Chapter 4

We Lucky Few

It was just like moving into heaven.

—Robert McLaughlin Sr., Arthurdale homesteader (2009)

Moving day for a young Glenna Williams and her family was June 30, 1934. After much delay, one of the most cherished memories of their lives dawned on Glenna and her sister June—the day that they no longer called Scotts Run home. Both set out together ahead of their family, carefully hand-escorting two heirlooms they would be taking with them out of the smoking hollow. A clock and “a relic of her childhood,” a cabinet with glass doors, were the pieces of distinction.1

Also working their way toward Arthurdale were all nine members of the Mayor family. One daughter, Dorothy, 15 at the time and just about to enter high school, still remembered her wonder at the “beautiful brand new, four bedroom house with a bath” that they were relocated to. She, her parents, and six siblings would find Arthurdale “a wonderful place to live.”2

The Mayor and Williams families were part of a hugely expensive, massive relocation and construction project that dwarfed anything America’s federal government had ever before attempted in peacetime. That it was all undertaken in the midst of a most crushing, extended period of economic depression makes perfect sense, because the idea to build a fully functional town 1,800 feet above sea level on a remote West Virginia plateau would never have been allowed during more placid times.

At first known as the Reedsville Experimental Community but soon ...

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