Thursday, July 21, 2011

Route 11 Road Trip - Day 6: Christiansburg to Abingdon

We started out day 6 of our Route 11 road trip in Christiansburg. As it had been throughout the trip, the weather was hot, hazy and humid, with temperatures getting up into the 100's. Christiansburg is an old town, established in 1792. Part of the town's growth was due to settlers pushing through the mountains to the wilderness west of the mountains. In fact, at one time both Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone lived in the town (before moving on).

Downtown Christiansburg was beautiful. Flowers in sidewalk and lamp post planters added a lot of color. And, as I've done throughout the trip, I took some photos of churches.

Baptist Church in downtown Christiansburg is neo-classical, but there are some distinct differences from the style further up the Valley. Note that the lines are cleaner, the details simpler. In a way, it's sort of an abstraction of the architecture we saw in Winchester and Lexington.
By contrast, by contrast, the Lutheran church had more of the fortress-like appearance. This is a style we've seen all down the Valley.  Consistently, all the examples we saw were either made of brick (like this one) or stone (like the Presbyterian Church in Harrisonburg).

The next stop on our trip was Radford. Compared to some of the other communities in the Valley, it's a fairly young town. Radford was founded in 1887, well after the Civil War.

One of our daughters attended Radford University so we've spent a lot of the time in the city – at least a certain portion of it. Having an opportunity to drive around, though, we discovered  this  large fabric store, Sew Biz on a side street. While it looks spacious on the outside, the interior is anything but – it was a series of winding trails stuffed with all kinds of fabrics, patterns and supplies for quilters and seamstresses of all abilities.


If the name seems a little odd, there's a reason. Pulaski is named after Count Casimir Pulaski, a Polish officer who was called the "Father of the American Calvary" for his leadership and help during the American Revolution. Pulaski, Virginia is but one of many communities named after this war hero (although the only one in the Commonwealth, I believe).

Downtown Pulaski was something of a disappointment. It’s another of those town whose fortunes seem to be ebbing – at least at the moment. The Court House was sufficiently imposing, though. A late-ninetheeth century building made out of rock quarried locally.

And in front of it was an interesting piece of history. The arched stone gate was built in 1907 and served as the entrance to the Pulaski County exhibit at the Jamestown Centennial Exposition that same year.  After the exposition, the gate was dismantled and reassembled in front of the courthouse.
Draper Mountain
South of Pulaski, Route 11 climbs Draper Mountain. As I noted in an earlier post, as we journeyed south, the terrain became hillier and the mountains seemed to close in. At the top of Draper Mountain we stopped and surveyed the view. To the east of us was the Appalachian Mountains, and we could see Interstate 81 running along the base of it. To the west, we could clearly see the Alleghenies, slightly obscured by the haze of a humid Virginia summer day.

The view from Draper Mountain, looking west to the Alleghenies.

The view from Draper Mountain, looking east to the Appalachians.
We’ve traveled Route 81 countless times over the years,  and Wytheville is one of the major milestones along the way. It stands at the intersection to Interstate 81 and Interstate 77 which goes to West Virginia and Ohio. It’s also about an hour’s drive from Abingdon, our usual destination.
This time, though, we stayed on Route 11 and drove through downtown Wytheville. It too had older vertical rather than parallel parking for cars. It’s also where I saw the most unusual church on the trip.  The building had two towers, but neither one was open at the top. The steeple was almost stunted, and the entrance seemed to be through the basement. That wasn’t really the case, of course, the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church was a one-of-a-kind building, nevertheless.

The Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Christiansburg, VA.

Further down the street was a more traditional church. The Lutheran Church had an elongated spire, with louvered windows for the church bells. It seemed as imposing as the Bethel AME church, but in a different way.

Lutheran Church in Christiansburg, VA.
Glade Springs

In April a tornado touched down in this small community, killing four and leaving a broad and clear path of destruction. We had visited the town shortly after the disaster and saw trees, debris, cars, trucks, and tractor trailers strewn about like toys in the aftermath of a child’s tantrum.
Some of the ruined structures had been razed, most of the smaller debris and had been cleaned up, but things are still not back to normal. Many of the homes still have plastic tarps over their roofs, and  although construction and repair work was going on, there was still plenty to be done. I think the tornado’s path will be visible for some time to come.
South of Glade Springs we stopped at the famous Dip Dog. If you live in this part of Southwest Virginia, then Dip Dog is indeed famous. What exactly is a Dip Dog? Well, sort of like a corn dog, only more so. Like many other locally known restaurants, they had a wall with the autographed celebrities who enjoyed Dip Dogs – including the members of ZZ Top!

An autographed photo of ZZ Top at the Dip Dog.
We arrived in Abingdon in the late afternoon. Abingdon is another old community, founded in 1776. Since my wife's from Abingdon, it's a city we're well-familiar with the city. We pulled into the drive at Grandma’s house, ready for a break. But the journey’s not over yet. We started on Route 11 at the West Virginia line, and tomorrow we follow it down to the Tennessee border (it’s not a long trip by any means).

#route 11

Route 11 Road Trip -- The Plan

Route 11 Road Trip -- Day 1: Winchester

Route 11 Road Trip - Day 2: Winchester to Harrisonburg

Route 11 Road Trip - Day 3: Harrisonburg to Lexington

Route 11 Road Trip - Day 4: Lexington

Route 11 Road Trip - Day 5: Lexington to Christiansburg

Route 11 Road Trip: Day 7 Abingdon to Bristol


1 comment:

  1. Anonymous6:43 PM

    I am Kelly ( Our webpage is to be up soon. Tried to find a more "inbox" way to contact, but failed. I am the curriculum developer for a small start-up business in which we will be selling Themed Homeschool Study Units. Each box has about a dozen modules in underneath a theme. One our favorite themes is what we are calling the Eleven Box...we have about 16 activities all somehow related to the number 11. We are featuring Route 11 in a geography activity. As I was entering the search to find pictures I use to make mock-up postcards to go along with the US Map we are supplying, several times I was directed to your blog about your Route 11 adventure. I am wondering if we might use notes of your trip (including photos) as part of the educational activity for this module. Of course, no personal information would be used, and we would gladly send you one of the finished "kits". Initial Print orders for this Box will probably be 25-60 boxes. Thank you for you time in considering our request.