West Virginia covers an area of 24,232 sq mi; its capital is Charleston. The Ohio River forms a large section of the upper western boundary, while the Potomac River forms a section of the northern boundary. The Great Kanawha, Little Kanawha, Monongahela, and Shenandoah rivers cross the state. West Virginia is crossed by the Appalachian Mountains and is generally rugged land. The highest elevation is Spruce Knob (4,861 ft). Long occupied by Indian hunters, it was home to the Adena, or Mound Builders, who left archaeological traces. They were succeeded by the Iroquois and the Cherokee. The first permanent white settlement was in the 1730s. The English controlled the region during the 1750s and 1760s. Though eastern Virginia was rapidly settled, the western area's rugged terrain restricted settlement there. After the American Revolution, largely nonslaving settlers moved west; they grew dissatisfied with the Virginia government. With the outbreak of the American Civil War, residents from western Virginia voted against the ordinance of secession in 1861. In 1863 West Virginia was admitted to the Union as the 35th state. Its industrial emergence, encouraged by railroad expansion, began in the 1870s when its natural resources, including coal and gas, contributed to the growth of the U.S. In the 20th century, recreation and tourism became an increasingly important part of the state's economy.
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