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    by Published on 08-31-2010 05:44 PM

    Slowly but surely, S&B is transferring its articles from the old format to a new Content Management System (CMS). They include those about the Blue Ridge Mountain's past and that of the remainder of Jefferson County, too (and Beyond). Users may add articles of interest. All that's required is to request status as CMS editors. Remember, S&B is a community website, NOT Scientific American, and those submitting don't have to be pros in the writing game. We'll be delighted to show you how!

    Notes: We are NOT historians and this is still a work in progress. All we ask is a LOT of patience
    by Published on 05-13-2013 10:30 PM  Number of Views: 3757 
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    Those Markers We See So Often

    They Sometimes Blend Into The Background

    What are they all about, where are they located throughout our County, and what the heck do they say?
    Shucks, you never have time to read them when you're driving by.

    We reckon the best way to describe the the markers would be to borrow the wording from the
    West Virginia Division of Culture and History's website:

    The West Virginia Highway Historical Marker Program was initiated in 1937 as part of the New Deal as a way to encourage tourism during the Great Depression. The West Virginia Commission on Historic and Scenic Markers worked with the State Road Commission, Works Progress Administration, and Federal Emergency Relief Administration to place 440 markers during the first year alone. After World War II, markers were placed at the sites of most state-run facilities and schools. The West Virginia Historic Commission took over the program in 1963. Since the late 1960s, the program has been managed by West Virginia Archives and History, which is today part of the West Virginia Division of Culture & History.
    We've noticed the markers as we're sure you have. Some are in good condition, some are nearly illegible, and some are MIA. Many are in places some distance from the historical sites they describe. ...
    by Published on 02-16-2013 12:40 AM  Number of Views: 9504 
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    Mount Weather - Our Neighbor to the South

    An Expose into this Secret facility
    by Published on 06-07-2010 07:53 PM  Number of Views: 8697 
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    Welcome to one of the most extensive history presentations ever assembled for our county of Jefferson, West Virginia. The presentation, which presently consists of 190 YouTube film shorts and links to 2 websites, is a labor of love by Jim Surkamp. To describe Jim as an ardent lover of history would be an understatement of the greatest magnitude.

    In Jim Surkamp's own words:

    Our County's Stories in 1000 minutes via YouTube

    Fellow Jefferson Countians and others - I would like to make available to you these 192 stories of Jefferson County totaling 1000 minutes

    The stories, ranging from a quarter of a billion years ago, when the world was exploding and boiling, to when Patsy Cline had her first big recording date in Nashville in the late 1950's, were all stories I researched, wrote and produced either on my own, in conjunction with the Jefferson County Oral and Visual Historical Association and Bill Theriault or the now defunct cable company, Adelphia ( I have received permission from Comcast, who bought Adelphia, to share these videos).

    Helping were the extraordinary local actors Bill Caldwell, Ardyth Gilbertson, Hubert Rolling, Margie Didden, among others; and exceptional, generally local, musicians Seth Austen(frame drum, guitars, banjo, mandolin, synthesizer), Nick Blanton(hammered dulcimer), Ralph Gordon(bass), Dave Hellye(harmonica), Kevin Williams(synthesizer) and the late Freyda Epstein(violin).

    A thanks to the great musical group called Nightengale.

    A huge thanks to Shepherd University's library and staff that has such excellent, endlessly used resources.

    We have a dazzling county with a history that makes it arguably the most historical county in America, the county that inspired that l'l ol' song, Country Roads(Blue Ridge Mountains and the Shenandoah river) the only county in West Virginia with those features is our County).

    I'm very glad to share them. When I drive down any County Country road I see these events in my imagination.


    Jim Surkamp

    Our Story

    1) Pre-History ...
    by Published on 05-28-2010 08:41 PM  Number of Views: 25442 
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    Before there was a much development on our Mountain, tragedy struck atop the Blue Ridge.

    On Friday, June 13, 1947 the second worst commercial airline crash (at that time) occurred just below the crest of the mountain on its western slope. Bad weather contributed to the tragedy as the plane pancaked into cliffs at full throttle.

    This WAS big news. The account made the front page of The New York Times. The Forty-seven passengers and 3 crew members all died instantly. The plane’s impact showed no signs of any evasive measures being taken, a faulty altimeter being the suspected cause. The crash was so intense that six bodies could not be identified and two were never recovered.

    We’ve published this account in an effort to honor the memories of the dead and give as best a description of the events as the news articles of the time allow. If anyone who knows more about the tragedy would like to add to this story, please contact us.

    The tale is told in two parts, the first by newspaper accounts and the second by the employees of the airline company who sought out the site of the wreckage nearly 60 years later. As a youngster, I recall visiting the site of the crash about 12 years after the fact. It’s been a privilege to find out some of the details, albeit so much later.

    The Tragedy

    On Friday, the 13th, in June of 1947, an airliner crash

    involving the second largest loss of life at that time

    occurred atop the Blue Ridge Mountain directly above

    what would in 10 years, become the Shannondale

    Subdivision. 50 passengers and crew members

    pancaked into a cliff face just a few hundred feet from

    the summit. The story by way of newspaper accounts

    and stories of former members of the airliner company

    is recounted below...

    Note: Some thumbnail photos in the article can be enlarged by clicking

    On the evening of Friday the 13th of June, 1947, there was an Airliner crash of epic proportions. At the time it was the second largest loss of life in a commercial passenger flight in the United States. We have accounts from two newspapers which reported the event, a local publication and the New York Times. They seem to have covered most of the story from a news perspective.

    We are also fortunate to have an account of a trek by formers members of the airline company, Capital, over 50 years after the incident. That story adds a lot more from a personal viewpoint. What we are missing are the stories about the crew and passengers, their families and the searchers who dealt with the tragedy in those days following impact. We respectfully ask that if you are privy such information, that you share by contacting our website.

    From the perspective of today, it's difficult to imagine a DC-4 Stratoliner like This One

    crashing anywhere near the Washington area and remaining hidden for nearly a full day. In 1947 the countryside was as the papers report, rugged and in some cases nearly inaccessible. And the technology that tracks aircraft
    by Published on 09-17-2010 11:00 PM
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    A while back, Shannondale and Beyond came into possession of the edition of The Jefferson Republican, one of the local newspapers available in the 1950's, that celebrated the sesquicentennial of Jefferson County. The edition was published on September 20, 1951. It contains all manner of information.

    I'm no historian but I thought that you, our readers might enjoy some of the articles. We at S&B would welcome-no-we'd encourage-our users to dig deeper into any of the articles we have on our website. In the interim, we'll depend on Mr. Don Rentch to provide some insight into schooling in Jefferson County up to the County's 150th anniversary. Bear in mind the article just hits some of the milestones and comes to an end the year of the year of the issue.

    We hope to add some material directly related to the schools on he Blue Ridge and can use
    ALL the help we can get. Enjoy:

    Seat of Learning Came Before
    by Published on 09-30-2010 09:45 PM
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    The following material was originally contained in the Jefferson County School News Vol. 2, No. 7 dated April 1976 and graciously provided by its Editor, Mary Stocks.
    In 1976 Jefferson County School News was a monthly publication sponsored by the Board of Education as a public service to Jefferson County residents.

    Superintendent - Harold L. Pickens
    President of the Board - Richard Neal
    Editor - Mary Stocks
    Special thanks to the following people who so willingly supplied information to the editor of this paper for this special publication:

    Mrs. Beverly Huyett, Mrs. Norval Johnson, Mr. James Ernest Watson, Mr. and Mrs. James Grantham,
    Mrs. Margaret Kilmer, Mrs. Caroline Wesco, Mrs. Virginia Burns, Mrs. Holmes White, Mrs. Nancy Sardone, Mr. Lyle Tabb, Mr. James Snyder, Miss Edna Farnsworth, Mrs. Gertrude Rowland, Mr. Charles Whittington, Miss Shirley Macoughtry, Mrs. Margaret Banks, Mrs. Georgia Timbers, Mrs. James Locke, Mrs. Louise Bradley, Mrs. James Strider, Mrs. Carrie Strider Lynn, Mrs. Marianna Smallwood, Mr. Howard Bush, Mrs. Doris Moten, Mrs. W. L. Barron, Mrs. C. H. Hamilton, Mrs. Edna Pifer.

    Jefferson County Public Schools
    Kabletown/Middleway District School History


    Kabletown School - 1885

    Pictured is the home of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Rowland of Kabletown, but the building was once the Kabletown Graded School which was built in 1885.

    The home is located directly across from the ruins of the Old Stone Church. The school was built on a lot purchased by the Board from a Mary Wilson for $100. Originally it was a one-room school, but a partition was later added.

    The school was used until 1915 when it was replaced by a new brick school still standing today in Kabletown. In 1916, the school was sold for $446 to Elmer Roderick who remodeled it for use as a home.

    by Published on 09-14-2010 12:10 AM
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    The Shannondale Iron Furnace
    Near the Horseshoe Bend of the Shenandoah River

    A Very Brief History

    In the early 1700's, William Fairfax became the owner of 29,000 acres of the Virginia Colony. The land was referred to as Shannondale. Early in the area's history it became known that copious deposits of a superior grade of iron ore were present and readily available. That fact, in conjunction with the presence of the area's convenient proximity to two rivers made the area highly desirable for iron
    by Published on 08-31-2010 12:05 PM
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    Back Story:

    Jefferson County's newspaper, "The Sprit of Jefferson's Farmers' Advocate" was put in an unique situation as a weekly publication to chronicle this sad a disturbing story in a serial fashion. From reading the account you can visualize how this story unfolded. And you can give thanks to the Jefferson County Health Department, not mentioned in the news accounts, for demanding the testing of the source of "the mysterious" illness. I know this, as I worked with the Sanitarian who helped investigate the case. He taught me to look at all possibilites even though, from the conditions, poor sanitation was the most obvious choice for a culprit.

    Untitled document
    Week One: November 22, 1956
    Three County Children Dead, Father, Seven Other Children Stricken By Mysterious Illness

    by Published on 05-24-2010 07:45 PM

    Some results, pics are linked below:

    Shadowplay reports that the historic area and the path to the that beautiful spot has been
    by Published on 09-19-2010 05:30 PM
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    The editors are trying to piece together a history of the schools of the Blue Ridge. We've been able to collect a few items and would like to enlist the help of all our readers in this effort. The old schools are gone. There may be some few structures left that once served as "seats of learning", but by and large they've disappeared. Several are mentioned, The school in Silver Grove's School, Manning's School, The School at St Andrew's Community Center, Fairmount School and a school near Pine Grove in Va.

    The authors of the newsletter mentioned below obviously had information AND photos of some schools and pupils of yesteryear. Hopefully we or some of our readers can persuade sharing of information. The images included are scans of photocopies and leave much to be desired. But we do KNOW that photos existed at one time.

    We've included what little info we've had time to gather (to be honest the
    by Published on 09-22-2010 01:00 AM
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    Jefferson County's First Hospital
    Note from the editors:
    The article comes from the sesquicentennial issue of the Jefferson Republican, dated September 20th 1951. we reproduced it verbatim with the addition of a couple of extra photos. We'll include a blurb at the close of the article about where you can get more information. As is our custom, we're simply offering this as a way to get you interested in local history. We'd surely appreciate any additional material. You know how to get in touch.

    Standing As A Tribute To A Venture Of Faith Is Charles Town General Hospital

    In these days when the password in Jefferson county seems to be "History and Progress" it would be a grave mistake to overlook the story of Charles Town General Hospital, because its history from its beginning, through its struggles and even to its ...
    by Published on 09-23-2010 10:30 AM
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    The following material was originally contained in the Jefferson County School News Vol. 2, No. 5 dated February 1976 and graciously provided by its Editor, Mary Stocks.
    In 1976 Jefferson County School News was a monthly publication sponsored by the Board of Education as a public service to Jefferson County residents.

    Superintendent - Harold L. Pickens
    President of the Board - Richard Neal
    Editor - Mary Stocks

    Special thanks to the following people who so willingly supplied information to the editor of this paper for this special publication.
    T. A. Lowery, Lewis Nichols, Betty Kidwiler, Edith Bragg, Mrs. W.P. Fleming, Mrs. Brian Houser, Mrs. Lester Moler, Mrs. William Hoak, Mrs Mae Ramey, 0scar Jones
    The information used in this issue of SCHOOL NEWS is based on the Harpers Ferry District Board of Education minutes 1889-1933. In 1933 the county unit system was established in West Virginia. The district boards of education were abolished, and a five man county board of education was established

    Jefferson County Public Schools
    Harpers Ferry District School History

    Prior to 1889

    0n June 3, 1847, Jefferson County citizens voted to establish a district free school system. One year later, 23 schools with an enrollment of 1,100 were active. Thirteen of these schools were new buildings. Jefferson County was at this time still a county of Virginia.

    After the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861, a movement began to establish the state of West Virginia.
    by Published on 09-23-2010 08:30 PM
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    From the Jefferson County Sesquicentennial issue of the Jefferson Republican 9/20/1951

    "The Bloomery" As Washington Saw It

    On Friday, May 9, 1760, George Washington "called at the Bloomery and got Mr. William Crawford to shew me the place that has been so often talked of for erecting an Iron Works upon.".

    He didn't say Vestal's Bloomery or Mayberry's Bloomery or just
    by Published on 08-29-2010 10:22 PM
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    From the Pages of History
    A Short History of Blue Ridge Acres, West Virginia
    by Ruby Browning

    Reprinted with the Permission of the Author

    The Former Sales Office (Now Clubhouse)

    Dear Readers:

    I told Bettie LaMotte that my first retirement project was going to be writing local history for my grandson, Christopher Barnes Robinson.

    She asked me if I would agree to have the history printed in the Blue Ridge Acres News. These first eleven chapters were written between May 1986 and September 1988.

    All of Part I was edited and expanded during April and May of 1989.

    We are very indebted to Ellie Piper Clemons, Robert O. Cronise, Beatrice Everhart, Vanessa Everhart, John Hawk, Mike Jenkins, the late Hilda Piper, Thermon Piper, and Leona Staubs for permitting us to record their remembrances and family traditions.

    Both Leona Staubs and John Hawk were born in 1896 and continue to have surprisingly good recall of their younger years on Loudoun Heights. Our friend, Hilda Piper, died on April 8, 1989.

    We also thank Larry Gaffney for editing this work.
    -Ruby Browning

    By the time the Shenandoah River has reached the banks of the picnic grove of our Blue Ridge Mountain Country Club, the river has flowed northeasterly for about one hundred and fifty miles from its two sources. The river drains an area of about three thousand square miles. The North Fork and South Fork of the Shenandoah River begin in the Appalachian Mountains and join at Front Royal, Virginia. From Front Royal this beautiful Shenandoah River travels to Harpers Ferry. It ends as the water merges with and becomes the Potomac River.

    by Published on 08-27-2010 11:22 PM
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    St. Andrew's on-the-Mount & It's Mountain Community Center

    The First Incarnation

    In 1886 a few young men*, communicants from Zion Episcopal Church in Charles Town WV, began a Sunday School in a schoolhouse east of the Shenandoah River and southeast of the city. The area was near Mannings, a community at the toe of Jefferson County's Blue Ridge Mountain. ...
    by Published on 08-01-2010 12:06 PM  Number of Views: 4642 
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    Three-Year-Old Jefferson County Girl Is Found Safe After Being Lost For 50 Hours in Rugged Blue Ridge Mountains

    Published January 2nd 1958 in the Spirit Old Jefferson Farmers' Advocate
    By Don Rentch

    On the west side of Mission Rd.
    Shown above is the log cabin home of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Ramsburg, and their two children and one of the two high ranges of the rugged Blue Ridge Mountains, Southeast of Charles Town where tragedy nearly struck last weekend. In the picture Mr. Ramsburg is shown standing near his two-room home and pointing to the high mountain
    by Published on 09-09-2010 12:02 AM
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    The Methodist Churches of Our Blue Ridge Mountain

    Our first venture into the history of the Methodist Church on the Blue Ridge Mountain of Jefferson county has been aided by the Reverend Donnie Jane Cardwell, pastor of the Chestnut Hill Methodist Church. Chestnut Hill is one of three churches of that denomination currently offering services on our Blue Ridge. The other two are Silver Grove and Murrill Hill. Chestnut Hill's history, below, was compiled by Edna Enos.

    The six parts of the story that were provided by Mrs. Enos include some of the early history of all the Methodist churches on and in the area of the Blue Ridge Mountain. That information can be applied to Silver Grove and Murrill Hill as well. With YOUR help we hope to be able to include those churches' histories, too. Help from ANY parishioners would be graciously accepted. We respectfully request that we be advised of any errors, omissions and will gratefully accept additional data.

    Chestnut Hill Church 2008

    Chestnut Hill United Methodist Church

    First Sunday - 2007 (February)

    John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, formed his followers into societies or classes. Such was the start of the Shannondale Mission. Seven "classes" meeting, not in a church building but in member's homes. When these classes grew large enough, they built themselves a meeting house, and it became a church.

    Who were these people? Why would they come to a forested Mountain instead of the lush land in the Shenandoah Valley? Out of necessity, men make their homes where they can make a decent living for themselves and their families. Probably the earliest employment for these families was the Shannondale Springs.

    These Springs first attracted attention in 1821, the year that James Monroe began his second term as President of the United States.
    by Published on 10-22-2010 07:30 PM
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    Campfire Inc.'s Camp Takahano

    The logo of Campfire Inc., the organization formerly known as The Campfire Girls operated Camp Takahano situate in Jefferson County WV. It's our understanding that the group utilizing the facilities was "Camp Fire 4-260" of the Potomac Area Council(now the Patuxent Area Council). This album is meant small step toward what is hoped to be a more extensive show sometime in the future. The Photos were captured from the website of Alice Beard, the camp's last
    by Published on 09-27-2010 12:30 AM
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    The following material was originally contained in the Jefferson County School News Vol. 2, No. 6 dated March 1976 and graciously provided by its Editor, Mary Stocks.
    In 1976 Jefferson County School News was a monthly publication sponsored by the Board of Education as a public service to Jefferson County residents.

    Superintendent - Harold L. Pickens
    President of the Board - Richard Neal
    Editor - Mary Stocks
    Special thanks to the following people who so willingly supplied information to the editor of this paper for this special publication: Mr. Robert Darr, Mrs. Rose Crabbe, Mr. Harold Fritts, Mrs. Jesse Clevenger, Mrs. Irma Patrick, Mr. Glenn Ott, Mrs. Glenda Stevens, Mr. Roscoe Payne, Mr. & Mrs. John Hough, Mrs. Robert Appel, Rev. Temple Wheeler, Miss Kathryn Trussell, Mrs. Frank Humston, Mr. Strother Stickel, Mr. Ray Trussell, Mrs. Robert Jones, Mr. Oscar Jones, Wayne & Gary Arnett, Mrs. Jesse Dillow,Mrs. Aretta Penwell, Mr. Ferd Snyder, Miss Camilla Wiltshire, Mr. Jesse Boyd, Mr. George Turner, Mrs. Elsie Clinton, Mr. Ray Parks.

    Jefferson County Public Schools

    Charles Town District School History

    The first public school in Charles town still stands upon the corner of Charles and North Streets directly across from the Asbury Methodist church.

    Built in the early 1850's, it is a two story stone and brick building still in use today as the Methodist Educational Building.

    The land for the school was purchased from William Crow in 1849. Originally the structure wa one-story stone, the upper portion of brick having been aaded in later years.

    The school was used until 1893 when the Board of Education of the Charles Town District purchased the Ranson Inn, now the Ranson
    by Published on 09-28-2010 01:15 AM
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    The following material was originally contained in the Jefferson County School News Vol. 2, No. 8 dated May 1976 and graciously provided by its Editor, Mary Stocks.
    In 1976 Jefferson County School News was a monthly publication sponsored by the Board of Education as a public service to Jefferson County residents.

    Superintendent - Harold L. Pickens
    President of the Board - Richard Neal
    Editor - Mary Stocks
    Special thanks are due to the following people who so willingly supplied information to the editor of this paper for this special publication:
    Miss Gladys Hartzell, Mrs. Mary Baum, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Rissler, Mr. Mayo Snyder, Mr. Charles Reinhart, Mrs. Augusta Phillips, Mr. Franklin McQuilkin, Miss Helen Goldsborough, Mr. Joe Walper Mr. Oscar Jones, Mrs. Mary Donley Reinhart, Miss Mildred Conard, Rev. Lester Link, Mr. Kerfoot Moler, Mrs. Adora Payne, Mrs. J. W. Link, Mrs. Elsie Garrett, Mrs. Robert Knott, Mr. Thomas Turner, Mrs. Marion Creamer, Mr. Arthur Prather, Mrs. Robert Knott, Mr. B. M. Dennis, Mrs. Mary Ennis, Mr. Jesse Engle.

    Jefferson County Public Schools
    Shepherdstown District School History

    Two residents of Shepherdstown, Arthur Prather and Gladys Hartzell, are pictured at the stone foundation which is all that remains of Potomac School, probably built in 1847. The foundation is directly behind the Carolyn Apartments.

    When Jefferson County voters on June 3, 1847, (see SCHOOL NEWS "Looking Back," January, 1975) voted to establish a free public school system, Shepherdstown was divided into two school districts. The western part of town was the Potomac District while the eastern part was the Shepherd District, and each district was responsible for maintaining a schoolhouse.

    According to Musser's
    HISTORY OF SHEPHERDSTOWN, a lot was purchased that same year at the extreme west end of Washington Street for the erection of a school building for the Potomac District. It was a one-room brick building and was called Potomac School.

    The school stood 200 feet north of the entrance of Leeland, now the home of Miss Helen Goldsborough whose grandmother attended Potomac School.

    The Shepherd District purchased a lot
    by Published on 12-02-2014 12:00 PM  Number of Views: 1731 
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    Our Once Famous Scenic Overlook-Past & Present

    This view is on a post card printed by the Boston firm Tichnor Brothers Inc. They made color postcards with a linen texture dated ca. 1930-1945 concentrating on American vacation places. Their West Virginia collection linked HERE has some good views of Jefferson County. This view, familiar to many of us older folks, shows Snyder's or Power House Hill on the right and Little's Falls on the left. The Shenandoah River is flowing north, left to right. Pop