Uncle Bob's Travels

Places I've hung out in, sometimes briefly.

Archive for the month “March, 2012”

Morning on the river

These were taken one July morning in 2010.  I was on the Greenbelt by the South Fork of the Holston River just as the sun began to rise.  I haven’t added any color.  The morning was golden all by itself.

Hillsville Labor Day Extravaganza

Every year, around Labor Day, Hillsville VA, nearly the whole downtown, becomes catnip for flea marketers, antiquers, and lovers of the unusual, all supported by vendors of lots and lots of food.  It’s really great fun. The first picture looks down the main drag at with all the vendors, the second shows an example of one of their fragrant, diet-busting food stalls and last, but not least, the giant live gator building.  We spent maybe four hours there, walking maybe four miles and I ended up not buying or eating anything, well, except a diet drink and a pack of cheese crackers I bought at a local store.

The millstones

Walking down the railroad track from Delvale VA, maybe a mile, we came across these mounted millstones.  No date, no inscription, no nuffin’.  Just two smaller stones set in concrete on a rock plinth.  This is 36.81126, -82.958972.  That’s Hiking Buddy standing there for scale.  He says the topo of this area refers to a Mill Valley (that name brings back some rather unwelcome music memories…) with a small stream that flows the 50′ or so to the Powell River below.  The railroad came through here in the early 1900s, when this valley was filled to grade level.  That is all.  Interesting, though.

Phipps Bend, Hawkins County

Hawkins County was going to get a nuclear power plant back in the 1970s, but various factors killed the project and it was abandoned in 1981.  The first picture is of of the empty power plant, which is securely gated off, but the huge ring structure in the next picture, which maybe began as a support for a cooling tower, is just sitting out in a field.  You can clearly see it on Google Earth at 36.463443, -82.803570.  From the highway, on a foggy morning, it looks otherworldly.  The “Slow Danger” sign was on a road in the complex, which is now an industrial park.  Slow danger.  Okay, but look out for the fast danger…

Black Mountain Kentucky strip mine

We were heading up Black Mountain in Kentucky when we looked back and saw this.  It’s a small part of a very large strip mine that’s taking down that ridge of Black Mountain.  There’re good feelings and bad feelings about strip mines.  I say that Gaia has a long memory.

Jonesville VA

We were up in Lee County VA on a mission to document Hagan tunnel, where there is an interesting railroad wye.  On the way back, just past Jonesville, we saw this old general store.  The right hand side is early, the left newer.  We walked around back and were standing there looking at the grave marker, when a gentleman approached us and told us that this was a slave graveyard.  Indeed, the death date on the tall marker was 1852.  Several other stones are unmarked.  It reminded me that what is known as the lower Gragg graveyard up on Bays Mountain in Kingsport is reputedly made up of slave burials.  None of the stones there are readable.

Cranberry NC

The first picture tells you a little bit about the Cranberry Mines, you can read more here.  We drove up here following the narrow-gauge railbed of the old ET&WNC railroad (known as the “Tweetsie” railroad and, yes, it’s the same Tweetsie that has the theme park in NC.  The rail line originally came up to Cranberry and extended to Boone through Linville Gorge.  That line was washed out in the 40s and never rebuilt.  From Cranberry, the ore went on down to Johnson City for transfer to a standard-gauge line for distribution to who knows (or cares) where.  The mines are roughly at 36.1401246, -81.9717829.  A poorly-maintained fence attempts to keep people out of the mines, since bats live there and the state wildlife department is concerned that they’ll be contaminated with white-nose syndrome.  I took a picture from the fence.  Can you imagine working in those mines?  Third picture is of some of the stuff left scattered about after the mines closed.  

Coeburn VA (in honor of Mr. Coe and Mr. Burns)

Yep, this is Coeburn.  Lee and I landed here one afternoon after failing to find an old railroad line we’d wanted to photograph.  Here (rat cheer) is a link to the town’s plan of action.  The first picture is of the Bus Stop, a smartly upkept building.  Bus stations, at least the ones built in the mid-20th century, seem to have an air about them…buses were rather sophisticated then.  The way out, you see..and the way back home.  There’s nothing like riding the bus into your home town after you’ve been away for a couple of years.  This counteracted an experience I had months earlier when I, in my Air Force uniform, was in a bus station waiting room when a kindly elderly lady approached me and, thinking me a bus driver, inquired as to when the next bus for Knoxville would leave.  I wasn’t rude, but I did tartly inform her that I was in THE AIR FORCE and not A BUS DRIVER.  Laughed at myself later.  I was such an ass.
The next photo is of the Old Dominion Power Company.  I took this because it has what was once the hot power company mascot: Reddy Kilowatt.  He is made of lightning bolts. Ka-zap.
Then there’s the look at Little Toms Creek that flows through the downtown.  Coeburn used to have a horrendous flooding problem, but that’s under control now, I’m told.
Coeburn VA.  Wonder what’s next?

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