Category: History

History

Seven Trails to Damascus, VA

Seven Trails to Damascus, VA

From Damascus, Syria, to Damascus, VA For nearly ten thousand years, the ancient city of Damascus has flourished in southwestern Syria. Sitting at the crossroads of trade routes between Africa and Asia, the city has always been a hub for craftsmanship and culture. Like its namesake city, Damascus, Virginia, sits at the intersection of former trade routes and serves as […]

The Melungeons: Lost Tribes, Hidden Heritage

The Melungeons: Lost Tribes, Hidden Heritage

Legend has it that in 1654, a group of weary English explorers stumbled upon a sight that defied explanation: a village nestled among the ancient oaks, its log cabins revealing arched windows, yards boasting fenced gardens punctuated by outbuildings. They were shocked: There should not have been any European settlements this far west. Who were these people? Where were the […]

Whispers Along the New River Trail

Whispers Along the New River Trail

Stepping onto the New River Trail today, I can’t help but feel like I’m walking through layers of time, each step tracing the echoes of a bygone era transformed into the present’s treasure. My curiosity sparks as I pass by the N&W Railroad caboose at the southern (Galax) trailhead. On my right, Chestnut Creek is running high and fast on […]

John Chiswell Climbed into a Hole and Became a Legend

John Chiswell Climbed into a Hole and Became a Legend

Along a freeway passage where traffic travels north on I-81 while simultaneously going south on I-77 lies the exit for Ft. Chiswell, VA. One might expect to find some semblance of a colonial fort there, considering that Virginia is a state rich in historical sites. But there isn’t one. Instead, this crossroads hides its frontier past under a cloak of […]

Appalachian Stump Houses: Rooted in History

Appalachian Stump Houses: Rooted in History

Picture the towering forests of old-growth Appalachia, sunlight dappling through a canopy of ancient trees. Imagine a different kind of home nestled among these giants. Forget the familiar image of the log cabin. Here, amidst the roots and fallen leaves, rise simple dwellings built not from felled trees but from the massive stumps they left behind. These were the Appalachian […]

The Curious Tale of the Saluda River Petrified Man

The Curious Tale of the Saluda River Petrified Man

The tale of the Saluda River Petrified Man is steeped in the superstitions and faux-science of the late 19th century. This extraordinary story emerges from South Carolina, where an alleged petrified body was discovered and displayed. The Saluda River forms in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. It flows southward into southwestern South Carolina (“Upstate”), passing through Saluda, NC, […]

Al Capone and the Little Chicago of the Blue Ridge

Al Capone and the Little Chicago of the Blue Ridge

Al Capone, the infamous American gangster of the 1920s, is widely known for his involvement in Chicago’s organized crime and bootlegging during Prohibition. What’s rarely discussed is that his liquor distribution network spread far beyond his base in Chicago: It went well into the mountains of Tennessee, Virginia, Kentucky, and Georgia. South of Chicago, his criminal activities centered in Johnson […]

A Paddlewheel Riverboat in the Blue Ridge Mountains

A Paddlewheel Riverboat in the Blue Ridge Mountains

You stand on the creaking deck of the paddlewheel riverboat, a relic of a bygone era. The wheel churns the water beneath you, its rhythmic thump echoing through your chest. The bell clangs as you round an island, and calliope music erupts from the steam whistles. You marvel at the sight of the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains and wonder how […]

Stompin’ 76: The Woodstock of Bluegrass

Stompin’ 76: The Woodstock of Bluegrass

Stompin’ 76 was a landmark festival that, for one long weekend in 1976, made Bluegrass the center of the musical universe. Like New York’s iconic Woodstock festival in 1969, the event is legendary. Over 100,000 attended the event. Most attendees parked miles away—some on Interstate 77, more than eleven miles away—and walked up country roads to the festival near Galax, […]

Conquistadors in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia

Conquistadors in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia

The Euro-centric history I learned in school in the 1960s was woefully inadequate. I suppose that’s the best they could do. After all, the world is a big place with lots going on. There was only enough time to cover the Big Picture. That’s why I was shocked to learn, only a few years ago, of Spanish Conquistadors in the […]

Verified by MonsterInsights