Skip to content

Grayson Co., Va., 1897

By C. R. BOYD., State Geologist (Ex-Officio)
Published by Greek D. Brown, Independence, Va., 1897

At a mass meeting of the citizens of Grayson County, held on county court day, December, 1896, James D. Perkins, of Edgewater was unanimously called to the chair, and H. A. Cox, W. R. Wright, editor of the Journal, and Greek D. Brown, editor of the Gazette, as Secretaries. On motion, the object was fully explained by the chairman and members of the meeting and a resolution unanimously adopteded to the effect that this book descriptive of the Material Resources of Grayson County, ordered to be prepared by the Board of Supervisors, be published at the discretion of said Board in sufficient numbers to be widely distributed by a named committee, where such books and maps would du most good in the interest of the people of the county. Upon the adjournment of said meeting, the Board of Supervisors held a meeting on same day and ordered contracts to be considered and accepted for the printing of 500 copies of said book and maps; and Greek D. Brown was awarded the contract for the printing of the book; and the following named committee was appointed by said. meeting for the distribution of the books The Chairman of said meeting.

The Members of said Board of Supervisors, named on the following page.

Major S. M. Dickey, Elk Creek Dist., Independence, Va.

John B. Waugh, Old Town Dist., Old Town, Va.

A. A. Bryant, Wilson Dist., Bridle Creek, Va.

To The Honorable President and Members of The Board m Agriculture of The State of Virginia and The Commissioner o Agriculture of Virginia, composed of the following named:

A. S. BUFORD, President, Richmond, Va.,
A. J. MCMATH, Onley, P. O., Accomac Co., Va.,
R. L. HENLEY, Williamsburg, Va.,
R. M. MALLORY, Smoky Ordinary, Va.,
JOHN L. HURT, Hurt’s Store, Va.
W. W. BRAND, Catawba, Va.
J. K. McCANN, Stephenson, Va.
O. E. HINE, Vienna, Va.
H. C. STUART, Elk Garden, Va.
J. R. KEMPER, Fishersville, Va.,
THOMAS WHITEHEAD, Commissioner of Agriculture, of Virginia, Richmond, Va., and to The President and members of The Board of Supervisors of Grayson County, Va., composed of the following named members:

ROBT. L. DICKINSON, President, member from Old Court House Dist., Rural Home, Va.,
LARKIN PHIPPS, Fox, P. O., Va., member from Wilson Creek, Dist.,
REECE HALE, Spring Valley, Va., member from Ell Creek Dist.,
F. J. LUNDY, Clerk of The Board and of the county,
J. K. PHIPPS, Treasurer of The Board and of the county this communication is respectfully addressed, by order of t?o above named Board of Supervisors, and Commissioner Agriculture of Virginia.


Grayson County, 1897

The territory under consideration, Grayson County, Virginia, is about 320 miles from the tidewater of the Atlantic Coast, measured on the boundary line between the states of Virginia and North Carolina, which distance would almost reach from Grayson County to both Norfolk, Va., and Wilmington, N.C.

It is equidistant between the cities of New York and New Orleans; and a radius of 270 miles from its centre would include Richmond, Washington, D.C., Cincinnati, Chattagnooga, and Atlanta. Within much shorter radii, contracting to less than 100 miles in the cases of some of the places named below, are Knoxville, Asheville, Roanoke, Lynchburg,. Danville, Bristol, Coeburn, Abingdon, Saltville,. Middleborough, Big Stone Gap, Richlands, Pocahontas, Bluefield, Marion, Rural Retreat, Wytheville, Crockett, Max Meadows, Pulaski City, Ivanhoe, Radford, Winston-Salem, Mt. Airy, Elkin, Wilkesborough, Linville, Hickory, Cranberry Elizabethton, and Johnson City.

Many of the nearer places above named are established distributing centres already; and while manufactures are very prominent features in some of them, their more direct communication with each other is not only desirable but apparently indispensable. And, in order to fully compete and n round out all the essential features, in this age of competition, this more direct communication is all the more desirable, when it is possible to make it by lines passing through territory rich in natural resources still unoccupied by lines of railway. This territory is found in Grayson County-forming about one-third of the territory comprised in the basin of upper New River.

It is easy of demonstration that, lines, drawn between several of the most aspiring of the above named places, intersect each Other in Grayson County. For example, a line drawn between Roanoke and Asheville intersects a line drawn between Danville f and Bristol in the heart of this territory. And lines, projected south from either Marion or Wytheville to Wilkesborough, pass close to the above point of intersection. Indeed, many of the places, above named, may never find realized all the condition of an assured and permanent prosperity, until the railway lines, leading from them, either actual or projected, traverse the terri. tort’ we now have under consideration. The very great emphasis this territory lends to the consideration of the question of rail way economy involved, is due to the variety and volume of trade and abundance of cheap raw materials, now lying dormant there for want of increased facilities of transportation. But this introduction, thus refering so pointedly to the paramount necessity of an increase in Grayson’s facilities of transportation; doesn’t mean that, either of the great features of Agriculture, Mineral Resources or Forestry are to receive more or less notice than is due them in this book. Neither is emphasis thus given to the subject of transportation more because such additional lines of railway will round out the prospeity of the above named cities ; but because railways are urgently needed in the development of those excellent economic resources existing in the territory herein presented.

Grayson County, in the southwestern part of Virginia, has an area of 500 square miles and a population of 15,140.

The county is divided into three magisterial districts ; each district having an area in square miles, acres and population, as follows;

Square Miles Acres Population Density per
sq. Mile
per acre
(1). Eastern or Old Town District
71,680 3,619 32.3 1 to 19.1
(2).Central or Elk Creek District 170 110,800 5,749 33.8. 19.25
(3).Western or Wilson District 218 139,520 5,772 26.5.1 24.33
Whole County 500 320,000 15,140

In the whole population of over 15, 000, there are 14, 000 whites; the remaining 1000, or little exceeding that figure, being negroes.

Of the entire population, the males constitute 49.3 per cent and the females, 50.7 per cent. The entire basin of upper New River has a population of 45,000 and 1500 square miles of territory.


This population is almost wholly Christian, in religion; a large proportion of the adult population being communicants in different conferences of the Methodist Church, the Primitive Baptist Church, the Union Baptist Church, the Missionary Baptist Church, the Christian Church, the Presbyterian Church and other denominations.

System of Law Practice.

The system of jurisprudence, in practice, in Grayson County is very much like the old English Common Law practice-one of established precedentsparticularly in chancery and in criminal law practice. In the enforcement of contracts, the statutes appear to admit of no deviation from the literal expression of the contract. Land titles appear to be guarded with as much care as is the case in any older locality. The intrusion into the bar of incompetent practitioners is guarded by a system of examinations conducted by judges authorized by law.

Medical and Surgical Practice.

The practice of medicine and surgery is forbidden by anyone, with even a diploma of the highest colleges and universities, until the applicant successfully passes an examination before a carefully selected Board of Examiners appointed by law.

Grayson County, therefore, is well served both in the practice of Law and of Medicine. And both property and life are as secure there as they are in any community known.


Education is upon a plane as high as the resources of the people can well place it, at present. There are 96 public schools in the county; and there are seven graded schools establishes These schools-that is the graded schools-the schools of Independence, Elk Creek, Stevens Creek, Summerfield, Old Town, Bridle Creek and Grant are equipped for the purpose of preparing boys and girls for colleges and universities. Nearly 4,500 out of a school of 6,259 attend the school, males being nearly 2500 and females nearly 2000. The colored schools are well attended; there being over 100 of each sex; attending colored schools. The school houses, taking the county as a whole, are much above the ordinary. There are also numerous academies in the county, situated conveniently to all the population.

Postal Service.

The postal service, in its delivery of U. S. Mail, is daily, to much the larger proportion of the people.

Telephone Service.

There are now two telephone lines which add much to the business facilities of the county. One, known as the Marion Telephone Exchange, organized in 1894, has a line through the greater part of the western half of the county, connecting Independence, the county seat, with Marion, Glade Springs, Saltville, and other stations on the Norfolk and Western Railway. The offices, on the thirty miles of this company’s line in Grayson County, are, Troutdale, Grant, Edgewater, Mouth of Wilson, Grassy Creek, Fox, Bridle Creek, and Independence.

The officers of this company are, B. F. Buchanan, President, Geo. W. Palmer, Vice President, A. G. Lincoln, Secretary, P. C. March, Tr. and C. C. Lincoln, Supt.

The other telephone lines connects with the first named at Independence and extends thence, via. Boyer’s Ferry and Baywood to Old Town and then on to the Norfolk and Western R. R.

General Description of Position in Plateau of Blue Ridge and Drainage Basin

At this writing, there being no railways in the county, the resources of the county in ores, stone, timber, water power and other such advantages, as shown herein, are, for that reason mainly undeveloped; though the Blue Ridge Plateau, in which county lies, can present no territory of like size, more remarkable for the variety, extent and value of its undeveloped mineral, forestal and agricultural resources. Not only is Grayson County in the plateau of the Blue Ridge, but it is peculiarly placed, along with several other counties, so as to occupy the remarkable drainage basin formed of the headwaters of the New (or Kanawha) River.

Such is this arrangement, at the hands of nature, that, in performing the agreeable task of describing the above mentioned undeveloped task of describing the above mentioned underdeveloped resources, for Grayson County, it may be quite appropriate to make an allusion to Grayson’s sister counties in this very unique basin, though we may have to step over the state line into North Carolina, and include Ashe and Alleghany and possibly parts of other counties, in order to fully round out the treatment of this important matter, and thus present it in its proper light, as a concrete subject. Two of the above named Carolina counties, Alleghany and Ashe, extend for about 45 miles along the south side of Grayson County, separated by the state line, along here on East and West line.


These remarks just made, then very appropriately suggest “the boundaries” of the county.

The Southern boundary line, just mentioned, is a part of the state line coming west from the Atlantic seaboard, begins, so far as Grayson is concerned at Fisher’s Peak, the south eastern terminus of the boundary line between Carroll and Grayson counties, and extends west from said Fisher’s Peak about 45 miles crossing and impinging upon a part of New River about six times in ten miles, and ends in Pond Mountain, four miles southwesterly from the elevated crest of White Top Mountain, leaving the White Top wholly within Virginia. This western corner of Grayson, on Pond Mountain, 5,000 feet above sea level, is between the states of Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee; whence the boundary line proceeds northwardly for half a mile, between Va. and Tenn., cornering here again on Pond Mountain. After which the Grayson boundary line then proceeds wholly within Virginia, dividing Grayson from Washington Co., Va., by a north east course, by a line about four miles in length to the western face of White Top mountain, cornering here with Washington and Smyth counties, at an elevation of 5300 feet above sea level, leaving the highest cone of White Top a half mile to the east of the corner. The boundary then proceeds eastwardly over the highest cone of White Top mountain anti Balsam or Mt. Rogers, on the divide between the waters of New and Holston Rivers, over four miles, to the eastern high spur of, Balsam mountain; thence,. northwardly four and a half miles to Hurricane mountain: thence, by a succession of courses and distances, reversing the calls on the map, eastwardly and north eastwardly, along the crest of Hurricane Mountain and along the crests of Iron mountain and Ewing’s mountains, along the south sides of Smyth and Washington counties, to the Carroll Count northwest corner in Ewing ‘s mountain. Whence, to Fisher’s Peak, the beginning of this boundary description, is a straight line with a true course nearly S 26 1/2° E seventeen miles in length.

Geographical Names of Boundaries.

It may be appropriate to state, just here, that the above mentioned succession of broken lines constituting the northern boundary line, on the crests of Hurrican, Iron and Ewing’s spur of Iron Mountain, marks very nearly the southwestern p r prolongation of what is clearly recognized in Middle Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania, as the Blue Ridge Mountain proper. There. fore, it. may be very reasonably claimed, that, Grayson Count v, geographically, as well as geologically, lies within lines defining the Blue Ridge proper, if not south of these lines and rocks which characterize this mountain range at the places it was first named Blue Ridge. And this, too, despite the fact, that, the name “Blue Ridge ” is applied to the crest line of the range bounding the southern and the southeastern margin of “The Upper New River Basin”; constituting, along there, the divide between the waters which flow northward and westward into Ohio and Mississippi Rivers and those which flow eastward into the Atlantic Ocean. Hence, the last named boundary line, seventeen miles in length, from Ewing’s shun of Iron Mountain to Fisher’s Peak, connects the true geological Blue Ridge, on the northwest with the titular or cater divide Blue Ridge on the south east side of one of the most remarkable basins on the continent.

This confusion, in geographical nomenclature, as applied to the great bifurcations of this mountain system, enclosing this part of the Blue Ridge Plateau, does not end here. For, some geographers, who evidently had not given sufficient weight to the geological evidence involved in the question, have streneously contended that, the name “Allegheny” should apply to the southern bifercation of the Blue Ridge, simply because the Allegheny Mountain, further northeast, is the only elevated range that there concurrently with the same fact here, divides the waters which flow eastwardly into the Atlantic Ocean from those which flow westwardly into the Ohio River. Hence, before geological evidence began to have any weight in the minds of those who were accepted as competent to determine the physical geography of the country, many maps, both old and new, have attached the name ” Allegheny ” to the southern prong of the ” Blue Ridge”, and, consequently, so impressed, at one time, the lawmakers of North Carolina with the appropriateness, beauty and euphony of the name, that they caused the name “Allegheny ” to be conferred upon one of their most beautiful mountain counties, a part of this basin, a piece of territory that is doubtless one hundred and twenty miles air line from the nearest distinctly known part of the Allegheny Mountain proper, of the most competent geographers.

The consensus of all the best accepted later physical geographers, however, seems to point to the accepted belief that, there is no part or continuation of the Allegheny Mountain, or its spurs, south of these ranges which border the great Valley of Virginia and Tennessee on the northwest side. And there also appears to be no evidence that, the aboriginal inhabitants or the earliest civilized discoverers gave to the ranges, bordering the upper New River Basin, any other name than “Appalachians”, which name seems to have been applied indiscriminately by them to all ranges dividing the waters which flow eastwardly and southeast, through Piedmont and the great Atlantic costal plain to the sea, from the great interior basin of the Mississippi River and its tributaries.

Grayson County, Virginia, therefore, while clearly a part of the great Mississippi Basin– occupying a very extraordinary and remarkable position in the great Appalachian chain of mountains–seems to have no connection or relation whatever with the Allegheny Mountain ; unless it could be clearly shown by philologists, that, the term “Appalache”, of one Indian dialect, is the same in meaning as the term “Allegheny'”, of another. But, whatever may be the final deliberate judgment of later physical geographers, on this point, all must agree upon this, that the crowns of both commonwealths-of Virginia and North Carolina–are richly adorned by the same gem, “The Upper Basin of New River”, of which Grayson forms so large apart. Thus making very little difference ,what names are adopted for the great natural boundaries.


From what has preceded, it may be inferred, that Grayson County possess topographical features quite pronounced in their character, if not greatly above the ordinary, in every respect.

In the order and arrangement of its mountains, hills any valleys, nature has left many evidences of both the great force employed in their disposition and the remarkable beauty design in their arrangement. In the lapse of time, since then great physical features assumed their present relative positions the agencies of atmosphere and water, of heat and cold, alter unfelt’ employed throughout such inconceivable spaces of time have softened down the once great angular protrusion am elevation of great masses of granite and kindred rucks, which compose the greater mountains; and the numerous pure streams that now flow like strands of silver, through forest and meadow have performed a great part of this gigantic task of modifying and softening the once far more rugged features of the se extensive areas. And these perennial streams; delighting now no less by their beauty than by their usefulness, mark the lines of those great ice flows which once preceded them.

However powerful were once these agencies of reduction, giant mountains still continue to rear their lofty crests fully 5700 feet above the level of the sea,-strewn about like Titans slain in some memorable conflict, each ono lying where superior force had thus thrown and securely bound him.

Beginning thus at such high altitudes in the west end of the county, no less than seven great mountains, more or less isolated, growing less in altitude as you proceed eastward, occupy the northern middle portion of the county. For example, White Top. Balsam or Mt. Rogers and Pine .Mountain, Couch’s and Kindrick’s Knobs, Razor, Buck, Point Lookout and Briar Patch Mountain. The greater average length of minor slopes and lesser ridges. is from north to south and from northwest . to southeast, hence, the greater area of the county has a southern exposure. This condition is then highly favorable to farming even open areas between 4000 and 6()00 feet above the level of the sea.

While the greater mountain chains or water sheds, proper. pursue a direction north of east or parallel with the general trend or direction of the outcrop of the rocks, the lesser ridges lead of. as stated, south and southeast; doubtless because in earlier times the ice and, later; the streams, sought those directions as the nearest pathways from the higher crests of the water sheds m the basin of New River, cutting thus across the direction of the outcrop of rock strata in their descent-thus performing another great favor for the benefit of the farmer, in reducing, pulverizing and mingling together the valuable fertilizing constituents of many different ledges of rocks.

Nature, in thus forming great mountains running a general course north of east and lesser ridges, with creeks between them running or trending south and southeast in Grayson County, made some characteristic exceptions to the general rule by which the streams had a south and southeast flow. For, some of the largest water courses in the county, run some miles of their respective courses northeast or parallel with the greater mountains, before changing their courses to the south and southeast. The notable streams of this kind are Fox Creek, Peach Bottom and Elk Creeks,–all of which head behind or north of the greatest and highest mountains and flow northeastwardly some distance before they break through these very high mountains, by a succession of canyons often, and make their way southward; as do the remaining numerous creeks which head south of the crest lines of the greater interior mountains.

These conditions are of course plainly shown on the map and sections of the county, on which may be seen, by many persons, how the physical features, such as the topographical, have resulted from the geological,-bath as to the forces dynamically employed, on the one hand, in the erection of the mountains and hills, in the first place, and the resistance, on the other hand, subsequently offered to all wearing and destructive agencies by the mineral constitution of the various rock formations. Of course, the reader will take into consideration those climatic conditions which are natural to such a high general elevation, upon a latitude of 36 degrees 40 minutes north, average.

This is all true of the north side of New River; but Grayson County, extending to the south side of this river, also partakes in its topography of those features which result from the northward flow of such large aflluents of that River, as Little River, Crab, Meadow, Chestnut, Potato and Piney Creeks, all elements that conspire, also, in making an ideal summer climate and the natural home, without a superior, for grasses, grain, vegetables and fruit and a forestal growth of the richest variety.

Thus Grayson County presents really an admirable topography; though many of the streams, and most of the elevations, are diverse in their general directions, as compared with many other areas of like extent in the Appalachian Mountain Ranges.

New River itself, topographically, while in Grayson County, contradicts, if it does not directly traverse, the general course of the great streams which feed the Ohio River; for it gathers from its heads from the west and southwest and flows almost directly east along the southern boundary line of the county and, finally, tuning almost due north, with its splendid volume of clear mountain water flows off, rather than down from, the Blue Ridge plateau, through a great simous canyon in its northern mountain escarpment-the real northern bifurcation of the Blue Ridge proper. And, until the Norfolk and Western Railway built its line through this canyon, this work of nature was not supplemented by anything of comparative permanency from the salient matter may be shown to let the truth, as to the whole, be hand of man.

The general average elevation of Grayson County is 3000 feet above tide; while that of the neighboring part of the great valley of Virginia, which New River traverses next below or north of it, is not over 2500 feet above sea level, average.

The greatest elevation in the county is in the western end at Mt. Rogers, 5714 feet above the sea, and the greatest depression in the east end, that of the level of New River, whey°e that river crosses in its northward flow the Carroll-Grayson boundary, namely 2150 feet above the sea-whence the river going north into the Valley of Virginia, as remarked, soon drops to 1000 feet above the level of the sea. And all the streams which have been instrumental, along with other geological agencies, in forming topography in every way so remarkable, will be mentioned in the progress of this treatment.


The geological features of Grayson County, though of more than usual interest, present no very difficult problems in their determination. The geology, when closely studied, would very likely be declared, by any investigator, to be quite simple and plain, owing doubtless to the absence of many and complicated dynamic agencies or forces exerted in the processes by which the mountains and hills were formed.

To the unscientific or home reader, it may be due to say, just here; that what is called “dynamic geology” explains how mountains and hills were formed and, to a very great extent, the present arrangement of the stratifications of which they are cone posed. And while many of the expressions used in their description may prove unintelligible and even tedious to home readers, the great variety of readers from a distance, seeking fin all-round information, require that the subjects, herein treated, shall be exhibited in every possible light, in order to fully answer all possible questions,–in language as simple as possible, though scientific terms must be employed.

Thus, while the residents of different portions of certain districts may have distinctive local names for the various ledges, of rocks, either calling them, as they appear, all granite or all slate or flint, as the case may be, many outside people are desirous of more distinct information, before investing either time or money’ in the county. And it may also be as well to remark, that, the investigations throughout an area so large as 500 square mile:. through so long a time, could not well have all its result presented in a volume of this size. But enough of the most salient matter may be shown to let the truth, as to the whole, be safely inferred.

The Geology of Grayson County is included between Laurentian Gneissoid Rocks ( the Lower Algonkian ), on the southeast, such as fine grained gneiss, sandrock and steatiferous or soapstone rocks, graphitic, hypersthenic and micaceous rocks, and the Huronian, sub-potsdam, Ocoee and Chilhowie sandstones and conglomerates, on the north and northwest. That is, the geological column, in the main, ascends from the southeast toward northwest, as you proceed across the county, from the locally titular Blue Ridge side, northwardly, toward the Iron Mountain side-the true Blue Ridge.

Between the Laurentian and Huronian, or lower and upper Algonkian, it may be said, nearer to the northern than the southern side of the county, are the lines of the great granite eruptions, showing in White Top, Mt. Rogers or Balsam, Pine, Couch, Kindrick, Razor Buck, Point Lookout and other mountains eastwardly, such as Briar Patch Mountain and some isolated knobs.

The trend or direction of outcrops, of nearly all these rock formations, is more easterly than northeast; and the general inclination of nearly all dips is to the southward or southeast. And there is doubtless a recurrence or repetition of the same stratifications, from folded strata, whose crests have been worn off in the course of time, in all areas outside of those occupied by the granite upheavals above mentioned. The great dynamic force ( exerted long before the White Top and that series of granite mountains were formed) which caused the general country rock formation to assume its direction and dip, was directed apparently from south and southeast toward north and northwest, almost uniformity along a wide belt of Appalachian country much more extensive than Grayson County’s length. So great was this force that it not only elevated the rocks from the horizontal position in which they originally lay, but erected them into upright positions, folding them up somewhat at the same time and really overturning nearly the entire mass several degrees toward the north side’ of a vertical or perpendicular plane or series of planes somewhat similar to the action of folding up with the hands the leaves of a pamphlet lying flat on a table.

It would be difficult, to determine at this day, the great period of time which elapsed between the first great crumpling and folding action and that more subsequent upheaval which resulted in the Granite upheaval above alluded to. But the lines of contact between these great subsequent upthrows, and the earlier formed stratifications, can be very distinctly traced and quite positively located to-day.

In these lines of contact, as near Jefferson Ring’s and other,; of very extensive length in Grayson County, there is reason t, believe that some very valuable finds of the more precious metal will be made, and announced authoritatively, rather that assumed and guessed at.

Doubtless the entire rock formation of the county was in somewhat plastic or rather more flexible condition, than at pres eat, when this great granitic upthrow occurred: and while these granitic masses themselves may not have been in a molten or lava condition, they were doubtless quite softly plastic. And both the older formations of the country rock, and the newer granitic upthrows, which entered between the older, like great wedges from below, were in such a condition, that, the latter, when so coming up, though pressing apart such great fragments of the former, still were unable in many places to positively obliterate them.

Hence, occasionly, in the great granitic bodies, are tile line of the older formations, pressed far apart in observed instant, e and the intervals filled with the newer granitic rock; though there are instances, as along at paints in the canyon of Peach Bottom Creek, where the old slates are crushed in confusion against the bounding granitic rocks.

This great action resulting in the upthrow of such masses of granite rocks, was not possible without, to some extent, forcing open the older formations alongside, by lines which radiated from the central or medial axis of motion in the upthrows. These lines of a direction, normal to certain radii mentioned, are represented by cracks or fissures which have subsequently filled by infiltration from the surrounding formations; and ti), minerals and metals, now formed in these rents or fissures, are doubtless a more concentrated form of the mineral constituents W contiguous older rocks. For example, in the public road. between the house of Wm. Bryant, Esq. and Fox P. O., is one of these cracks or fissures, filled with quartz and sulphurets with some free gold; a preliminary analysis which will be alluded to later on. This rent or fissure has a north and south course, across the direction of the old country rock. The point at which the quartz was taken, for analysis, from this fissure, is not more than 300 yards south of, and nearly at right angles with, the general can tact line between the granitic upthrow and the older country rock This older country rock, throughout all this region, south of the great granitic upthrows, shows, after repeated analysis, from n to 50 cents in combined gold to the ton of 2000 pounds, then being but few ledges that escape having this quantity of gold per ton. Hence, where the above named newer fissures exist they can be confidently expected to yield more of the precious metals per ton of rock, than the older or parent formations from which their contents were derived.

Though this condition of things, around the rim of these great upheavals, is evident, there are no positive evidences by which can be established more than a possible similarity in these eruptions and those by which the Rocky Mountains were thrown into their present shape.

In this kind of comparison, though often suggested to the minds of those who have seen both regions, it seems impossible to show that the forces, by which each region was formed, were exactly similar in the kind of action or synchronous or alike in time.

But it is hardly probable that, the older or country rock formations, in the Rocky Mountain Regions and Pacific Coast Ranges, contained more of the precious metals, per ton of rock, than do those of Grayson County. The difference, as to dynamic forces and their effects, appears to be, that, in all the Rockies and Pacific regions, those forces exerted there were far more violent, frequent, and longer continued. From which, it would appear, that, all of the mineral and rock materials have been worked over by dame nature much oftener in the Rockies than in Grayson County and the Appalachians generally,-producing, thus, for the Rockies, aided by the law of affinities, a greater concentration of the precious metals there than here. However, there is nothing to dispel the belief, that, deeper down in the crust of the earth, along “the contact lines”, in the Appalachians, including the territory of Grayson, there is a rich metallic impregnation of all veins, re-its and fissures, whether you are in the vicinity of Rings or Bryants or at other points on the long lines of contacts.

These minerals, or, rather, metals, are, Gold, Silver, Copper, Lead, Iron, Manganese, Sulphur, Nickel, Zinc, Titanium and Chromium, as far as observed. As to Nickel and Cobalt, their existence, as yet, is more assumed than proven. But the others named will have a more extensive notice, in a fuller treatment of the minerals, further on.

The order and arrangement of the great rock formations, under their several appropriate designations, may also be more clearly understood by referring to the geological cross sections extended north and south across the general trend of the out crops, exhibited on another page.

Almost without exception, those rock ledges, of the older country rock, which come in from the west and southwest, continue without interruption through the county in an easterly or northeasterly direction. The exceptions to this rule being in the vicinity of the granitic upthrows. The same remark is also applicable to the great bedded deposits of Iron Sulphurets, Magnetic Iron ores and other beded mineralized strata that lie in the older country rock some miles south of the southern rim of granitic upthrows.


Beginning on the southerly side of the county, this country rock, ledge after ledge, as you proceed northwardly across their course, presents many features of high economic value, as wall as both general and scientific interest.

The southerly side, south of New River, and especially, in the southeastern part of the county, shows bands of rock having the form and general appearance of gneiss (which is a very fine grained granite), west of Low’s Gap; but these rocks, though they are the northeastern continuation of those ledges that pass through Ore Knob Copper Mine, via Sparta, N. ,C., here along the county line ( the state line) between Grayson and Alleghany Counties, do not make much surface display of the possible Iron, Copper and Sulphur they may contain.

The extreme southeastern part of the county about Fisher’s Peak, east of Low’s Gap, doubtless bring in steatiferous band that carry asbestos, staurotide garnets, tourmalin and other forms. Somewhat farther west of Low’s Gap, for some distance along and near the county line, are dykes holding interesting deposits of mica, quartz, feldspar and kaolin. The mica is large enough to be valuable as plate mica; but deeper mining will have to be resorted to in order to ascertain its extent and value as a series adopted to profitable mining. The feldspars, in these dykes, judging from their color, may be of the Lime and Soda variety. The quartz is pure and the clays or kaolin are such as would result from the decomposition of such feldspars and quarts. Now in these deposits, if very closely observed, may yet be found uranite and kindred minerals. Since the course of the state line is East and West, and the trend of outcrops of all these reel, N 65° E to N 70° E, all ledges cross into Virginia from North Carolina, (here from Alleghany County). Next north of the above named series, are recurring stratifications of a more or less gnessoid structure, as in the head of “the Glades”, containing., garnet crystals now and then, in which also hornblende is some times a large constituent-a hornblende schist or a hornblende slate-alternating with bands of gneiss and bands of what is apparently manganiferous epidote, holding a band of Magnetic Iron Ore. And this band of Magnetic Iron Ore, marked (A) ” on the map, much used in the past, passes N E and S W through the Glades. Its thickness and. general character are said to be good, but the openings are now obscured by the lapse of time since they were made. But the ore made good forge iron. Then, as you proceed north, it is on the lands of Jackson Higgins, Todd and others on Meadow Creek, that ledges exist holding native copper, to the probable extent of two or more per cent of metal, enclosed in tremolitic forms and trap and hornblende schists exist, and alternate bands and ledges of quartz. This native copper outcrop, also, passes northeast near Meadow Creek P. O., and passes on entirely through the width of Carroll Co., northeast and east. These surface showings along here give one but meagre data upon which to base certain estimates of the real value of these ledges: though it would appear that they are extensive enough to warrant careful research with pick and shovel and drill. Nearly the whole of this stratification on Meadow Creek, .Glade Fork of Chestnut Creek and in the territory of Little River, will yield gold to the extent of 60 to 50 cents per ton of rock of 2000 pounds.

In the Todd settlement, near Creola P. O., spinel crystals, of large dimensions, are found in what is usually accepted as a persistent lead of manganese oxide, but may be corundum holding manganese, which extends, without intermission; through all that part of the county, N. E. and S. W. This lead in its tension southwest passes near Collins Mill on Little River.

Next, northward of Creola P. O., nearly dividing the interval between the Creola outcrop of so called manganese, and Old Town is the line of talco-mica slates holding the copper pyrites the Peach Bottom copper Lode. This lead is from six to two bet of rather micaceous gneiss heavily impregnated with copper pyrites, with some purple copper ore and a galenite or lead ore which is silver bearing. Pure galena comes from Enoch Gallion’s. It is unfortunate that, there are now no excavations from which can be taken reliable samples for analysis. Like all the other ore leads, in that part of the county, this band of copper pyrites fearing gneiss has a trend N 60° E and N 70° E and dip S E at varying angles from 45° down to 20°.. This lead, (the Peach Bottom) crosses the river near Win. Gentry’s and Billings’ and ins N E crossing Little River and and Meadow Creek, and passing near Jennings’ Nuckolls’ Painter’s and Waugh’s, crosses Chestnut Creek into Carroll County, going in the direction of Carroll Court House.

Next north of this lead, three-fourths to half a mile, varying kith the dip of the rocks, is a broad band of what is commonly filled throughout the country, soapstone, coming from the southwest at Tolliver’s in Alleghany, N. C., northeast into Grayson County and crossing New River south of Preston Reeves’ house, flanked on its northern side by good building gneiss. This Soapstone Lead then continues northeast, crossing New River south of Cox’s Ford, crossing Crab Creek and Little River; it then passes near Blevins’, McKnight’s, Levi Todd’s and on N. E. through the lands of Nuckolls, near the Nuckolls Healing Spring and, thence, on through the lands of Roberts and others into Carroll County.-This apparent soapstone ( which is usually known as the Tolliver Lead) in only soapstone in appearance. While it is soft in quarry, sufficiently to be cut easily with edged tools or saws, and is fire-proof to a very high degree, it is really a combination of refractory materials which though not real steatite or soapstone, answers well all the ordinary uses to which soapstone is put.

Then north of this Tolliver soapstone lead, a short distance, is a heavy band of quartz, which passes through the Nuckolls Healing Springs property, and continues in both directions northeast and southwest. This quartz lead contains by a careful analysis of Henry Froehling, Chemist, less than $1.00 gold per ton of 2000 pounds.

Then, north of this quartz lead, passing through the southern limits of “Old Town”, is what is known as “the Dalton Copper Lead” of Iron and Copper pyrites, in which Iron Sulphides predominate over other mineralized forms. This extension of the Dalton Lead, passes N E and S W, crossing New River north of Preston Reeves’, Cox’s Ford, near Sam’1 Cox, Shaw, through Collins and across Little River to H. Blevins, thence on N E, north of Baywood P. O., by Guy Hampton’s, Osborns and on through the south suburb of “Old Town”, through Dur phy’s, Holman’s and Leonard’s into Carroll County, whence it derived its name as “the Dalton Copper Lode”. It may be that this lead is folded at one or two places; and one part of it may be that which shows some native copper at Alexander’s just south of Mrs. Gentry’s, Greek P. O.

Next, north of the Dalton Lode, is a great band of quartz. Then, north of this quartz lead, all within half a mile of the Dalton Lead, is a band of talc and mica schist and slate, rather micaceous than talcose, which passes through, in a direction N E and S W, just north of Reavis Mill and Foundery and on south of Jones Mill on New River and thence on northeast, by the south of Rob’t Dickinson’s, by Ballard’s, Young’s McKinzey’s and Leonard’s, into Carroll County. This MeKinzey Lead, as it is sometimes called, yields both gold and silver upon analysis made by Dr. Henry Froehling, as follows

Gold 93 cents per ton of 2000 pounds.
Silver 34 cents ” “

Upon more careful and deeper mining, of apparently three feet of mineralized rock would yield much better results; but, unfortunately, the financial condition of this part of the country, does not now warrant any large mining operation on the part of its citizens. And, also, within this interval between the “Dalton” and “Iron Ridge” leads of Iron and Copper pyrites, is that highly garnetiferous lead, containing some gold also, besides Iron and Manganese, which passes, from the southwest toward northeast through lands of Doughton, Columbus and Hardin Reeves, Calloway, F. J. Lundy, P. Reeves, Gentry, Alexander, Cox, Hampton and others toward Dickinson’s north of Old Town and on N E toward Carroll County. Then, next north of :`the garnetiferous”, in the short distance of less than one mile from the Dalton Lead, is what is known as the Great Outburst Lead, Iron Ridge or Hampton Lead of pyrites of Iron and Copper, marked on the map as “Sulphur, Iron and Copper”.

Iron Ridge or Hampton Lead.

This “Iron Ridge or Hampton Lead ” is a very long one in Virginia, of which the lead in Grayson County, is considered the southwestern prolongation. It is a very prominent feature in Carroll County, extending through both the Betty Baker mine on the northeast and the Great Outburst on the southwest. While it is frequently over one hundred feet between walls in Carroll County, it rarely exceeds twenty feet in Grayson County, frequently at surface, not over six feet. This lead and, in fact, all that have so far been mentioned in this description, appear to be bedded deposites, conformable to the strike and dip of the country rock. In Grayson County, this Iron Ridge Lead is mown as the “° Hampton Lead “. It appears, farther southwest, in Grayson County, as broadly disseminated pyrites, in the rocks between Spurlin’s Mill and Doughton’s Ford. Its continuation northeast carries through the lands of Columbus Reeves, Porter, Calloway, Hampton, Gentry, Dr. Hampton’s Successor’s on New River Harvey -Boyer, near Boyer’s Ferry, and others, to Lytrell Hampton’s, Cox, Edwards Jones, Robert Dickinson’s just south of Garrison’s Ford, Wright, Patton, Young, McKinzey, Padgett and ,other s, into Carroll County, crossing New River about six Mmes in Grayson County. Going southwest of Doughton’s and Spurlin’s, this Iron Ridge, or Hampton Lead, apparently so underlies the surface as to cease making the easily recognized surface display of gossan or hydrated peroxide of Iron that it shows so plainly farther northeast. This lode is generally regarded as ding over twenty feet thickness, has a dip southward and southeast; and is known to yield 5 to 2 per cent of copper. The Iron sulphide in this deposit is doubtless pyrrhotite. Nickel sulphide may exist in this great bedded deposit; but no deep mining on this Hampton Lead has ever been attempted in Grayson Co. This Hampton copper ore is now being carefully prospected for analysis by Capt. R. G. Bourne, P. O., Independence, Va.

Next north of “Hampton Lead” is the band of hornblende and pyroxene schist, containing Magnetic Iron Ore, marked (B) on the map, which, really, is traceable southwest to Cranberry, in Mitchell Co., N. C. But, in the interval between the Hampton Lead and this Magnetic Iron Ore Lead (B), more than one mile in -width are bands of black slates which are sometimes plumbaginous, as at Rob’t Dickinson’s, Austin’s, Delp’s, Blairs and others. Some of these slate bands have the appearance of being roofing slates-many of those, so appearing, grading into lighter colored hydro-mica slates and then into schists.

The magnetic Ore Band (B), just mentioned, comes in from Ashe and Alleghany Counties, N. C., on the southwest, showing its greatest outbursts at A. D. Reynolds, McClure, and Helton Knob, David Blevins and others on the waters of Big Helton Creek, at Red Hill, in Ashe Co., N. C.; thence passing east and northeast, through Helton Knobs, through lands of Jones, Black, W. C. Greer, Peirce, Smith, John L. Pugh, L. M. Pugh, Halsey, Dixon, Sturgill, T. Cox, H. Cox, Isom Osborn. Boyden Cox, Taylor near Amorita, E. S. Cox, Taylor, Caudill, Billings, Spurlin, C. Reeves, Porter, Wingate, Vaughan, Collins, Pools, Hightower, J. Dickinson, Bowen, Dickinson & Waugh, Williams, Patton, Funk, Whittaker’s Williams, Alfred Bartlett, Mrs. Edwards, J. Barber and others, on northeast out of Grayson and into Carroll County.

At the southwestern end of this lead of Magnetite, pyroxene, hornblende and epidote, gneiss and olivine constitute the bulk of the gangue material that is found in this lead in the ridges on both sides of Helton Creek. There is no doubt that, the vertical thickness of the ledges holding magnetite along there are over one hundred feet thick: in places, on the surface, they appear fully one hundred and eighty feet, vertical between walls.

The question, along there, then, is the proportion of magnetite to the other vein matter and how disseminated in the deposite. In answer, it appears to be conceded by the oldest workers in this lead, at those points nearest to Helton Creek, for instance, David Blevins, that twenty per cent of the whole width is ore.

The efforts made to secure the most reliable information that could be hadfrom open cuts and other developments in this iron ore near Helton-was negatived to some extent by the time that, has elapsed since that kind of development was done. But, if here is a mile’s length at Helton Creek which will make twenty per cent all told in the seam, of 50 per cent ore, the vein being 100 feet wide, in hills varying, as they do, there, 500 and 250 feet ` hove water level, the tonnage such a body of ore would yield would necessarily be enormous. But, the question remains, will ‘these ore bodies yield that much ore ? At the least, the above dimensions would yield over two and one-half millions of tons per mile above water level. The ore where it is apparently thickest at Red Hill on Big Helton Creek, gave C. B. White, Chemist, of Philadelphia, the following analysis:

Metallic Iron 44.320 to 57.112 per cent
Phosphorus 0.036 to .110 per cent
Titanic Acid 0.128 to .229 per cent
Silica is presumed to be about 20.000 to 11.000 percent

The Titanium is not present in this lead in sufficient quantity to be injurious.

Another analysis of Red Hill Ore, is given without the chemist’s name attached in Mr. Nitze’s elaborate paper in the ‘Transactions of the American Institute of Mining Engineers:

Silica 19.83 percent
Metalic Iron 51. 55
Sulphur 0.137
Phosphorus 0.042

These analyses of ores in Seam (B), shown on the map, will give a very good general idea of the ore, throughout from end to end, of that seam.

The magnetite in the lead passing through Ballou’s, Henniger’s and Young’s-about 12 feet of ore-called (C) on the map, yields for Mr. C. B. White, as follows:

Metallic Iron 60.812 percent
Phosphorus 0.023 percent

But this lead (C) is in two seams, one 30 feet, the other 5 feet Between walls. See “Resources of South West Va.”, John Wiley Sons, publishers, 53, E-10th, St., New York.

These magnetic Iron ores, being such as they are, and so singled with various silicates, it is evident from comparisons pith other localities less favorably situated both for mining and the average quantity of ore accessible; that crushing and concentration with magnetic separators; would be the proper plan to pursue in order to secure the largest quantities of high grade shiping ores, from these seams, at the lowest cost of preparation for market. Thus, from New River, near Hamm Ford, all through the Potato and Piney Creek–country, in Grayson and Alleghany Counties, and through to Helton and Henniger’s in Ashe County near the Bromine Arsenic Springs, there are ten miles lengths of the several fold or nearly parallel outcrops of these ores, that ought thus to yield any desirable tonnage in iron ore that a railway might require; particularly, when it is known, that, within the next ten miles, west of Big Helton Creek and Brown & Henninger’s there is as much as, or more than, that enumerated for the first ten miles mentioned. The Brown & Henniger Lead, under the above treatment, will yield doubtless a higher percentage of shipping ore to the ton than the Helton are.

Thus, it may be safely estimated, that there are above water level, in this district, after magnetic concentration, say, in the twenty miles west of Hamm’s Ford, to say nothing of that which lies eastward of that ford, toward the CarrollGrayson boundary dine, over thirty millions of tons of ore.

But all along this magnetic series from J. Barber’s, on the above named county boundary, southwest and west, the openings in these deposits attest their continuity and general reliability, mile after mile. While the ore in this eastern part is not as thick as that at Helton and Pugh’s, it would nevertheless yield a large tonnage of ore, if concentrated as stated above.

In this process of concentration, or magnetic separation, since the phosphorus constituent is mainly attribitable to the gangue, there would be secured an ore from 60 to 50 per cent metallic Iron and almost totally free from phosphorus, as well as sulphur. There would not be over 0.020 per cent phosphorus and such pyrites as exist would have to be magnetic in order to be taken up and carried over into the shipping ore.

It may be confidently asserted that, a railway passing up southwest, by the most practicable route, through Grayson County, into Alleghany and Ashe Counties of N. C., would command not less than seventy-five millions of tons of excellent magnetic Iron ore above water level, of Bessemer grade, that would probably cost less to mine, concentrate and ship to all furnaces in Virginia, than the same could be had for from and other locality, in such bulk. For, in thus arriving at this conclusion, as to comparative cost, a large coefficient of reduction, in the average cost of production, would be found in the percentage of lump ore of 50 per cent average grade, encountered in the mining, which would require no other treatment than sorting at the time the whole bulk was removed from the pit.

There is a very full treatment with many analyses of these magnetic iron ores, of Ashe and Alleghany counties, N. C., by Nitze, Asst. Geologist of N.C., and also of the systems of crushing ores for magnetic separation in Volume XXI of The Transactions of The American Institute of Mining Engineers, which can had of Dr. R. W. Raymond, Secretary, New York City.

Before dismissing this magnetic ore lead (B), it may be well call attention to the fact, that, immediately under it, in the order of stratification, less than sixty feet, there is a seam of quartz, of variable thickness, from a few inches to two feet, holding galenite and pyrites, which will yield some gold and silver as at Smith’s near John L. Pugh’s and again in the Potato Creek country, y, at Isom Osborn’s Rob’t. Marsh, G. W. Gilliam, Whorton Phipps, Isom Osborn, jr., P. J. Walls, Z. Cox and Z. Taylor. Indeed the sulphurets, sometimes in defined seams of these magnetic Iron ores, may also carry gold. If this pyrites, of the Iron .ore lead, is not magnetic, it is quite probable that an analysis of all gangue, which the magnetic concentrations would refuse, would show some gold.

A thorough treatment of the two hundred feet more or less, in which this magnetic ore formation is enclosed, would include careful analysis for gold in each subdivision of it-say every ten feet. While this gold, if found, would not be, much of it, free gold, still there might be sufficient to pay expenses of mining and reduction, though it were combined gold, only. There would also probably be found same silver; but the quantity of it would be ‘too small, doubtless, to pay for extraction, unless a system of reduction should be employed that would remove it along with the gold. Relatively, this would be true, also, of the pyrrhotite for magnetic pyrites, farther east, along New River, leading to the Great Outburst in Carroll County; in which, doubtless, quantities would be found of a pyrites that is not magnetic and hick may be the matrix of some gold, combined or free.

The next two miles width of the cross section, lying north of he last named magnetic ore Lead (B) is one of great interest, on account of the variety of the minerals and metals contained herein. There are in this space Gold bearing pyrites, Galena, Barytes, Magnetite, Specular Iron ore and a pyrites no doubt carrying copper as well as Iron. In this interval is also a fine ‘ rained ratherfriable, gneiss that makes excellent whetstones.

The Gold bearing pyrites of this part of the section is quite along N E and S W ; though it is not here declared that it is free gold. It gave at one point on lands of Isaac Boyer, operated by Col. Vaughan, G. W. Gilliam, J. R. Pool and others, $ 2.69 in Bolder ton of 2000 pounds, when analysed by Dr. Froehling. This articular lead of pyritous gneiss passes northeast from about Hamm Ford, north of E. S. Cox and Caudill, passing through the lands of G. W. Gilliam, Isaac Bayer, J. R. Pool, Col. Vaughan, north of Bethel Church, through Wingate’s, crossing Peach Bottom Creek and Johns Creek near M. Vaughan’s, and thence on northeast, through the lands of Morton, M. Vaughan, Capt’n. R. G. Bourne and others toward Shamrock P. O. and Island Ford. Northeast of Island Ford, it should naturally pass near Cherry Grove anal then bending more to the north, pass, just south of Stephens Creek P. O., and south of Porter’s Store on the Carroll-Grayson boundary line, on toward Nuckolls on Chestnut Creek. This lead appears in a gneissoid band with quartz and is probably nearly 10 feet thick, at the point. noted and analysed and would doubtless show a wider mineralization at other points, besides Isaac Boyer’s. Indeed, at R. G. Bourne’s and other places, this; mineralization is broader than one hundred feet.

This valuable streak of gold bearing pyrites is on the north side of a gossan lead indicating pyrites of Iron and copper, as at the Nellie Austin or Roddy & Fulton opening; there being ledges running parallel and close to both of these carrying magnetic and specular Iron ores,– passing through all the lands enumerated for the above gold bearing pyrites Lead. When, in going northeast, on these particular ledges you reach Island Ford, you find excellent Barytes at W. P. Pool’s South of Island Ford, at an elevation of 200 feet above New River. There being no excavations in this barytes there are no means of forming an estimate of its probable extent.

The above mentioned mineralized : two miles interval, is the cross section, measured northward from the greater Magnetic Ore Lead, “B” is bounded on the north or northwest side, by a body of heavy epidote and magnetic iron ore, passing northeastwardly just south of Independence. This line of ore is known eastwardly of Independence, where it is most heavily impregnated with iron ore as the old Bourne Furnace and Forge Lead of Magnetic Iron ore passing near the Rock Church, also through the lands of Mrs. Thomas, Fulton, Pool and others, and probably, eastwardly, breaking into those lines which show magnetic ore’s near Cherry Grove.

This lead of ore. coming in from the southwest is probably a fold of a great magnetic bed which once occupied the basin of Upper New River. It is very interesting scientifically as a part of the geologic alphabet of this region; but space now, forbids its further treatment in that light. There is also a magnetic Iron ore Lead, (D), coming in from Sturgill’s, Ashe Co., which enters Grayson County about McCarter’s and Weiss’. This lead of ore was found by McCreath, chemist. This lead from Sturgill’s passes through lands of Kilby, McCarter, Weiss, Young, crosses Wilson Creek near Edgewater, lands of Mastin Pugh, thence on throuh lands of Young, Hash, J. P. Perkins and others in the direction of Buck Mountain, as though uplifted and deflected by the granitic upthrow.

Then the next mile of our section carries us over most of the remaining space occupied by the old country rock, so far as the middle and eastern parts of the county are concerned, before we reach the general line of the southeastern rim of the granitic upheavals. This mile or more, of interval, in width, is usually soft gneissic and thin bedded schist and slats, interlarninated with quartz stringers and more purely talco-micaceous and hornblende slates. Numerous wands may be observed in this interval, which, when submitted to close assay, yield from 80 to 50 cents her ton in gold. Nearly all these lines pass through or near Independence, the county site. And, being so near the southern limit of the great granitic upheaval, there may be expected those fissure seams, mentioned heretofore in this volume, as chiefly filled with quartz and pyrites.

Of these fissures, the one at Wm. Bryant’s, in the road, near Fox P. O., has been alluded to already herein. Dr. Henry Froehling’s assay of this quartz and pyrite gave, for the surface ore, $ 1.08 in gold per ton of 2000 pounds. If this fissure were driven down one hundred feet or more, it would doubtless be found to expand and also increase in metallic yield. It is to be regretted, indeed, that no more funds and time were available, in which to prosecute the search around the many miles of contact line, at the southern, as well as at the northern margin, of this extensive granitic upheaval.

In Grayson County, alone, this series of contact lines is doubtless fully eighty-five miles in length; and it is unreasonable to suppose that the fissure at Bryant’s and Larkin Phipps’ is the only one in the county. Indeed there must be many such, both covered and uncovered, that would doubtless well repay both the scientific man and the investor, to more thoroughly investigate. And this, too, not merely because a series of paying gold veins might thus be discovered; but the whole area being excellently well watered and timbered, at such elevations above the sea, it would be also the miner’s as it is now the farmer’s beau ideal of a perfect country. For while the mining and mechanical population would furnish excellent home markets for the farmers, the whole, combined, would retain a greatly increased and growing amount of circulating medium in the county. Not far north of Mr. Bryant’s above mentioned is plumbago, also.

This interval in the cross section, which is about one mile in width far the middle and eastern portions of the county, toward the western and, from Fox Creep and Wilson Creek westwardly appears there to be much wider. Them, in the western division the pyritous bands hold an increased quantity of galenite along the southern boundary of granitic upthrow, the rocks being schistose and sometimes slaty and fissile. And that pyritous lead, which, in particular, toward the west, contains the above mentioned galenite, is probably more than 150 feet thick, at a point where the East fork of Horse Creek crosses into North Carolina. It is a great bedded deposit south of the granite contact line, trending northeast showing at such places as at Ryhorn’s and presenting the appearance of a body that had been uplifted on the side of the great granitic upthrow, resulting probably in a partial metamorphosis of the rocks of these areas.

Nearly all the rocks of the entire area of that portion of the county, in fact, all west of the Titaniferous Magnetic Iron Ore Lead, “(B)”, are also more or less impregnated with sulphides of iron of different forms. Often the rock is a felsitic schist alternating with micaceous and aluminous slates, with sandstone and quartz leads. It appears, really, to be a great storehouse of partially differentiated minerals, which, apparently, require still further handling in Nature’s laboratory, in order to more positively concentrate the precious metals those racks are known to contain. That proportion is about 50 cents in gold her ton of 2000 pounds almost throughout that entire area,–except at Thornton Kilby’s on F’ee’s Branch, where the rack yields $2.40 in gold per ton of 2000 pounds.

Also, toward the north side of this western part of this interval just south of the granitic upthrow, is a large area of outcrop of Marble of superior attractiveness,-in the arrangement of the colors distributed through it on a white ground. It is therefore variegated marble; the best known deposit of which is near Marshall Pugh’s, Greer’s and Cicero Plummer’s. This deposit is over 200 feet wide from north to south and its continuation from east to west is known for more than a mile. A quarry has been opened which shows increasing firmness of texture and beauty of coloring as the quarry decends. It is apparently a. different variety in its coloring from any other known marble.

Something like pure talc, which shows to one side or the other of this marble, then makes its appearance in some bulk in Mink’s Ridge east of the marble outcrop, passing on southward of Grant P. O.

The Granite to Upthrow.

Then after you pass a rather narrow line of pegmatite, felsite and quartz going northward (which is apparent about Independence) you are directly in the southern limits of the Granite Upthrows. This granitic upthrow, apparently thrown up in a long line of lenzes, extends in a general line from S West of White Top Mountain, northeastwardly and eastwardly. through White Top, Balsam (Mt. Rogers), Buck, Point Lookout and other high mountains, as heretofore mentioned. This great mass of granitic rocks, as a whole, is forty miles long in Grayson County, by an average width of seven miles. It is elevated, at the highest points, 2500 to 2700 feet above the general level of the old country rock formations surrounding its southern rim. Potash feldspar is a very large constituent of its rocks; but while there are very large masses of flesh colored stone, owing to the presence of such a large quantity of potash, there are also very great masses of pure black and white granite. There are also quantities of Syenite ; and there are also bodies resembling porphyry.

Indeed there appear to be all grades and varieties of gr anitoid rocks. Some ledges are so micaceous as to yield mica in large scales, as at Wingate’s and M. Dickey’s, near Striped Rock, in west face of Point Lookout Mountain. In other places, apparently more toward the northern sides of the upthrow, potash feldspar, with its high flesh color, exists almost without any other constituents; as on upper sections of Fox, Elk, Peach Bottom, ‘turkey Fork, Knob Fork and Stephens Creeks. Then, again, the quartz is a very pure clear flint in almost endless quantity and variety, suggesting as at John M. Dickey’s and on lands of his brother s, its adaptability to the manufacture of flint glass. Occasionally, great quartz crystals, with brilliant facets, several inches across, are found; and, doubtless, many such exist in the soil, in all areas around these mountains, that have not yet been brought to light.

In all the areas, occupied by the granitic upthrows, there are occasional deposits of Magnetic Iron Ore and outcrops of galena, as well as disseminated pyrites. The Iron ores of this variety, usually marked “E ” on the map, are shown on the north face of Buck Mountain, on lands of C. E. Bryant, Cornea, Rush Hale, Rhudy and others; then, again, in Briar Patch Mountain and minor spurs, on lands of Hines, Ephriam :Boyar, in Pool’s Ridge, Mason & Funk and Reece Hale, as if they had been brought up on the crests of uplifted masses of granite.

But those galenites found in Point Lookout Mountain, back or west of Cornett’s and Rhudy’s, possibly near S. M. Fulton’s land as well as on Lewis Bryant’s possibly, are apparently a constituent part of the great granitic body.

It is impossible to give even an approximate estimate of the extent and value of these ore bodies, without further exploration with pick and shovel and drill. The quantity of granite available for quarrying, in all the mountains and hills occupied by it, is beyond estimate.

Its beauty in Grayson County, is one of its most attractive features; and that feature, together with its abundance and easy accessibility, ought to render it an important item to any railway that may be built in its vicinity. These granite upthrows occupy fully one-third of the area of the county; and the wearing down of the rocks of which they! are composed, is the source of the almost inexhaustible fertility of the soil of such lar ge areas of the county-both mountain and plain.

These remarks appear also very particularly appropriate to the White Top region, now in possession of the Douglass Heirs of New York, the White Top Consolidated Company and others.

For the White Top and its neighboring high elevations, alternating with depressions marked by constant water courses, besides having such a profuse variety of granitoid rocks, constitute together a great natural park,-nature’s veritable conservatory of the richest forestal and floral life in all states east of the Mississippi River. And this admirable condition could easily be maintained there, perpetually, by the employment of thorough system in the control of all forests, mines, quarries and streams. In which systematic administration of the forests, two or more trees, of choice varieties, could be made to supply the place of every tree that is removed..

On the southern exposure of these granite masses, as a whole, the streams which take their rise wholly within Grayson County, and run southward into New River, are, by name, certain branches of Horse, Helton, Grassy, Wilson, Little Fox, Bridle, Saddle, Bills, Shoal, Brush, Little Peach Bottom and Rock Creeks and some minor branches. But as heretofore stated, the main forks of Fox, Peach Bottom, Elk, Turkey Fork, Knob Fork, Stephens, and Eagle Bottom Creeks, head behind or north of the Great Granitic Uphtrow as a whole. And the reason why these creeks are thus brought in here, as if improperly removed from their regular order in the description of, the drainage system paid, topography, is, that their positions, if now referred to on the map, will indicate the lines of approach to all those portions of the granitic masses which are likely to be selected for quarrying purposes.

So far as inspected, there is not a mile of this granite upthrow, on either its northern or southern exposures, which would not supply one or more good quarrying faces. While, in the gorge of Peach Bottom Creek northwest of Independence, many such places can easily:: -be ,detected in passing along the turnpike, where stones and blocks of any size desired may be readily obtained-the face of “Striped Rock”, alone, on the land of Mr. Dickey, being quite 200 feet. nearly vertical, naturally exposed.

U. S. Census Bulletin, No. 45; (March 26, 1891), gives valuable information on pager 22, 23- 24, 25 and 26. as to the methods in use for “Cutting, polishing and ornamenting granite”.

The Interval Between Granitic Upthrows and Iron Mountain.

Then, going northward, with the cross section, leaving the northern margin of the granitic upthrow, we are in an interval of felsites, quartz, olivines, ornamental red slates and several petrolithic varieties, almost endless in variety, color, texture, form and composition; and all the ledges, contiguous to the granite contact line, invariably seem to be more or less impregnated with Iron pyrites, to the extent of 50 cents in gold and sometimes more per ton of 2000 pounds

These remarks apply chiefly to all this interval north of the granite upheaval and eastward of Trout Dale. West of that place, on Upper Fox Creek, the interval, lying between the granite and the rocks in the spurs of Iron Mountain, is much narrower than any part of this long interval east or northeast of Trout Dale, with almost no exception, now recalled. This interval between the -raLnite and Iron Mountain formation proper, in Grayson, is fully thirty-three miles in length, by a width varying between 3′; miles on Elk Creek to only a few hundred yards, on Upper Fox Creek. So that the line which more nearly coincides with the direction of granitic upthrows, though an east or N E line, also, diverges somewhat from the course of, or trend of Iron Mountain rock outcrops, as you proceed northeast. In fact, after crossing Elk Creek, going eastward, in the case of Briar Patch Mountain, the axis of granitic upthrow is still more deflected to the east and southeast, somewhat abruptly ending its motion in that direction. And, consequently, the farther northeast you proceed, beyond the last named mountain, the more nearly the old country rock, of the southern margin, approaches that lying north of the northern rim of this remarkable upheaval. The ledges of old country rock, on both sides of the granite upthrow, that are ten miles apart in the middle of the county, are only 1 1/2 miles apart at the eastern boundary of the county.

In the above described interval between the granite and the Iron Mountain formation, at one point in Elk Creek Valley, known as Round Mountain, the rock is almost wholly quartzite, stained on the surface with Iron oxide. There is also a marked outcrop of quartz passing by a lice from Cannoy’s to Mastin Hale’s. Then as you proceed still farther north, before reaching the Great Con Conglomerate Load of Iron Mountain you traverse jaspery red quartz and easily workable masses of ornamental red slates that receive an excellent polish and broad ledges of red and gray sand-stone.

The Great Conglomerate Lead.

In this conglomerate series, composed of two or more bands, the more distinctive and characteristic band has in it pebbles often approaching a turkey egg in size and from that size down. These pebbles are mainly quartz, but many of them are red feldspars and porphyry and some are bluish gray argillite hard enough to scratch quartz.

These bands of conglomerate are found coming into Grayson County from the head waters of the Laurel Fork of Holston River, passing northeastwardly down the north side of Upper Fox Creek, in the south slopes of Iron Mountain proper, passing just north of Trout Dale, through Flat Ridge, the Cove, Upper Elk Creek, and on, eastward, through the Turkey Knobs and Brushy Spurs of Iron Mountain, fully thirty-eight miles in Grayson County. It passes, thus, from Southwest to northeast through the lands of Douglas Heirs, Greer and others on Upper Fox Creek, Bolt, Watson, Peirce, Dickey, Herrington’s, Burton, McKinon, Spicer, Roberts, Parks Bobbins, Cornea, James, Mrs. Cornett, Comer, Hines, Callihan, John Whitman, Wythe Whitman, McCormick, lands of Cornett Brothers, Martin, Ring, Mrs. Cornett and many other on its course through via Brush Creek’s south branches, toward Carroll County, having an average thickness of fifty feet between walls. While all the rocks of this conglomerate formation, in general, on the south side of Iron Mountain, have the appearance, on surface, of dipping southwardly, the whole lead is either perpendicular in altitude or assumes a northward dip shortly below the surface. Its minerals and metals are, gold, silver, copper, Iron and sulphur and possibly nickel, as combined sulphides. This particular lead, the position of which is shown on the map of the county, is a marked feature in all that rock formation, and is noted for its dark color, on account of the black sand contained in the body cementing the pebbles together. It is difficult to say whether the greater mineralization is in the cement or in the pebbles. The analyses of the rock by the following chemists is as follows, so far as made known:

(1). Sample taken from Whitman lands, Elk Creek, and assayed by Dr. Henry Froehling, Chemist, Richmond, Va.

Gold 0.40 cents per ton of 2000 pounds
Silver 0.460 cents per ton of 2000 pounds
Copper 9 pounds per ton of 2000 pounds

(2). Sample taken from Peirce’s lands, waters of Fox Creek, and assayed by Dr. Henry Froehling.

Gold 0.04 ounces per ton of 2000 pounds.
Silver 0.12 ounces per ton of 2000 pounds.

Young and Thomas, of Grant, now working a lease of the Peirce lands, claim that two competent analyses made in Colorado, show that these ores contain from $15.00 to $8.00 per ton in gold.

(8). Sample taken by G. W. Greer of the conglomerate near Trout Dale and forwarded to Fred A. Ray & Co., Chemists, Cripple Creek, Colorado.

Gold $ 8.00 per ton of 2000 pounds.
Silver .34 cents per ton of 2000 pounds.

Other analyses were made of the ore from near Trout Dale, both by Western Chemists and also at Charlotte, N. C., one of which gave $1.00 gold per ton; another $ 1.60 per ton and another, the one at Charlotte, gave 83 cents gold per ton. But the writer had only the first two of this number made. So, it would appear, that, either the gold is very irregularly disseminated in this conglomerate rock, or its reputation, as a possible grid producer, requires further illustration. It has .shown; so far as known, no, free gold. Its gold is in combination, what there is of it.

Some processes, for the reduction of gold ores, it is claimed, can be employed profitably on ores yielding $1.50 gold per ton. This may or may not operate with equal facility upon both free and combined gold. Should this particular lead show, however, upon farther investigation, that it holds as much as twenty hounds of copper per ton of 2000 pounds, in any combination, its mining and reduction would be profitable on that account alone; but since the precious metals are also present in the. rock in variable quantities, a process of reduction that would secure them all in the product would doubtless pay a very handsome return, provided, of course, there were 20 pounds of copper per ton of rock, as the basis of operations.

The writer regrets that he did not have the rock of this lead analyzed for nickel also, since there are so many variously colored bunches of pyrites in this mass, until it was too late to show the results of such an analysis in this book.

But indeed the whole rock formation on the southern slope of Iron Mountain, appears to be pyritous, for several hundred yards in width, so that one might well be at a loss to distinguish those ledges which should be assayed from those which should not. In this line; or rather, series of rocks, there is a band of quartzose sandrock, lying 200 yards northward from the most distinctive conglomerate, which ,yields pyrites in large bunches. This line of rocks, particularly, on Turkey Fork, where the Wytheville and Grayson turnpike crosses it, on lands of Martin and also on lands of Ring, is said .to be a better gold and silver bearing subject than the Conglomerate Lead.

Unfortunately, the money, for all purposes, was not sufficient to warrant a thorough exploration and analysis of this pyrites. It may be stated that, physical examination shows this pyrites to be fine grained with some quartz in it. Under the glass, there appeared to be a good proportion of it brass yellow in appearance, while the greater bulk was gray in fracture and gave a dark gray powder when pulverized.

North of this, a half mile, is a persistent lead of red specular Iron ore 2 to 6 feet in thickness, which extends throughout the length of Iron Mountain in Grayson County. It contains less silica and more metallic Iron here than do the same ores farther northeast, as they have been mined in the vicinity of Blue Ridge and other places in Botetourt County.


In the bottom lands bordering nearly all the creeks and branches in the county, there are bodies of clay, some of which appear to be Potter’s Clay. Notably, there is a large body of this clay on the Almshouse Farm of the county. And there is another place reported, at Stephen Cornett’s on Upper Elk Creek, where it is said, the Indians once made their pottery from clay found in the vicinity. This clay maybe also observed in the road and low grounds as you proceed along the first mile running northwest from Independence, on Little Peach Bottom Creek both near the turnpike and in the bottom near the creek. There are numerous other localities-on quite a number of the creeks of the county-that the clays might pay the experienced prospector.

There are also numerous bodies of bog Iron ores and also manganese, in many of the creek bottoms; and on New River, at both Preston Reeves’ and lower down at Rob’t. Dickinson’s, among others, this is a noticeable feature. On the map of the county the localities of these clays and ores may readily be seen, as well as the position of the line of rocks yielding the best whetstones; and, in fact, all the ore lines, and rock formations may be readily understood by reference to the map and sections accompanying this book.


The distance from railway transportation, at present, in Grayson County, operates against an increase in the production of all cereal crops and vegetables; though there is always an abundance, if not a very large surplus, one year taken with another, of everything -that is consumed by the population, and live stock of all kinds, in the county.

There are probably 128,000 acres under cultivation or in grass, in the county; the remaining 192,000 acres being chiefly timbered land. While in the Basin of Upper New River, as a whole, there are doubtless 400,000 acres in timber. Of that under cultivation, there is probably none of it that will not produce excellent hay-either timothy, clover, blue grass or orchard grass -at an average of 2200 pounds to the acre; while there are areas on Helton, Grassy, Fox, Bridle, Saddle, Brush, Peach Bottom, Elk, Turkey Fork, Knob Fork, Bull Run, Stephens and Eagle Bottom Creeks, on the north side of New River, and Piney, Potato, Little Elk, Little River, Crab, Meadow and Chestnut Creeks, on the south side of New River, that will frequently produce quite 5000 pounds of timothy hay per acre.

Feldspars and related silicates being so widely disseminated as constituents of nearly all the rocks in the county, with the exception of some bands of a manganiferous slate and sometimes magnesia replacing line in epidote, their decomposition, in sithe, adds to the fertility of the soil at any and all elevations. Hence, the lands, upon the very highest mountains, are frequently in cultivation, producing all the cereals and grasses, and making good crops of wheat, rye, corn, oats and buckweat, timothy, clover, blue grass and vandal grass, without the aid of but little if any commercial fertilizer. But, if railway transportation could be secured for the county, there would be an enormous increase in the annual consumption of commercial fertilizers, because of its increasing so greatly the yield of small grain. This increased consumption of fertilizers would also be greatly due to the stimulus given to the production of a large surplus of all classes of farm products, particularly, wheat, oats and rye, by the cheapening of their cost of transportation to market, over existing rates. These remarks-as to the increase of productions, intended fur shipment, thus promoted-will also doubtless apply, in a measure, to all live stock, fruits and vegetables, subjects not so directly concerned in the question of cheap fertilizers, as well as to cereals and grasses which are. Thus, while the county now may produce of wheat, say, 85,000 bushels from 10,000 acres, 95,000 bushels of oats from 6,000 acres, 300,000 bushels of corn from 15,000 acres, 29,000 bushels of rye from 4,000 acres, 500 bushels of barley from 30 acres and 5,000 bushels of buckwheat from 500 acres of land and 5, 000 tons of hay from 4, 000 acres, with the remainder of her cleared land pasturing 85,000 head of live stock, there is the very strongest likelihood, that, with more convenient facilities of transportation, Grayson County would increase all these productions at least ten fold. Besides the evidence these figures supply, as the average productive capacity of the soils of Grayson, an inspection of the entire arable area of the county would indicate the existence of those conditions, naturally, which insure more or less permanency in the fertility of the soil. For the continued decomposition of the classes of rocks, named herein, and the greater or less commingling and distribution of those decomposed elements, have made a soil, even on the hills and mountains, of an average depth of six to two feet, except in river and creek bottoms where the soil is deeper. The subsoil, almost uniformily is a stiff red clay. Of course, the above remarks are general in their applications; for there are many places, where the rock formation of the country comes to surface over considerable areas. And there are, also one or more outcrops of persistent ledges, toward the southern side of the county, in the main, composed of a manganiferous slate and harder epidote rock, which do not promote so great a degree of fertility by their decomposition. This condition of reduced fertility, in restricted areas, may be due to magnesia having replaced the lime in some of these epidote rocks; for where the epidote rocks, or niggerheads, [sic] are true epidotes, like those on Knob Fork and Stephens Creek, holding a true porportion of lime, the soils are good and strong and the subsoil excellent.-The lands on Elk, Peach Bottom, Fox, Bridle, Saddle, Brush, Shoals, Bills, Wilson, Helton, Grassy, Horse, Piney, Potato, Crab, Meadow and Chestnut Creeks, Little River and New River, undoubtedly derive their excellence very greatly from the decomposition of potash feldspar, associated with lime feldspars.

The greatest improvement in cattle and sheep and riding stock has been noticeable of late years, in herds, hocks and droves on Elk, Bridle, Grassy and Knob Fork Creeks; while other portions of the county, on both sides of the river, are also pushing improvement in all these lines, as well as in the construction of handsome residences and barns as rapidly as they can.

For example: Charles E. Bryant, Preston Reeves and others of the name, J. M. McLean, Alex. Bryant, Lewis Bryant, Columbus Phipps, Dodge Phipps and many others of the name, W. H. Herrington, Coxes, Wm., John M., Stephen M. and M. Dickey, Rob’t. L Dickinson, John Dickinson, Fulton, S. M. and his sons and others of the name, Eli C. Hale, Prof. Stephen Hale, Gwyn and Poindexter, Cornetts, the Delps, McMillans, W. F. Rhudy, Reeve Hale, Mitchells, Scotts, Col. Vaughan, T. C. Vaughan, R. G. Bourne, McCamants, Andersons, J. D. Perkins, Parsons, Wm. Bryant, Bagwells, Ellen Robbins, Isham Thompson, Greers, Thomases, Plummers, Cole, Hasps, Halseys, Doughtons, Tollivers, Osborns, Taylors, Warricks, Waughs, Dufpheys, F. J. Lundy, J. K. Phipps, Larkin Phipps, Higgins, Hamptons, Browns, Jennings, Hacklers, Todds, Edwards, Carsons, Reavis, Cordons, Jefferson Ring, Dr. Ring, Rob’t. Nuckolls, Nuckolls, Boyers, Sweeneys, Mallorys, Gilhams, Pools, Carricos, Me Knights, Wrights, Blevins, Kilbys, Farmers, Padgetts, Livesays, Youngs, ‘Centers, Jones, Garters, Spencers, Pughs, Fields, Perkins, Parks, McGinnis, Hoffmans, Wells, McKinon, Whitmans, McCormicks, Wysongs, Phillips, Loflands, Griffiths, Bartletts, Barbers, Wingates, Gentrys, Collins, Alexanders, Weiss, Peirces, Davises, Martin, Fletchers, Busicks, Minks, Burtons, Bakers, Bolts Watsons, Shiners, Clarks, Ross, Dents, Baldwins, Williams, Brewers, Fielders, Neals, Bourns, Adkins, Porters, Funks, McCarters, Jacksons, Pattons, McKinzeys, Spurlins, Murpheys, Prices, Winesetts, Brennocks, Morton, Hawkins, Shaws, Gallions, Sextons, of permanent improvement in their stock, their farms, and many of them in homes that would be a credit to . any people. Shorthorns in cattle and Cotswolds and Shropshire Downs in sheep seem to be favorites; while some people are favoring Herefords in cattle, there are only a few of these, as well as those people who favor the introduction of Jerseys.

For European markets, there are probably 4, 000 head of cattle shipped annually; and nearly. as many more cattle for American markets solely. There are probably 25,000 sheep sold annually, and the wool clip, not exceeding 150,000 pounds now, is chiefly used up in the county.

Grayson County sells annually a large quantity of Bacon; and the numbers of poultry and eggs sent out of the county annually would doubtless, all, together, reach several hundred tons.

The Agricultural machinery now in use in Grayson County is, principally, the McCormick, Buckeye, Champion, Walter A. Wood, Johnson, Altman Miller & Co., as to reapers and mowers, besides those of other manufacturers.

Besides the cereals, baled hay and other farm products, Grayson would send to market with increased facility of transportation, the quantity of Apples the county would ship annually, would be very large, probably 50,000 barrels. Grayson County, for many years has been justly famous for the size and flavor of her apples. The soil and climate seems to be peculiarly adapted to the production of apples of fine flavor and fine keeping qualities; while the trees are selected from the best nurseries throughout the country-many being purchased from the Richmond Nursery, the Knoxville, and not a few from the state of New York.

The kinds of apples one sees are principally the Virginia Beauty, Buckingham, Roman Beauty, Summer Pearmoin, Pippin, Russets, Fallow Water, Ben Davis, Wine Sap, Horse Apple and others. The Roman Beauty seems to bear shipment best.

Ferns, Shrubs and Flowering Plants.

Every variety known to this latitude is common here. On account of the high average fertility of the soil, they are plentiful, highly developed and luxuriant.

Among the ferns are numerous elegant specimens of Cyclopteris, Aspidium, Aplenium, Newropteris, forms resembling closely the fossil Pecopteris, Cheilanthes, Perlaca and Polypodium with several others.

As to flowering plants and shrubs, the undergrowth of many a mountain glen is largely made up of Laurel and Ivy so called: It is the Rhodendron Catawbiense, M., sometimes Rhododendron Maximiun L. and Kalmias, in profusion. Along the streams are Clestra, Andromeda and Magnolia, Umbrella and Acuminata. Leucothac are common. Vaccinia, Azaleas, Calendarlacea, Galax, Chimaphilla and Pyrolas, Monutropa and Sweinitzia, Ilea, Labiatae-Codronella-Scutellaria, Pellosa, Etc., Virginicum L., Pyrularia, Oleifera, Euphorbiae, Prosartes, Umbellata, Convellata, Carices and Cerea Fraseriana.


The timber resources of Grayson County, with the exception of Walnut. White and Yellow Pine and the partially removed poplar, has about 160,000 acres of virgin forest. But the trees, just mentioned have been only partially removed. There are certain areas, in which, they have been only partially cut.

Extensive areas, on the fertile high lands of White Top, Balsam, Pine, Buck and Point Lookout Mountains, and some of their spurs, are practically normally covered with old forests of Black Spruce ( Abies nigra, Poir), Beech, Cherry, Mountain Mahogany, Oaks of all different Virginia varieties, Ashe, Hickory, Hemlock, Poplar or great American Tulip tree ( Liriodendron tulipipera), Pines, Dogwod, Cucumber, Linn, Buckeye, Maple, Chestnut, Locust and other varieties common to the latitude.

This region will soon be invaded by such companies as are engaged elsewhere in the manufacture of chewing gum from the Black Spruce, as well as all kinds of timber and lumber dealers. Blue Ridge mountain has a great deal of Poplar and Hickory still intact, toward the head of Chestnut and Meadow Creeks. Along and near New River, about Preston Reeves, Lundy, Calloway, Hampton and others, the hills, on both sides of the river, are quite heavily covered with stave timber, hickory and dogwood. This is also true of nearly every locality on the lower ridge lands. There is, also, in nearly every portion of the county, a belt of White Pine still guarded from depredation. The quantity of White Oak, in the greater middle belt of Grayson County, adapted to cross ties and stringers, is apparently beyond computation. Four million of white oak cross ties alone, now standing in the county, would be a low estimate, to say nothing of the greater quantity the chestnut oak would supply. Tan bark is also abundant.

Mineral Waters

Mineral waters showing the best curative character, are those issueing from rock formations which either slightly or heavily impregnate the water with solutions of their own constituents, such as phosphates, carbonates and sulphates of Lithia, Potash, Sodium, Iron, Manganese, etc.

Of such springs, the Nuckolls Healings Springs, near Old Town, has an established reputation. Its analysis is as follows:

( By Dr. Berry Froehling d Analytical Chemist, Richmond, Va.)

26 Gallons of Water, 231 cubic inches to the Gallon.

Sodium Carbonate .59134 grain
Calcium Carbonate 1.08471
Magnesium Carbonate .58726
Lithium Carbonate .01749
Barium Carbonate .04665
Copper, Lead and Zinc Carbonate-Trace
Potassium Sulphate .45605
Potassium Chloride .08631
Sodium Chloride .29275
Sodium Arseniate .00466
Sodium Iodide .00349
Sodium Bromide .01866
Calcium Fluoride-Trace
Iron Proto-Sulphate .03224
Aluminium Phosphate .00991
Aluminium Silicate .17903
Silica 1.76120
5.17275 grains
Organic Matter, Ammonia and Nitric Acid -Faint traces
Carbonic Acid combined with monocarbonates to form bicarbonates .87477

(Signed ).


The curative springs on lands of Robert Nuckolls and D. D. Lofland on Elk Creek, not far from Elk Creek P. O., appear to be the same in general character as that of Nuckolls Healing Spring. The curative spring of Kenly C. Cornea; on the upper waters of Peach Bottom Creek, is somewhat different from the above in composition, being of a more chalybeate character than either of the others. But all of these springs are of proven efficacy in all cutaneous eruptions, as well as in all cases of corrosion or any other form of internal disorder, especially deranged conditions of the digestive organs. It would be difficult to enumerate all such springs in the county. There is probably .no neighborhood in which there is not a good curative spring.

Fish Culture.

At this time, New River, in Grayson County, is well stocked with black bass, mountain, or blue, cat fish, and other varieties of the best game fish. All the tributaries of New River are likewise stocked that are provided with fish ladders. Those streams which head up in the higher mountains are still naturally the home of the mountain trout; but this fish, though still abundant in some of the more remote localities, are not as abundant as formerly. A little care, with a concerted movement for their protection, would soon restock all the creeks and brooks of the county with an abundance of the best varieties. The streams are excellently well adapted to the purpose; the water being so pure, cool and never failing.


Bear are still common in the higher wooded ridges and glades of White Top, Balsam, Pine and Hurricane Mountains. Deer would have to be more carefully protected, in order to restore that beautiful and harmless animal to anything like its former numbers. Wild Turkey and pheasant are quite plentiful in certain localities. Partridge, or quail, rather, are to be found in interesting number in certain localities.

There are few complaints of depredations upon the abundant poultry of the county by red foxes, hence, it is concluded that they are not so plentiful as formerly; still, a red fox may be found in many neighborhoods.

Wolves have entirely disappeared, Panthers are also among the extinct animals in this county, though this territory was once peculiarly his home, as it was also that of the Elk and Buffalo.


There is scarcely a large creek in the county that does not show, at some point along its course, evidences of the “red man”. It will be, either pottery or arrowheads with stone axes and implements.

Robert Ross, at Rugby P. O. and others in the county, have small collections; but, as yet, there have been no thoroughly systematic researches made m that direction. There can scarcely be a doubt, however that Grayson County was once the broad hunting ground of different tribes of Indians. This being granted, it was also doubtless often a battle ground. And it is supposed that, one of the great war trails Passed through the western part of the county, which a little careful inquiry and research would enable, one to fully indentify. Probably a trail of this kind led by Trout Dale through Comer’s Creek Gap: while another passed entirely to the south of White Top by the heads of Helton and Home Creoles, going in the direction of Laurel Fork of Holston River; while the former one, going out by Comer’s Creek Gap, would have been sought by all animals, as well as red men, since, for the animals like buffalo and elk, it was the natural route toward the old salt licks at the present site of Saltville.

If there exists in this part of the Upper New River Basin, any evidence. of Mound Builders, it is not yet fully ascertained; though there are exceedingly old workings in mica mines and other places, which may be attributed to peoples earlier than the Nomadic Indians.


The county, without railway transportation, has manufactures in only a few localities. Near Old Town, are, the Reavis Foundry and Machine Shops, Grist Mill and Woolen Mills, all run by the power supplied by Meadow Creek and its tributaries.

James C. Reavis, of Reavis & Cordon, Proprietor, at Reavisville estimates that, the capacity of the grist mill is 50 bushels her day, water wheel 15 horse power, saw mill 2500 feet per day, water wheel 16 horse power.

The foundry, says Mr. Reavis, now only uses one ton of metal per day, employing five horse, power. The business, there, also advertises to manufacture Jeanes, Linseys, Blankets, Yarns, Etc.

At Mouth of Wilson, toward the western district, the water power of Wilson Creek is employed not far above the mouth of the creek, where machinery is in use for the manufacture of Jeans, Linseys, Blankets, Yarns, Etc., besides a gist and saw mill. This mill is probably largely controlled by Thomas Cox of Mouth of Wilson P.O. T. B. Hash’s water power on Fox Creek is one of the finest water powers in the county. On Saddle Creek, the water power there is largely in use by Capt’n Cox of Saddle P.O.

On Elk Creek, the flouring and manufacturing mills of the Clito Manufacturing Company are using the power of that stream at Clito P.O. The Clarks, Jefferson Ring and Dr. Ring are probably interested at that point. A fall along here of about 48 feet per mile. There are other points on Elk Creek, as at McLean’s Mill, Bennington’s and Herrington’s fall on Elk Creek at the mill is 50 feet in 100 yards; while this part of Elk Creek will show a fall of about 500 feet in one mile.

Peach Bottom Creek has several excellent powers, also; one of which, at the Falls, owned by Mallory, is now in use for a grist mill. This is a natural waterfall of nearly 100 feet in a hundred yards, of a stream that yields a flow of 30 cubic feet per second at low stages.

The eligible positions on Fox Creek are in use by several owners. The one at Alexander Young’s is a good one; the flow being over 20 cubic feet per second in low stages.

Brush Creek is utilized by Spurlin not far above its mouth, and by Hamm some distance above.

All the streams in the county, on either side of the river, including Potato and Piney Creeks, above, and Little River, Crab, Meadow and Chestnut Creeks, below, nearly all flow out of North Carolina, as to those on the south side are utilized at nearly all unfailing regularity of flow. Often these creeks average 300 horse power per mile. Particularly Wilson, Fox, Peach Bottom, and Elk Creeks, on the north side of New River, the same being true of those on the south side.

Machinery run by steam is in use at the merchant mill of Gwyn and Poindexter on Elk Creek who will soon manufacture locust pins and brackets; and also in the factory to make various shapes, including stairways, recently erected by Geo. Phillips in the lower end of the county. Phillips purchased his machinery of A. B. Farquhar & Co., York, Pa. At Trout Dale, there will, also, soon be machinery to make telephone and telegraph brackets and other shapes in wood, besides large lumber mills.

The water power of New River is not employed, though its fall is about ten feet per mile in the county, with a low water discharge, below its affluence with Little River, of about 1100 cubic feet per second.

The constancy in the streams, affording such excellent water powers, may be due to the average regularity of the rain fall, which is about the following, one year with another

Jan. Feb. March April May June July Aug. Sept. Oct. Nov. Dec.
3.5 3.5 3.6 3.8 3.7 3.9 4.5 3.8 3.3 3.0 3.0 2.9

And this effect is doubtless favorably affected by average temperatures, as follows:

Jan. Feb. March April May June July Aug. Sept. Oct. Nov. Dec.
36 37 43 52 60 69 73 71 63 53 41 35

These schemes of rain fall and temperature are after the observations taken for fifteen years in this region by a so careful observer as Howard Shriven A. M.


Enough may have been said already, upon this subject, to show the lack of railway transportation, and the general desire among the people for increased facilities in that way.

The Norfolk and Western Railway, on the eastern side, approaches within a mile or less of the Grayson-Carroll boundary line. The station at Chestnut Yards, near the Great Outburst Gossan Mines, is now the most available for the eastern part of the county. For much the larger area of the county, however, it is now more convenient, for the majority of the people, to seek an outlet at other points, on the old main trunk line of the N. & W. R. R. across the mountains on the north side, or toward the south, across the Blue Ridge, in the direction of the North Carolina Railways which come up eastward into the Piedmont Region.

Considering the entire basin of Upper New River, as included in Grayson County, Va., Alleghany, Ashe and a part of Watauga Counties in North Carolina, as having one commercial interest, there are nearly 1500 square miles of excellent timbered, mineral and farming lands, with an existing population of over 45,000 people, without a railway, within the above area, as defined by great natural landmarks.

It is, therefore, highly probable that, a skillfully located railway, projected along a line, which will prove, when completed, to, be most conveniently placed, with reference to all interests concerned, would well repay the cost of its construction and equipment.

As a feeder to an existing railway, having numerous connections already established with the seaboard and the great interior of the United States, it would prove a powerful and valuable addition at all times, on account of the variety and quantity of tonnage it would constantly carry.

Probable Tonnage of Upper New River Basin for a Railway.

The following table may present a fair idea of the probable annual freight list such a line of railway would carry upon completion. As follows

600,000 tons of Timber and Lumber, including cross ties, found on 400,000 acres of timbered lands practically intact in the Basin of Upper New River.
200,000 tons of Iron ore.
15,000 ” “ Copper ores native. from Ashe and Grayson Counties and other ores.
5,000 ” “ stone, Granite and Marble.
600 ” “ Barytes.
200 ” “ Salt.
2,000 Bacon.
1,000 Poultry and Eggs
135,000 Agricultural Products, including 25,000 Sheep and 8,500 Cattle.
250 Agricultural Machinery.
200 Household Supplies in shapes and furnishings.
5,000 Merchandise, Fruits and Fruit Trees.
10,000 Fertilizers.
100,000 Coal and Coke.
5,000 Express and Mail.
1,09,150 total tons and 10,000 Passengers.

The above list, together with miscellaneous traffic difficult to enumerate, will aggregate probably 1 « million tons of all classes of freight, the first year after completion, which ought to very greatly increase year after year as a result of development induced by the railway.

The nature of the territory herein described, that is, its topography, is such that any railway built into it, so as to secure the greater part of its products, would carry its entire freight list over more than half the length of such a line. Therefore it would have a very heavy mileage traffic to begin with.

In the presence of such natural resources as are herein described, suggesting the easy assemblage of abundant and cheap raw materials, a great railway, conducted in its administration by a carefully devised policy of development, would cause the erection of several considerable towns that do not now exist.

This territory, in the basin of Upper New River, intersected by such a railway line or lines, would then supply a tonnage far greater in volume than that estimated in the above summary.

It may be, pertinent to remark, ,just here, that not only the Norfolk and Western Railway Company but the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company have considered, at times, the question of traversing this territory by important extensions. Also, the Danville and East Tennessee Railway Company have likewise entertained a similar design, as well as possibly other railway companies. The Marion and Rye Valley Railway Company also propose to extend their line south through Comers Creek Gap so as to bisect this territory in a direction transverse to its greatest length.