The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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Heart of the Blue Ridge

Tory Creek - Backroads Tour

By Bob Heafner © 1983-2012

Issue: December 1983

This month’s BACKROADS will follow the trail once used, according to local legend, by Tories fleeing the Revolutionary forces of our colonies. The Tory Fort was located on Hurricane Hill near Old Mayberry. John Hassell Yeatts wrote of this legend in an article which first appeared in The Richmond Times Dispatch in 1952. Portions of this article are included in this BACKROADS column. John has been keenly interested in this Tory Fort story and over the years, he has accumulated much additional information. His updated accounting of this legend will appear in an upcoming edition of The Mountain Laurel.

On our tour, we will wind our way along side of Tory Creek for a few miles. In addition to this picturesque little stream, there are beautiful meadows with old chestnut rail fences along with beautiful views and weathered gray barns. It’s a delightful drive and we hope you will enjoy it.

BACKROADS tours always make a complete loop back to the point where we started. The underlined numbers at the beginning of each paragraph indicate the total number of miles we've traveled from our point of beginning. The numbers in parenthesis ( ) indicate the distance from the last point of interest that we passed

We will begin at Meadows of Dan, Virginia. Our entire tour will be twelve miles long and will take no more than 30 minutes. Of course, if you’re like us, you will want to stop along the way to admire nature’s handiwork.

00.0 (0.0) Our tour will begin on US 58 Business beneath the Blue Ridge Parkway overpass in Meadows of Dan, Virginia. From this point we will head west on US 58 Business toward Hillsville, Virginia.

02.4 (2.4) At this point we are leaving Patrick County and entering Floyd County.

03.4 (1.0) Here we turn right off US 58 onto State Road 620, heading toward Tory Creek Missionary Baptist Church.

03.6 (0.2) Tory Creek Church is on our left.

03.8 (0.2) Here Tory Creek is on our left. A sign marks the spot that once served as the Baptizing Pond for the old Maple Shade Baptist Church.

03.9 (0.1) Here a large sign on our left announces: YOU ARE NOW ENTERING PIKE CITY. POPULATION 0. The name Pike City is a small reminder of the day when this small road was the Wytheville and Danville Turnpike. This, of course, was long before US 58 or the Blue Ridge Parkway traversed this section of the mountains. Once, this was a main road in much the same condition today as then.

04.0 (0.1) The beautiful old home on the left belongs to Mr. and Mrs. Harless Webb. Mr. Webb is the owner and operator of Community Supplies and Services in Meadows of Dan. As we drive on past the Webb’s, Tory Creek runs through the beautiful meadow on our right.

04.2 (0.2) Pavement begins here.

04.4 (0.2) On our right is the Cox family dairy.

04.5 (0.1) At this stop sign, we turn right on State Road 632.

04.6 (0.1) Here we leave Tory Creek as it passes under the road.

06.2 (1.6) On our right is Green Mountain Baptist Church.

06.4 (0.2) The pavement ends here.

06.6 (0.2) Here we turn right onto State Road 603.

06.7 (0.1) Buffalo Mountain is the large mountain on our extreme left with a fire tower on its peak. Straight ahead in the distance is Slate Mountain with its winding road and A-Frame summer homes.

07.9  (1.2) At this point State Road 600 goes straight ahead, across a small bridge but we turn right and continue on State Road 603.

08.2 (0.3) On our right at this point is one of the area’s most picturesque log homes. It belonged to Mr. and Mrs. Jim Young and was assembled from old original hand hewn logs.

08.4 (0.2) Pavement ends here.

09.1 (0.7) The beautiful old homeplace on our left was the home of Miss Flora DeHart until her death. A story about “Miss Flora” was featured in the October issue of The Mountain Laurel.

09.3  (0.2) On top of the bank on our right is a small cemetery. As we proceed up the road, it can be seen clearly by looking back. This little cemetery is where Ed and Lizzy Mabry are buried. Mabry Mill once belonged to them. Ed was the neighborhood miller.

10.2  (0.9) At this stop sign, we turn right onto the Blue Ridge Parkway.

10.4  (0.2) Mabry Mill is on our left.

11.9  (1.5) Turn right onto the exit ramp leading to Meadows of Dan and US 58.

12.0 (0.1) Turn left onto US 58 and we are back to our point of beginning.

(The following is an excerpt from an article written by John Hassell Yeatts in 1952 for the Richmond Times Dispatch. It describes the Tory Creek area and mentions some of its legends.)

Strolling along the mossy banks of Tory Creek, in Carroll County, or seated upon a warm rock waiting for a speckled brook trout to take the bait, you hear the scream of the jay and the plaintive cry of the dove. Bird calls within themselves are hardly unusual. The unusual thing about these bird calls is the absence of competition. You hear no whistle blasts, no droning motors, or crashing bells. Here is a spot, you think, that has changed but little in the 175 elapsing years since the Tories followed the little stream westward as they sought sanctuary in the Dominion of Canada.

Named for those early settlers who remained loyal to the crown of England, Tory Creek is one of the most easterly streams in Virginia flowing west. The stream forms back of a mountain 200 miles southwest of Richmond where the borders of Patrick, Floyd and Carroll Counties meet - a mountain upon which used to stand an old Tory Fort, so the natives say.

There are those living in the surrounding communities who can remember their fathers and grandfathers telling about the ruins of a Tory Fort that was still in existence when they were boys. Now there is only a bold mountain spring surrounded by a site that appears to have been leveled by man.

Rumors Of Buried Treasure

Some natives of Meadows of Dan and Laurel Fork believe that the stream was the guide for fleeing Tories from the Carolinas who rested a while at the fort and then sought their way to Canada via Tory, Reed Island, Little River, New River and thence across the Ohio and through the lake region. A few natives still have old English coins bearing the likeness of George III, that were washed from the creek banks. Many more remember that it was once rather common to find the old coins following hard rains. A few have tried to justify buried treasure along its banks but have found little substantiation for their belief. The page appears to be missing from history that might throw any real light upon the purpose of the fort and the trail.