CLARKSBURG, W.Va. – While the Golden Delicious (Malus domestica) apple is one of West Virginia’s state symbols, not many can claim to know how it came to be that way as well as why exactly it holds such significance to West Virginia.

It all started on the Mullins family farm, an Odessa hamlet in Clay County, West Virginia. In 1891, a 15-year-old J.M. Mullins discovered a wayward seedling spouting while he was tending the field, possibly sprouted from a discarded Grimes Golden seed, according to specialtyproduce.com.

J.M. Mullins left the seedling to grow, and soon after, the farm was given over to J.M.’s uncle, Anderson Mullins. Anderson first noticed the growing tree in 1905. The apples it produced were given the name “Mullins Yellow Seedling and Annit apple,” said specialtyproduce.com.

After nine years of observation, Anderson Mullins sent three samples over to Stark Brothers Nursery in Missouri. Paul Stark Sr., searching for a yellow apple to add to the company’s lineup, then traveled over 1,000 miles to visit the farm, “a journey known as the ‘Trail of the Golden Delicious Apple.'”

By 1916, the Starks had purchased the rights to sell the apple as well as the land surrounding the mother tree, even going so far as to construct “a 30 x 30-foot cage around the 900 sq foot piece of property, completely encasing the Golden Delicious tree.”

What made the apples so good for commercialization was that beyond lasting longer than other apples, as far as late spring, “they are easy-to-grow, self-pollinating, temperature tolerant, and produce large crops.”

The Stark Brothers Nursery then renamed the apple to Golden Delicious to be marketed alongside their Red Delicious apples, no relation. It soon exploded in popularity.

In 1959, a historical marker was placed down after the original mother tree’s death, according to roadsideamerica.com.

The apple became West Virginia’s official state fruit in 1972, but the resolution was amended by Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 7 on February 20, 1995 to specify the Golden Delicious apple.

There is also a yearly Golden Delicious Apple Festival held in Clay County every third weekend in September. Established in 1973, the four-day celebration features “baking contests, a 5K, a skillet flinging contest, clogging, and a parade,” according to wvtourism.com.