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"Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing." ~ Benjamin Franklin

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

A 1700s Log Cabin in Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains by Cynthia Howerter

My husband and I took a day-long drive on Virginia's Blue Ridge Parkway to view the fall foliage. By chance, we came upon a log cabin straight out of the 1700s that was open to the public. Of course, we had to stop.

We walked along a worn footpath and as we approached the old house, we discovered we weren't the only people curious about 18th century life in Virginia's mountains. Other travelers on the mountain top had also stopped for a glimpse back in time.

Notice the lack of windows on the side of the house. In the heart of the wilderness during the colonial period, hundreds of miles from civilization, glass windows were a rarity.



The front porch beckoned us to come forward for a closer look. 



The two chairs suggest that the owners enjoy sitting on their porch, perhaps at the end of the day after chores are finished.



Before I even set foot onto the porch, I saw a woman's feminine touch. Do you see it? On each side of the steps, fall flowers bloom in a hollowed-out log. The small pumpkin whispers that it is harvest time.



We called out, but the mistress of the cabin was nowhere to be seen. With the open door inviting visitors inside, I couldn't resist admiring the kitchen with its stone cooking fireplace. Several skillets and a shovel for fireplace ashes hang on the wall. The hearth boasts a variety of iron kettles and a candle mold rests on the mantle. On the floor to the right is a stoneware butter churn. Perhaps the lady has gone to the meadow to bring the cow in for milking.

The blue granite coffee pot, galvanized bucket, and stoneware butter churn that you see in the photo are 20th century items. Because many 18th century log cabins were well-constructed and maintained, they lasted into the 20th century, their more recent owners blending their lives between the old and new.



To the right of the fireplace is a small opening that has been cut in the log wall. During the colonial period, raids by Native Americans were common on the frontier. Cabin owners intentionally cut several small holes in their walls for viewing and shooting purposes. Small openings used primarily for the defense of a cabin are called "loopholes." Additionally, the opening would help draw in fresh outside air. Hanging underneath the loophole is a block of wood that fits in the opening and seals it shut.



Tucked into a corner of the room is a rope bed covered with a homemade quilt. You can see a sturdy rope threaded through the bed frame at the foot of the bed. Straw or feather-filled ticks were laid on top of the ropes. Rope beds were popular in the 1700s. This particular wood bed frame appears to be from a later period. Hanging on the wall to the right of the bed is a dulcimer, a string instrument that produces a delightful sound.



Dulcimers were used by 18th and 19th century Scot-Irish who settled in the Appalachian back country. Today, one can still hear the instrument played in rural parts of the Appalachians.



Stepping outside, we saw that the sun was nearing near its midday mark - a sign that we needed to leave these tranquil surroundings and drive farther along the spines of the Blue Ridge. It's hard to leave such a beautiful, peaceful place where it's so easy to glimpse the life our ancestors once lived. But we'll be back when the mountains call once more to us.



Photographs by ©2017 Cynthia Howerter




Award-winning author Cynthia Howerter grew up playing in Fort Rice, a Revolutionary War fort owned by family members, and lived on land in Pennsylvania once called home by 18th century Oneida Chief Shikellamy. Hunting arrowheads and riding horses at break-neck speed across farm fields while pretending to flee from British-allied Indians provided exciting childhood experiences for Cynthia and set the stage for a life-long love of all things historical. A descendant of a Revolutionary War officer and a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), history flows through Cynthia's veins.





24 comments:

  1. Great post, Cynthia! Wish we could have come with you! How was the color up there? Love the pictures and the details.

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    1. Carrie, you absolutely must join us on one of our day long drives on the Blue Ridge! There's nothing like it to get a glimpse of what the wilderness must have looked like to our ancestors.

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  2. Enjoyed the pictures and reading about your trip.

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    1. Thank you, Ann! How sweet of you to let me know. I hope you felt like you were right there with me.

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  3. Been here several times. One of our favorite places to visit.

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    1. Oh, Lisa! I'm so glad that you, too, know this wonderful place. It truly is a gem tucked on that beautiful mountain. Thank you so much for letting me know.

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  4. What a find! Great photos. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed the article, Pegg! I hope you get a chance to visit this little gem tucked away in the Blue Ridge.

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  5. I love reading about things like this - and love visiting places like this too. Thanks for the great post!
    susanlulu@yahoo.com

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  6. Hi, Susan! It's wonderful to know that others love these places as much as I do. I'm glad you enjoyed the article. Thank you so much for letting me know. I hope you have the opportunity to visit this little cabin. The scenery is beautiful.

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  7. My husband and I love taking scenic drives through the mountains. Point us in the direction of this cabin! :)

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    1. Hi, Anne! Thank you so much for reading the article and leaving a comment. Hubby and I get on the Blue Ridge Parkway at its beginning point near Waynesboro, VA, then head south. The farm is at Humpback Rocks Visitor Center on your right. Hope you enjoy the gorgeous scenery and the log cabin!

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  8. Thanks for sharing! Love the pictures! :)

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    1. Hi, Angela! You are so kind to let me know that you enjoyed the article and photos! Readers' comments serve as encouragement for writers - thank you.

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    1. Hi, Kim! How dear of you to let me know that you enjoyed this article! I so appreciate your comment - what great encouragement!

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  10. A treasure indeed. Thanks for sharing your visit there. I can't think of a better way to spend a fall day!

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    1. Hi, Carla! Isn't fall a wonderful time to get out of the house and seek beauty? So glad you enjoyed the article. We thoroughly enjoyed our day in the mountains.

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  11. Really enjoyed your post & pictures. Thanks for sharing.
    I love visiting places like this, although I don't get to very often
    Blessings, Tina

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    1. Oh, Mrs. Tina, thank you so much for letting me know that you enjoyed the article. Your comment means a lot to me and encourages me to find other gems that you and our Colonial Quills readers may enjoy.

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  12. I enjoyed your post and learning about things like the loopholes, etc.. And introducing me to your part of the country!

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    1. Hi, Deb! I'm so glad to hear that you enjoyed the article. Aren't loopholes interesting? My family owned a Revolutionary War fort made of stone that had loopholes on the second floor.

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  13. Wonderful photos Cynthia! I had just printed up information about the Daughter's of the
    American Revolution and was planning to read it soon! I love your post and I'm very interested in this time period. Congratulations on winning first place! I can't wait to see it in print!

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  14. Hi, Susan! It is wonderful to meet another person interested in the colonial period. It was such an exciting and interesting time in our country on so many levels. I really appreciate your encouraging words. By any chance do you belong to the DAR in Pennsylvania or Virginia?

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