Northeast of Grafton, a half hour north of US-50 via Hwy-92, the homestead community of Arthurdale was the first and perhaps the most important of the many antipoverty rural resettlement projects initiated during the Depression-era New Deal. Though not the largest, Arthurdale was prominent because of the personal involvement of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. The First Lady not only helped plan the project but also visited many times, handing out diplomas at school graduations.
Beginning in 1934 with the construction of some 165 homes, plus schools and factories, a cooperative farm, a health center, and a small hotel, Arthurdale was an ideal community set up to relieve the dire living conditions of unemployed Morgantown coal miners. Most of the houses are still intact and still inhabited by the original homesteaders or their descendants. The old community center is being restored and is now home to the New Deal Homestead Museum (18 Q Rd., 304/864-3959, $11) that chronicles the whole story.
Cathedral State Park
Four miles west of the Maryland border, US-50 runs right through Cathedral State Park, where over 133 acres of stately maples and hemlocks constitute one of the few first-growth stands left in this lumber-hungry state. Beyond here, US-50 makes a quick seven-mile jaunt across a corner of Maryland before crossing the north branch of the Potomac River back into West Virginia.
From the bridge, US-50 climbs steeply up the densely wooded Alleghenies, twisting over 3,000-foot-high ridges with turns so tight the posted speed limit is 15 mph—the going is slow, and not much fun if you’re prone to car sickness.