RVF Summer 2015 Newsletter








The Rockfish Valley Foundation was founded in 2005. This is the tenth year of trails, seventh year of kite festival, third year of natural history center , first year of children’s nature trail and first few months of digesting the impact of the Dominion Resources Atlantic Coast Pipeline.  Read on…

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Here is how your Rockfish Valley Foundation is impacted by the current pipeline route.  Every one of these 7 layers is damaged:



The South Rockfish Rural Historic District

The Old Wintergreen Country Store

The Coleman Mills – Goodwin and Harris

The archeology of the Wintergreen Village

Historic Spruce Creek Bridge

151 Scenic Byway and view sheds

DGIF birding trails

and of course the Rockfish Valley Foundation Natural History Center, Spruce Creek Park along with  the economic and agricultural past, present and future of the Rockfish Valley are badly impacted.   Read More About these treasures below…

South Rockfish Rural Historic Distric

The South Rockfish Rural Historic District Celebrates our Neighborhood.

Check out the Virginia State Highway map.  Look for Wintergreen on Rt 151 South of Nellysford, VA.  I bet you thought that was the four season Wintergreen Resort.  No it’s the historic village of Wintergreen.  The general store from 1903 is where the Rockfish Valley Foundation (RVF) Natural History Center is located today. It was for many years the post office, voting precinct, dry goods, food stuffs, garden shop and ABC on and off.  It was the last of a succession of stores that served the Rockfish Valley and the Wintergreen Village.  Beginning in the early 1800s there were a succession of stores, mills, blacksmith, ordinary, distillery and residences.  There is strong evidence of a highly unique mill system here that consisted of at least two mills, two millponds and more than a mile of slave constructed mill traces, races and ponds.  This supported a prosperous economy. Recognition and archeology study is important.  Would you believe there are more than 106 historic properties in the historic district?  The forthcoming listing of the district on the Virginia Landmarks Register is the result of work begun in 2009 by RVF.  In 2014 Mary Ruffin Hanbury conducted a survey of the properties in the district thru a contract with the Virginia Department of Historic Resources.  RVF contributed $5000 to match a similar amount from the State.  Nelson County was the grant applicant. This spring, facilitated by RVF, Nelson County applied for a second grant. This time the county matched the funds from VA DHR.  A bid is being solicited to complete the district work.  The timeline for completion of the registration is by June 30 , 2016.  But the surprise is the mills.
 

Emmanuel Episcopal Church Summer Day Camp

Coleman Mills are confirmed at heart of Wintergreen Village. 

On June 7, archeologists Ben Ford and Carole Nash, accompanied by local historians Lou Southard, Gene Hughes, Liz Richardson and Peter Agelasto investigated a site along Spruce Creek within the old Wintergreen Village.  This group examined maps and deeds collected over some years by Liz Richardson.  A part time Wintergreen resident from Richmond, Liz has methodically researched Nelson Clerk’s office records for years.  What she presented was confirmed by he site a visit. The South Rockish Valley economy has always been agriculture based.  Even today it is cidery, wineries and breweries.  Separate mills have been known. The Goodwin Mill was on the land of River Bluff, now owned by Lou Southard and the Harris Mill was on former lands of Hawes Colman, now managed by the Rockfish Valley Foundation.  A startling discovery has been made.  Those two mills were not only owned and operated by the Coleman family for decades but their use of Spruce Creek was connected.  Highly significant is the fact that today there exists preserved remains of the foundation of the three story mill (see image painted by W D Wood in 1980s) mill traces running for more than a mile between upper pond and upper mill and then down to lower pond and lower mill at intersection of Glenthorne Loop and RT 151.  The success of the valley agriculture and the construction of these mills and their waterways depended upon the enslaved African American population.  Records at the Library of Virginia recognize that population must have been greater that 500 at the time these mills operated at their peak.  At that time the Coleman Family owned 22,000 acres including the Big Survey, now the Wintergreen Resort.
 
The investigative team had a great day and it is a privilege to share this discovery for the first time with you.  Archeology projects and other significant steps are being undertaken. As Paul Harvey said, now for page two: The Dominion Pipeline preferred route hits squarely at Spruce Creek, the historic Spruce Creek Bridge, the two mills and their mill traces, the heart of the South Rockfish Rural History District which is the old Wintergreen Village and the contributing lands of the Wintergreen Country Store, now the Rockfish Valley Foundation Natural History Center. Just as the professionals have confirmed this amazing finding, it is under threat of destruction.   We thought you should know.


Nelson Schools and the Rockfish Valley Foundation begin strategic plan.

 A plan is underway to connect the resources of the Rockfish Valley Foundation with the Nelson Public schools.  The photo above was taken at the end of a two hour discussion between Jeff Comer, Nelson County School superintendant, school principals and administrators with some members of the Rockfish Valley Foundation education committee on June 2.  This summer, a teacher intern will undertake to answer a series of questions and make recommendations on how the resources and exhibits at the natural history center can support our respective missions. We plant to create a liaison between the two; review goals and activities and field trips on both sides; focus on our resources both at the Natural History Center and outdoors; create Wednesday openings and docent capacity; plan activities & lessons for lower and upper elementary grades related to SOL objectives/teacher goals utilizing RVFNHC strengths,  materials, outdoor trails, etc. Please recognize Rochelle Aaronson Barbara Fuhrman, John Zawartsky, Margie Guiliano, Dan Johnson, Toni Baber and Michael Lachance and Betsy Agelasto for the hard work getting education to this point. 

Milkweed is blooming and we wait for the Monarch

 Come to the newly paved Children’s Nature Trail and watch what’s happening at our Milkweed patch.  Lincoln Brower has agreed to speak at the RVFNHC in the early fall.  A new milkweed exhibit in the center consists of materials such as milkweed pods, mounted butterflies, a cool video, photos taken by Lincoln in Mexico and a panel of story boards from the VA Museum of Natural History telling the incredible story of the monarch.  Plant milkweed wherever you can.  More to come….


Two Picnic Tables to be built at Nelson High School are up for adoption.

 Ed McCann is the head of shop at Nelson High School  He has been a friend of the Rockfish Valley Trails since 2005.  His students have built 4 hexagonal picnic tables over the years.  We want two more and he has agreed to undertake their construction as a high school project.  We will pay for the materials. BUT we need people to adopt the tables. Donation requested – $500.  They  will be placed within Spruce Creek Park or on the Rockfish trails.   They are  built of kiln dried treated high grade pine.  They are fabulous. 
 
Feel free to donate, feel free to walk the trails , feel free to visit the Natural History Center, feel free to volunteer .   We never charge. It’s for the community.
 
 

We ARE NOT KIDDING – 2000 Attended the 7th Annual Kite Festival! 

 Betsy and Peter Agelasto were not there as their son Parker and Katherine Blackburn were married on the Saturday April 11.  But most everyone else was!  2000 people, perfect winds, lots of sunshine and RVF gave away over 300 kites.  This was the 7th annual festival.t  It was supported by merchants on RT 151 from Devils Backbone to Blue Ridge Brewery.  Please support them. The bad news is that the proposed route of the pipeline goes directly over the kite festival site which is owned by John Washburn part of Bold Rock.  So it may be the last.  No matter we will start planning for next year.  Let us know if you wish to be part of the committee that reviews how we did this year.
 
 

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