By Bob Heafner © 1984-2012
Issue: March, 1984
Gilbert Ray Anderson is 76 years old. He’s been retired for “six or seven” years now but he’s still very active. He and his wife, Lilly, own a 50 acre farm one ridge over from Rocky Hollow near Troutdale, Virginia. Their farm is one of the most picturesque I’ve ever seen. It is nestled in a high valley next to spectacular Pine Mountain.
Mr. Anderson was a carpenter and after he retired, his love of building didn’t cease, it only scaled down. His workshop is a screened in porch off the kitchen of their home and it is here that he creates miniature scale model log homes and farmsteads. Mr. Anderson is a stickler for details and each of his works are authentically complete and exact; including a fireplace that will “draw” and contain fire, tables, chairs, beds and all assorted furniture to be found in a turn of the century mountain homestead. The logs are notched and chinked and the rafters are assembled individually and attached so the roof may be removed to view the interior. Such devotion to details requires patience and it is not uncommon for a small cabin to require 80 or more hours to complete.
Several years ago, he was commissioned by the Washington County Library in Abingdon, Virginia to build a replica of Blacks Fort. This model consisted of a half dozen buildings, complete with a stockade fence. Abingdon was first known as Blacks Fort, and this exhibit is now on permanent display at the Library in Abingdon. Another of Mr. Anderson’s models is on permanent display at the Wythe-Grayson Regional Library in Independence, Virginia.
Another of his popular items is his miniature outhouses, built of old gray boards. These are realistic reproductions and receive the same attention to detail as do his model log homes.
One might assume that running a 50 acre farm and meeting the ever increasing demand for his replicas would be all a 76 year old could handle, but not for Mr. Anderson. In his spare time he loves to paint. Most of his paintings are of the mountain scenes which he has known all his life.
Such diverse talents may seem unusual to folks not familiar with the mountains but mountain folks are independent by tradition. And the first rule of being independent is to always try anything, and more often then not, when mountain folk try, they succeed.
Gilbert Ray Anderson’s work is a shinning example of independence and ability.
Mr. Anderson’s model cabins and farmsteads sell for $150.00 to $250.00 each and the outhouses sell for $10.00 each. His work is on display and is available for purchase at Rooftop Crafts of Virginia in Galax, Virginia. (See Backroads Tour.)