Wednesday, December 07, 2016

The Blue Ridge Parkway - Mile 190.0 - Puckett Cabin

Throughout the Blue Ridge Parkway, there are countless stories of past inhabitants of the mountains.  And at Mile 190 in Southern Virginia, the Parkway tells the tale of one truly remarkable woman.  Puckett's Cabin is the former home of Orlena Hawks Puckett, whose story of strength and goodwill has survived generations.
"Aunt Orlene" was born in 1837 and her story to many is a perfect strength of Appalachian women in the 1800 and the early 1900's.  For over seven decades, Mrs. Puckett served as a midwife, and assisted in the birth of over 1000 babies.  She was well known throughout the mountains of Southern Virginia and continued to serve as a midwife until her death in 1939 at the age of 102.   What makes the seventy plus years as a midwife in the rural mountains remarkable is the tragedy of the loss of 24 of her own children between 1862 and 1881.  Many of her children were stillborn and none of her children survived infancy. 

Puckett's Cabin
Today, Orlena Puckett's story continues to be told.  Phyllis Smith performs "They Call Me Aunt Orlene" at the Parkway's cabin site a few times each year.  Smith wrote the one-woman play in 2003.  Also, Puckett's story is told by Karen Cecil Smith's book, "Orlean Puckett: The Life of a Mountain Midwife."


Saturday, November 26, 2016

The Blue Ridge Parkway - Mile 176.2 - Mabry Mill

One of the more popular and photographed stops along the Parkway's journey through Virginia is the Mabry Mill.  Edwin B. Mabry built the gristmill in 1905 and operated it until the mid-1930s.  In addition to the mill, the brief Mountain Industry Trail through the park's grounds includes a whiskey still, sawmill, and blacksmith's shop.  Other traveler amenities at Mabry Mill include - a restaurant and snack bar, gift shop and public restrooms.


The Blue Ridge Parkway - Mile 168.0 - Rock Castle Gorge Overlook

This overlook is a personal favorite of mine because of the butterfly patch that I stumbled upon when visiting the overlook in July of 2007.  The Rock Castle Gorge Overlook provides access to the strenuous 10.8 mile Rock Castle GorgeLoop Trail.

The Blue Ridge Parkway - Mile 372.1 - Lane Pinnacle

Lane Pinnacle sits on the east end of Bull Mountain.  It is named after Charles Lane, who was the first land owner of the pinnacle.  He established an iron forge along the north slope and nearby Reems Creek.

The Blue Ridge Parkway - Mile 364.6 - Craggy Gardens

Heading North on the Parkway from Asheville, you begin to climb to well over 5,000 feet.  Craggy Gardens serves as the gateway to the magnificent views and scenery along the Blue Ridge Parkway along the higher mountain ridges.

Craggy Gardens Visitor Center along the Blue Ridge Parkway
At these heights, a different climate awaits. Atop the pinnacle in May, one will still have the chill of early spring.  In fall, frost and snow will mix with the magnificent colors of autumn.  Known for their rhododendron the Craggies come alive in mid-June as the rhododendron reach their flowery peak.

View from the top of Craggy Pinnacle
The popular Craggy Pinnacle Trail is a short hike (about 0.7 miles one-way / 1.4 round trip) and offers breathtaking views in every direction.

Southern view of the Blue Ridge Parkway from Craggy Pinnacle

North Fork Reservoir

Sources & Links:

All photos taken by author - May 23, 2010.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

The Blue Ridge Parkway - Mile 350.4 - Green Knob Overlook

Green Knob Overlook is located just beyond Mt. Mitchell at Milepost 350.4.  Unbeknownst to my wife and I when we visited here in 2010, about 100 yards north of the overlook is a trail that leads to a lookout fire tower.  The trail is a little over one half mile length and is easily overlooked.  The tower was built in 1931, staffed into the 1970s, and is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

View from the Green Knob Overlook

The Blue Ridge Parkway - Mile 339.5 - Crabtree Meadows Recreation Area

Waterfalls and hiking are two popular pastimes along the Blue Ridge Parkway and the roughly two and a quarter mile trek to the 70' Crabtree Falls within the Crabtree Meadows Recreation Area is one of the more popular ones.  The hike is slightly strenuous - it's downhill to get there which means it's all uphill to get back - but the view, like my photo above, is worth it.

The Blue Ridge Parkway - Mile 305.25 - Beacon Heights

At the point where the Blue Ridge Parkway meets US 221 just north of Linville is the Beacon Heights Overlook.  This pullover features outstanding views of the Blue Ridge and of Grandfather Mountain.  There is also a 1.1 mile out-and-back hiking trail.  At over 4200 feet, low clouds, fog, mist, and great sunshine can come into play for very interesting photo opportunities.

Lush green scenery is abound. (Steven Duckworth)

Great vistas surround the overlook. (Steven Duckworth)

Clouds add drama to the rocky cliffs of the mountains. (Steven Duckworth)

The Blue Ridge Mountain Range sits mightily in the background. (Steven Duckworth)

Low clouds hang around mountain ranges of over 6000 feet. (Adam Prince)

Monday, August 22, 2016

Bradford Bypass - December 2011

The US 219 Bypass around Bradford, Pennsylvania was akin to taking a trip back into the 1970s. Vintage PennDOT highway design, faded pre-1980 guide signage (and the signs have exit tabs without exit numbers) and concrete are abundant on this stretch of US 219. Bradford also has its roots as being an industrial city, and seems to have shown the usual decline of industry in the Northern United States. However, Zippo (the lighter fuel company) is still headquartered in Bradford. Here are photos I have taken of the Bradford Bypass as it looked like on December 12, 2001. The signs have since been replaced.

US 219 southbound at the PA 46 Kendall Avenue exit.
US 219 southbound at the PA 346 Foster Brook exit.
US 219 northbound at the PA 346 Elm Street exit.
US 219 northbound at the PA 46 Kendall Avenue exit.
US 219 northbound at the PA 346 Foster Brook exit.
US 219 northbound at Owens Way. The freeway used to end here as a stub, but now continues just past Owens Way.
US 219 southbound at Owens Way. The freeway used to end here as a stub.
US 219 southbound approaching the PA 346 Foster Brook exit.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

The Blue Ridge Parkway - Mile 290.4 - Thunder Hill Overlook

This simple overlook is one of the most popular stops for sunrises along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Unfortunately, it was a very overcast spring morning when these photos were taken.  Across the Parkway from the overlook is a trail that leads to a local pasture and small family cemetery.