The dawn of a clear day seemed a good omen for our last drive on the Parkway.
I could get used to this view out our front door.
Our first stop was at Yankee Horse Ridge (legend is that during the civil war, a hard-riding Union man's horse fell and had to be shot at this location), site of a short stretch of reconstructed narrow-gauge railroad track once known as the Irish Creek Railway.
Boulders are numerous, some quite large.
Ron pauses on a small bridge to view the falls.
In the summer, there’s not much water flowing over the falls, but it’s easy to see why it got it’s name, both from the shape of the rock and the fall of the water itself.
I was so intrigued by this tree root and rock…it’s difficult to tell where one ends and the other starts.
A little farther on, we passed a tree farm. Seems odd for a commercial farm to be right on the Parkway, since all commercial traffic is banned from using the Parkway. However, there are many small local roads alongside the Blue Ridge that give access to residents and farms such as this.
In the nearby valley a fog was quickly forming, resembling smoke.
For a short distance, we were engulfed by it as well.
20 Minute Cliff is a unique local oddity. In June and July during corn-choppin’ time, the cliff serves the folks in White Rock community below as a time piece. Twenty minutes after sunlight strikes the rock face, dusk falls on the valley below.
This iron marker is mounted to the stone ledge at Raven’s Roost.
It’s a fantastic view.
The last stop on the Blue Ridge (going north) is the Humpback Rocks Visitor Center. Here authentic structures have replaced the long gone originals of the William J. Carter farm. This is the best portrayal of a mountain farmstead that we have seen. Re-enactors were on hand to talk about the lifestyle.
Ron found the weighted wooden gate interesting.
The counter balanced weight of the rock makes it easier to open and close the gate, preventing it from dragging on the ground.
The garden contains tobacco as well as vegetables.
The one room cabin is furnished. The loft contained another bed.
This gentleman talked of the hardships and rewards of living in those past days.
When not in use, the quilting frame was raised out of the way.
He was nice enough to lower it and show me the quilt in progress.
The Churn Dash pattern blocks are antique, discovered after an elderly lady passed on. A local quilter finished the top so it could be displayed here. The blocks had been pieced as a “friendship” quilt, common to the era, when each neighbor lady contributed a signed block to a quilt.
He pointed out the small quilt on the wall, and talked about quilt blocks relationship to the underground railroad. For example, the blue block has a Bear Claw pattern in the center. This signal to those slaves seeking their way to safety in the north, “Take the high road through these mountains where the bear walks”.
A small herb garden grows out back. In such hard times, women often tried to add a touch of beauty to the daily life with a few easy to grow flowers from seeds saved year to year.
Chickens are everywhere. I imagine the lady of the house shooed them out with her broom. Note the wooden checkers.
Close to the house sat the chicken house where the farmer could hear any “varmits” during the night.
Have you ever seen one of these? This is a simple chicken brood coop. It protected the mother hen from foxes, but allowed the baby chicks to explore the nearby area. Threatened, they could easily return to protection under mama’s wings.
Out front two men demonstrated the use of wood working tools of the day.
We had never seen honey bee hives like these “bee gums” made from hollowed black gum trees. The rock on top was removed to provide access to the honey.
This is the root cellar, providing dark, cool storage for fruits, vegetables and smoked or cured meat.
The barn was crude and cold, but served its purpose, storing livestock, feed and equipment.
Every farmer had razorback hogs that ran wild in the forest eating acorns and chestnuts. In the fall the best animals were rounded up. Can you imagine chasing down a wild pig through the woods?? When caught, they were placed in a pen such as this, and fed corn to fatten them before butchering for meat to cure for the winter. These pens were considered bear proof. Sliding away the pole across the center top provided access to the other poles just lying across the top, opening the pen.
The spring house provided water as well as a “refrigerator” for milk and eggs.
This strange contraption was used to store ashes cleaned from the fireplace. When full, water was poured through. The liquid draining at the bottom was lye. When mixed with old fat and meat drippings, lye produces a crude, harsh soap, hard on the hands, but working well for laundry.
This gate, joining properties together, was sometimes referred to as a “courtin’ gate”, where sweethearts could steal a kiss. The way it is configured allows humans to walk through, but not larger animals such as cows.
And thus ended our enjoyable trip on the Blue Ridge Parkway from end to end. If you would like links to the entire set of posts, they can be found by clicking here.