Thursday, July 27, 2006

Bluemont has to be one of the prettiest places on earth. Steeped in civil war history it is unfortunately on the verge of being built out like the rest of Loudon County and turning into a Washington DC exurb. You can still feel the old south when you wander through town though. A brief history of the town, excerpted here, can be found on the bluemontfair.com web site. I recommend a trip to the fair; last year I spent an hour speaking to a woman about spinning wool and also had a great time discussing the trials and tribulations of raising llamas and alpacas. Mark Zalewski, my father-in-law and his brother Andy put together a model train exhibit that recreates in model form the exact train line that ran to town from the Civil War up until the 1950s. There is also a chili cook-off, a tractor pull and an invite only kegger/BBQ on Saturday night in the middle of town. Usually a live blues band plays on the porch. Yeee haw!
“In 1769, the land on which Bluemont lies was conveyed to John Augustine Washington, from George Carter who had received a land patent from Lord Fairfax. Washington, in turn, conveyed 624 acres to Edward Snickers. Snickers sold to Richard Wistar of Philadelphia in 1777, and Wistar sold to William Clayton whose son Amos Clayton built splendid Clayton Hall at the side of the Snickersville Turnpike in 1797.

In 1807, when Snickers operated a ferry across the Shenandoah River, the area was called Snickers Gap. The settlement became known as Snickersville as an act of the Virginia General Assembly in 1826. In 1853, Snickersville contained “fifteen dwelling houses, one house of public worship, one common school, one Masonic hall, two factories, one tailor, one wagon maker, three blacksmiths, and one copper and tin plate worker.”

When the Civil War descended, a skirmish occurred right in the village when the Yankees, in search of some good home cooking, met up with a Confederate band. Then, by the late 19th century, the Washington and Old Dominion Railroad extended its service to Snickersville. As part of its promotion of the town as a vacation resort at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the railroad initiated a name-change to Bluemont, capitalizing on the cool ridges away from the Washington heat.

Between 1900 and 1905, the E.E. Lake Store was built to accommodate an ice cream parlor, a general store, a barbershop, the post office, and a meeting and dance hall upstairs. Buggy rides transported visitors to Bear’s Den to view the valley. Drummers took meals at Mrs. Weadon’s: fried chicken, country ham, fresh vegetables, hot rolls, pies, buttermilk or sweet milk – all for 50 cents.

The Bluemont Citizens Association was organized in 1955 and the Fair in 1970 to celebrate those eras of our history. An industrious, innovative people, Bluemonters are looking to the new century with renewal in mind while also glancing back to appreciate the contributions of those who found life close to idyllic here at the foot of the Blue Ridge. “

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