By Sally James
On a fine Saturday in early June, a group of strong-backed folks made another significant move—literally!!—to make the memorial of the Albemarle Blue Ridge Heritage Project a reality.
The ABRHP is one of eight chapters of the BRHP creating a memorial in each of the eight counties surrounding Shenandoah National Park, and each of these memorials will honor the families of its respective county who were displaced to create SNP.
Under the watchful eye of stone mason Darryl Whidby, and under the direction of Keith Ford with his men Lawrence Kephart and Frank Gibson of Cavalier Septic, and with Larry Lamb who has moved several chimneys and log buildings, the sturdy chimney donated by J. Temple Bayliss was—temporarily—brought down. The chimney had stood at the homeplace of Zermie and Addie Shiflett up a rather wild road into what is now wooded mountainside. Until a late-afternoon thunderstorm made passage too difficult, these men and Joe Jones labored with equipment and strong hands to bring the chimney down and move the rock to the memorial site at Patricia Ann Byrom Forest Preserve Park. Keith and his crew trailered several loads by tractor the few miles down Route 810.
At lunchtime, Mary Ellen Ford and Debbie Lamb spread out a picnic feast under the trees, and everyone, including the support crew of Paul Cantrell, Jackie Whidby, and Phil and Sally James, enjoyed their efforts.
It was a bittersweet moment to witness the cascading rocks worked by an unknown mason as they tumbled into a heap. But it is with hope that many folks will learn of families like the Shifletts as these stones are laid up again with Darryl’s expert skill.
To learn more about the project and to see photos of the progress, come to the public meeting on Thursday, July 14 at 7 p.m. at the White Hall Community Building. There will be a brief presentation and a chance to find out how you can help build the memorial: by funding, and/or hands-on projects. Check out the Facebook and web sites (search Blue Ridge Heritage Project) for related stories and ways to donate. Your help can bring these people and their stories back to life.