Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Hauling Salt And Rooms With A View (w/pics)

I’ve hauled two loads of salt to Sutton,West Virginia, this week, one to Gassaway, and another to Weston. We keep having snow just often enough to require continued salting of the highways, even though we haven’t had any serious accumulations in my area. Afraid they’ll run out of salt before they run out of winter, the various DOH garages are restocking at least some of their salt supplies. All four deliveries I’ve made have involved driving Interstate 79, so I’ve travelled it enough by now to have certain “landmarks” in my mind.

I’ve mentioned in other posts how “progress” always comes with a price. Almost anything done “for the common good” manages to destroy the livelihood or property of some individuals. A case in point is how large highways to help move the masses, destroys small towns and small businesses along the former route. Being a country boy, one thing that I’ve particularly noticed are the number of once-fine farms destroyed by interstate highways. Several are evident along I-79 (and every other major highway). I managed to get some photos of a couple farmhouses today that once had farms to go with them. Both are near Jane Lew, West Virginia.

Located in the head of a hollow that opened onto a slightly larger valley, the first one was obviously a cut above the more common brick homes of the day. Arches over the windows, rather than lintels, and gingerbread on the exterior woodwork show a level of craftsmanship missing from most country homes of the day. A small barn still stands out back, probably once holding a team of horses and a milk cow or two. The main part of the farm would have been in the valley, I believe. The one mostly filled with fills to lift the highway from the valley floor. What little may have remained of the farm is now on the other side of the four-lane, inaccessible from the house.

I remember when this road was built, decades ago, and back then, the house was obviously lived in. Now, I can’t be sure. One thing I know, the place is going to pot, and no-one will want to buy a house where strangers can look in the second-story windows as they cruise by only 75 feet from the front porch. Can you imagine looking out the window of your country home, only to see cars and trucks of all decriptions flying by with deafening results. I’m sure the government paid the farmer “fair market value” for the homestead that they ruined. That usually is computed AFTER everybody learns that a big highway is coming through, so it’s a pittance of the real value.

Click images to enlarge. 

The second home is a frame home located, once again, at the head of a small valley, but this one was up the hill a bit, above the valley floor. At least the highway is level with the downstairs instead of the upstairs. Unfortunately, you can still sit on the porch and chuck walnuts at the passing cars if you’re so inclined. Like the other place, it’s permanently cut off from any part of the farm in the valley. This house, too, is suffering neglect, whether from aging owners or renters, I don’t know.

It was a terminal blow to the old homes to lose the farms that went with them, I believe. Sometimes, it just takes a long time for them to die. © 2015


Sixbears said...

A good friend still works what remains of the family farm that the highway cut in half.

His grandparents used to have a sugar house at the bottom of the mountain. Now he has to haul everything by truck, two miles uphill. He even has to lease some of the old family land back from the state. At least he's still making maple syrup.

Lady Locust said...

What beautiful old homes. There are more like that out this direction as well. Doesn't it just make you want to step back in time once in a while?

Gorges Smythe said...

Well, Sixbears, he's certainly determined!

Yes, LL, sometimes before the four-lanes.

Sunnybrook Farm said...

Glad you are getting some runs, maybe you can get back to the regular loads soon.

Mary Ann said...

2 beautiful old homes, and so sad to see them cut loose from their land.

There is a place here... where a highway connected two years ago... cut in half... home and fields on one side... storage barns on the other. They have to go down almost a mile to cross over now. Sad.

Be careful on those roads, Gorges.

Tim Shey said...

I have hitchhiked through West Virginia many times over the years. The last time I hitched through West Virginia was back in 2007. I met a lot of friendly and helpful people in that state.

Here is a great experience that I had in WV in the late 1990s or early 2000s:

"Years ago I was hitchhiking in West Virginia. I got dropped off in Charleston. I walked past this place where it looked like these people were having a picnic. I walked a couple of blocks away, put down my backpack and started thumbing for a ride.

"A few minutes later these two teenage girls walked up to me and asked me if I would like to come to their church picnic. I was pleasantly surprised. So I walked back to their picnic. There I met the pastor and some other people. It started to rain, so we moved everything inside the church building. We had food and good fellowship.

"I later learned that that pastor invited another hitchhiker and a homeless person to their picnic. Now how many pastors would do that? The pastor put me up in a motel for the night and I hitchhiked to Washington, D.C. the next day.

"It was all so totally unexpected and spontaneous and refreshing. The Kingdom of Heaven is like a little child: unexpected, spontaneous, refreshing, living by faith in God."

Gorges Smythe said...

I hope so, SF, I sure hope so.

That's an aggravation for them for sure, Mary Ann. Thanks, I'll be careful.

Tim, isn't it great when a preacher actually "gets it?" He can help his congregation to do the same then!

Mamahen said...

I love these old sad to watch them die!

Gorges Smythe said...

I feel the same, Mh.