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Blue Ridge Roadways: A Virginia Field Guide to Cultural Sites

M. Anna Fariello

John F. Blair, Publisher
$17.95 paperback
6 x 9    
318 pages; black-and-white photos throughout
Published in 2006

It seems the concept of cultural tourism was created with southwestern Virginia in mind. Take the mountain village of Saltville, a stop on the first trail in Blue Ridge Roadways. Visitors will find a rich heritage here—they can experience the only inland saline marsh in Virginia, watch a play in a gristmill, see a house where James Madison and Patrick Henry were entertained, and visit Confederate trenches, a reconstructed salt furnace, and a museum with a woolly mammoth skull and mastodon bones.

This guide leads travelers through a 16-county swath along the Blue Ridge, the Alleghenies, and the Valley of Virginia between them. Readers will enjoy the historic and contemporary photos and the sidebars on classic roads like the Warriors Path, the Great Wagon Road, and the Wilderness Road, traced by parts of the trails in this book.

Blue Ridge Roadways covers the population center of Roanoke and college towns like Blacksburg, but it also gives fair due to villages and rural areas, the region’s backbone. At Newbern, travelers will find an entire town listed on the National Register. At the Peaks of Otter, they can walk the heights explored by Native Americans and recorded by Thomas Jefferson and Robert E. Lee. Along the Blue Ridge Parkway in Floyd County, they can visit wineries, view a classic rock church, and experience a whiskey still, a working blacksmith, and old-time music, and mountain fare at the famous Mabry Mill.

Every cranny of southwestern Virginia has a heritage worth discovering.