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Rural Retreat times. [volume] (Rural Retreat, Va.) 1892-1918, December 20, 1895, Image 1

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Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn95079025/1895-12-20/ed-1/seq-1/

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NO. 43.
^C^URAL RETREAT, located in the
extreme western end of Wythe
v> county and the highest point on
the Norfolk and Western Railroad
from Norfolk to New Orleans, is a town
of no mean proportions. The volume of
its business is astonishing, but when you
travel over the fertile and productive
lands that surround her, you can read
ily see the reason for her prosperity and
grand possibilities. We shall but briefly
touch upon the past of our town, for
we are in the present, fighting and strug
gling for a brighter future.
The first postoffice of the name was
and stability and you will find the lm- I
print of these qualities of our mountains |
stamped on their very souls. Not all of
the peaks of our mountains are equally
beautiful and symetrical; so with our
people. Si me are rich in mental at
tainments add those liner graces of the
soul, making beautifully rounded char
acters, whilst others, like the rugged
cliffs, are devoid of all beauty and chal
lenge your admiration simply from their
uncouthness and desperation.
So much for the mountains. How wa
love them. Drifting you say? Well,
here’s back to facts and figures.
Our place grew from a hamlet to a
village and then to i*B present propor
tions in rapid succession and is now lirst
feeling the glow of manhood and touched
some two miles northeast of our town in
the home of Dr. Jno. Straw, the first
postmaster. This was in the days of
the stage coach and that was a relay
station and many bright and amusing
stones could be told in connection with
that old hcstlery.
Time drrgged its slow length along
: nd our State was traversed by the now
Norfolk and Western Railrord. What
is now Rural Retreat was then called
Mt. Airy and known by that name until
General Mabone, in his palmy days, had
it changed to Rural Retreat. ’Twas then
a mere hamlet with hero and there a
farm house and the only way to get from
one to the other, through the woodlands
filled with underbrush, was by keeping
to the paths made by the milch cows as
they passed to and fro from the barns to
the spots where grew the choicest herb
Years passed by bringing their joys
and complement of sorrows. The sons of
these sturdy farmers grew to men;
schools were more abundant and they
learned that life was larger and brighter
than it had ever appeared to their
fathers. Each succeeding year brought,
more enlightenment and to so energetic <
a people as ours giving them knowledge
was like putting the best of tools in the i
hands of skilled mechanics. What they
did and are doing, is simply marvelous.
Much, we think, is also due to the influ
ence of the grand old mountains that
are about us and who lift their heads
high above the smaller hills and low
lying valleys that surround them. Our
people, living in their very midst,
breath in from infancy their grandeur
and sublimity. In early youth they be
come imbued with the idea of loftiuess
with the desire to do and be something.
Our town now numbers nearly 800 and
we have the busiest people under the
eun as inhabitants. We know of but
one habitual loafer. Our business men
have no time for idleness and the man
of many and long winded stories does not
thrive here. Ho cannot often find an au
dience; so from lack of congenial souls,
he and the incorrigible loafer heave a
sigh and move on.
We would not convey the idea that
our people are inhospitable or unsocial;
far from it. They throw their whole be
ing into their work and when it is time
for entertaining and being entertained
they are equally as active. We are not
a passive people, but active—terribly so
If you are that kind of a man we want
you and you will be at home here, other
wise you will be as miserable as a lost
soul gazing into paradise.
Our county is rich in anything. Farm
ing lands in their virgin freshness, tim
bers, minerals, metals—all are here in
the greatest abundance only awaiting
fuller development. Muuh has been
done in that line. Yet greater things
are in store for Wythe. We have the
same formation as underlies the famous
blue grass region of Kentucky and all
cereals do well here. Where can you
find such a county; such a people?
The goddess Ceres, could have wished
for no more desirable spot than this.
The choicest blue grass is found every
where, on our mountains, as well as in
our valleys. Farming is the chief occu
pation cf our people and to judge from
jthe many handsome country houses that
are around Rural Retreat is proof suffi
cient that they do not labor in vain, but
find a lucrative business in tilling so
productive a soil. Horses, sheep, hogs
and cattle are not neglected, but are all
of a high breed. One big advantage we
have is that our farms are small and
well cultivated and the output is not all
consumed by the expenses, therefore
the grazing of stock is not such a fea
ture with us as in some of our adjoining
counties. I
The cut we give of our town cl >es not
do it justice. Our location is such that
it is well nigh impossible to show her
in a picture as ehe is. V/o arc a long
town, yet gradually but rapidly filling
up and that, too, with a desirable people
and first class grade of buildings.
The position from which tho view is
taken is southwest and looking north
east, the conformation of tho ground
here is such that we, while on tho sum
mit, are still surrounded by hills and
our best buildings and business part; of
the town cannot bo shown in a single
cut. To the east and west of this view
are some of the finest houses we have.
Tho west, like all towns, has im
proved more rapidly than the east and
the buildings erected are of a high grade.
We regret that we cannot show every
one for they are homes that are beauti
ful and homelike and are true exponents
o: the spirit of a fine and cultured
Due to the wisdom and foresight of
Mr. Soloman Buck, who owned nearly
all the land adjacent to the station,
small bits of land were not easily se
cured and we have him to thank for the
scarcity of cabins and unsightly build
ings that so often mar the beauty of
othertowns. Property has been and is
so high here, that a man who cannot
build a good house, cannot find a place
to put up a shanty and we have not
that class of people to contend with.
All here are self-supporting and pro
Wo have no drones or dreamers. As
we said before, a man who can and will
not work is unknown in Rural Retreat
save for the one exception, and he fills
favor, but because they honestly de
serve it.
About three-quarters of mile west by
south ami the same distance west by
north are villages of negroes. They, in
most cases, own their honrtes anil
are honest and prosperous as any of
their race. Better behaved, more intel
ligent and honest negroes are not to be
found than those who make their homes
around Rural Retreat. Sober and in
dustrious, they dress well and have com
fortable and, in many instances, attrac
tive homes. Their children are well
clothed and fed and are not seen in
squalor and rags, objects to excite pity
in the sympathetic heart or contempt in
the callous, but bright, busy,little beings
with a brighter future beforo them.
Our town is almost entirely free from
the liquor traffic and is proverbial for
its good order and quietness. Longfel
low, in his ‘-Evangeiine,” depicted just
such a place and people as ours save for
the spirit of freedom and self-reliance
that we get from our mountains.
We have no factories or furnaces in
our immediate vicinity that are in ac
tive operation at present. Mining is in
its infancy and just beginning to stir
itself. About four miles north of the
town has just been opened up a coal
mine and the output is about thirty tons
per day and can easily be increased to
three times that amount. They are get
ing out a fine grade of white ash coal and
the vein is about twelve foot and excep
tionally free from slate and other for
eign matter. In the mountains to the
south of us whose peaks stand out like
bold sentinels along our southern bolder
ij found a high grade of iron ore and hue.
until the late depression in the iron
market, been worked to advantage by
the Lobdell Car \Vhoel Company, of
Wilmington, Del., and has been used to
the best advantage in the manufacture
of their celebrated car wheels.
If you are in search of a home Rural
Retreat throws wide her gates and bids
i you cast in your lot with us. For
his appointed place in God’s creation;
he shows what idleness yields.
We have more tirst class houseG for
our size than any town in this section
that has not been aflicted with a boom
nnd not one vacant house in the place.
Ours has been a steady growth and will
continue. ’Tis not spasmodic, but regu
lar and the same causes still exist
Before we close we must say a word
for pur negro friends—not to curjy
climate, soil and water our county is
specially noted and many aro the vis
itors to this delightful section during
the heated term.
As we advance let us cling with
all the tenacitypossible to the virtues of
the grand ofa-men who have preceded
us; and shun their vices, ever remem
bering that the more perfect the picture
so much bolder stands out the slightest

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