The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

Growing Up On Tuggles Creek - Lightning Strikes Twice

By YKW © 1985

Issue: June, 1985

(Editor's Note: Tuggles Creek is located in the Heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, near the tiny mountain community of Meadows of Dan, Virginia. Meadows of Dan is a crossroads community where US Highway 58 Business and the Blue Ridge Parkway cross. Mabry Mill is north about 1.6 miles and Mayberry Trading Post is about 2.8 miles south on the Blue Ridge Parkway.)

On the hot muggy morning of June 22, 1910, my father rose early and prepared to make his rounds of delivering the mail on what was then Route 2 in Floyd County. There was something ominous and foreboding in the atmosphere even as early as six o'clock, but the mail had to be delivered.

As the morning wore on, dark thunderclouds began to bulge up in almost every direction. Higher and higher they grew and darker and more threatening.

Toward afternoon, the lightening began to play back and forth between those enormous clouds and deep rolls of thunder grew and grew into a great crescendo of rumbling sound.

Dad had completed the first half of his route and was only a few hundred yards beyond the Bill Boyd place [located on what is now state road 609 in Patrick County], when he saw a huge streak of lightening come down to earth and felt the stinging sensation its nearness brought. His horse was visibly frightened and nickered excitedly, but kept going.

A few hundred yards further on, he came upon the Boyd family gathered around the body of Bill Boyd. It seems they had all been hoeing corn and while all the others made it to the house, Bill himself sought shelter from the rain under a big tree between the road and the house. The bolt of lightening was drawn to the tree and killed Bill Boyd instantly.

Dad did what little he could to console the family and get the body indoors and then continued sorrowfully on his appointed round. As he neared the post office at Meadows of Dan, he over took a small group of men carrying the body of young Eric West, a fine young lad of only 17 who had also been struck while hoeing corn and killed by lightening from those same clouds.

Dad was deeply shocked by this double tragedy occurring so close together right on his mail route. It must have been an ordeal for him to make that same round again with summer storms occurring frequently, but if he was scared, he never mentioned it.

Dad had hired Charlie West, Eric's father, along with some other "hands" to put a new roof on our house. I was not quite six years old at the time, but I can still recall with sadness that some men came to tell Charlie West that his son had been killed and how shocked he looked as he scrambled down the ladder to hurry home to his family.

I have seen many violent thunderstorms since that time, but never, I believe, has there been one in our community with such tragic consequences.