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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The Ghost Of Cudjo’s Cave

By Donald F. Blanford © 1986

Issue: July, 1986

Cudjo's Cave, Cumberland Gap National Historical ParkCudjo's Cave, now known as the Gap Cave. Photo curtesy of Cumberland Gap National Historical Park.You can't miss Cudjo's Cave. It's right in the middle of Cumberland Gap on Highway 25E. A sign on the side of the mountain marks the entrance, and a souvenir stand and snack bar are perched on a cliff across the road. At first glance, it looks like one of those seedy, roadside tourist traps which used to dot the highways before the intestates were completed. I was surprised to discover that the whole thing is run by Lincoln Memorial University.

I was heading to the university to do some research for my doctoral thesis. The library at L.M.U. had most of the source material I needed on the Lincoln Douglas debates, and I really liked the idea of getting away from Chicago for the summer. The school is in Harrogate, which is just across the Tennessee line and over the mountain from Middlesboro, Kentucky. Those two states and Virginia all come together right at Cumberland Gap.

I hadn't realized how hot the summers were in this part of the country, and after taking a side trip through the national park area, I decided to pull in at the stand by Cudjo's for a cold drink. Actually, I never intended to go in the cave at all, but the air conditioning on my ancient Plymouth was broken as usual - and the thought of that cool air in the cave was enticing.

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Gone Are The Days

By Frances T. Craig © 1985

Issue: January, 1985

My greatest fear is that scientists will develop some drug or machine that will erase memory. As we grow older this vast mine of the past serves us as a refuge from the bewildering changes.

I was fortunate enough to have a happy carefree childhood. We made our own amusements and were taught to love the outdoors. On my sleepless nights now, I soothe my shattered nerves by journeys back to my playhouses, always in calling distance of home.

I always love to travel back through the Time Zone to the bright, hot morning "Uncle Steven" entered out lives.

I was busy sweeping the dirt floors, rearranging the moss beds and straightening out the long sticks that divided the rooms. My brother Charles was busily destroying a huge stump with a hatchet (stolen from Papa's smoke house). Birds flew by, looked curiously but undisturbed. They were accustomed to us. A tame little chipmunk ran behind the huge oil drum that was our piano.

"You can take the meat and mix the gravy now," I told Charles. (We would pound water over the rotten wood for meat and gravy.)

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Hoover Hogs and Miracles

By Jeffrey Rowan Lockhart © 1991

Issue: June, 1991

My grandpa, John Rufus Lockhart told me, "Times were tough during the Depression." He lived in a city and said meat was hard to get. If you didn't have bucks to buy meat you either wet a line or shot Hoover Hogs. He called wild rabbits Hoover Hogs.

According to Grandpa, politicking President Hoover promised, "A chicken in every pot!" Grandpa declared, "I didn't see no chickens. Hoover didn't put a thing in my stew pot. I put it there. If I wanted a taste of meat I had to shoot Hoover Hogs!"

In fact, my daddy told me a rabbit hunting tale. When he was a young boy, Grandpa, Uncle Clayton and Uncle James would pile in a car at night and take off to their chosen rabbit hunting roads. One drove as dexterous as possible while two stood on running boards poised with loaded shotguns. They cruised down dirt roads on the outskirts of town and when a spooked rabbit bolted across headlights, they'd pick 'em off. That was Grandpa's Hoover Hog. That's what splashed into the stew pot.

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Mountain Harvest Recipes

By Susan M. Thigpen © 1993-2012

Issue: November, 1983

Country Kraut

Good country kraut is made in an earthenware crock. (The size of your crock will determine the amount you make.)

Cut up fresh cabbage in the size and shape you like best for kraut. If it is shredded smaller, it will ferment faster. When you have it chopped, add salt to your taste and squeeze it in your hands thoroughly to bruise it. Keep doing this until you have the cabbage packed down tight and it has released enough water to cover it. Then place a flat plate on top of it and sit a milk jug of water (or any heavy object) on top of the plate.

This is to keep the cabbage under the juice. It will turn brown if it isn’t under the juice. Cover and sit in a fairly warm place until it is fermented as sour as you like it. Then fill clean canning jars, put on lids and can in a canner for about 20 minutes.

If you like it hot, you can add layers of hot peppers in the cabbage as it is being made. Most country people add the cabbage stalks close to the top of the crock and eat them first as a delicacy.

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