Preston County, sitting in the northwest corner of North Central West Virginia sometimes gets overlooked by it’s big next-door neighbor, Monongalia County. How much do you know about his beautiful treasure of the Mountain State?
1. Preston County was formed from Monongalia County in 1818.
2. It was named for then-Virginia Governor James Patton Preston, who was a pretty unremarkable governor.
3. The Buckwheat Festival was first held in October 1938.
4. Farmers in the county had switched to growing Buckwheat, primarily used as animal feed, during the Great Depression because they thought it would spur economic growth.
5. Technically, the county has only one “city”—Kingwood.
6. Over 33,000 people call Preston County home.
7. But only 200 of them live in Aurora.
8. 5,000 people showed up in 1928 to celebrate the completion of paving U.S. Route 50 through the town, however.
9. Rowlesburg was named for Thomas Rowle, a railroad engineer (as several towns were in West Virginia).
10. The Cheat River flooded in late 1985, nearly destroying the town completely.
11. The same flood, known as the Election Day Floods, destroyed 110 of the 132 houses in Albright. 38 people died statewide.
12. Albright was home to a coal-fired power plant that closed in 2012, following a trend of nearly half the nation’s 600 coal power plants shuttering in just the past five years.
13. Historians don’t agree on how the Cheat River got its name. One popular legend is that the rapids (now fun for white water rafting) “cheated” men of their lives.
14. Kingwood was named because a grove of big trees stood near the original settlers. That grove is now the county courthouse.
15. The cannon on the courthouse lawn is from Fort Sumter, South Carolina, and was used to protect the Union in the battle that would ignite the Civil War.
16. Cathedral State Park is home to the largest, undisturbed virgin timber tract remaining in the state.
17. The planned community of Arthurdale, established by Eleanor Roosevelt during the Great Depression to help out-of-work coal miners, was derided by critics as a “communist plot.”
18. Roosevelt took a personal interest in the community, overseeing much of its development and visited several times.
19. The county courthouse was destroyed by an arsonist in 1869, destroying most of the county’s records from 1819 to 1869.
20. The smallest church in the 48-states, Our Lady of the Pines, is located in Silver Lake in the county’s southeastern corner.
21. It sits next to smallest mailing post office in the country.
22. One of America’s last great roadside attractions still operates near Rowlesburg—Cool Springs Park.