Dwight Peck's personal website

Winter 2019-2020

A photographic record of whatever leapt out at us

You may not find this terribly rewarding unless you're included here, so this is a good time for casual and random browsers to turn back before they get too caught up in the sweep and majesty of the proceedings and can't let go.

Some scenic drives south of Staunton, VA

(actually one scenic drive, twice)

We been out to the Augusta Springs Wetland for our favorite short walk in La Nature -- that's 10 miles west of downtown Staunton towards the mountains, through Buffalo Gap village, then 7 miles or so south to the wetland trail. That was nice -- but now we're plunging farther southward on the Little Calf Pasture Highway (State Route 42) past tiny Augusta Springs (pop. ca. 250).

A distinctly rural tone to the place. It's 12 May 2020 and we're not all masked up because we've got the windows rolled up and we're not getting out of the car.

And now we're passing through downtown Craigsville (pop. 929) without slowing down much, 14 miles to . . .

. . . Goshen, Virginia (pop. ca. 370).

Founded in the 1740s, Goshen was slated in the 1890s for the laying out of a new city, but that didn't work out so well.

But it's still got its own Goshen Country Store. Here the Calfpasture River down off the mountains runs eastward, and our road turns east to follow it. Just two miles to the east, the Goshen Scout Reservation is described as the largest Boy Scout camp in the USA.

Right in there somewhere, the Calfpasture River is joined by the Little Calfpasture River, and is thereafter known as the Maury River.

And here, at a bend in the road, is a roadside park commemorating Matthew Fontaine Maury (1806-1873).

Maury, known as the 'Father of Modern Oceanography and Naval Meteorology", was also an astronomer, inventor, and geologist, as well as a serving naval officer in the US Navy from 1825 to 1861 -- throughout the Civil War, though he was against secession, he was an officer in the Confederate Navy until 1865. Early in that gig, he invented the first electrically controlled naval mine (which were then called 'torpedoes), but most of that latter service was spent in Europe, acquiring and preparing ships for the Confederacy and trying to talk European governments into interceding on the Southerners' behalf.

After a pardon from the Federals in 1868, Maury became a professor at the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Virginia (through which this Maury River flows some 15 miles to the south), and wrote on the geology of Virginia until his death at 67.

Fairly low water in the Maury River -- wait till you see it when we come back in ten days' time.

The Maury River was once part of a James River and canal system bringing trade and passengers to Lexington from the coastal ports in the late 18th to the late 19th century, when the completion of through railroad connections with that city made the transport by water obsolete. The government changed the name Calfpasture River to Maury River downriver from here in 1968.

There is a memorial plaque to Maury near here, but a right serious statue was inaugurated in the capital, Richmond, in 1929, entitled 'Pathfinder of the Seas' for his work with marine navigation. It was removed on 2 July 2020, with the mayor signifying that it posed "severe, immediate and growing threat to public safety." Probably not just because Maury was one of the founders of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in 1848.

A bit more of the scenic Maury River, with its admired recreational rapids

Wait till next week

Soon we'll be turning back north up State Route 252 some 29 miles straight into Staunton centre.

How fortunate, a gas station.

Oh no, disappointed again.

We're coming into unincorporated Brownsburg now, home of the 'Historic Brownsburg district' -- like nearly all of the places we're passing through on this drive, it's recognized on the National Register of Historic Places.

Brownsburg village dates from 1793 and prospered on the main stagecoach route connecting Staunton with Lexington. It's said to have fallen into decline with the construction of a railroad and later the nearly parallel US 11 nearby, but a programme of restoration of old buildings in the late 20th century 'produced the charming village we know today'.

Luckily, no 'urban renewal' projects have intervened here, as they have in Staunton, where in the mid-'60s we lost 'a thriving and vibrant business and residential district, many owned or occupied by African Americans', and fetched up with a long row of identical huge square banks.

The post office

Through this stretch, SR 252 is known as the Brownsburg Turnpike.

Brownsburg Turnpike scenes (though at some point along here, SR 252 becomes known as Middlebrook Road)

Nothing a little 'TLC' couldn't remedy

The porch lights are on, that's encouraging.

Here we are now in Middlebrook (pop. 213), still another worthy site on the National Register of Historic Places. It's even said to have a 'Middlebrook Historic District', but we must have shot right by it.

And Middlebrook Road, so named, takes us right onto Middlebrook Ave. in Staunton and N. Augusta St. at our rail station, two blocks from home. It's been a rewarding exploratory afternoon out.

Melvin the Doge awaiting the attention that he's due

Back to Goshen and the Maury River

We're out for a bracing bit of exercise at the August Springs Wetlands, ten days later, i.e., 22 May 2020, and . . .

. . . we're hurrying along to leave time for another mini-road trip down by the Maury River.

It's late May, the cattails must be out.

The central pond at the Augusta Springs Wetland

Back on the road south to Goshen, VA

Flood waters on the Calfpasture River. We're viewing it from the then-state of the art Goshen Truss Bridge, built in 1890 'during a time of local industrial expansion; it was meant to serve a larger town & included a street car line, two traffic lanes, & a sidewalk'. That new city, alas, didn't materialize, and the fancy new bridge became 'surplus to requirements'. It was 'rehabilitated' in 2002.

The Calfpasture River on the move

Back at the Maury Mini-Memorial, do compare the state of the river bed with the views shone above. Impressionante, foreign visitors might say, or beeindruckend.

A few of the rocks are still peeking timidly out.

And the classification system for rapids (class II, III and IV) is temporarily misleading.

Farther along the road

The gas station again. We won't be fooled twice.

Entering lovely Brownsburg

The Brownsburg Museum

What do the inhabitants do for gas for their cars?

A good coat of paint, a little support stuck in here and there, and Bob's your uncle

State Route 252 views

A peaceful rural scene (likely less peaceful if you were to hop that barbed wire)

The coat of paint won't be sufficient.

Through downtown Middlebrook

And nearly home. [That's still Middlebrook, not our home.]

Next stop: Last days in Virginia for this winter

Feedback and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, . All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 18 October 2020.

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