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Preston County History

September 15 @ 10:00 am 3:00 pm

Learning about Preston County life in earlier centuries can be easy and fun on September 15.

On Preston County History Day, you may be surprised what you can learn at Arthurdale Heritage, open 10 a.m.-3 p.m.; the Aurora Area Historical Society Museum, 1-4 p.m.; Old Hemlock near Brandonville, 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. tours only; 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.  

Thanks to the work of many volunteers, Arthurdale Heritage’s museum reflects the nation’s first New Deal subsistence homestead community and the unique concept of federal support for deserving families. The Department of the Interior spearheaded this historic advancement for everyday Americans and the other 98 equivalent projects around the nation. A new hands-on exhibit provides insights into the need for industrial jobs and enhanced homestead agricultural production. Two Co-op Tractors are on display.

Did you know that Aurora was a summer getaway in the 1880s and later for big city dwellers who felt the mountain air was safer and healthier? See photos of the town and the hotels that drew summer residents to enjoy the casinos, pools and concert halls there. 

At 17098 Brandonville Pike, Old Hemlock, the 1782 stone/log country home of renowned outdoors author George Bird Evans and his wife features exhibits on Mr. Evans’ work as an illustrator and author on upland bird shooting. Also, the Evans’ English Setter breeding efforts are part of the tour.

Tour the impressive two-story brick home of Kingwood businessman, James McGrew, who participated in West Virginia becoming our 35th state in 1863. A copy of McGrew’s photograph by Matthew Brady is displayed in the library. See a way of life that has disappeared, along with other rooms full of unique early and 20th Century Kingwood items.

Over 100 years of 4-H history is on display in the Reedsville museum devoted “To Make the Best Better.” The traditions of 4-H life, quilts, prize-winning projects, and other mementos recall special times for the youth of the county and their leaders’ support. 

The Szilagyi Center, housed in the old brick school in Rowlesburg, gives you insights into the challenges our servicemen who fought in World War II faced, our county’s high school sports heroes over the years from the 1930s to the ‘80s, and construction of railroad bridges. Also, check out the Cannon Hill sign in the nearby town park explaining the April 1863 skirmish when the Confederate army showed up but were fired on by Union troops and skedaddled back out of there quickly.

What do a top hat and a stereopticon have in common? Both are on display in the History House along with unique items about earlier Prestonians and their everyday life that was different in some ways and the same in others. Search the genealogical or court records too and check out the many old-time photos.

Tunnelton’s old train depot was a central focus of everyday life in the 20th century. Finished in 1913, the B&O facility processed U.S. mail, freight, and passenger traffic. See how business communication was handled long before any computers were invented. A working model train exhibit is great for kids.

Also, there are three outdoor Civil War Trail sites near Aurora and Rowlesburg explaining the Jones-Imboden Raid and its effect on those areas of the county. The 1854 Virginia Iron Furnace is located along Rt. 26 near Albright. Made of sandstone, the furnace used charcoal and a water wheel for the smelting process. Many of these county historical sites will also be open on October 20.


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