The Arthurdale


| May/June 1995

The former tractor factory

The former tractor factory building of the Arthurdale Farm Equipment Corporation at Arthurdale, West Virginia, in August 1994. Annex at left is a later date addition to the original factory's structure.

PO. Box 3120 Deer Park, Maryland 21550

The Arthurdale Farm Equipment Corporation was incorporated in the state of West Virginia in June, 1938, with a perpetual charter. The purpose of this corporation was to manufacture, assemble, distribute, and sell agricultural machinery, equipment, and tools of all kinds. The firm's principal office and place of operation was located at the Arthurdale Homesteads, Arthur-dale, Preston County, West Virginia.

The Village of Arthurdale, West Virginia, was a newly created community, being the first of about 180 such developments that were ultimately created in the early mid-1930s, through various government agencies as part of the federal government's 'New Deal' program. This program was to create needed housing and employment opportunities for American citizens so affected by the lasting results of the country's woes of the 'Great Depression.' The majority of those created communities were newly designed and constructed to be modern, attractive, and functional for their residents. The residents, chosen from application listings of out-of-work citizens, would also have livelihood opportunities in newly created manufacturing or agricultural type industries, built within or about these same communities. It was hoped by some in the government at that time, that the success of these created communities with their own employment opportunities would lead to expansion of this idea by the private business sector as a way out of the time's depressed economic conditions. There were also others who felt these developments or projects to be a waste of government money, as well as being unfair competition for existing established industries which were struggling to rebound from the economic depression. Then, as now, there were two opposing views of any government program.

In the early part of 1938, the Board of Directors of the Co-Operative Manufacturing Company, a Michigan firm, had made a formal proposal to both the federal government and the Arthurdale Association of Arthurdale, West Virginia, for the creation of an agricultural equipment manufacturing facility, to build the Co-Op brand farm tractor, at the Arthurdale Homesteads location. Under this proposal, the Arthurdale Association would furnish the necessary factory site, then would build and equip a suitable building for the intended purposes, being able to borrow any needed funding from the federal government in order to fully complete this factory project in a timely matter. This tractor factory would provide employment opportunities for present and additional residents of the Arthurdale Homesteads Development. One of the agreement's provisions was that Arthurdale residents would be the chief source of employees for the tractor factory.

Upon the acceptance of the Co-Operative Manufacturing Company's proposal by all parties involved, the Arthurdale Farm Equipment Corporation was formally organized in June, 1930. The firm's organizers were the same individuals as those involved with the leadership of the Arthurdale Association. On July 11, 1938, the Arthur-dale Farm Equipment Corporation also formally agreed to the Co-Operative Manufacturing Company's proposal for the tractor factory, and on that same date made agreement with American Co-Operatives, Incorporated, another Michigan firm, to completely manage, supervise, and direct all the operations of the Arthurdale Farm Equipment Corporation's factory.

Once these arrangements had been completed, the Arthurdale Association then leased the Arthurdale Farm Equipment Corporation (AFEC) a factory site just slightly over three acres in size, that was located at the edge of Arthur-dale, West Virginia, along the Morgan-town and Kingwood Branchline of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company. In November 1938, the Arthur-dale Association made the necessary agreements with this railroad company for the construction of a railroad sidetrack to serve the AFEC factory. Over this railway line came all the required materials needed by the AFEC factory, and by which the completed Co-Op tractors were shipped to their buyers.