On Friday, August 12th, at 3:00 pm the Lynchburg Museum will host a lecture presented by Howard Gregory. His topic of discussion will be the Wreck of the Old 97.
What was the Wreck of the Old 97? It was an American rail disaster involving the Southern Railway mail train, officially known as the Fast Mail, on September 27, 1903. The train was en route from Monroe, VA to Spencer, NC. The train consisted of two postal cars, one express and one baggage car for the storage of mail. 18 men were on board. Due to excessive speed, in an attempt to maintain schedule, the train derailed at the Stillhouse Trestle near Danville, where the train careened off the side of the trestle bridge, killing eleven and injuring seven others.
On the day of the accident the Old 97 was behind schedule when it left Washington, DC and was an hour late when it arrived in Monroe. At Monroe the engineer was instructed to get the Fast Mail to Spencer, 166 miles away, on time The scheduled running time was four hours, fifteen minutes, at an average speed of 39 miles per hour. The route between Monroe and Spencer was rolling terrain with numerous danger points due to the combination of grades and tight radius curves. Engineers were warned to watch their speed. However the engineer was unable to sufficiently reduce speed as he approached the 45-foot high Stilljhouse Trestle. Approaching the curve leading to the trestle at about 70 miles per hour caused the entire train to derail and plunge into the ravine below. A huge fire erupted and consumed all of the jagged debris from the wooden cars. Nine of the eleven men who died were killed immediately.
Although the Vice-president of the Southern Railway placed the blame of the accident firmly on the engineer, the railroad was at least partially to blame, as they has a lucrative contract with the U.S. Post Office to haul mail. The contract included a penalty clause for each minute the mail was late into Spencer.
The accident became a sensation with thousands of spectators at the scene, newspaper stories and a series of ballads written about he wreck. The most popular ballad was an early country hit and the first million-selling record in the United States when recorded by Vernon Dalhart for RCA Victor Records in 1924.
The lecture will take place at 901 Court Street, starting to 3:00 pm. Tickets are $10, unless you are a member of the Museum. Once the lecture is finished don’t forget to tour the special museum exhibit A Great Change in the Situation of Man: Lynchburg’s Railroads, found on the lower level of the museum. This exhibit is free.
The graves found in the Old City Cemetery represent the diversity of the citizens of Lynchburg buried there. This diversity also allows for a large variety of gravestones or monuments. Due to lack of maintenance of the cemetery grounds for many years, the passing of time and hand-hewn gravestones, plus the lack of record keeping, many of the grave markers are missing. Those surviving represent a variety of funeral art. Some were handcrafted with primitive tools, others created in workshops by professional stone cutters. All are a distinct form of American expression.
Gravestones mark the grave. They are often made up of a headstone (a memorial stone set at the head of the grave, often with a raised top) and sometimes with a footstone (marking the foot of the grave). More wealthy citizens might have had table tombs, box tombs, obelisks, or pedestal tombs. A mausoleum is a large, stately tomb, most often built entirely out of the ground. During the last half of the 19th century all gravestones became thicker and more massive. Victorian influences added symbols. Symbols found in the Old City Cemetery include: angels-both flying and weeping, birds-symbolizing eternal life, candles and flames, crowns-representing glory after death, doves, wreaths, open Bibles, the hourglass-time’s inevitable passing, and sleeping lambs-symbolic of the many children taken too frequently by the epidemics or simple illnesses that plaqued children long ago.
Let’s take a quick “tour” through the cemetery and discuss some of the unique gravestones.
- Just inside the entry gate, at Fourth Street, you will find Terriza Wallace, Jan 10th 1807 April 29 1808. This hand-chiseled round stone of local granite has been preserved. Not the first burial in the cemetery, but the oldest, original marker remaining.
- Next to Terriza is Katie Vernon Metcalfe (1836-1858). Her intricately carved marble headstone bears the classic Victorian motifs of willow, an urn, flowers and obelisk.
- Nearby is R.B. Gaines (died 1811). He was buried in a barrel-vaulted tomb of handmade Virginia brick which is capped at head and foot with Lynchburg greenstone.
- The marble tombstone of Judge William Daniel, Jr. (1806-1873) is a well-preserved example of an epitaph with Biblical and biographical messages, as well as the symbolism of God’s hand descending from Heaven holding the scales of justice. Judge Daniel was Judge of the Supreme Court of Appeals of Virginia from 1846 until 1865 and lived at Point of Honor.
- A wrought iron enclosure holds the graves of Maria Ball Carter Tucker (died 1823) and her young daughter Rosalie (died 1818). Maria Tucker was the great niece of George Washington. A marble false crypt rests over one grave. An antique rose, referred to in the poetic inscription on the lid, has survived all this time within the enclosure.
- Further down the hill you will find the life-sized cut tree trunk monument to Sophia Rhodes (died 1889). This carved limestone monument is typically Victorian and symbolic of her life cut short.
There are many other interesting gravestones and monuments found throughout the cemetery. A walk through the cemetery is always pleasant and sometimes educational. Each Saturday morning between now and the end of August tours of the cemetery are given at 10:00 am. They are conducted by various people who work at the cemetery, so attending more than one usually imparts different information and stories than another. The tours typically last about one hour. No reservations are required. The is no admission fee.
If you are staying with us at The Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast and would like to take advantage of one of these tours let us know. We will be sure that you are served your breakfast with plenty of time to allow you to get to the cemetery for the beginning of the tour.
Less than 20 miles east of Lynchburg, VA you will find DeVault Family Vineyards. Founded in 2000 by Terry and Sharon, when Terry purchased the 32-acre property that allowed Terry to return to his farming roots, the vineyard is a family dream come true. The family has spent eight years perfecting the art of grape cultivation and have shaped the land into a stunning, serene landscape that you enjoy when visiting the vineyard. The tasting room was added in 2009 to allow guests a rustic, but comfortable place to sample the various wines and enjoy the view of the rolling vineyard. In addition to the tasting room you can enjoy an indoor swimming pool, tennis court, volleyball and basketball courts, and a stocked fishing pond. Or bring along a picnic blanket and wander through the vineyard until you find just the right spot to enjoy your DeVault wine.
DeVault Family Vineyards produces seven varieties of wines. There are three reds: a sweet red table wine, a dry red, which is a complex bouquet of blackberry, gala apples and a touch of spice plus an oaked Norton. Two whites are available: a sweet white table wine and a dry white with a light, fruity nose. Two blends complete the inventory: their watermelon wine and a semi-sweet blended blush. The red and white table wines make a delicious Sangria, delightful on a warm sunny day in Central Virginia.
Are you looking for something to do? Saturday, July 2nd DeVault Family Vineyards will be hosting their 6th Annual Watermelon Festival! Between the hours of 3:00 pm until 11:00 pm you can enjoy a variety of food vendors, five additional wineries, a local micro-brewery, arts, crafts and other vendors selling unique hand-made wares, six bands performing on two stages, a magician, pony rides and a talent show. There will be something for everyone! Tickets go on sale June 22nd or you may purchase them at the gate (at an increased price). Ticket prices are as follows: Adult $15, age 13-20 plus designated driver $10, kids 7-13 $5. Visit the DeVault Family Vineyards website, email@example.com, to purchase your tickets in advance.
DeVault Family Vineyards are located one-half mile off Route 460 in Concord, VA. 247 Station Lane, Concord, VA. 434.993.0722 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Hours of operation are Monday through Saturday between 11 until 6, after May 1st. Other hours may be available with prior scheduling.
The Harley Owner Group to visit Lynchburg. Starting Wednesday, June 22 until Saturday, June 25th the city of Lynchburg will be filled with H.O.G.s! Approximately 2,000 rally participants will meet in Lynchburg to participate in numerous activities.
There will be music, vendors, activities for all ages, games, obstacle courses, riding competitions, self guided rides, tour rides and more. Highlights of the four days of events include: guided tour rides to Red Hill, Appomattox Courthouse National Park and the National D=-Day Memorial, a lighted bike show, motorcycle riding concepts courses, historic architecture walking tou of downtown Lynchburg and a parade.
The Harley Owner Group hosts rallies throughout the year in various cities across the United States. The last time this event was held in Lynchburg was 10 years ago. The Milwaukee-based Harley Owners Group has more than 1 million members and 1,400 chapters around the world. Benefits of belonging to this group include access to the Harley Davidson Museum, a magazine, members website, e-newsletter, touring handbooks that are road ready with maps and touring tips, merchandise and touring contests.
So, when you hear the “roar of thunder” between June 22nd and June 25th it may just be one of the many Harley enthusiasts experiencing our town and location in Central Virginia.
The Old City Cemetery, Lynchburg, VA, is Lynchburg’s most visited tourist site. During the past four months we have posted a blog describing the individual buildings/museums found on the cemetery grounds. This month we are going to introduce you to the Cemetery Museum and it’s artifacts.
The main focus of the Cemetery Center is it’s collection of American mourning customs and artifacts, burial records of the Southern Memorial Association, the Lee Reading Room, Taylor Conservatory and the Christian Vault.
This month’s blog post is going to concentrate on the American mourning customs and artifacts.
The main room in the Cemetery Center is comprised of doors, floorboards, beams and a fireplace mantle, all dated 1845. This room contains mourning artifacts and decor. Some of the most interesting pieces found include:
- mourning and funeral photographs (c. 1900).
- beeswax flowers (c. 1870). These would have surrounded the casket during the funeral, then have been placed on the grave and finally taken by the family where they were framed and hung in the parlor.
- a mantle clock draped in black crepe to signify mourning. The clock would have been stopped at the time of death.
- mourning stationary that is bordered in black. It would have been used to announce the death and to invite friends and family to the funeral..
- a cast-iron “shoulder casket” (c. 1857, from Diuguid Funeral Service). Used by upper-class citizen of Lynchburg it is painted to resemble wood.
- an embalming kit (c.1900). Some of the instruments are still used today.
A few of the interesting facts about mourning and burial customs found in the Cemetery Center are as follows:
- widows were in mourning for a total of 2 1/2 years. They were in deep mourning for 1 year and 1 day, during which time they could only wear black. After their deep mourning period they could add a touch of white, more ruffles or trim and wear hats instead of veils. Near the end of the mourning period they could wear clothing in dark colors:gray, purple, slate or blue.
- women did not attend the burial.
- flower arrangements were seldom used before the Civil War. Between the 1880’s-1890’s fresh, dried and artificial flower arrangements were used in profusion.
- mourning attire for men consisted of wearing a black armband or hatband for a period of 3 months.
- men wore mourning attire as a mark of respect. Women wore mourning attire out of fear that the omission to wear black would be interpreted as evidence of a lack of affection for the dead.
- immediately following the funeral all traces f death were to be removed from the house. Shutters were opened, blinds raised, crepe and flowers removed and clocks restarted.
The Cemetery Center is open between 11 until 3 daily, or by appointment. It contains detailed brochures and booklets relating to the history of the cemetery along with information about the various buildings and museums located on the cemetery grounds (most of which we have discussed earlier this year). There is a small gift shop that sells “Died and Gone to Heaven” honey (that is produced by the cemeteries bees), books (including Once Upon a Time…a Cemetery Story) and cookbooks (such as the award winning Food to Die For a book of funeral food, tips and tales), along with gifts and items pertaining to the cemetery.
Lazy Days Winery, located just north of The Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast, at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Amherst, VA offers great wines and a spectacular view of the Virginia countryside.
The first grapes were planted on 12 of the 100 acres by John Fitzhugh and his father, Bill in 2007. Starting with petit manseng, petit verdot and merlot these grapes were quickly followed by traminac, tannat and a variety of trial vines, including malbec.
The winery and tasting room are located in a restored cattle-auction barn, previously known as the Amherst Livestock Pavilion. The comfortable tasting rooms adjoins the pavilion event area to offer a great space for spending the afternoon, attending a festival or theater production or celebrating a wedding.
Wines produced by Lazy Days include their award winning Petit Verdot, Chardonnay Reserve, Capuchin White, Sweet Lazy Days White Wine and Bill’s Blackberry Wine. Other wines offered include a Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec and their new Sweet Peaches (made with peaches grown in Nelson County).
Lazy Days Winery hosts their Summer Solstice Festival each June to celebrate the beginning of summer. Featuring other wineries, musicians, food vendors and local artists from the Lynchburg and Amherst area the festival allows guests to experience the winery before it gets too hot. Throughout the year they participate in other festivals and tasting events throughout the state. A member of the Jefferson Heritage Wine Trail they support the history and heritage of Central Virginia between Lynchburg and Charlottesville.
Located at 1315 N. Amherst Hwy (RT.29) in Amherst, VA they can be reached at 434.381.6088. Winery hours are Wednesday through Sunday, 11 am until 5 pm.
Stay with us at The Carriage House Inn Bed & Breakfast and we can plan your tour of this winery along with several others that are nearby and may participate with us in the Jefferson Heritage Trail. A chauffeured wine tour package can be found on our web site. Everyone always enjoys it!
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