Afton Overlook Gets Facelift

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Restoration volunteers Bruce Wachtel & Vinny Valentino. Photo: Ann Wachtel.

At the July Nelson County Board of Supervisors meeting, Tommy Harvey, North District Supervisor, made a request for funding to rehabilitate a treasured Afton site.  Along Route 250 on the top of Afton Mountain is an overlook with an expansive view of Rockfish Gap and the valley below. This high-traffic route counts numerous local and out-of-state travelers who pull in for a roadside rest, to use their cell phone or take some Instagram-worthy pictures of the beautiful Rockfish Valley.

It is a difficult spot to maintain. The deep sloping ravine is part of Bud and Gloria Carter’s private property on Rockfish Gap Turnpike. Carter was born on the property that has belonged to his family for generations. Now 80, Carter has seen the building of I-64 bring many changes to the mountain pass. After Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) built an alternative overlook on the interstate highway above the Route 250 site, maintenance of the older site was neglected, and a guard rail installed to close it. The overlook was eventually reopened, but the deteriorated pavement and stonewall displayed the long neglect. 

Afton Valley view. Photo: Mary Cunningham.

The Nelson Board of Supervisors approved $7,500 to support the rehabilitative work needed. Volunteer labor was provided by those in the community sharing a vision of the restoration. Bruce Wachtel, a skilled local volunteer and contractor on Stagecoach Road in Afton, has been working with Vinny Valentino of Davis Creek to restore the stone wall, supplementing the rebuild with rocks from the Carter property.  Creation Appreciation, a local landscaping firm, is planning to improve the view further by taking down additional trees and grading to reduce water run-off. VDOT is then expected to repave and provide parking lines to designate the space appropriately. The funds approved also will be used to purchase two picnic tables, create signage and a kiosk.

Clair Richardson, director of parks and recreation for Nelson County, encourages volunteers to participate by creating additional plantings to complement the space and help maintain a litter-free environment. 

Afton Overlook on Route 250.

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