What do 150,000 acres of wilderness in Minnesota and Iowa have to do with WVU?

Those plots of land were given the state in 1867 through the Morrill Act Land Grant program and provided the seed money for the Agricultural College of West Virginia, which is now WVU.

During the Civil War, the U.S. Congress adopted legislation proposed by Sen. Justin Smith Morrill of Vermont that provided each state 30,000 acres for each seat in Congress. West Virginia with five members received 150,000 in far off Iowa and Minnesota to be sold for $1.25 an acre.

The reported amount for the land sold by WV varies, somewhere between $79,000 and $88,000, around 50 cents an acre, still a tidy sum back then. For perspective, Martin Hall, the first WVU building, cost only $22,855 when it was completed in 1870.

In all, the land-grant act allocated 17.4 million acres which when sold, brought $7.55 million to provide funding for colleges across the country.