Easton (N.H.).

Summer resorts and points of interest of Virginia, western North Carolina, and north Georgia online

. (page 3 of 11)
Online LibraryEaston (N.H.)Summer resorts and points of interest of Virginia, western North Carolina, and north Georgia → online text (page 3 of 11)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

merchants of Baltimore and Richmond have their country homes here, and a gener-
ous rivalry in farming, with ample means and a soil that was originally rich, has made
Rapid Ann as near an earthly Paradise as one is apt to find in the world.

The Rapid Ann River was for many months the dividing line between the North-
ern and Southern armies, as earthworks still show. A dam across the stream makes
a beautiful waterfall, which may be seen from the station, and develops abundant
power for the flouring mills adjacent. Corn, wheat, oats, etc., are grown in vast
quantities, and of late years great attention has been paid to hay, which has proved a
most remunerative crop. Fat beeves, sheep and hogs of improved breeds abound,
but comparatively little attention is bestowed upon dairy products. The village itself
is quite small, but the country around is thickly settled with people, all of whom
appear to be in easy, and many in prosperous, circumstances.


A LTHOUGH the mill at Rapid Ann is one of the few visible from the car window
•^ as the traveler goes southward on the Virginia Midland Railway, it must not be
inferred that there is in any of the counties along the line a deficiency of water-
courses or of the power which they afford. Quite the contrary. No State of its
size on the globe can boast so many great rivers as Virginia, and the Midland Road,
running the whole length of the Piedmont region, necessarily cuts these rivers and
many of their affluents at points more or less near their sources in the mountains,
and just where their power is most available. On this head we cannot do better than
to quote from the excellent " Descriptive Account of the Virginia Midland Railway,"


which was published a few years ago by Dr. J. C. Hill, of Alexandria, and to which
we have been, as we shall hereafter be, indebted. Dr. Hill says :

" From the Potomac, at Alexandria, to the River Dan, on the North Carolina
border, fine water-powers abound. All the great watercourses of the State head in
or beyond the Piedmont district, are necessarily crossed by the tracks of the Virginia
Midland Railway, and many of them at, or near these crossings, afford splendid
M^ater-power facilities." Those at Alexandria on the Potomac, at Lynchburg on the
James, and at Danville on the Dan, are treated of in the enumeration of the respective
resources of these places.

Four miles below the railroad crossing, on the Rappahannock River, at a place
called Wheatley's Mills, is one of the cheapest as well as most superior water-powers
to be found in any country. The whole stream in the river can be turned out by a
dam three feet high into a place called Marsh Run, giving to the power a fall of forty-
four feet, with a capacity to build up innumerable industries, the values of which
would be almost incalculable, enough to supply, if properly economized, the wants of
an entire State.

In Culpeper and Orange Counties, on the Rapid Ann and tributaries, there are
numerous powers, with a maximum fall of fifteen feet. In Nelson on the Rockfish,
in Amherst on the Buffalo, and other streams in Campbell, on the James and others,
and in Pittsylvania on the Staunton and Dan rivers, there are powers of magnitude
enough to run the machinery of the State of Massachusetts. This does not include
streams of minor capacity, with power sufficient to operate the ordinary grist, saw
and flour mills. These watercourses, besides answering the purposes of manufac-
turing, could, in many places, be utilized for irrigation.


/^RANGE, the county which the Virginia Midland Railway next enters, derives its
^ name from the color of its soil, and originally embraced all of Virginia west of
the Blue Ridge. Beautifully diversified, it seems made expressly for the suburban
homes of gentlemen of means who live in cities. In almost every vale there is a
stream ; from every hilltop a beautiful view. The air is pure. The natives love
their county with inexpressible devotion. It is a favored land. Much of it has been
injured by exhausting crops and slovenly farming, but its recuperative power is very
great. Colonel John Willis contends that Orange is better for grazing purposes than
the Valley or the counties of Southwest Virginia. " Whether or not," says he,
" these views are just as to cattle grazing, it will scarcely be questioned that our red
hills are the favored home of sheep. Well-drained hills to graze and sleep on, pure
and abundant water, winters not too cold nor summers too hot, grasses abundant,
but not too luxuriant or succulent ; our sheep are always healthy, and foot ail, rot and
all other diseases often so fatal to sheep, are rarely found in our flocks. With com-
mon Western ewes a farmer may triple and often quadruple his outlay in fifteen or
eighteen months. This, too, with a ver}- small consumption of grain or other


Better corn land cannot be found, and, of course, there is iron — the color of the
soil leaves no doubt on that point. Near Madison Run station, four miles from the
county seat, veins of red, yellow and brown hematite run for a long distance in close
proximity to the track of the Virginia Midland Railway, and quite recently a Pennsyl-
vania company has leased, and is actively working the mines on the lands of Major
Erasmus Taylor. Veins 25 feet thick are found. Near this same station valuable
marble and limestone deposits have been profitably worked.


'T^HE best way to reach the battlefields of the Wilderness and of Spottsylvania
Court House is to take the Virginia Midland Railway at Washington for the
county seat of Orange, 86 miles distant. There a narrow-gauge road, 40 miles long,
will conduct the traveler to the fields so desperately fought over by Grant and Lee,
and also to Fredericksburg, a quaint old town, well worth visiting for its own sake as
well as for that of the battles which occurred in and around it. Not far from the
narrow-gauge line are the gold fields from which Commodore Stockton reaped such
a harvest, and which, it is confidently expected, will yield still richer harvests in time
to come when thoroughly developed.

Orange Village contained in 1880 a population of 763. Its importance has been
much enhanced since the completion of the narrow-gauge road to Fredericksburg
and the continuation of the Virginia Midland Railway directly to Charlottesville,
instead of the indirect route by way of Gordonsville, where for many years the Mid-
land Road made connections with Charlottesville via the Chesapeake and Ohio
Road. For the benefit, partly of local and partly also of through passenger trafific
northward, trains still run daily over the nine-mile link between Orange and Gordons-
ville. Situated upon commanding and beautiful hills. Orange and the country im-
mediately around it contain, it is said, more elegant residences than any of the towns
along the line of this road. It has a court-house, an Episcopal, a Baptist, a Metho-
dist and Presbyterian churches ; two weekly newspapers, one or two good hotels, and
several good boarding-houses, with ample accommodations for resident, transient
and Summer visitors ; good public and private schools ; and quite a number of mer-
cantile stores and other similar improvements. During the war a conflict took place
in this town between the Federal and Confederate forces, commanded respectively by
General Broadhead and Colonel William E. Jones ; and another, a very severe one,
at Rochelle, about six miles from Orange Court House ; Generals Kilpatrick and
Buford commanding the Federals, and General J. E. B. Stuart the Confederates.


PRESIDENT Zachary Taylor was born in Orange County, the house of his nativity
■■■ being, as some assert, still in existence. James Waddel, the blind preacher,
whose eloquence is so glowingly described in Wirt's " British Spy," lived and preached
in Orange. The house in which he lived still stands near Gordonsville. Patrick Henry


and Governor Barbour both confirm Wirt's account of his marvelous oratorical
powers. About four miles from Orange Court House, on an eminence and amidst
grand old trees is Montpelier, or more correctly Montpellier, the country seat of James
Madison, President of the United States from 1809 to 18 17. It is a noble edifice, a
gentleman's home. Originally it was furnished with plain but rich furniture, and
ornamented with busts, pictures, etc., most of which have been scattered amongst his
connections who live in this and other counties. An extensive lawn surrounds the
house, level as a floor in front, and commanding a magnificent view of the mountains,
but in the rear falling into a lovely green dell, shaded by tall trees. On the east is a
large garden, containing a great variety of native and exotic plants and fruit trees.
Mr. Madison died at Montpelier, June 28th, 1836, at the great age of 87. His tomb,
and that of his wife, together with others of his family, are inclosed in a little ceme-
tery a few hundred yards in front of the house. After many vicissitudes, Montpelier
House and the large and valuable farm attached to it have passed into the hands of
Northern purchasers, who have it in that thorough repair which it has so lung


P ORDONSVILLE, the former junction of the Virginia Midland with the Chesapeake
^ and Ohio Railroad, has a population of fifteen hundred, with forty stores and
places of business, four manufacturing establishments, several hotels and boarding-
houses, one newspaper — Gordonsville Gazette, five churches, six schools, three livery
stables, etc. The buildings, almost all of wood, have been put up hastily, yet the
most of them are in good taste and well suited to the purpose for which they are
intended. Gordonsville must continue to be a place of considerable trade, as most
of Greene and Madison, and portions of Albemarle, Orange and Louisa are tributary
to it.

The country around Gordonsville is so attractive, and the society so good, that
many Englishmen and Northerners have chosen it in preference to any other part of
the State. The late Dr. Cadmus, of New York, on a farm near the village, entered
largely into the culture of grapes and the manufacture of wine, an industry which is
still more largely followed in the adjoining County of Albemarle. Improved breeds
of horses, cattle, sheep, pigs, etc., have occupied the attention of the English settlers
and of native Virginians as well, and the peculiarly English feature of monthly or bi-
monthly fairs for the sale of horses, etc., imparts to Gordonsville a life and animation
not often seen in Virginia. Board is so reasonable, living so abundant, the climate
so healthful, and access to the cities so easy that many families make Gordonsville
their Summer home.




OETURNING to the main line of the Virginia Midland Railway at Orange, we
pass en route to Charlottesville, on the newly constructed link, the stations of
Somerset, Barboursville and Bethel, places of minor importance as yet, but destined
to the growth that almost invariably attends railway stations located in good farming
districts. The fertile soil and charming scenery on the western base of the southwest
mountain range long ago drew to this region, secluded as it then was, one of Virginia's
most distinguished sons, Governor James Barbour, whose home, now occupied by his
no less distinguished son, B. Johnson Barbour, Esq., may be seen immediately on the
left of the road as we approach Barboursville Station. Now that the rail has reached
this hitherto isolated section, the quiet little village of Barboursville and the adjoining
County of Greene, which lies right under the shadow of some of the boldest peaks of
the Blue Ridge, together with its equally attractive neighbor, Madison County, will
become points of special interest to those who seek the tonic and the balm of our
Virginia Highlands.


HTHE approach to Charlottesville on the Virginia Midland Railway, along a range
^ of low wooded hills and through a narrow valley, gives no conception of the
magnificent County of Albemarle into which we have now entered. To see it to
advantage, to study its many points of interest, one must give this goodly county a
day or two, or still better, a week or two, on horseback or in an open vehicle. Nor
in the space allotted us is it possible to do more than enumerate the manifold objects
which in town and country imperatively claim the attention of the historian, the
scholar, the scientist, the artist, the farmer, the manufacturer. The University of
Virginia ; Monticello, the home of Jefferson, on its lofty and beautiful plateau ; his
mutilated tomb on the mountain side below ; the Brooke's Museum of Natural
History, with xX.'ifac simile of the Mammoth, the only one in the United States ; the
Observ^atory for the great telescope, given by Cyrus McCormick ; the Ragged Moun-
tains, made famous by one of Edgar A. Poe's weirdest stories ; the woolen mills ; the
cellars of the Monticello Wine Company, whose native wines received the prize at the
Paris Exhibition ; the stock farm of S. W. Ficklen, Esq. ; the farm of Mr. Brennan,
formerly of New York, well-nigh perfect in its every aspect ; the cultured and polished
society of the University and Charlottesville— turn where you will there is something to
edify and to charm. Wise was the forethought of the philosophic statesman in
selecting Albemarle as the site of that institution of learning of which, next to the
Declaration of Independence, he was most proud — poetic the faculty which prompted
him to build the house of his fame amid scenery that is lovely even to fascination.
And how pathetic the lately printed declaration of his gifted granddaughter, that " of
the ten thousand acres once owned by Jefferson, all that now remains is loo square
feet of burial ground and a tomb hacked to pieces by vandals."

Charlottesville is on the right bank of the Rivanna River, and immediately on


the line of the Virginia Midland Railway, at the intersection with the Chesapeake and
Ohio Railway. It was incorporated in 1762, and named in honor of Queen Char-
lotte. It is 108 miles from Alexandria, 115 miles from Washington City, 97 miles
from Richmond and 20 miles from the base of the Blue Ridge. The University of
Virginia, founded in 1825, is beyond question one of the most famous schools in the
Union. Its standard is higher and its examinations more rigid than those of any
other school whatever in the United States. Before the war its average attendance
was 600 students ; now, owing to the impoverishment of the Southern people, the
numbers rarely exceed 400. Near the University grounds are buried 1,500 Confed-
erate soldiers. The town contains nine churches, embracing almost every creed ; two
weekly newspapers — the Jeffersoiian Repubh'can and the Chronicle, three job
printing offices, four public and six private schools, three hotels and a number of
private boarding-houses, tv/o national and two savings banks, two livery stables, a
large number of mercantile stores, and, in addition to these, a smoking tobacco and
cigar factory, plough, broom, wheat, fan, carriage and wagon establishments, and
one foundry. Outside of the town the Charlottesville Woolen Mills, heretofore spoken
of, are doing a large and lucrative business. The cigar factory manufactures nearly
a million of cigars annually. Two wine companies have been organized. The wine
made here of the native grape is large in quantity and excellent in quality. The
surrounding country produces everything grown in this latitude, and the lands
command the highest market prices.


T N the well-named Ragged Mountains there was born, early in this or late in the
last century, a boy named Samuel Miller. Illegitimate, obscure, poor as poverty
itself, absolutely without education, this boy's destiny was to eclipse in real life the
dreams in which Poe's imagination rioted when he chose as the scene of his story the
wild hills among which this poor boy was born. Samuel Miller, at the time of his
death some twenty years ago, was the richest man in Virginia. He had no legitimate
heir. He made a few small, private bequests, left a large sum to the University of
Virginia, founded an orphan asylum in Lynchburg, and then the bulk of his fortune
(which originally amounted to millions, but had been sadly shorn by losses of many
kinds) went to the endowment of a manual labor school for poor boys ; first of Albe-
marle County and next of the State at large. In memory of his humble origin, and
at his special request, this school was built in the very heart of the scenes of his
childhood, and there it now stands — a marvel of architectural solidity and beauty,
startling the beholder, in spite of his mental preparation, by its strong contrast with
the untamed solitude around it. It is admirably managed, has one hundred occu-
pants, who are at no expense whatever, from the time they enter until they leave, and
is undoubtedly doing a great deal of good in a direction where there is the greatest



GRAPES flourish everywhere along the line of the Virginia Midland Railway, the
slopes of the Bull Run range, the Southwest Mountains and the foot-hills of the
Blue Ridge being their natural habitat. On many farms in many counties grapes
are extensively grown for sale in the Northern markets ; but nowhere has grape
culture and wine-making attained such proportions as in Albemarle County, which
promises to become the centre of this industry on the Atlantic side of the continent.
In view of this fact, we again quote from Dr. Hill's valuable little book. He says,
page 14: "The Superintendent of Garden and Grounds, in his annual report for
1869 to Congress, speaking of the most healthy grape of the Northern States, says :
' Of course, its quality is generally improved by the length and genialty of the season
of growth ; for example : Those who are familiar with the fruit only as the produc-
tion of Massachusetts would not recognize its flavor and vinous character when
ripened in Virginia. The mountain slopes and plateaus of Virginia and other
Southern States must be looked upon as the great producing regions on this conti-
nent for a certain class of fine wines, not excepting California and other favored
sections of the Pacific coast. We must depend upon this section for the coming
wine grape.' " Dr. Hill continues : " There is hardly a doubt about the truth of
these statements, which apply equally well to a district of comparatively flat land
running through Culpeper County, Virginia, the substrata rock of which contains,
by analysis made for the writer at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington City, 71
per cent, of silica. The absorbing power of this metamorphic rock is extraordinary,
and secures beyond question what is absolutely necessary for the grape-drainage.
Indeed, the most experienced and scientific vineyardist could not have ordered the
making of a better vineyard, except as to elevation. Vigorous native grape-vines,
however, can be seen in many places running on the ground, with fruit as fine and
sound as if it had the greatest possible elevation. Possessing this advantage, the
Virginia grape has others of value to the vineyardist. It can be easily cultivated and
manured ; the fruit readily gathered and carted out, and being immediately on the
line of the Virginia Midland Railway, shipped to market at trifling cost. This land
should command the highest price known among vine-growers, and yet, on account
of the lack of knowledge of these important facts, is comparatively cheap. In addi-
tion, it is a fine natural grass land, and in support of the theory advanced, and con-
trary to the well-established one of ' the green belt ' or ' vernal zone,' has the earliest
Spring and the latest Fall grapes, which would materially tend to establish the fact
that the absorption qualities of the substrata rock referred to act as chief agent in
producing these results. The metamorphic rock has, besides the 71 per cent, of
silica, 10 of lime and several of alumina and potash, and when pulverized by natural
or artificial modes, restores to the soil the elements which are so necessary to the full
development and growth of the plant." In regard to the yield and prices of grapes
grown on land through which the Virginia Midland Railway runs, Dr. Hill makes the
following statements : " Messrs. Miller & Wood, of Rappahannock County : Con-


cords, 5,000 pounds; Catawbas, 2,500 pounds; Delaware, 1,000 pounds; Clinton,
2,000 pounds per acre. Average price, five cents per pound. Best market grape,
the Catawba. Mr. William Hotop, of Charlottesville, fourteen acres, in Delaware,
Norton, Iris and Concord. The Delaware brought in New York, 15 cents; Iris,
II cents, and Concord, 8 cents per pound. Mr. H. M. Armistead, of Campbell
County, from a vineyard of three acres and three thousand vines made 800 gallons
of wine per acre, which sells from $2.50 to $5.00 per gallon. The vines are Iris,
Concord, Ionia, Alvey, Delaware, Rogers' No. 14 and 15, Hartford, Clinton and
Catawba, six to eight years in bearing. These grapes are comparatively free from
rot and mildew, and are all superior for wine or table use."


1 T has been stated that at Charlottesville the Virginia Midland Railway unites with
-*■ the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway just at the point where the latter begins in
earnest the ascent from the uplands of the Piedmont District to the high grades that
lead to the summit of the Blue Ridge Mountains at Rockfish Gap. It is almost
needless to add that this great road — the Chesapeake and Ohio — traverses the bold-
est and most picturesque scenery in Virginia, and in its course virtually monopolizes
the most celebrated watering places within its borders. The bare enumeration of
these springs would fill a page or more of this book ; an account of their curative
properties would occupy our whole space, and a description of their scenic and social
attractions would swell the pamphlet into an octavo volume. And if, in addition to
all this, a detailed recital of the towns, the villages, the farms, the mineral lands, the
forests of timber, the ore banks, the furnaces (constantly increasing in numbers and
magnitude), and the coal measures, with the accessories of their constant and pro-
gressive development, were given, the octavo volume would assume the proportions
of a library. A mere outline of the more important features of the Chesapeake and
Ohio road is all that is here possible.

From the delicious and varied scenery at Rockfish Gap, the road quickly descends
to Waynesboro, in Augusta County, where it intersects the Shenandoah Valley Road,
which, within the year, has been prolonged to Roanoke, on the Norfolk and Western
Railroad. Staunton, with its many asylums and female schools, its bustle and its
thrift, is now reached, and at Buffalo Gap the North Mountain is crossed — Elliot's
Knob, the highest peak of the Blue Ridge, dominating the scene. Many Summer
resorts of local note have been passed and we have entered the iron region, as the
furnace on the right shows. At Goshen w^e cross the headwaters of the James
River, and are almost within sight of the romantic Goshen Pass, through which a
stage road leads to the academic town of Lexington, where Lee and Stonewall Jack-
son lie buried, near the institutions of learning with which their names are inseparably
associated. En route are the Cold Sulphur Springs and the Rockbridge Baths. At


Millboro, a neat and growing village, with a hotel of enviable repute, passengers leave
the railway for the famous thermal waters of Bath County, the Hot and the Warm
Springs, and also for the Jordan and Rockbridge Alum Springs. Descending the
Alleghany range on which Millboro is situated, and passing the station near Longdale
furnace, the Chesapeake and Ohio Road at Williamson's unites with the Richmond
and Alleghany Road very close to the justly celebrated scenery at Clifton Forge. A
few miles further on is the great Lowmoor furnace, beyond which is Covington, the
point of departure for the Healing Springs. Here begins the bold and costly gradi-
ents by which the great centre of attraction, the White Sulphur Springs, is reached in

1 3 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

Online LibraryEaston (N.H.)Summer resorts and points of interest of Virginia, western North Carolina, and north Georgia → online text (page 3 of 11)