Friday, August 17, 2012

Mr. Hotchkiss Rambles Part 3

Part 3

We saw a thunder storm below us, in the Valley, that evening, and looked over the fog, that wound through every nook in the morning. The sun rises here long before it does in the valley. The good housewife assured us that the frosts were often visible below when they had none, and the early vegetables were rarely injured by the “Spring frosts.” What charming summer homes might be found in these elevated regions for the dwellers in the cities and the lowlands of the South; the pure, dry atmosphere, invigorating with its ever breath; the sparkling, lively water; the glorious scenery; the abundance of sport for the angler, the hunter, and the student of nature; the soil, that under the hand of industry, would yield abundantly; and, above all, its nearness to the great lines of travel, (as it is not more than 15 or 20 miles to the Manassas Gap Railroad,) make this an inviting region to those looking for country summer houses. 

In the morning we concluded to go in the homeward direction, although the survey extends six miles father. We traveled along edge of the table land, went the whole length of the handle of the Tomahawk Mountain, some three miles, then went round the head of the Tomahawk to the level, finely timbered mountain plain, known as the “Head of the Rivers.” We rode the whole length of this level, sloping off gradually to the S.W., but abruptly to the N.E. Near the end of it, we reached the head spring of a branch of Dry River, where Col. H.[1] is clearing out a grazing farm, bought from the large tract. We stopped at the camp and took our “snack,” and friend E., whom we found there, kindly gave us oats for our horses; and as he was going out of mountains, we dismissed our guide, and followed him over valley and ridge, over hill-top and ledge. The view was very fine from many points. We found a large field on the top of Chestnut Ridge, in which E. said he once saw as fine a crop of wheat as ever grew. There is a very fine pond of water there. We diverged from the path to go to Bald Knob, through a dense mass of scrub oaks, to the no small peril of horse’s legs and men’s shins. The prospect from the point was quite a treat, and made us forget the “brushing” the buses gave us. We then passed along a connecting ridge, through a very fertile piece of land, with a fine spring, to the summit of Dictum’s Ridge, which is covered with very large timber, obstructing the view from the summit; but from Dennis’ Meadow,[2] on the Eastern side of Ridge, the view is magnificent, one of the most extensive in the State, I suppose, and fully up to the Peaks of Otter, in my opinion. The Peaks of Otter bound the view on the right, at the distance of nearly 80 miles, while the whole intervening valley and mountains are plainly visible; on the left it embraces the Valley to its end, some 70 miles, giving a view of the Blue Ridge for at least 140 miles. It is well worth a visit as the Peaks of Otter.

As the day was waning, we hurried on to Liberty Springs,[3] shared the hospitality of its private owners a short time, and then rode to Harrisonburg, where we arrived, quite late in the evening, and very much fatigued. We might say more, but we fear that the patience of both printer and reader is exhausted already.

Yours, &c., J.H. 

Stribling Springs,[4] Aug. 28, 1858
Mr. Hotchkiss' Ramble
Key To Mr. Hotchkiss' Ramble 
1. Rawley Springs8. Old Franklin/Winchester Rd.
2. Skidmore Fork9. Hall's Spring/Head of Dry River
3. Ruffner's Mtn. Foot Hotel10. Fulk Residence
4. Lawyer's Spring/Joseph Camp   11. Chestnut Ridge
5. Feed Stone Mtn.12. Bald Knob
6. Grassy Ridge (Brush Ridge)13. Dictum's Ridge
7. Tomahawk Mtn.14. Liberty Springs

[1] John H. Hopkins. Augustus Waterman convey to JHH, 182 acres on March 1854. RCBDB 26, 171. According to Ruffner by 1859 Hopkins owned 1000 acres.  
[2] Dennis. No record found in the Deed Books.  
[3] Liberty Springs. Local farmers built summer cabins for their families at this location. During the Civil War these owners destroyed their cabins to avoid them being used by Confederate deserters and draft dodgers. 
[4] Stribling Springs. A resort located in Augusta County north of Staunton.

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