Legends of the Skyline Drive and the Great Valley of Virginia: Part 18
Dragon Canone was the name of the Cherokee Indian who led his warriors against the white militia. Both white and red men fought with tomahawks and both hid behind trees. Sometimes this brave militia went forth to battle without any higher commanding officer than captain. Three such officers were John Campbell, James Shelby and James Thompson.
Let us look for a moment at what those settlers were denied. They did not have flour or salt until an order was made:
"Jan. 29, 1777. Ordered that William Campbell, William Edmundson, John Anderson and George Blackburn be appointed commissioners to hire wagons to bring up the county salt, allotted by the Governor and council, and to receive and distribute the same agreeably to said order of the council."
Later on Colonel Arthur Campbell rode with seven hundred mounted soldiers against the Cherokees. History gives him the credit of being the first to experiment in attacking Indians on horseback. He destroyed fourteen of their towns and burnt fifty thousand bushels of their corn after giving his men enough for their own horses.
Hungry Mother State Park
The pathetic legend is told of the pioneer woman in Tazewell County who was carried off by the Indians and was ma.s.sacred some distance from home. Her small child was left to die of exposure and starvation in the mountain wilds and was at last rescued by a hunting party. The child was pulling at the mother's body, trying to rouse her and was muttering, "Hungry, mother--hungry, mother" when he was found.
That is the origin of the name of the mountain which is not far from Marion, and the peak of the mountain is called "Molly's k.n.o.b" in memory of the pioneer mother.
The State has created a beautiful park on Hungry Mother Mountain. Cabins have been erected to house the visitors, a stream has been dammed up to provide a lake--and most astonishing of all to the mountain folk who enjoy their park is the sandy beach. The sand was hauled 375 miles from Virginia Beach to its present location.
Swimming, sailing and canoeing are popular water sports; saddle horses are available and hiking is a favorite occupation. Ample picnic grounds have been provided. Crowds from nearby towns enjoy a day at the Park and the cabins are in great demand from the vacationists in Virginia and surrounding States.
Iron Mountain has lost that name and today is known far and near as White Top. The visitor looks down five thousand feet below and can see into Tennessee, West Virginia, North Carolina and Kentucky. The top is bald, rocky and about three hundred of its sloping acres are covered with a fine white gra.s.s. In summer one sees hundreds of wild flowers, st.u.r.dy evergreens, similar to Norway spruce, called Lashhorns, berries and many small animals.
[Ill.u.s.tration:--_Courtesy Virginia Conservation Commission_
HUNGRY MOTHER STATE PARK]
Wilbur Waters, the hermit, is one of the most colorful characters in the great Southwest and many adventures he had with wild animals. Wilbur's mother was an Indian who died when he was very small. His father, who lived in North Carolina at the time, apprenticed the boy to a shoemaker to learn that trade. The little boy, no doubt homesick, could not stand his new home. He ran away and from that time on made his own living.
When he heard how the wolves were making havoc for the settlers in and around Abingdon, he came to get the rewards offered for their heads. He built himself a rude shack on White Top, and if one would read real adventure tales, let him read _Wilbur Waters_ which relates many stirring ones.
Every summer during August a festival is held at White Top where mountain music is played and folk dances are held. John Powell, the noted Virginia composer, is especially active in the preservation of folk music and he has been instrumental in attracting people of influence to the celebration.
The major highways lead to within a comparatively short distance of White Top and the State Highway Department a.s.sures the traveler of good secondary roads which are pa.s.sable in any kind of weather.
Another feature of the festival usually is the presentation of at least one play by the group of Broadway players who summer at Abingdon and conduct the famous "Barter Theatre."
Visitors who include White Top and the Barter players in their itinerary will be delighted with the diversified entertainments found there.