On our last drive, we took time to look at a campground at Fancy Gap that we were considering for our next stop. After seeing the steep incline to the campground, we decided to instead stay a few days more at Wilkesboro, and drive the extra miles from there for another drive on the Parkway.
First stop on the drive was at the Puckett cabin.
She delivered more than 1000 babies, delivering the last in 1939, the year she died. It has been said she never lost a child or mother through her own fault. Sadly, none of her own 24 children lived beyond infancy.
If she received payment in cash, it varied from $1.00 to $6.00 per birth. She never refused to go, sometimes on horseback,but often walking. She is still remembered for her witty, cheerful personality as well as for her skill.
At the Groundhog Mountain Overlook, the observation tower is built in the shape of a wooden fort. Although you can climb to the top, there is very little to observe, as the trees have obviously grown considerably since it was built. Nevertheless, it is a neat spot.
Also on the grounds are examples of 4 types of wooden rail fences. At their origin, fences were constructed more for keeping the animals out, rather than in, of an area such as the garden. Lifestock were permitted to run free, usually foraging near the home.
Snake Rail fences were easily constructed, but required more materials.
Post and Rail fences were sturdy, and required less materials, but were more labor intensive to construct.
Buck Rail fences were used less often, but provided good fencing for uneven terrain.
Picket fences are still common today as decorative yard fences.
Several stretches of wooden fences have been preserved and maintained along the parkway, adding a nice touch to the scenic views.
The highlight of the day, however, came at Mabry Mill.
When Edwin Mabry (1867-1936) built his water powered mill in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, he had no way of knowing it would become one of the most photographed places in the United States.
In fact, it is so much an icon of a peaceful country setting that other locations have stolen it, as in the case of Iowa and Connecticut printing it on postcards.
The mill is a part of a reconstructed pioneer village. We stopped, as most everyone does, at the most photographed view.
While strolling through the village, we enjoyed seeing old tools familiar to us, others that we didn’t recognize, and visiting with the many re-enactors present.
Part of the flume leading to the mill:
Looking like a cannon base, this is a log cart.
Many farm implements are scattered throughout the grounds.
This gentleman makes handmade cane bottom chairs. He said although the bottoms occasionally need replacing, the chair itself will last well over 200 years…made completely without any hardware.
In the forge, ornamental plant hanger poles were being fashioned.
The mill was unlike any we had seen previously. The power supplied by the waterwheel powered not only a grain mill, but a sawmill and wood shop as well.
In the cabin, a weaver sat preparing her loom for another project. On the wall hung examples of her craft.
Across from her, a lady sat spinning.
Out in the front yard, straw brooms were being fashioned.
Nearby stands a sorghum mill and the evaporator pans.
This contraption is a “bark mill”.
Powered by a horse, it was used to grind oak and hemlock bark to extract the tannin, producing bark liquor for tanning hides.
And finally, what mountain homestead was complete without the moonshine still?
By the time we left, it was time for our picnic lunch. We found the perfect place at Rocky Knob.
It’s easy to see where it gets its name.
After lunch, just down the road a piece, we found the cabin of T.T. Trail. Built in the 1890’s by the Trail family, it is typical of rough log cabins built throughout the mountains.
The hardships were numerous, living in a home such as this, but the rewards were beautiful. So why is this overlook called “Smart View”? Because it’s a right smart view out over the valley! 🙂
Another great day for us on the Parkway, and what better way to end it than with an ice cream treat purchased at the Mayberry General Store? (The nearby community of Mount Airy was home to Andy Griffith of TV Mayberry fame.) The store’s aisles and shelves are packed with everything from souvenirs to locally made jams.