled by our Department of Public Safety, the personnel of which is uniformly courteous, but efficient, thus adding to the safety of highway travel in West Virginia.

Time does not permit my mentioning many of our scenic and historic attractions. A few of the most widely known are: Hawk's Nest Rock and the New River Gorge on U. S. Route 60 and very near to routes 19 and 21; Black Water Falls and the Canaan Valley, a short distance from U. S. Route 219, in the northeastern part of the State, and nearby Seneca Rocks, on U. S. Route 33; Oglebay Park, near Wheeling; Blennerhassett Island, the rendezvous of Aaron Burr, in the Ohio River near Parkersburg; Jackson's Mill, the original State 4-H Camp project of the country, located in the heart of West Virginia on the site of the boyhood home of "Stonewall" Jackson; Pinnacle Rock, on U. S. Route 52 near Bluefield, in the southern part of the State.

As a young man George Washington surveyed the thousands of acres of Lord Fairfax in what is now the eastern part of West Virginia. Later, Washington himself owned many tracts of land in West Virginia along the Ohio River and its tributaries.

The celebrated Greenbrier, White Sulphur Springs, is conveniently located along U. S. Highway Route 60 and the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway, near the Virginia state line. Other attractions will appear from my brief enumeration of some of our industrial activities.

West Virginia's leading industry is the production of bituminous coal, of which more than one hundred distinct seams are within her borders, thirty of which are commercially operated in thirty-four of our fifty-five counties. Recoverable deposits are estimated to be in excess of fifty billion tons, while, during the history of coal mining in the State, only a little more than three billion tons have been mined. West Virginia leads all other states in the production of bituminous coal, producing more than twenty-five per cent of the bituminous coal consumed in the nation.

There is produced in West Virginia much natural gas and an appreciable quantity of petroleum of the highest parrafin base grade. Valuable salts and brines underlie large areas, and limestone is found in many sections. There is available throughout the State abundant efficient electric power at low rates.

The combination of coal, oil, gas, limestone, and salines has caused West Virginia to be in the front rank in the rapidly developing chemical industry of the nation.

West Virginia ranks high among the states in the manufacture and production of lumber, particularly hardwoods. All of the wood finish of the West Virginia Building in this Fair is made from native West Virginia timber.

Large factories are operated for the manufacture of flat glass, bottles, tableware, and novelties, and pottery and china of the highest quality are extensively manufactured within the borders of the State.

Iron ore is refined, and steel and other metals are manufactured and processed in several areas, especially in and about Wheeling.

There are, distributed widely, many plants which manufacture textile products.

The agriculture of West Virginia is diversified and extensive. Large limestone areas productive of blue grass afford the best pasturage known to the livestock industry, which furnishes the greater part of the Site's farm income.

Fruit growing is a major agricultural pursuit. Especially is the apple industry an outstanding activity in the eastern area.

West Virginia is served by seven major railroads which bring to her borders the markets of the industrial east, north, and middle west. Passenger bus and truck lines are an important part of the transportation facilities of the State. Our people also have the advantage of passenger and express service by established air lines. The Monongahela, Kanawha, and Ohio Rivers provide more than four hundred miles of navigable waters which materially contribute to the facilities for the transportation of raw and manufactured products to markets both within and without the State.

Marked variations in altitude and strong mountain streams afford much potential water power. Two of the major hydro-electric power developments in the east are found within the borders of West Virginia. The presence of coal and other fuels has made the further utilization of hydro-electric energy largely unnecessary.

The natural resources and manufacturing enterprises of West Virginia are especially significant in industrial operations for national defense.

West Virginia is a progressive State administered by a stable government. We operate on a balanced budget. Our educational system is one of the best in the nation. In addition to the public schools, colleges and university, liberal educational facilities are afforded by private and denominational schools and colleges. Greenbrier Military School, at Lewisburg, is ranked by the War Department among the foremost military preparatory schools in the nation.

The progress of West Virginia has been steady despite the tension of the depression years, and the rapid advancement of our State in recent decades affords the foundation for justifiable State pride.

West Virginia has no asset greater than her industrious, thrifty, liberty-loving people.

We of West Virginia look to the future in confident expectation of sound and rapid development and achievement which will bring to our State happiness and prosperity commensurate with her abundant natural resources and the enterprising character of her citizens.

With a stable credit, a sound tax structure, a sturdy and industrious citizenry, progressive educational advantages, a climate conducive to health, adequate transportation facilities, rapidly developing vacation and resort accommodations, and an abundant wealth of natural resources, West Virginia stands at the threshold of her brightest era. West Virginia values highly the extensive trade and the pleasant social contacts which she enjoys with the populous east and the great Empire State, and invites you to visit her for both business and pleasure.

[Editor's Note] The material found in this address served as the basis, also, for addresses by Governor Holt on "West Virginia Day" at the Great Lakes' Exposition in Cleveland, Ohio, on August 28, 1937; on "West Virginia Day" at the New York World's Fair in 1939, and on "West Virginia Night" at the International Convention of Lions Clubs in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvinia [sic], on July 19, 1939. Similar material was used in an article entitled "West Virginia Moves Forward" written by Governor Holt and published in the June, 1938, issue of Holland's Magazine, and in an article entitled "West Virginia Invites Industry" prepared for publication in the "Southern Industrial Progress" issue of the American Wool and Cotton Reporter (December 30, 1937).