West Virginia State Museum Education

West Virginia's State Song

State Symbols

The West Virginia Hills


The best-known and most popular state song is "The West Virginia Hills" by Ellen King and H. E. Engle. It was designated as the official state song in 1961. ‘‘The West Virginia Hills’’ is the oldest of West Virginia’s four official state songs. In September 1885, the Glenville Crescent newspaper published the four-verse poem, credited to Ellen Ruddell King. One account suggests that the beauty of her native hills inspired Mrs. King to write it, while another hints that the poem was actually written by her husband, Rev. David H. King; a third implies that she wrote it, and he polished it. Also and notably, Daniel Boardman Purinton, professor and later president of West Virginia University, had previously published words and music to a somewhat shorter song called “West Virginia Hills.” Purinton’s song, published in 1877, has the same opening line, the same first line of the chorus, and essentially the same title as the version attributed to King. (Young III, H. G. "‘‘The West Virginia Hills’’." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 12 June 2017.)

Performed by Eleanor Steber at the 1964 World's Fair.

Performed by Mack Samples at the West Virginia State Folk Festival, 2009.

WV Hills

The West Virginia Hills lyrics

Helpful Links

e-West Virginia "The West Virginia Hills" Information