The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

Visit us on FaceBookGenerations of Memories
from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge


  • Memories of a vanishing era

    Left to right: Coy Oliver Yeatts, mountain philosopher and nature lover; Ella Hughes Boyd, midwife and grit best describe this wonderful lady; Adam Clement, beekeeper extraordinaire. They are just a few among hundreds who have shared their stories and memories in The Mountain Laurel. Their stories are a national treasure.

  • The Stoneman Family

    A Heritage of Mountain Music

    It was more than a concert, it was a rare privilege to be attending the Stoneman Family Festival at Willis, Virginia in August. The reason it was more than a concert was that family members from Maryland and Tennessee traveled here for a reunion.

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  • Picturesque Blue Ridge Backroads

    Discover the Real Blue Ridge

    Scenes like this are just around the next bend or over the next hill along the hundreds of miles of backroads you'll discover with our easy to follow self-guided Backroad Tours.

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  • Making Old Fashion Mountain Molasses

    B. L. (Bunny) and Tella Mae Cockram

    B.L. (Bunny) and Tella Mae Cockram are each 73 years old. They’ve been married for 50 years and since 1935, home for them has been their 60 acre farm in the Mountain View section of Meadows of Dan, Virginia. Tella Mae has a hundred laying hens and she sells eggs to a lot of the folks here-'bouts. In addition to the 100 laying hens, she and Bunny have 50 head of cattle and 25 head of sheep.

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  • Woodrow (Woody) Dalton on the old Appalachian Trail

    Arrowhead Marker built by John Barnard

    The original route of the Appalachian Trail crossed the Pinnacles of Dan, traversed the Dan River Gorge and climbed Indian Ladder to the plateau known locally as the Rich Bent. This path carried hikers through some of the most breathtakingly beautiful terrain the Blue Ridge Mountains have to offer. Earl Shaffer on his historic first ever through hike of the entire Appalachian Trail in one season, passed through this area and described it ...

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My First School

By Addie J. Wood © 1984

Issue: June, 1984

my first schoolMeadows of Dan School, 1908. FIRST ROW - Jesse Reynolds, Lawrence Cox, Hobart Sparger, Preston Williams, Albert Wood, Hoy Boyd(?), Henry Boyd(?), Marvin Hylton, Kyle Hylton. Goldie Shelor, Winnie Hylton, Mary Burnett, Addie Wood, Mamie Reynolds, Audis Hylton, Lizzie Boyd(?), Gladys Boyd, Clyde Reynolds(?), Claude Reynolds. SECOND ROW - Henry Cockram(?), Isaac Boyd, Elisha Burnett, Sander Cock(?), Carson Sparger, (Hutchins boy?), Langhorne DeHart, Clarice Blackard, Ruth Lawson, Carrie Boyd, Bertie West(?), Fannie Shelor, Claude Shockley, Fred Shockley, Hannah Shelor, Kyle Shelor, Harvey Knowles, Eric West, Bennet West, Soloman West. THIRD ROW - Ernest Wood, Cecil Wood, Claude West, Charlie Wood, Edwin Boyd, Hoy Blackard, Lorna Blackard, Myrtle Shelor, Agnes Shelor, Minnie Cock, Ina Reynolds, Ida Shelor, Bertie Marshall, Eva Shockley, Winnie Reynolds, Lillie Wood, Eunice Burnett, Madie Scott, Ruth West(?). FOURTH ROW - Irby Sparger, Posey Shelor, Bennie Scott, Talmadge Webb, Edward Wood, Joe Williams, Johnny McAlexander, Webster Scott (teacher), Sam Boyd (teacher), Ray Scott, Cara Williams, Lillie Williams, Kath Cockram, Callie Cock, Callie Scott, Ticise West, Georgia Wood, Louise Boyd, and Sarah Ann Boyd.
Click on photo to view larger image.

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August Meeting - Dinner on The Grounds or at The Bridge

By Don Howlett © 1984

Issue: August, 1984

Have you ever been to a real old fashioned August meeting? If you haven't, you missed one of the truly fantastic [Blue Ridge] mountain events. I will tell you how I remember it. Many of these type meetings occurred in many different regions of the mountains and you could spend the entire summer going each Sunday to a different one in a different area.

The second Sunday in August every year, people from all over the United States would come back to Big Reed Island for August meeting. Locals used to say, "at the bridge." This is because there was once a wooden covered bridge over Big Reed Island Creek. There still is a bridge there but it is a concrete one now since the covered bridge washed away in a flood. I still have a picture of the old wooden covered bridge. Some would say, "We're going to have dinner on the ground."

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July 4th, 1900 - A Celebration To Remember

By Bob Heafner © 1984-2012

Issue: July, 1984

"We climbed a grassy hillside on our way to the Ballard, Fourth of July Celebration." The old man leading the way was a Civil War veteran and the five year old youngster by his side was his grandson. The time was the 4th of July in the turn of the century year, 1900. "The sight we saw when we topped the hill was awesome. From our vantage point we could see covered wagons lining the roads heading for the celebration. They were coming from Woolwine, Floyd, Vesta and up the "river road" from Meadows of Dan."

Covered wagons were converging on the celebration grounds from every direction and there, before the widened eyes of a five year old, flew the first American flag he'd ever seen. It was homemade by Susie Hylton and hung from a tree that Ben, Ed and Tom Hylton had climbed and trimmed the limbs from. In order to keep the flag standing out, they had attached a sapling to the top of it and left it sticking out past the other side of the flag pole tree and this they had counterweighted with horseshoes. Five year old eyes were noticing all the details.

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Ways to Fix Cabbage

By Susan M. Thigpen © 1991

Issue: October, 1991

Stuffed Cabbage
(Serves 4 hungry people)

Tear off and wash the large outer leaves of a big head of cabbage, about 2 pounds. Steam cabbage leaves 3-5 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix together:
1 pound ground beef
1/4 cup uncooked rice
1 large onion
1/4 cup lemon juice.

Mix this sauce together:
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar.

Place first mixture inside of steamed cabbage leaves and fold leaves in little packages. Add a portion of the sauce and place some sauerkraut on this. Cover with remaining cabbage leaves and pour on remaining sauce. Boil covered on top of stove for two hours at low heat.

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