The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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March 9, 2013

W.Va. marks colorful milestone in state history

CHARLESTON — West Virginia is marking a colorful milestone in its history.

Fifty years ago this week, the state’s 56th Legislature passed a resolution adopting old gold and blue as the Mountain State’s official state colors.

Members of the West Virginia Legislature passed the unanimous resolution in the hectic final hours of the 1963 session in which lawmakers were warring over “blue laws” and election procedures.

The Charleston Daily Mail reports that the state had used the colors in an unofficial capacity since it was chosen by the flagship West Virginia University around 1890.

It isn’t clear why the university picked the colors, but John Cuthbert, a librarian at the WVU Library’s West Virginia and Regional History Collection, noted that stories say the colors are a reference to the state’s flag.

Officials authorized West Virginia’s first flag in 1864. While details sometimes varied, all the flags were made of dark blue silk and featured gold fringe.

WVU student newspapers began making references to the colors around 1890, but Cuthbert said he suspects they probably were being used even earlier.

While many residents had long considered blue and gold the official state colors, the legislators drafted a resolution in commemoration of the state’s 100th birthday.

Both houses adopted the resolution on March 8, 1963. It stated: “Be it resolved ... that the colors of old gold and blue be now and hereafter designated and displayed as the official state colors of the state of West Virginia.”

The state Division of Motor Vehicles issued a special centennial license plate that same year with reflective yellow numbers on a blue background.

 

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