Scott County Historical Society
Scott County, Virginia
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June Presley
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Chronology of Robert Benge, aka Chief Benge
Don Chesnut
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Martha Jewel Quillen and the Jewel Family
Wayne V. McConnell
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Dedication of Thomas J. Dingus Marker
Presley Cemetery
Presley Road off Fisher's Creek Road
Hawkins County, Tennessee
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Left to Right:  John Dingus, Phillip Dingus, Lowell Vicars, Douglas Presley, Doris Presley Johnson, Stanford Presley, Eugene Dingus, Monnie Dingus.  Front:  June Presley

Lane Family of Scott County, Virginia
Don W. Lane
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The Big Stone Gap Post
Wise County
, VA.
, Wednesday, December 17, 1913

 Gen. Ayers’ Residence Burned

     The residence of Gen. R. A. Ayers at Holston Springs in Scott County , where the general and family have been living since last spring, burned on Tuesday afternoon, together with all of his household effects.  The fire originated in the hot air heating system.  This was one of the finest colonial homes in the state, and was built before the war at a cost of about $75,000.  The loss, we understand, is partially covered by insurance.

Big Stone Gap Post
Wise County
, VA.
, January 8, 1913

New Bank Organized at Nickelsville , Va.

     Nickelsville , Va. , Jan. 2 --- On Saturday, Dec. 28, the progressive citizens of this section met and organized a bank at Nickelsville.  The stock holders decided to start the bank with a capital stock of $15,000.00.

     The following officers were elected: J. F. Sutton, president; C. W. Bond and J. A. Odle, vice-president; J. A. Bond, cashier.  Directors: R. L. McConnell, H. F. Addington, C. C. Broadwater, W. B. Addington, J. M. Darter, Dr. J. M. Dougherty and J. F. Sutton.

The Big Stone Gap Post
Wise County
, VA.
, Wednesday, October 22, 1913

Scott County Fair

     Gate City , Va. , Oct. 17 --- Scott County ’s first fair came to an end last night and is pronounced a decided success.  About one thousand dollars was taken in.  The live stock exhibited was a very high grade.  W. H. Mitchell, of Rye Cove, won three premiums on his cattle.  J. W. Carter, of Gate City , had the best Jersey cow; S. A. Ellis, of Gate City , took five premiums on Aberdeen Angus cattle, J. M. Johnson, of Gate City, showed some premium (sic) on cattle were won.

     The Wood Stock Company’s Percheron (sic) horse won first premium; Dr. H. C. Moore secured several premiums on horses.   Hugh Gobble won on saddle horse and trotter.

     In the ladies riding contests, ribbons were won by Mrs. D. S. Hood, of Gate City ; Miss Lee, of Hawkins County; and Mrs. Josephine Kane.

     Peter Wininger, aged 93, was awarded the premium for being the oldest man, and Mrs. Sarah Vaughn for being the oldest woman.

     Little Sarah Broadwater won the baby premium.

     There were many other premiums awarded.

     Yesterday evening the balloon had gone up only a short distance when it bursted (sic) and started down.  The balloonist had barely room to open his parachute but escaped injury.  The ascension Tuesday was very fine, with double parachute drop.

Description of A Natural Tunnel

In Scott County , Virginia

By S. H. Long, Lieut. Col. U. S. Army

(From the Monthly American Journal of Geology for February, 1832)

During the past summer, I visited a remarkable natural bridge in Scott County , Virginia , to which I have given the name of Natural Tunnel, on account of its striking resemblance to artificial structures of that kind.  An account of a phenomenon so rare and hitherto unknown beyond its immediate neighborhood appeared to me to deserve a place in the Monthly American Journal of Geology.  I esteem my self fortunate in being able to contribute so interesting a topic to its varied pages.  The immediate locality of this tunnel is upon a main stream called Buck eye, or Stock creek.  This last name owes its origin to its valley having been resorted to by the _____ of the Mountain by the attainment of a good range or pasture ground for their cattle.  The creek rises in Powell Mountain and _____ Clinch River which it _____ the _____ and three miles below the tunnel _____ of the surrounding country, and especially of that to the northward of the tunnel in constituting the southerly top of the mountain just mentioned is exceedingly diversified and broken by elevated spurs and ridges, separated from each other by deep chasms, walled with cliffs and mural precipices often presenting exceedingly narrow passes, but occasionally widening into meadows or bottoms of considerable extent.  The mural precipices just mentioned, occur very frequently, bounding the valleys of the streams generally in this part of the country, and opposing ramparts of formidable height and in many places utter insurmountable.  Such are the features peculiarly characteristic of Wild Cat Valley , the Valley of Copper Creek, of Powell’s and Clinch rivers and of numerous other streams of less note, all of which are situated within a few miles of the natural tunnel.

     To form an adequate idea of this remarkable and truly sublime object, we have only to imagine the creek to which it gives a passage, meandering through a deep narrow valley, here and there bounded on both sides by walls or revetments of the character above intimated, and rising to the height of two or three hundred feet above the stream; and that a portion of one of these chasms, instead of presenting an open through cut from the summit to the base of the high ground is intercepted by a continuous unbroken ridge more than three hundred feet high, extending entirely across the valley, and perforated transversely at it base after the manner of an artificial tunnel, and thus affording a spacious subterranean channel for the passage of the stream.

     The entrance to the natural tunnel on the upper side of the ridge, is imposing and picturesque in a high degree; but on the lower side the grandeur of the scene is greatly heightened by the superior magnitude of the cliffs, which exceed in loftiness and which rise perpendicularly – and in some instances in an impending manner – two to three hundred feet and by which the entrance on this side is almost environed, as it were, by an amphitheatre of rude and frightful precipices.

     The observer standing on the brink of the stream at the distance of about one hundred yards below the debouchure (sic) of the natural tunnel has in front a view of it arched entrance, rising seventy or eighty feet above the water and surmounted by horizontal stratification of yellowish, white and gray rocks, in depth nearly twice the height of the arch.  On his left a view or the same mural precipice deflected from the spring of the arch in a manner to pass thence in a continuous curve quite to his rear, and towering in a very impressive manner, above his head.  On his right, a sapling growth of buck-eye, poplar, linden, &c., skirting the margin of  the creek, and extending obliquely to the right and upward through a narrow, abrupt ravine, to the summit of the ridge, which is here, and elsewhere, crowned with a timber growth of pines, cedars, oaks, and shrubbery of various kinds.  On his extreme right is a gigantic cliff lifting itself up perpendicularly from the water’s edge, to the height of about three hundred feet and accompanied by an insulated cliff, called the chimney of about the same altitude, rising in the form of a turret, at least sixty feet above its basement, which is a portion of the imposing cliff just before mentioned.

     Desirous of illustrating this paper by a front view of the natural tunnel where the creek issues from it, I have, with the assistance of a particular friend in this city – to whom I am indebted for the accompanying drawing – been enabled to furnish a sketch which very faithfully represents some of the appearances I have described.  The embellishments last mentioned, however, viz the chimney and its accompaniments, could not be comprised in the landscape.

     In order to give a more full description of the magnificent spectacle which forms the subject of this paper, I shall transcribe some of the minutes taken from my private notes, whilst on the ground, but first I shall give an extract from a letter addressed to me by my friend P. C. Johnston, Esq. Of Abingdon in the adjoining county to Scott, a gentleman well acquainted with this interesting locality.

    “The rocks through which Stock creek flows are a light blue and gray limestone, of a subcrystalline (sic) character, the strata are nearly horizontal, and this arrangement of the strata continues for several miles north-eastwardly, but in every other direction in the county to the S. E. at an angle generally of from 30° to 50°.”  This tunnel is near what they believe to be the N. W. boundary of the transition formation, or a little within.  I have not been able to discover any organic remains in the limestone there or in the neighborhood.  On the little projections on the rock which occur on the walls near the lowest S. end of the tunnel, a crystallized deposit is lodged, which you no doubt recollect, that seemed to my taste to be a mixture of salt-petre and alum.  No attempt has been made to analyze it.  The earth found in the upper (N.) extremity of the tunnel some years ago, (the first time I visited it,) afforded salt-petre.  The crystallized deposit seems to be made from a stratum apparently not more than six inches thick, which is so high that it cannot be reached for examination.  The growth of timber is such as is common in the neighbouring (sic) country, white, red, Spanish, black-oaks; hickory, white-walnut, dogwood, popular, chesnut (sic), birch, ironwood; some hemlock and papaw (asimina triloba) on the banks of the creek, and the edges of the cliffs fringed with cedar.  On the creek, below the tunnel for two miles, is found that variety of ash called the fringe tree, (chionanthus virginica,) the long white fringe-like blossoms of which are so delightfully fragrant.”*

*This plan, in the natural system, belongs to the cleaces, or olive tribe.  The flowers of the olea fragrans are used for flavouring (sic) tea in China .  We offer this hint to our readers who have access to the chionanthus.

     The following passages are from my own private journal.

     Saturday, Aug. 13, 1831 .  Having ascended Cove ridge, we turned aside from our route to visit the natural bridge, or tunnel, situated on Buck-eye or Stock creek, about a mile below the Sycamore camp,+ and about one and a half miles from a place called Rye cove, which occupies a spacious recess between two prominent spurs of Powell’s mountain, the site of the natural tunnel being included within a spur of Cove ridge, which is one of  the mountain spurs just alluded to.  Here is presented one of the most remarkable and attractive curiosities of its kind to be witnessed in this or any other country.  The creek, which is about seven yards wide, and has a general course about S. 15 W. here passes through a hill elevated from two to three hundred feet above the surface of the stream, winding its way through a huge subterraneous cavern, or grotto, whose roof is vaulted in a peculiar manner, and rises from thirty to seventy or eighty feet above its floor.  The sides of this gigantic cavern rise perpendicularly in some places to the height of fifteen or twenty feet, and in others are formed by the spring of its vaulted roof immediately from its floor.  The width of the tunnel varies from fifty to one hundred and fifty feet; its course is that of a continuous curve, resembling the letter S, first winding to the right as we enter on the upper side, then to the left, again to right, and then again to the left, on arriving at the entrance on the lower side.  Such is its peculiar form, that an observer, standing at a point about midway of its subterranean course, is completely excluded from a view of about twenty yards, occupying an intermediate portion of ;the tunnel.  When the sun is near the meridian, and his rays fall upon both entrances, the light reflected from both extremities of the tunnel, contributes to mollify the darkness of this interior portion into a dusky twilight.

     +This designation has been given to a spot in the valley of the creek, where formerly stood a hollow sycamore (platanus occidentalis) tree of an enormous size, the remains of which are still to be seen, and in the cavity of which whilst it stood, fifteen persons are said to have encamped at the same time together.

      “The extent of the tunnel from its upper to its lower extremity, followings its meanders, is about 150 yards, in which distance the stream falls about ten feet, emitting, in its passage over a rocky bed, and agreeable murmur, which is rendered more grateful by it reverberations upon the roof and sides of the grotto.  The discharge of a musket produces a crash-like report, succeeded by a roar in the tunnel, which has a deafening effect upon the ear.”

     “The hill through which this singular perforation leads, descends in a direction from east to west, across the line of the creek, and affords a very convenient passage for a road which travers3s it at about this place, having a descent in the direction just mentioned, of about four degrees.”

     The rocks found in this part of the country are principally sandstone and limestone, in stratifications nearly horizontal, with occasional beds of clay slate.  A mixture of the two former frequently occurs among the alternations presented by these rocks.  A variety of rock resembling the French burr, occurs in abundance on Butcher’s fork, of Powell’s river, abut twenty miles northwardly of the natural tunnel.  Fossils are more or less abundant in these and other rocks.  Fossil bones of an interesting character have been found in several places.  Salt-petre caves are numerous.  Coves, sinks, and subterranean caverns are strikingly characteristic, not only of the country circumjacent to the natural tunnel, but of the region generally situated between the Cumberland mountain and the Blue ridge or Appalachian mountain.  Bitumious coal, with its usual accompaniments, abounds in the northerly parts of this region; and in the intermediate and southerly portions; iron, variously combined, often magnetic, together with talcose rocks, &c. &c. are to be met with in great abundance.

     The mountains in this vicinity, long. 82° to 84° W. from Greenwich , lat. 35° to 36° N. are among the most lofty of the Allegheny range.  Several Knobs in this part of the range, among which may be enumerated the Roan, the Unaka, the Bald, the Black, and Powell’s mountains, rise to the height of at least four thousand five hundred feet above tide.

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