The three restless spirits of Sarah, Will, and Clem

Posted by Dave Tabler | October 16, 2014

The city of Ringgold, GA sponsors tours of its train depot each Halloween based on ‘The Legend of the Haunted Depot:’

Clem and Will Jackson grew up in Ringgold doing all the things brothers did, swimming in the Chickamauga Creek, hunting in the woods, and generally enjoying the pleasures of young men in the Old South.

The boys were very close and never imagined the War would separate them. However; Clem, the younger brother, was anxious to join the fighting, but his father refused him permission. In order to join in the Confederate fight, Clem ran off to Alabama and joined the 33rd Alabama Regiment. The 33rd Alabama Infantry Regiment was officially organized and outfitted in Pensacola, Florida in April 1862.

After dismounting heavy artillery from obsolete Fort McRee, the Regiment was sent to Corinth, Mississippi, arriving just after the Battle of Shiloh. Its baptism under fire occurred at Perryville, Kentucky in October, 1862 where it captured a battery, but suffered heavy casualties, including every field officer.

Ringgold Haunted DepotThe next month the Army of Tennessee was organized, and the history of this great army is the history of the 33rd. The Regiment was placed in General Patrick Cleburne’s Division, and contributed to his reputation of possessing the best assault troops in the Army of Tennessee. The 33rd drove the enemy before it in Hardee’s dawn assault at Murfreesboro; it prevailed against the 6th Indiana at Chickamauga; it helped hold the flank at Missionary Ridge; and it helped bring the Federal pursuit to a bloody end at Ringgold Gap.

In the three years Clem was gone, Will fell in love and married Sarah Johnson, a great friend of Clem’s. Although newly married, because the Confederate cause became so desperate, Will felt compelled to enlist under the command of General Patrick Cleburne.

Sarah corresponded with Clem throughout the War and wrote him telling about her marriage to Will and of his enlistment. The two brothers were reunited during the War, but were both tragically killed at the Battle of Ringgold Gap, so close to home. Their bodies were never properly buried, so their spirits were doomed to roam the earth forever.

Unaware that her beloved had been so close, Sarah waited and met every returning troop train hoping to be reunited with her husband and her friend. Upon hearing the news of their death, Sarah took her own life by sneaking into the Depot in the dark of the night and hanging herself. Because she had taken her own life, Sarah also was doomed to roam the earth without rest. The three restless spirits of Sarah, Will, and Clem finally found each other and made the Depot their home.

More than a hundred years had passed when construction workers found Clem’s body at Ringgold Gap and gave him a proper burial, freeing his spirit to ascend. Left behind, the spirits of Sarah and Will roam the streets of Ringgold in search of Clem. Legend has it that on a dark moonlit night Sarah can be seen standing on the back deck at the Depot watching for the brother that Will refuses to leave.


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Book Excerpt: ‘Memory of a Miner’

Posted by Dave Tabler | October 15, 2014

Dr Michael W RuthPlease welcome guest author Dr. Michael Ruth. Dr. Ruth has just released Memory of a Miner: A True-Life Story from Harlan County’s Heyday. This book is the story of his dad’s life as an old-time coal miner in “bloody Harlan” (Harlan County, KY) in the early to mid 1900s, told in his own words and dialect.

“Reading the book,” says Dr. Ruth, “is somewhat akin to listening to a captivating storyteller tell some very intriguing – yet true – tales from a first-hand account of life in a southern Appalachian mining town.”

After earning a Doctor of Philosophy degree from Oxford Graduate School, Dayton, TN, Dr. Ruth went on to publish his first book, Shadow Work: A New Guide to Spiritual and Psychological Growth, in 1999. Since then he has written on the subject of personal growth, as well as the developmental stages of childhood. He is on the book review board for The Family, a professional family therapy journal. Dr. Ruth is a counselor/psychotherapist, in private practice for more than 23 years. We’re pleased to present this excerpt from Memory of a Miner:


Dad grew from child to adolescent while living in Draper. These were the years of the Great Depression (though Dad’s running joke was “I never could figure out what was so great about it!”). The Depression years were hard for Dad. He would often say, “The Democrats blamed Hoover and the Republicans blamed Roosevelt. I don’t know who it was, but somebody liked to starved me to death!”

3D Book Cover-Virtue

Necessity brought creativity, and Dad found a way to get a little money in his pocket while a Depression-era boy in Draper. A neighbor woman would frequently give Dad money to go to the store and buy her fifty cents worth of new potatoes. Dad would pocket the fifty cents and go to a nearby potato patch a man owned and stealthily dig up roughly fifty cents worth of new potatoes.

He would clean them good, put them in a “poke” and take them to the neighbor, fifty cents the richer!

Dad caught and ate a lot of fish during the Depression. He didn’t need a fishing rod, he would just cut him a sapling for that, and make him a “fishin’ pole.” But tackle was costly and he either didn’t have or didn’t want to waste money on that. Ingenious, even when young, he would make a hook out of a safety pin and would plait sewing thread for line. Dad says:

Buddy, that was hard fishin’. Of course a safety pin don’t have a barb on it like a hook and wasn’t strong metal, and that sewin’ thread was easy to break. You had to really work a fish to get it in!

Nobe Farley was the night watchman at the mines. Me and him had us a deal. I’d catch him a mess of fish when I was a-catchin’ mine, and he’d give me enough grease [lard] to fry mine in. We’d trade fish for grease, you see. I was about twelve or fourteen at the time.

To his dying day Dad absolutely hated to wait in line for anything, and he simply would not do it at all if avoidable. Here’s why:

In the Depression we’d get commodities. Word would get out that they was a load of commodities comin’ in. They’d ship ‘em to the depot in Harlan, you see. They’d come in maybe every two or three weeks, I think. I don’t remember now. Everybody down through there from Harlan to Evarts would take off to Harlan, buddy. We’d walk down there, walk from Draper to Harlan. It’s about eight miles.

You’d finally get there and Lord have mercy they’d be a big line. I’ve lined up from up past the New Harlan Theater [South Main Street] just to get in line. That line would go from there, down across the bridge, to that big building there on the right [Hackney Distributors] close to the railroad crossin’. That buildin’ is where they’d give out the commodities. I’d say that line would be about a quarter of a mile!

Carl Ruth as a young man. Courtesy the author.

Carl Ruth as a young man. Courtesy the author.

When you finally got in the building you’d get the allotment of whatever stuff they had. You didn’t pass on nothin’, buddy! I carried mine home in a grass [burlap] sack I’d bring with me. Once I got what I could, I’d take off a-walkin’ then, them eight miles back home. We walked the tracks most of the time, you see, for that was the shortest distance. It’d cut out all them hills and curves.

They’s been many a time I’ve got right up there near the door, buddy, and they’d be give out of stuff. See, they’d just have so much of this or that – fruit, rice, cheese, powdered milk, dried beans, sugar, flour, meal, stuff like that – and when they give out of each of what they had, well, that was that! They’d be run out. They’d say come back on such-and such a day and we’ll have more in. They’d just give out. You’ve walked all that way and pulled that long line for nothin’! That’s why I say, buddy, I ain’t standin’ in no more lines! I’ve pulled that shift! [In the last quarter of his life, Dad hated to go to a restaurant for lunch after church. There is usually a line to stand in.]

You could tell when they’d give out grapefruit. [He starts laughing as he tells this, recalling memories.] You’d see a few hulls scattered here and there as you walked back home. The further you got, the deeper them grapefruit hulls got along there. People’d get tempered to ‘em, you see. We didn’t eat a lot of grapefruit up in there and it took ‘em one or two to get tempered to ‘em. Once they did, they’d just eat the whole bag! You could tell when they’d eat up all the grapefruit because the hulls would go to thinning out along the track or road again til they was plumb gone, buddy!

I asked what he would do if he got near the building and they had run out of everything? Dad laughingly says, “You’d just turn and walk sadly away.”

Following is another of those stories which shows the better angels of Dad’s nature. He was about thirteen at the time of its unfolding.

Later on they got to deliverin’ the commodities to the Evarts depot, so those of us that lived down that way didn’t have to make that long haul afoot into Harlan. When they come in, I’d walk to the depot from Draper [about a mile] and get mine. I’d bring it home in a grass sack just like I did when I’d go to Harlan.

Our neighbor was Paris Parr. He was in his mid-thirties and he was crippled and couldn’t walk. He couldn’t get out to get his commodities. Well, when I got back with mine, I’d then go get his identification card [required, or one could simply loop through the line two or three times] and then head back to the Evarts depot to pick his up for him.

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The Great Pandemic of 1918, part 2

Posted by Dave Tabler | October 14, 2014


1918 Spanish flu victimsKENTUCKY: On October 6, the Kentucky State Board of Health announced the closing of “all places of amusement, schools, churches and other places of assembly.”

Because they were almost certainly simply overwhelmed with combating the disease, Kentucky officials did not even report influenza cases to the U.S. Public Health Service until late October. Likewise in Alabama: it is impossible to know for sure exactly how many Alabamans were affected by the flu, since regular reports to the U.S. Public Health Service were never made.

At that point, KY state officials reported more than 5,000 cases of the flu. Over the next three weeks, they reported over 8,000 more.

In Pike County, KY, a miner named Teamus Bartley called the epidemic “The saddest lookin’ time then that ever you saw in your life.”

He and his brother worked at a coal mine when his brother’s entire family came down with the disease. Teamus visited his brother every night, and reported on what he saw:

“…every, nearly every porch, every porch that I’d look at had–would have a casket box a sittin’ on it. And men a diggin’ graves just as hard as they could and the mines had to shut down there wasn’t a nary a man, there wasn’t a, there wasn’t a mine arunnin’ a lump of coal or runnin’ no work. Stayed that away for about six weeks.”

Teamus later said that each night, he saw four or five miners and family members die in the camps.

VIRGINIA: John Brinkley, a sharecropper in Max Meadows, VA, believed that “a little fresh air could be fatal.” So he sealed his family in his living room around a fire in a wood stove. For seven days the family remained in the room with the fire. On the eighth day, the house caught fire and the Brinkleys were forced to evacuate. By mid-October, Virginia had seen more than 200,000 cases of influenza. By the end of the year, more than 15,000 Virginians would die.

WEST VIRGINIA: Charleston saw its first cases of influenza on September 28th when 7 cases occurred. Over the next five weeks, there were more than 2,300 cases, and more than 200 deaths.

More cases followed, but they were not recorded. Around the middle of November, Charleston authorities stopped reporting to the U.S. Public Health Service. It’s likely that they were simply too overwhelmed.

In Martinsburg, WV, so many people were either sick themselves or were caring for people suffering that a local committee estimated that only two out of every ten people were able to attend to their normal duties.

Gravediggers could not keep up with the demands for their services in Martinsburg. For several weeks, gravediggers maintained a backlog of at least two-dozen graves, which needed to be dug each day.

Burials themselves were quick. Funerals were banned, as were all other public meetings, churches were closed and theaters were shut.

The local Martinsburg newspaper published a list of “Some Don’ts that Should be Followed: Don’t Worry, Stop Talking about it, Stop Thinking about it, Avoid People who have it.”

Such Don’ts were hard to do. For instance, a James Horvatt was brought to trial before the Martinsburg-area county court on September 27, 1918 for allegedly forging a $40 check. Horvatt had contracted the flu while in jail waiting his trial, and was very ill from the disease when he appeared in court.

The disease spread among those who were in the courtroom with him that day. Three lawyers who engaged in proceedings contracted influenza and died within three days after Horvatt’s trial was concluded. Three others, the judge, the county clerk and the assistant prosecuting attorney in the Horvatt case, all contracted the disease and came close to death. So did their immediate families.

It was said that nearly every family lost someone. One family that experienced such a loss was that of an infant who would grow up to become one of the Nation’s longest-serving Senators. The mother of Senator Robert Byrd was actually a North Carolinian. She died of influenza when he was just one year old, and an aunt and uncle from West Virginia took him in.

MARYLAND: By September 28th, more than 1,700 cases were reported across the state. In Cumberland, 41% of the population became ill. City officials converted buildings on the city’s main street into emergency hospitals but there were only three nurses to staff these hospitals. Officials asked the Maryland Board of Health for additional nurses but the nurses never appeared.

OHIO: The state outlawed spitting. Influenza was not confined to the cities. Rural communities across the state also experienced high rates of influenza as well as significant numbers of deaths from influenza or pneumonia. By the last week of October, Ohio reported 125,000 cases of the Spanish flu. That week, more than 1,500 Ohioans died.

By the end of December 1918, the worst was over.


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New Documentary Film: “Earl Hamner Storyteller”

Posted by Dave Tabler | October 13, 2014

Please welcome guest authors Michael McGreevey, Ray Castro & Tim McAbee. McGreevey—actor, director, producer, writer, and life-long friend of Earl Hamner and his family–has joined Castro and McAbee to produce a documentary about Hamner. Earl Hamner Storyteller explores the life and works of one of America’s best writers. For over seventy years Earl’s writing has entertained and inspired people all over the world. Their mutual respect and admiration for Mr. Hamner’s writing is what brought the three producers together for the project.


Producers Michael McGreevey, Ray Castro, Earl Hamner and Tim McAbee at the Waltons Mountain Museum in Schuyler, VA.

Producers Michael McGreevey, Ray Castro, Earl Hamner and Tim McAbee at the Waltons Mountain Museum in Schuyler, VA.


This documentary film celebrates Earl Hamner the man, the storyteller, and how he has enriched our lives through his writing. A diverse group of actors, directors, producers, family and friends have all come together to share their memories of Earl Hamner, Jr. and of working on various shows and movies he has written. Television shows including The Twilight Zone, Falcon Crest, Appalachian Autumn, Nanny and the Professor and The Waltons are highlighted. Movies such as Spencer’s Mountain, Palm Springs Weekend, Heidi and Charlotte’s Web are also included.

Earl Hamner’s family was the model for The Waltons television show. The character of John-Boy was based on Earl, the oldest of eight children. It is Earl’s voice that we hear as the narrator at the beginning and at the end of each episode. “There were eight of us,” Earl recalls. “Tall, lean, fine-boned, red-headed youngsters growing up in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia during the Depression. My father called us ‘his thoroughbreds,’ and put us on a pedestal. CBS called us The Waltons, and put us on television.”

In the film, Earl travels back to his childhood home in Schuyler, VA to visit with his siblings. He takes us to one of his fishing holes, to the Baptist Church he attended as a youngster, and to several other special places. Actors including Richard Thomas, Susan Sullivan, Judy Norton, Carole Cook, Michael Learned, James Best, Mary McDonough, Bill Mumy, Eric Scott, Lorenzo Lamas, Ronnie Claire Edwards, Veronica Cartwright and many others who worked with Earl, share their comments and great stories about him.

Earl back home in his Schuyler, VA bedroom writing in his journal.

Earl back home in his Schuyler, VA bedroom writing in his journal.

Doris and Earl Sr. strongly encouraged all the children in their growing family to excel, and Earl Jr. became interested in writing at an early age.

He was writing his numbers at the age of two and reading at four. His poem “My Dog” was published on the children’s page of the Richmond Times-Dispatch when he was six. Earl claims he knew from that day he’d become a writer.

Schuyler was a company town, the home of The Alberene Stone Corporation, which quarried and milled soapstone. “Our town was located in that part of the Blue Ridge known as The Ragged Mountains,” says Earl. “We were six miles from Route 29, the main artery connecting the great cities of the north to the south. We reached 29 along a country road, the most beautiful stretch of rural road known to man, the Rockfish River Road.

“We lived in company-built houses and bought our goods from the company store. Schuyler had been a prosperous little village, but, when the Great Depression came, the mill closed. My father found work in Waynesboro and could only be home with his family on holidays and weekends. We missed him, and, on Fridays, even before the sun went down, my mother could be seen at the window looking down the road.”

Poster highlights Earl Hamner's boyhood home in Schuyler, VA, where he first put pencil to paper and began the journey that forever enriched our lives with his inspirational writing.

Poster highlights Earl Hamner’s boyhood home in Schuyler, VA, where he first put pencil to paper and began the journey that forever enriched our lives with his inspirational writing.

Earl Hamner’s boyhood home in Schuyler, VA, is where he put pencil to paper and began the journey that forever enriched our lives with his inspirational writing.

Michael McGreevey, one of the producers of the film, recalls one of his favorite experiences during the filming. “On our recent visit together to his hometown of Schuyler, VA, Earl Hamner taught me the fine art of ‘porch-sitting.’ The key is to relax, take your time, savor the moment. The silences are just as important as the conversation. Sitting with me on the porch of his family’s home, Earl reminisced about the many evenings he spent there with his parents and siblings.”

His talent for storytelling was certainly developed and nurtured on that porch as he would listen to his father, grandmother, uncles, and family friends entertain one another with tales about their life experiences in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Years later, Earl would write “porch-sitting” scenes into the storylines of The Waltons, such as the very memorable episodes “The Achievement” and “Grandma Comes Home.”

“I was raised on folk songs and folk stories,” says Earl, “and I suppose it was inevitable that this kind of material worked its way into my writing.”

“Virginia Dreams, they always take me back
Virginia Dreams, there’s no other place like that
No matter where life takes me or how far away it seems
I keep going back to my Virginia Dreams”

– Jimmy Fortune/ Justin Peters, songwriters

In the documentary, another legendary Nelson County native, Country/Gospel artist Jimmy Fortune (formerly of The Statler Brothers), pays tribute by performing and dedicating the song “Virginia Dreams” to Earl.

“When I was growing up in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia during the Great Depression,” Earl observes, “we always had friends and neighbors stopping by. My mother or father would meet them at the door and say: ‘Come on in and sit till bedtime!’”

Earl, Paul, Audrey and Nancy Hamner welcomed our crew into their childhood home and shared their memories of growing up in this house. Later, our filming wrapped appropriately with the Hamner siblings saying “GOODNIGHT” to each other as they did so many years before. Viewers of The Waltons are very familiar with this iconic closing to each episode, which was a nightly ritual at the Hamner home.

From left to right, Paul Hamner, Earl Hamner and son Scott Hamner, Audrey Hamner and Nancy Jamerson.

From left to right, Paul Hamner, Earl Hamner and son Scott Hamner, Audrey Hamner and Nancy Jamerson.

“The Conflict” episode of The Waltons originally aired September 12, 1974. Written by Jeb Rosebrook and directed by Ralph Senensky, this episode is still one of the most popular of the series. It tells the story of how Aunt Martha Corinne Walton’s home is in danger of being torn down because of the right-of-way for the Blue Ridge Parkway. The entire Walton family comes to her aid and tries to stop the construction.

In reality, many families in the area were forcefully evicted from their mountain homes in the Blue Ridge to pave the way for the Skyline Drive. In the early years of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s first term as president, the Blue Ridge Parkway was designed to run from the southern end of Skyline Drive at Rockfish Gap, Virginia, into North Carolina and, in Virginia, was a part of the Shenandoah National Forest. Work was done by the Works Progress Administration, the Emergency Relief Administration and the Civilian Conservation Corps.

In the documentary, Jeb Rosebrook recalls writing this episode and also shares comments about his long friendship with Earl: “In the summer of 1952, while working for the Buildings and Grounds Department at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, a coworker told me the story of his family having been forcefully evicted from their mountain home in the Blue Ridge to pave the way for the Skyline Drive.

“Twenty years later when I remembered this story, a mountain matriarch named Martha Corinne came to mind (I named her after two of my aunts). She was magnificently portrayed by Beulah Bondi, and the honesty of the story was made possible in part by research provided by Earl Hamner’s mother. All in all this was a special writing experience, one that went so beautifully from the page to film.”

Richard Thomas

Richard Thomas

In EARL HAMNER STORYTELLER, Richard Thomas’ genuine love for Earl, as well as his Walton siblings, was evident as he talked with the crew, mentioning favorite episodes and guest stars. Thomas discussed his decision to leave the show after five years, when his original contract expired and his theater roots were calling him to broaden his horizons.

It is a decision he does not regret, although he did miss his Walton family and was delighted to reprise his role as John-Boy in the reunion movies. He still keeps framed mementos from his last episode. Richard also discussed how Earl’s writing touched his life beyond portraying him as John-Boy.

“I have to say that no one—I’ve been doing this now for 55, 56 years and there’s not another single person, anywhere, with us or no longer with us—that has contributed more to my life as an artist, as an actor, who’s given me greater opportunities. To provide an actor with a role like John-Boy is a greater gift than you can possibly know. It’s a gift that I still appreciate till this day and I always will. I can never thank you enough.”

In the closing narration of “The Achievement” episode, Earl says, “I did leave Walton’s Mountain to live and work in New York City. I wrote more novels and raised a family of my own. Today, we live in California, but no matter where I am, the call of a night bird, the rumble of a train crossing a trestle, the scent of crab apple, the lowing of a sleepy cow can call me home again. In memory I stand before that small white house, and I can still hear those sweet voices.”

It has been a year-long labor of love and we’re happy to report that the EARL HAMNER STORYTELLER documentary has been filmed. Many of you have asked when and where the documentary will be available. The film has entered post production and we will have more information about its availability in the near future. Some of you have asked how you can be involved in the project and offered your support. You can get involved; have a look at our IndieGoGo page.  We greatly appreciate your help.

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A People Of The Land

Posted by Dave Tabler | October 10, 2014

GrayFamilyPlease welcome guest author Marcus B. Gray. Gray is a wildlife biologist by training. He now serves as the Executive Director of the New River-Highlands Resource Conservation & Development Council in Southwest Virginia. His 4th Great Grandfather, James Gray, settled on productive farms in Russell County, Virginia after marrying Elizabeth Doran in old Augusta County, Virginia in 1787.  


Over the years, many authors have written about how the rugged landscape of Appalachia has shaped the local people—their physical features, music, language, customs and more. It is well documented, even if controversial. The impact Appalachian people have had on America as a whole from the time of European settlement is also a popular topic.

If you doubt the musical tradition remains strong today, look no farther than the recent success of Dolly Parton’s albums at Cracker Barrel stores or Anna Kendrick’s “Cups,” a 2013 hit cover of the Carter Family song, “When I’m Gone” (1931).

The link between Appalachian people and the land they call home is equally as strong and has been for centuries. Few other areas of the United States have a local population with as intimate an ecological knowledge and sense of place. However, just like the abandoned boomtowns, overgrown homesteads and diluting accents, the environment of the mountains is under threat of degradation and thus being lost to time.

There are numerous groups and entities working to preserve the culture of the region, boost tourism, improve economic conditions and conserve natural resources. Opportunities exist for partnerships, especially those unexplored for reasons such as politics or seemingly disparate mission statements. The culture fostered by the land cannot continue without the land. Skills passed down through the generations that helped folks forge a living in remote hollers are baseless if not rooted in a region with an intact rural character. Organizations must collaborate to enhance the positive influence natural resources have on communities.

The New River-Highlands Resource Conservation & Development Council (RC&D) is an organization that works toward a vision of a prosperous, modern, rural community living in harmony with the environment. Think of that vision like living off the grid on a homestead, but with high-speed internet. There’s no reason you can’t preserve traditional skills AND have indoor plumbing. Incorporating new technologies while preserving traditions is how our ancestors operated.

There just isn’t a need to “sell the homeplace and move to town” to make a living. A wholesale migration to an urban lifestyle is what created the rampant Nature Deficit Disorder we see across the country. Providing training to new farmers is the first step in maintaining open space while offering quality agricultural products to consumers. Southwest Virginia, like other parts of Appalachia, is poised to shift into a new economy. There are ways to promote economic growth and diversification while conserving the natural resources of working landscapes. As coal and tobacco-related jobs decline in the portion of Southwest Virginia that we serve, we must begin to think about different employment options in the future.

Some ideas beyond tourism include sound forest management, sustainable agriculture and local artisan products. New farm income in the form of market generation, area-adapted crops and production improvements are underway. It’s time to give back to the land that has given us so much.

As a true equal opportunity provider the RC&D has projects that cater to people interested in livestock, water quality, forest fire prevention, locally grown food, trails and alternative energy! Below are a few of our on-going projects:


Stream Bank Stabilization

stream bank stabilization

The New River Stream Bank Restoration project will address stream bank and channel erosion in the New River and Holston River Watershed. This is accomplished with a series of demonstrations that will focus on stream bank stabilization and channel stabilization as a means to reduce sediment pollutants in streams. The project will focus on new best management practices, such as stream barbs or deflectors, stream bank toe protection, J hooks, and vegetative controls such as cedar tree revetments, bio logs, sloping, shaping and establishment of vegetation. Conventional practices will be used where the other alternatives may not work.

Partners: Soil & Water Conservation Districts, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Department of Conservation & Recreation, MapTech

Action: Implement stream bank stabilization projects on 10 sites.


School Walking Trail

School walking trail

The Council is assisting the Carroll County School System with the development of the final grant application for a walking trail at the Hillsville Elementary School. Funded by a $97,000 grant from Department of Conservation & Recreation Trails Grant, this project will establish approximately 3 miles of trails with about ¾ mile being handicap accessible.

Partners: Department of Conservation & Recreation, Carroll County Schools

Action: Assist Carroll County School System with the final grant submission.


Total Maximum Daily Load Initiative

Holston River map

The Upper Middle Fork Holston River TMDL Plan Implementation project addresses bacteria pollution from direct livestock access and runoff from pasture land; bacteria from straight pipes, failing septic systems and pet waste. Water quality is impacted by bacteria from agricultural, human and pet waste and requires a reduction of all direct livestock access and straight pipes to meet the water quality standards.

This project targets the upper reaches of the watershed Virginia Stream O03R-01 above the Atkins sampling station for agriculture practices and address human and pet waste in Virginia Stream O03R-01 and Virginia Stream O03R-02 the entire watershed above the Town of Marion. Monitoring will be conducted to track the effectiveness of the best management practices on pollutants reduction, by monitoring pre- and post installation of best management practices. The selected watersheds will be targeted with an outreach and education program including one on one contact with landowners to recruit participants. The project partners include Evergreen Soil & Water Conservation District, Big Walker Soil & Water Conservation District, Virginia Health Department, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Mt. Rodgers Regional Planning District and the Southeast Rural Community Assistance Project.

Partners: Evergreen Soil & Water Conservation District, Department of Environmental Quality, Natural Resources Conservation Service

Action: Implement project with Evergreen Soil & Water Conservation District.


Farmers Market Assistance

farmers market

The Council works with the Wytheville Farmers Market Advisory Committee to secure funding to operate the Wytheville Farmers Market and serve as the fiscal agent for the Wytheville Farmers Market.

Partners: Wytheville Farmers Market Committee, City of Wytheville, Wythe County, Wythe-Bland Community Foundation


Greenway Development

greenway trail

The RC&D Council will assist the Rocky Gap Greenway Committee with the development of Virginia Department of Forestry Urban Community Forestry Grant proposal to assist with the development of the greenway to include tree identification signage and other urban forestry practices.

Partners:  Virginia Department of Forestry; Rocky Gap Greenway Committee; Bland County; Wythe/Bland Foundation; Virginia Cooperation Extension Service; Big Walker Soil and Water Conservation District; Landowners

The RC&D is always looking to collaborate with like-minded organizations and individuals. To find out how you can contribute, visit our website or connect with the Council on Facebook and Twitter.

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