Saturday, December 23, 2006

Route 11 North: Dublin, VA to Elliston, VA

Filling in the gap of our now-four-part photo essay of Lee Highway, aka Route 11, between Knoxville, Tennessee and Mount Jackson, Virginia, I've back-tracked a bit because the sunset picture of the Draper Mountain Overlook at Pulaski didn't do the view justice. So, we'll start off there looking to the north at Cloyds & Little Walker Mountain in the background.

The first sign of civilization that you see as you drive down Draper Mountain into Pulaski is Calfee Park, most recently home to the Blue Jays of the Appalachian League. Unfortunately, Pulaski is once again team-less. Another town courted the Blue Jays away with better facilities and the promise of better attendance than what Pulaski provided.

A view of downtown Pulaski. Once a thriving business district, it has fallen victim to textile and furniture plant relocations over the past 25 years, the end of the railroad era and being by-passed by Interstate 81. Pulaski Furniture still is in operation on the edge of downtown but the number of people it employs is far below what it has been in the past.

The next town along the journey is Dublin. Rumor has it that it's the fastest growing town in the Commonwealth (it's Dublin everyday!). The train station hasn't been in service since N&W stopped passenger rail service but several investors have renovated over the years. It's currently for sale if anyone here is interested. It's also on the site where Union troops in the Civil War destroyed a munitions depot and tore up the tracks leaving sites to east without easy access to the salt mines of Saltville,Va and bringing troop movement along the rails to a halt. For more on that element of the Civil War, follow this link to the Battle of Cloyd's Mountain.

Route 11 leaves Pulaski County and enters the City of Radford when the road crosses the New River. Travelers have been able to cross the river span since 1891. Before then, people were pulled across the river using the Ingles Ferry, Dudley Ferry or Peppers Ferry.

At one point in time, the powers that be within the railroad company needed a place to manufacture rail cars and steam locomotives. Two sites in western Virginia were in the running for the facility, Radford and Roanoke. Of course, the Roanoke site was chosen and the city grew by leaps and bounds because of it. Radford served as a refueling and watering center for trains that had just chugged up Christiansburg Mountain from Roanoke en route to Bristol, Bluefield and Hinton. A view of downtown Radford and Radford University.

A view of geese along the New River at Radford University's Dedmon Center

The Montgomery County Courthouse in Christiansburg might be the ugliest courthouse in the Appalachian region, if not the country.

Route 11 intersects Interstate 81 again at Christiansburg. This might also be the only place that you can find a Waffle House, an American Institution™, along the old road south of Lexington. This particular part of Route 11 is at the top of Christiansburg Mountain, where you leave the Gulf of Mexico watershed and enter the Albemarle Sound watershed. Waters to the west flow into the New River and waters to the east flow into the Roanoke River.

"The Straightaway" is a 1.8 mile stretch of perfectly flat and straight road between Shawsville and Elliston. Route 11 bisects the flood plain of the South Fork Roanoke River in this rich farmland. I have worked with two people that were raised in this area, one in his 60's and one in his 30's. Both have some good stories of the races that took place on this road in their youth.

Lastly, the moment before the battery on my camera died, The Roanoke River Wayside.

If not for a dead camera, I had planned to connect the dots all the way to Troutville but it's probably for the better. Visiting the busy streets of downtown Salem and Roanoke the weekend before Christmas would have left me needing some moonshine to calm my nerves. I'll leave that section for another day.


Anonymous said...

"It's Dublin everyday." My father, the king of bad puns, would like you.

I especially liked the river photos and the geese (although they are testy creatures).

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