A Century Ago: Milepost 176

When you drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway, you have to slow down. The speed limit is 45 mph. But more importantly, there are so many scenic views and interesting sites to visit. How can you not stop and gape at a view like this?

View from Blue Ridge Parkway

View from Blue Ridge Parkway

The 469-mile two-lane scenic highway runs from Cherokee, North Carolina, to Rockfish Gap, Va where the Blue Ridge Parkway continues as Skyline Drive through Shenandoah National Park.

You can see signs of contemporary farming activities alongside the Parkway, grazing cattle or sheep, barns and farm houses:

large barn

large barn

and even a huge pumpkin field along the edge of the forest:

pumpkin field

pumpkin field

When you get to Milepost 176 though, you fall into a time warp and you are now in the year 1914:

Mabry Mill

Mabry Mill

Mabry Mill was the home and business place of Ed and Lizzy Mabry. Ed operated a wheelwright shop, a sawmill, a grist mill, and a blacksmith shop….clearly a Jack-of-all-Trades.

The large water wheel powered a sawmill, a gristmill for grinding corn, and a woodworking shop inside a single wooden building.

water wheel

water wheel

To secure a sufficient supply of water, Ed had to build two long wooden troughs or flumes that brought the runoff from two small streams together into the single, elevated trough (the Race) leading to the waterwheel.

Scattered around the mill were various farm implements, wagons, and tools used in a time before electricity and power tools:

This house was not the original frame house Ed and Lizzie built here. The Park Service tore down their old house and re-built it with materials from a nearby log cabin.

old cabin

old cabin

This was clearly Lizzie’s domain, where she cooked, cleaned, wove fabrics on her large floor loom, created baskets from vines and reeds, and the many other household items needed.

And after a hard day’s work, they might have spent a few nights operating their whiskey still.

whiskey still

whiskey still

Again, a lot of work was needed to obtain the desired result – corn whiskey. First, corn meal, malt and sugar were mixed with water and then left to ferment in the barrel on the right. After a few days or weeks, the fermented mash was heated in the copper still in the center. The vapors from the still were piped to the barrel on the left, that contained a spiral tube (the “worm”) immersed in a constant flow of water. Condensation from the worm changes the vapor into a liquid, caught in buckets under the barrel.

That’s your basic moonshine recipe.
A small still like this could produce up to 20 gallons of corn whiskey in one night. Talk about high spirits!

I thought about Ed and Lizzie as I admired the bright fall colors around their homestead. Did they have any time at all to enjoy autumn as they were preparing for the isolation of winter in these Appalachian Mountains?

It was hard to leave this interesting and spirited place but a cone of pumpkin ice cream from the Mabry Mill restaurant eased the journey up North.

Mabry Mill

For more posts containing Numbers, check out Ailsa’s Travel Theme.

About Beauty Along the Road

My name is Annette. I am passionate about nature, health, simplicity, self-reliance, truth, and life-long learning. Originally from Germany, I now live in Virginia, USA. I am a therapist, health coach, writer, photographer, and organic gardener.
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23 Responses to A Century Ago: Milepost 176

  1. Annette, what a beautiful series of photographs, thank you for taking me there. I have driven along the Blue Ridge Parkway some many, many years ago and thought it was one of the most beautiful places in this country. So your post was kind of a flash back of memories back than.

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    • Thank you, Cornelia. The Blue Ridge Parkway is considered the most scenic drive in the US by many. And it truly is stunning, no matter what time of the year you are up there. I am not entirely happy with all the B&W photos because many don’t have enough contrasts to really pop and they would have looked better in color….. but I wanted to do them in B&W to honor the time period of the early 1900s.

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  2. Absolutely stunning Annette. I love the old grist mills. . . the last photo is a prize winner in my books!

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  3. I like how you took us back in time with the black and white photography. I’m sure there were very few moments in the lives of these mountain-dwelling people to stop and reflect on much of anything other than what chore is next. It’s incredible how hard people had to work back then just to survive. I agree with Bruce, that last photo is breathtaking.

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  4. Sue Slaght says:

    What fabulous landscapes! I also like that you have done the historical photos in black and white. Very effective.

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  5. Barneysday says:

    Reminds me of my New England upbringing. There were still occasional water wheels and mills in the small towns. And the fall colors are spectacular. Thanks for sharing these wonderful pictures.

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  6. Michelle says:

    Amazing pictures!! How gorgeous!!!

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  7. I love both your B & W and color photos. The detail is so amazing and the stories they tell are so interesting.

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  8. dogear6 says:

    Really great to see the Blue Ridge Parkway. Of course, the bigger reason to keep your speed down is the cops are out giving tickets!

    My husband and I did Skyline Drive a few years back, on the way home from a long weekend in Harper’s Ferry. It was about this time of the year and we loved the view. We stopped in every pull-off and took lots of pictures.

    http://livingtheseasons.com/2011/11/04/sunk-costs-skyline-wandering/

    Nancy

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    • I looked at your post, Nancy, and it gave me the urge to jump right back into my car and drive the entire length of Skyline and Blue Ridge Pkwy…taking about 1 week or more for the entire length of it. Stopping at every overlook and trail is really the way to “do” this drive🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Thanks for these gorgeous photos, Annette. Many years ago, my husband and I took our Harley on a trip along the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Skyline Drive. I remember it was early September, and the leaves were just beginning to change. We hit an all day heavy rain and I was hanging on for dear life through the windy roads up and down the mountains. Ron told me that if the Harley started to skid in the rain drenched roads, I was supposed to just hang on tighter. lol That is a beautiful area, one that I want to return to again and again.

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    • So glad you got a chance to experience this scenic road. Not sure I would have liked to have been on a motorcycle in bad weather…I stopped getting on a motorcycle after a horrendous cross-country trip with my husband. Haven’t missed it since🙂

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  10. Oh wow! Stunning landscape with many exciting surprises! The pumpkin field just calling everyone to go out the pumpkin patch and have a piece of Fall. Thanks…

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    • Thank you, Island Traveler. The pumpkin field was actually not a commercial venue -just a big field on the edge of the woods with no one there. Although, with all the autumn color traffic on the Parkway, you would think that the owner would take advantage and sell them pumpkins🙂

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