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5 Fun Facts About February 29 In West Virginia History

---Learn Every Day: WV Today In History Facts Texted Each Day - Text: history wv To: 618-270-4005---

1. The first Leap Year Day celebrations in West Virginia took place in 1868, just two years after the state was admitted to the Union. The newly-formed state was eager to assert its unique identity among the other 36 states, and Leap Year Day was seen as an opportunity to do just that. Festivities included dances, banquets, and parades, and the day became an instant hit.

2. On Leap Day in 1904, an historic flood devastated much of the state. Heavy rains caused rivers and streams to overflow their banks, inundating towns and causing widespread damage. The flood claimed over 50 lives and caused millions of dollars in property damage, making it one of the worst natural disasters in West Virginia's history.

3. Leap Day in 1936 was a significant day for the state's coal miners. On that day, the United Mine Workers' union called a nationwide strike in protest of wage cuts and poor working conditions. In West Virginia, the strike would last more than three months, and would result in major clashes between miners and company officials. The strike was eventually settled in favor of the miners, cementing their status as a powerful force in the state's economy.

4. On Leap Day in 1952, the first statewide caving organization was founded in West Virginia. The West Virginia Speleological Survey was organized to promote the study and exploration of the state's many caves and caverns, which are known for their stunning natural beauty. Today, the organization remains active and is dedicated to preserving these unique geological wonders.

5. In recent years, Leap Year Day has become the occasion for several unusual events in West Virginia. In 2012, for example, the town of Romney celebrated the day by hosting a "Leap Frog" race, in which participants had to hop their way through an obstacle course. And in 2016, a local brewery in Morgantown released a special beer to mark the occasion, called "Leap Beer." These events are a testament to the state's creativity and sense of fun, even on a day that comes around only once every four years.
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