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Preston County History Day

October 20 @ 10:00 am 3:00 pm

Celebrate the last Preston County History Day of the year on October 20 by appreciating the extensive preservation efforts carried out by many volunteers over the years. None of the seven historic sites would be here without the volunteers who made it all work.

Visit Arthurdale Heritage, open 10 a.m.-3 p.m.; the Aurora Area Historical Society Museum, 1-4 p.m.; the McGrew House in Kingwood, 1-3 p.m.; the Head, Heart, Hands & Health Museum in Reedsville, 2-4 p.m.; the Szilagyi Center museums in Rowlesburg from 1-4 p.m.; the History House Museum in Terra Alta, 1-4 p.m.; and the Tunnelton Train Depot from 1-3 p.m.  

Yes, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt is a part of the story at Arthurdale, the nation’s first New Deal subsistence homestead community constructed by the federal government to help families during the Great Depression. Her 33 trips made there gave her the opportunity to evaluate the project’s progress. A new exhibit with hands-on features focuses on the need to manufacture products, such as Co-op Tractors in the 1930s, for employment of residents while also enhancing the agricultural efforts on the 165 homesteads.

Stop in at Aurora’s museum along Rt. 50 to learn about its mountaintop resort days from the 1880s when hotels, casinos and pool halls brought affluent big city residents to the county for the summer, along with displays of a well-stocked vintage general store with products we don’t see anymore. Enjoy all the quilt squares on the building’s exterior too.

The multi-story brick home of one of the founding fathers of West Virginia, James McGrew, will show you the lifestyles of the day. His dynamic energy and business endeavors also helped Kingwood and the county grow. Additional displays show other aspects of Kingwood life at earlier times. 

The 4-H program has been part of life for over 100 years in the county. The Reedsville museum contains mementoes of the many projects young people undertook. Initially related to farm life, working on their own or in teams, led to learning as they worked and built character for generations of Prestonians.

At the Szilagyi Center, housed in the old brick school in Rowlesburg, impressive exhibits illustrate the challenges our servicemen faced in World War II, also about our county’s high school sports heroes from the 1930s through the ‘80s, and aspects of construction of railroad bridges. Go outside and check out the Cannon Hill sign in the nearby riverfront park explaining the April 1863 skirmish when the Confederate army showed up to blow up the railroad bridge, a vital Union connection to the western lands.

The History House has extensive archives of family and other county historical records, along with rooms of exhibits about earlier ways of life, to explore and spur discussion and remembrances. Check out the preserved animal collection, but not right after eating.

The 111-year-old Tunnelton Train Depot museum illustrates railroad life and commerce that were a part of daily living during much of the 20th Century. A new model train display, great for kids, has been set up in the depot built by the B&O Railroad for handling the U.S. mail, passengers, coal shipments, and freight. There are two historic rail tunnels nearby. Also, there are three outdoor Civil War Trail sites near Aurora and Rowlesburg explaining the failed Confederate raid meant to blow up the railroad bridge and its effect on those areas of the county. Check out the Virginia Iron Furnace located along Rt. 26 near Albright to appreciate how iron was smelted at this 1854 water-powered blast furnace.


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