Uncle Bob's Travels

Places I've hung out in, sometimes briefly.

Archive for the month “May, 2012”

Sugar Hollow Park wetlands

Sugar Hollow Park is in north Bristol, Virginia.  It may first strike you as a recreational area, which it is, but it’s also all about water.

This creek you’ll see as you drive in, but park and walk on up to what is actually an earthen dam and behind it lies the wetlands:

And you may even meet this old dude, who checks to see if you’re going to throw any food his way.

When he figured out we were just taking pictures, he swam off.

Old something or other

I can’t decide if this was an old store or a home or both, or neither.  It sits on Guthries Gap Road, about 100 yards south of Highway 66, at 36.28352, -82.05510.
The N&S railroad, single track, is right where I’m standing.  That line’s been here for over a hundred years (I think 1907 or so).
This place is closer to Bulls Gap (y’know, Archie Campbell’s home town) than anywhere else.

Someone had been living in the rear area, since there’s satellite dish stuck on the side of the building.  But it’s apparently deserted now.  We didn’t go up and knock on the door.  Not even.

Trammel VA

Trammel, in Dickenson County, wasn’t there when the Clinchfield railroad first cut its way up to Elkhorn City, but it was certainly there on February 9, 1915, when George Carter, the man who ran the Clinchfield Railroad, came to Trammel to drive in the last spike to complete the line from Elkhorn City down to Spartanburg SC (this according to James Goforth in the book “Building the Clinchfield”).  The rail line takes a westerly turn at Trammel and heads into the still-active Sandy Ridge tunnel.  If you’re driving on 63, heading east from Dante, you’ll curve more northerly at Hazel, then, a few miles on, you’ll see this sign:

And you’ve come to Trammel, off to the left.  Here’s a look down the main street:

In 1986, the company that owned the town gave the people living here a choice: buy your home or we’ll auction it off to the highest bidder.  Most of the people were able to scrape together the money to buy their homes, but, alas, some were out in the street at the end of the day.  Someone from out of town bought the old company store.  They sure did a great job with it:

Every time we come through, we expect to see it collapsed.  The road to the right leads up to a strip mine.  The work goes on.

Jewell Ridge, Virginia

The sign says it all.  If you can find it, that is.  Lee and I think that, generally speaking, the people who live up here on Jewell Ridge figure if you need to be here, you already know the way, because there’s not a sign anywhere on Hwy. 67, the route that leads past the road heading up the ridge.   The town is over a hundred years old and was started either by George Carter (coalcampusa.com) or by George St. Clair and Thomas M. Righter (jewellridgeva.com).  Either way, it’s unusual in that the town was deliberately placed high above the coal operations, so it was spared some of the tribulations suffered by towns down in the valleys.

This is looking more or less east down the main street.

This is the original store and office.  The far door now opens into a library.
It’s a pleasant town to drive through, but not a store or restaurant to be seen.

Richlands VA

We were planning to come up to Richlands, Virginia, anyway, so I checked the internet to see what I could find out about the town.  Uh-oh.  Zip. Nichevo. Nothing except a mostly dead-linked town site that appears to have been abandoned in the last couple of years.  This town deserves better.  It’s an interesting town and friendly, with a long history, as shown by this historic marker

And, I was advised, it is Rich-lands, not Rich-lunds.  The N&W (now N&S) is still active in the town, working mines in the surrounding area, but timber came before coal to help grow this town.  And when the coal companies came to town, growth accelerated.  And, then, in the 1970s, things began to wind down.  The town remembers its miners, though, with a memorial at the Town Hall:

The Town Hall sits just to the left of this memorial.  Here’s a look at it:

On this hill in the center of town was once a college, then a hospital, which this building emulates.  If you turn 180 degrees, you’ll see right down Suffolk Street.

That’s a funeral home on the right. I went down there and talked with the  funeral director (you can just see him standing there with two other men as they prepared for a funeral).  He was quite helpful is getting me to the right places for information on the town.  One street over, Norfolk Street, there’s an interesting mural done by students at the local branch college:

Just to the right of that mural, about a block over and one block down, is another mural, painted by Ellen Elmes, who also painted a mural in downtown Kingsport TN.

This depicts the history of Richlands.
So, that’s some of Richlands.  Ever heard of Jewell Ridge, Virginia?  You will, in my next post.


Appalachia Waterworks

In 1918, a decade after Appalachia was officially created, a dam was constructed about 750′ above the town (the dam is at 36.902506, -82.752358).

It creates a sizable reservoir (I didn’t measure it.  You can, if you want to) with a pleasant hiking trail around it.

The original waterworks (Monopoly!) are derelict, but, since they were made of concrete, they’re hanging in there.

They had long use, as you can see by the deterioration of the concrete post in this settling pond.

There’s new equipment nearby, so Appalachia, once a grand and busy town, will continue to have water for years to come; although, they don’t have the shortest railroad tunnel in the United States, no matter what “Ripley’s Believe It or Not” said (It’s Bee Rock tunnel.  I’ll have it posted soon at thetunneldiaries.com)

Post Navigation