One place in Virginia that my wife Fyllis and I visited promised a “luxury boutique” which has won numerous accolades as among the best resorts in the country. The other invited us to “Experience the simple life.”
These very different settings are stretched along the border between the states of Virginia and North Carolina. Together, Patrick County, Virginia and the Primland Resort offer an inviting getaway with an eclectic appeal.
Primland combines touches of elegance with a friendly, casual atmosphere, and opportunities to enjoy activities not found at many resorts throughout the United States.
The surrounding area of Patrick County offers an immersion in a locale where people cling proudly to their strong heritage of the Appalachian region and its colorful past.
Much of the traffic in the area consists of trucks carrying freshly downed trees, horse trailers toting four-legged passengers and an occasional plow heading for a farm.
Patrick County serves as a gateway to the Blue Ridge Parkway, an All-American Road that stretches 469 miles from Shenandoah National Park in northern Virginia to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina. That alone makes it worth a visit.
Because Patrick County is compact, attractions are never far apart. Most fit comfortably into the atmosphere of the rural surroundings which, in many ways, have changed little over time.
A Visit to Patrick County, Virginia is a Trip Through the Past
Country stores left over from the past attracted our attention and, in some cases, our cash. We were experiencing the lure, and lore, of Appalachia—which, we learned, should be pronounced app-uh-laitch-uh. We soon came to realize that this place is as much a lifestyle as it is a destination.
The rambling Poor Farmers Market is located in tiny Meadows of Dan.
That community’s name is credited to an early English settler who took note of the beautiful grassland carpet that blankets the area. It’s fitting that the motto of the miniscule town is “A simpler place in time.”
The unpretentious establishment lives up, and down, to its claim to be an “Old Fashioned Country Store.” Homemade jams, jellies, cakes and pies share shelf space with bags of grits, barrels of beans and sacks of locally grown fruit.
Jams and jellies, along with a taste of history, tempt those who stop at the Mayberry Trading Post. Corn cob pipes, wooden toys and quilt patches serve as reminders that the store opened in 1892. It once served as the local post office, and the open letter cubicles marked with names of original owners remain as they were nearly 130 years ago
Some of the flour that’s sold at the Trading Post was ground at Mabry Mill, which has been in operation since 1905. The water-driven gristmill is the main attraction along a walking path that also leads to a blacksmith shop, tiny cabin, moonshine whisky still and early farm implements.
Notable Names recalled from, Patrick County, Virginia’s History
While most people who lived in the area toiled and died in anonymity, Patrick County also had its share of those who went on to become well known. One was James Ewell Brown Stuart, better known as J.E.B.
He spent his early years on a plantation and, after graduating from the Unites States Military Academy, served in the U.S. Cavalry. When Virginia seceded from the Union in 1861, Stuart resigned his commission and eventually commanded the Army of Northern Virginia’s cavalry forces during the American Civil War.
This story is told at Stuart’s birthplace and ancestral home. Its 75 acres contain family graves dating back to 1780 and a separate slave cemetery.
A very different type of plantation is recalled at the Reynolds Homestead, home of Richard J. Reynolds who founded the tobacco company that bears his name. He gained fame, and fortune, as the first major marketer of cigarettes.
Construction of the Victorian home began in 1843 and included a separate kitchen, milk house, ice house and other structures that still stand. A hand-hewn barn represents the sheds where tobacco leaves were hung to dry.
In addition to brick, native field stones were used as construction material in the region and six lovely “rock churches,” dating to the early 20th century, are dotted around the area. The Mayberry and Slate Mountain Presbyterian Churches, the two I dropped by, are nearby neighbors. Those who wish to visit all of them may follow a scenic backroads tour route.
Sounds of Music Fill Patrick County, Virginia
Visitors to Patrick County, Virginia, often are treated to sounds of gospel which, along with other musical genres, play an important role in the Appalachian culture. Settlers who arrived from Europe in the 18th century brought their instruments, dances and songs, and a strong musical tradition was born. Over time it evolved into bluegrass, country and other home-grown melodies.
Today, music is everywhere. Scheduled performances are augmented by pop-up sessions that can occur at almost any time and any place. As Fyllis and I strolled by a restaurant one afternoon in Stuart, the little county seat, four men had gathered inside to jam with their guitars and banjos.
Stuart was named for the Civil War general, and today it’s one-stop along the Virginia Heritage Music Trail. Two sections of the tiny town are listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. They fit comfortably into a destination that combines a rich history with many charms of the past.
If You Go
A stay at the somewhat quirky Uptown Suites of Stuart adds to the immersion in the destination. The five accommodations are located on the second floor of a building that was constructed in 1928 to provide office space. They include a living room, kitchen and the usual amenities. For more information, log onto uptownsuitesofstuart.com.
When it comes to dining, El Rancho Restaurant is a favorite among locals seeking burritos, fajitas and other authentic Mexican cuisine. Its lengthy menu also includes a variety of shrimp, chicken and beef entrees. The atmosphere is inviting and the waitstaff pleasant. For more information, log onto elranchoinc.com.
The place for breakfast, early lunch and some down-home flavor is The Coffee Break Café. A full breakfast (egg, bacon, potato and pancake) costs $5 and a giant-size cup of coffee is just $1. The walls are covered by photos of music groups and diners sometimes are treated to an impromptu jam session. For more information, call (276) 694-4232,
To learn more about Patrick County, Virginia log onto Visit Patrick County.
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