West Virginia is the native home of the Golden Delicious apple, the state’s second major horticultural contribution to the commercial apple industry. The first was the Grimes Golden, discovered on the farm of Thomas Grimes near Wellsburg in the early 1800s.
The original Golden Delicious tree, described as a ‘‘chance seedling’’ and believed to be related to the Grimes Golden, was discovered in 1912 by Anderson Mullins on a hill near Porter Creek in Clay County. The tree was purchased by Stark Brothers Nursery, whose representatives built a cage around the tree and employed Bewel Mullins, Anderson’s nephew, to maintain and keep written and photographic records of the tree for 30 years. The Golden Delicious, immediately acclaimed, soon became a leading cultivar in the United States and abroad.
The mother tree produced quality apples for nearly 50 years. The seedling had sprouted around the turn of the century, and the old tree had borne its last apple and died by the late 1950s. Today, the only evidence that the tree of gold grew up the hill from Porter Creek is a historical marker located on Route 1 nearby.
On February 20, 1995, the Golden Delicious apple was designated as the state fruit. In 2013, the Golden Delicious was one of four apple varieties featured on 33-cent stamps issued by the U.S. Postal Service. The others were the Northern Spy, Baldwin, and the Granny Smith. Each fall since 1972, Clay County has celebrated its famous apple with the annual Clay County Golden Delicious Festival.
Last Revised on January 18, 2013