By Bob Heafner © 1983-2012
Issue: March, 1983
“The Mountain Laurel” will not keep you informed of world events. It will not be a substitute for your local newspaper. What it will be is a journey each month into “the Heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains,” for an in-depth look into the life and character of the people and the vast natural beauty amid which, they live. We will report news items concerning Patrick, Floyd and Carroll Counties but our primary goal is to catch you up on what’s been happening the last hundred years.
We thought of many possible names for this publication before we decided on “The Mountain Laurel.” None of the others seemed quite right, but like a flash, “Mountain Laurel” appeared and we knew it was perfect. According to Webster’s Dictionary, the word laurel means honor and distinction. Aside from being a beautiful flower which covers our hillsides, the word describes our people and place better than any other. Please bear with us over the next few months when we misspell a word or set our type a little crooked. We are not professional writers or publishers but simply people who want to describe the beauty, character, honor, humor and charm of the people and place we appreciate and enjoy so much.
We love this area with a passion and never tire of its breathtaking beauty. No gallery or museum in the world can offer the beauty we find around every curve in the road or trail. “Old man” Coy Yeatts, sitting in a straight back chair at Mayberry Trading Post said of this area, “If you tell how beautiful it is, you’ll be bragging on it. Have to be.” This is the most beautiful place on earth and nobody could have said it better than Mr. Coy, and he’s right, we’ll be bragging on it.
Each month our “BACKROADS” column will give you directions, so you can see first hand, some of our favorite out of the way locations. We hope you enjoy these areas as much as we do.
There are elderly people living in this area that remember hauling wagon loads of chestnuts down to Stuart [Virginia] to be loaded on the “Dick ‘n Willie” railroad and shipped to Danville and beyond. The chestnut trees are gone and the steel from the railroad tracks went to war. They were taken up to aid the war effort when steel was in short supply. But here in our midst are people who remember chestnut harvests and a railroad in Stuart. These people remember a way of life that we can only envy. They experienced a unique time period in American history. Never again can we hope to witness what they lived. They are a treasure to this area. Through the eyes of these people, we hope to capture and retain a part of a way of life that is gone forever.
We will devote a column “Mountain Memories” each month to the memories of mountain life as it was. Anyone who would like to share their memories each month would be appreciated.
Within these three counties there are 1,344 square miles. They all meet on Hurricane Hill at a corner rock where you can stand in all three counties at the same time. Within sight of Hurricane Hill is Mayberry Trading Post which has been in operation for over a hundred years. The Blue Ridge Parkway runs between “the Hill” and Mayberry and just a mile or so south of there is its exact center. From Front Royal, Va., where the Skyline Drive begins, to the end of the Blue Ridge Parkway at Cherokee, NC, are the Blue Ridge Mountains. This is the heart of the Blue Ridge; the exact center of the most breathtaking beauty on earth.
From Fairystone Park in Patrick County, to Buffalo Mountain in Floyd County, to Big Reed Island Creek in Carroll County, the examples of natural beauty are beyond description. Someone once described a beautiful view by saying its description bankrupted the English language, I’m sure he would have said the same for this three county area.
We would especially like to thank the people who advertised in our first issue who did so without first seeing a copy of our publication. We can never say thank you enough for your faith in an idea which could never have taken place without you. Our thanks to Mr. Cleve Hamlin, of the Mount Airy News for his assistance and knowledge which helped put this first issue together. Also we would like to thank Rex Cauldwell, of Little Mountain Plumbing for his article on plumbers and electricians, Ms. Pam Cadmus of the Floyd County Library for her article about the library and especially John H. Yeatts for allowing us to print “Aunt Jule”, which is a portion of his book, “Remembering Old Mayberry” and also for his impassioned and humorous plea for a “Chicken Day USA.” Thanks also to the many others who helped so much.
If you, our readers, have any suggestions of how we can make “The Mountain Laurel” more enjoyable for you, please let us know. We would like for our readers to be a part of every issue. Please feel free to submit articles to us and we will publish all that our space will permit.