The following was written by my late wife Elaine. She wrote a long book, a diary really, from which this is one passage:
The Widening of Virginia Route 17
After we had lived in Warrenton for a few years, the Virginia Highway Department bought all properties needed for the widening, including our road frontage and the house. I think we were paid $40,000 for the house and land required on the frontage, and we paid $100 (the salvage value) to buy the house back from the Highway Department, and hired Patram House Movers to move the house to the top of our land. With 17 acres, we had choices about where to move the house, and we chose the highest location. After the move, it was interesting to see our new and better views through the same old upstairs windows.
The move was successful and fascinating, and lots of people came to watch. The house was raised from its foundation with hydraulic jacks, supported on cement blocks, then put onto dollies on B29 wheels. Part of the process of getting it safely placed onto “skids” involved Mr. Patram peeling a banana and using it to “grease the skids.” This was one of his showman tricks. Another trick was placing a glass of water on our kitchen table; if it spilled during the move up the hill, our move would be free of charge. The water did not spill; the move was not free. But it was very impressive. It was slowly pulled to the top of the hill with bulldozers and three treaded tank retrievers. Many improvements were made to the house after it was moved: bricking the outside; making the old open back porch into a covered upstairs porch; a complete, new “basement level” with a ground floor entrance; and a new road to the top of the land, beginning with the old entrance from Route 17.
By the time Route 17 was actually widened, we had already moved to Union, West Virginia. How many times can one family be displaced in some way because a highway was coming through? Twice!
To be continued…
About the Author: RD Blakeslee is a nonagenarian in West Virginia who built his net worth by only investing in that which can be enjoyed during acquisition and throughout life, as opposed to papers in a drawer, like stocks and bonds. You can read more about him here.
Photos: Courtesy of the Blakeslee Family