Published May 1972 — Download PDF of the original newspaper column
Byrd's-Eye View By U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd A Fascinating File of W.Va. Facts Most West Virginians probably know that Spruce Knob, in Pendleton County, is the highest point in the state- 4,853 feet in elevation. But how many know the name of the highest town in the state? Or the lowest point? Or where the geographical center of West Virginia is located? Or the names of the longest and shortest rivers? Or the largest and smallest counties? West Virginia's fact-packed Blue Book has the answers to these and hundreds of other questions. Now in its 55th year of publication, it is a wondrous book indeed and can be found in public offices, libraries, and schools. Published first in 1916, it has brought together pertinent information about our state every year since save for its not having been printed in the depression year of 1932. Its current 1,132 pages are a gold mine of information. Davis, in Tucker County-named for the family of Henry Gassaway Davis, a U.S. Senator from West Virginia (1871- 1883)-is the highest incorporated town in the state, with an elevation of 3,101 feet. The Potomac River at Harpers Ferry is the lowest point, only 247 feet above sea level. The geographic center of West Virginia is in the triangle formed by Sutton, Flat Woods, and Centralia in the Elk River Public Hunting area of Braxton County. The longest river whose banks are wholly within the state is the Elk, which stretches 172 miles from western Pocahontas County to its junction with the Kanawha at Charleston. The Ohio River is 277 miles long, but its western bank is Ohio's eastern boundary. The Monongahela, with only 37 miles in West Virginia, is the state's shortest river. The largest county is Randolph, with Greenbrier next. They are the state's only two counties with more than a thousand square miles of area. The northern panhandle counties are smallest-Hancock with 88 square miles, and Brooke with 92. Do you need to know the names of federal or state officials, or members of the Legislature? They are in the Blue Book, along with the name of every county, magisterial district, and municipal official in the state. The Constitution of West Virginia is there, as are population figures, election returns, descriptions of state schools and institutions, and even the names of heads of the state's many fraternal and other organizations. You ask the questions. The answers are probably in the West Virginia Blue Book.