POINT PLEASANT, W.Va. — Located just outside this small town is a tourist attraction that evokes memories of days gone by.
The West Virginia State Farm Museum is “dedicated to the preservation of our farm life heritage,” according to the museum’s slogan. Many pieces of farm history — including homes of some of the state’s early residents — are on display there.
Walden Roush founded the farm museum, which is operated by volunteers, in 1976. A former educator, he believed it was necessary to preserve farm life heritage. According to Lloyd Akers, museum director, “Mason County was a huge agricultural community, but the family farm has been declining since the 1970s.”
There are approximately 33 separate buildings that make up the state farm museum. The first museum building, the “Green Building,” houses old artifacts, corn planters and saddles. Also within that structure are Amish stage coaches from the 1970s, a cider press circa 1900, motor plows circa 1940 and an array of other farm memorabilia.
Another building houses a blacksmith shop, formerly owned by Tim Harper. This was transported to the museum in the 1970s. Harper operated the shop in St. Albans near the Coal River. Akers said he remembers visiting that shop as a boy.
The home of George Summers also is part of the museum. According to family tradition, Summers, who was elected to the Virginia Legislature in 1830 and to Congress in 1841, was asked by President Abraham Lincoln to be his running mate when he ran for his second term as president, but Summers declined because of his wife’s illness. The house is divided into two types of construction: half is log and half is plank.
The Mission Ridge One Room School, built in 1870, is another feature at the museum. It is one of the first school houses built after West Virginia gained statehood.
In 1984, a rustic loom house was constructed at the site by the Jeffers Brothers of Southside, W.Va. Several types of looms are on display inside the house. Most of the rugs available for purchase in the Country Store were crafted in the Loom House by volunteers.
The carpenter’s shop played an important role in the late 1800s, and a replica of such a shop exists at the museum. Another feature with a local twist is the Allen Log Cabin, constructed circa 1830 by John Allen and his son William.
Originally located near Proctor, it was last used in the late 1970s. A great deal of effort went into restoring the house to its original state after being disassembled and brought to the museum, Akers said. A spinning wheel and two large hand looms dating back to the 19th century are on display in the house.
The barn of General the horse, one of the world’s largest horses, can be found at the farm museum. John Greene of Milton, W.Va., turned General over to the farm in 1977.
When he was young, General pulled wagons through parades across the country and participated in many shows. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, General, at 2,850 pounds, was the third heaviest horse ever.
He also tied for third place as the tallest horse ever at 6 feet, 6 inches. He was also the largest horse to ever have been mounted. General died on Dec. 17, 1982.
Also on the grounds is a replica of the first Lutheran Church west of the Allegheny Mountains. A group of Lutherans from the Shenandoah Valley moved to New Haven, W.Va., around 1800.
This group organized a congregation in 1806 and originally met in homes. They then met in Daniel Roush’s barn. Roush donated land in 1815 and the old Log Church was built.
At this time, there was a threat of Indian raids, so women and children sat upstairs while men sat downstairs. There was a gun rack where men would store their rifles prior to the service.
Along with a doctor’s office, the newspaper office is a popular attraction for the museum.
Editor George W. Trippett began printing the Point Pleasant Register on March 6, 1882, and continued doing so for 40 years.
Now, the office stands on the grounds of the museum.
An antique barber and beauty shop, post office, veterinary office and military exhibit are also on the grounds. The military display is expanding to honor all those who served to keep America free.
Akers said the museum allows people to “see what their grandparents went through to get where we are today.”
A cow, pig, four donkeys, two horse and two goats are kept at the museum. Many old tractors are on display near the entrance.
For the children, a small playground has been installed to keep them entertained.
The museum is open from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday, and from 1 until 5 p.m. on Sunday. It closes for the season on Nov. 15.
Janice, one of two horses, greets visitors to the museum.