Today in 1863 West Virginia became the 35th state.
The land had previously been part of Virginia, and before that, it was home to Shawnee, Lenape and other Native American communities.
And if history had played out a little differently, instead of West Virginia we might have had the state of Westsylvania.
The American colonies were along the east coast of North America, and while the English king had said the land further west should be left to Native people, the colonists started moving west anyway.
The western borders of the individual colonies started to stretch out, and sometimes overlap.
At one point, for example, Virginia claimed it stretched all the way to the Pacific Ocean!
In the 1760s land speculators pushed for the authorities to sharpen the borders in the area by creating a colony out of southwestern Pennsylvania with bits of modern day Maryland, West Virginia and Kentucky.
They would have called it Vandalia, as a tribute to the German, or Vandal, heritage of the English queen.
Vandalia even wrote up its own colonial declaration of independence in early 1776, though that declaration didn’t go anywhere because of a more famous Declaration on July 4 of that year.
Fast forward to the 1790s: westerners were at odds with the United States government over a federal tax on distilled spirits.
During the so-called Whiskey Rebellion, anti-government groups brought up the Vandalia proposal and said, why not create a new state called Westsylvania and then we can do what we like?
President George Washington personally led thousands of troops to Pittsburgh and peacefully squashed the Whiskey Rebellion, which also put an end to the talk of this proposed state.
This is the time of year when solstice lovers head to Stonehenge, in England.
Or, if that’s too far away, they could go to western Nebraska and see Carhenge.
It’s a series of vehicles put together to match the exact shape and style of Stonehenge, even spray painted grey to mimic the original’s color.
Maybe Spinal Tap can do their own Carhenge with Matchbox cars?
Westsylvania: The Fourteenth Colony (Battleground)
Map by Kmusser – self-made, based on A History of the People of the United States: From the Revolution to the Civil War by John Bach McMaster; The Life and Times of Thomas Smith 1745-1809 by Burton Alva Konkle; and The Westsylvania Pioneers, 1774-1776 by Harold Frederic, CC BY-SA 2.5, via Wikicommons