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"Little-Known" Attractions of Lynchburg and Central Virginia A RetroWeb page, Copyright © If you are looking for Point of Honor, The Academy Theater, Poplar Forest, Natural Bridge or other more well-known attractions of Lynchburg and Central Virginia, you will not find them on this web page. Instead, what you will find documented here are several lesser-known, unusual, sometimes esoteric, occasionally bizarre and, in almost all cases, absurd attractions of the area, along with an equally-absurd accompanying "history.
" Not every attraction will appeal to everyone, but hopefully you will find something of interest. If you live in Central Virginia and thought you knew everything there was to know about the area, perhaps you will "discover" a few things you didn't know after all. If you don't live in the area but will be visiting, please plan to take in Lynchburg's real attractions before even considering delving into what follows below.
Click here to read Darrell Laurant's 8/1/01 column about this web page from the Lynchburg News & Advance. Click here to read an excerpt from Laurant's followup article on the site, five years later (11/5/06). If you desire more information on any of the "attractions" described on this site, please use the e-mail link at the bottom of the page. Please DO NOT contact local tourism agencies, museums, historical societies, or any offices or individuals associated with the mentioned localities, as they would likely doubt your sanity as a result, and for good reasons! Now, Enjoy! The Fletcher Farm Rhino In the mid 1980's, Harland Fletcher returned to Virginia from Africa with a baby white rhinoceros he had purchased for a children's zoo in Richmond.
The zoo never opened, and Fletcher was left with the dilemma of what to do with the baby rhino. In an unusual and somewhat novel move, Fletcher turned the rhino loose on his 150-acre cattle farm in Amherst County. Remarkably, the animal easily adapted to its environment, and today, fifteen years later, the rhino can still be frequently seen grazing in the fields of Fletcher's farm alongside the cows.
Fletcher's farm can be reached by turning right off of Rt. 356 north of Lynchburg, then taking another right after about two miles at Beating Stick Rd. The "ABC" Cemetery Off of Rt. 122 near Bedford, one can find a most unusual cemetery. Officially known as the Antioch Baptist Church Cemetery, most locals refer to it as the "ABC Cemetery," not because of its name, but because of the obsessive-compulsive nature of its former and long-time owner and caretaker, Thomas Aadland.
Aadland's sickness compelled him to continuously re-order the graves to keep them in strict alphabetical order. Local residents would find Aadland at any time of day or night following a new burial, digging up graves and shuffling caskets and headstones from plot to plot to maintain the alphabetic burial sequence. Aadland required all plot owners to sign a form acknowledging the "floating" nature of their burial plot and allowing him to change the assigned plot and move each body as needed.
As bizarre as it sounds, family members didn't mind the arrangement, since it allowed them to easily find the grave sites of their loved ones on return visits, even years later, without having to remember the location between visits. In 1992, Aadland found himself near death, and he realized that he would no longer be able to maintain the cemetery, much less continue to shuffle the grave sites. Because of this, he decided to close the cemetery, but to his horror, he realized that the graves would have to be shuffled one more time so that he himself could be buried in proper sequence (and an "A" shuffle to boot.
..the worst kind). Too weak to shuffle the graves once more, Aadland placed a newspaper ad seeking laborers, but he had no takers. If you visit the ABC Cemetery today, you can observe firsthand how Aadland solved his dilemma. Look for the very last grave in the cemetery...the grave of Thomas Zuckerman... formerly known as Thomas Aadland. Winfall, Va. and the "Zeiglehr Effect"(view of Atlantic Ocean under appropriate conditions) In 1936, German scientist Jules Zeiglehr made a fascinating discovery while vacationing in Paris and gazing through a telescope.
While watching a distant hot air balloon, Zieglehr was startled to see a mountain peak in the telescope's field of view, despite the fact that there were no significant mountain ranges within a hundred miles of his location. Zeiglehr soon identified the peak as Alpine peak Mont Blanc, and he immediately set to work to understand the physics that allowed him to see this peak from roughly 300 miles away.
After more than a year of research and experimentation, Zeiglehr published his landmark paper describing "light wave skip," a natural phenomenon also known to occur with radio waves. The phenomenon soon became commonly known as the "Zeiglehr Effect," and over the years, many have observed this natural telescope of sorts when conditions fall into line. In our own area, the Zeiglehr Effect has been frequently observed near the community of Winfall, just south of Lynchburg on Rt.
501. When atmospheric conditions are just right, one can see the Atlantic Ocean from Winfall through a telescope pointed due East. The photo to the right was taken in 1997 from a vantage point near the old Winfall train station. Lynchburg West End Sinkhole On the morning of March 13, 1953, dozens of residents of Lynchburg's "West End" were jolted out of their beds and arose to discover the earth literally collapsing under them.
An underground explosion of unknown origin had triggered a "sinkhole," and over the course of only a few minutes, the sinkhole swallowed over fifteen homes in this once-fashionable suburb of the town. To the left is an aerial view taken within a few hours of the development of the sinkhole. The smoke visible in the photo is from homes still smoldering from fires triggered by the disaster. Remarkably, only two people lost their lives in this bizarre tragedy.
The map to the right shows the area affected by the sinkhole, an area which was sealed off immediately following the extraction of casualties and of the injured. Undisturbed for nearly fifty years, the affected area is now overgrown and generally inaccessible due to the dangers associated with the open pit and the unstable partially-collapsed structures. To the left is the view today down Wingfield Avenue, which was dead-ended by the sinkhole.
UPDATE: The nature of the underground explosion which triggered the West End Sinkhole remains unknown to this day, but a study in 1992 concluded that the explosion occurred approximately 7000 feet below the surface. Speculation on the cause ranges from an occurrence of nature involving a trapped pocket of gas to an accidental explosion in a suspected subterranean government facility. UPDATE #2: Research for a March 2007 local television story on the sinkhole uncovered a photograph documenting the little-known fact that the seismic motion resulting from the 1953 underground blast also toppled the steeple of the nearby West Lynchburg Baptist Church.
No one was in the main sanctuary when the steeple fell over and crashed through the roof. Phantom's Grave(Robert E. Lee's other horse) Most Virginians are well-aware of Confederate General Robert E. Lee's horse "Traveller," buried alongside the General in Lexington, Virginia. General Lee, however, also had a lesser-known horse named "Phantom," who died during the Battle of Lynchburg and who is buried in the Beauregard Civil War Cemetery near Lynchburg.
Recently, a controversy arose when a large statue of "Phantom" was erected in the cemetery. Some objected to the statue's proportions, calling it inappropriate for the setting. In any case, you won't be able to miss the bigger-than-life statue of "Phantom," depicted in a heroic pose just before he was killed by cannonball. "Gilligan's Island" Bed and Breakfast It's more than just a "three-hour tour" when you book a stay at the "Gilligan's Island" Bed & Breakfast on beautiful Smith Mountain Lake.
Co-owners Al Halley (who portrays "The Skipper") and Rob Reno (who portrays "Gilligan") will meet you at a local marina, where you will board a replica of the S. S. Minnow, and sail off to an "uncharted desert isle" out in the middle of the lake. There you will be greeted by the remaining "cast" members, including The Professor, Mr. and Mrs. Howell, Ginger, and everyone's favorite, Mary Ann. Accommodations on the island include your very own bamboo hut, similar to those seen on the classic 60's TV series.
You will also enjoy only the best in fine dining and libations. (Hint: Don't miss Mary Ann's coconut cream pie for breakfast!) While on the island, sit back and enjoy the show, as the friendly cast members perform any number of skits from the show. You probably know all the plots, so feel free to join in the fun. And don't be surprised or frightened to see an angry native warrior or two from one of the nearby islands! "Our five available huts are booked two years in advance," says Halley ("The Skipper"), who adds "and we are planning to add two more huts prior to next season.
" How about the $380 per-person, per-night price tag? Reno ("Gilligan") explains, "There's a lot of overhead compared to your run-of-the-mill bed and breakfast. But we must be doing something right -- some of our guests have become regulars, returning three and four times." In fact, Halley and Reno have such a hit on their hands that they already have another TV-themed B&B in the planning stages, one patterned this time after "The Brady Bunch," which they plan to locate in the Richland Hills subdivision of Lynchburg.
Riverview Amusement Park Little do most area residents realize that Lynchburg once had its very own amusement park. Some said that, due to its construction on land sacred to the Native American Monocan tribe, Riverview Amusement Park was never meant to be. Despite an outcry at the time of its construction, the park was built on a bluff in Madison Heights formerly belonging to the Monacan tribe and overlooking the James River.
The park was a sister park to Salem's popular Lakeside Amusement Park which, after years of providing thrills and chills to old and young alike, was destroyed by the flood of 1985. Unlike Lakeside, Riverview Amusement Park would have a profoundly shorter life span. Riverview had opened on the evening of June 16, 1963 to a tremendous crowd, and festivities were in full swing when suddenly the huge Ferris Wheel, fully loaded with riders, detached from its mounts and began rolling through the park.
Some onlookers watched in horror and others ran for their lives to dodge the out-of-control wheel as it continued rolling through and out of the park, continuing several hundred feet where it then crashed through the fence at a neighboring power substation. Sparks exploded into the night sky as the wheel made contact with high voltage transformers, instantly shutting off all power to the park and simultaneously electrocuting all riders who had been unable to free themselves from their seat harnesses.
Forty-six people died as a result of the tragic mishap, and the following day, county officials closed and condemned the park. One survivor of the nightmarish Ferris Wheel ride commented to the local press following the accident, "It's a real shame about the accident, but that wheel gave me the ride of my life." No traces remain today of Riverview Amusement Park on the bluff above the James, but a small commemorative plaque was erected in the late 1970's on the site, which is now occupied by a sign company.
The Dreaming Creek "Troll"(The Mysterious Dark Vortex of Windsor Hills) What is the explanation for the mysterious happenings in the woods adjacent to Lynchburg's Windsor Hills subdivision, specifically in those that run along Dreaming Creek? This is a question that residents of that neighborhood have been asking for over two decades. "There is definitely something out there...some kind of presence," commented one wary resident a few years ago to an independent journal of the paranormal.
Another person interviewed eloquently described what they witnessed as an "amorphous black specter that stirred up small whirlwinds of leaves...like a dark vortex." Others have characterized it more as a scampering, mischievous small creature of some sort, sometimes venturing out of the woods to tap on windows, tip over trash cans, etc.. Some have even claimed it to have threatened them. In one of the more seemingly far-fetched accounts, one person reported the following encounter "We heard a rustle, when suddenly in our path was what looked like a troll.
It was hard to see, but it had on dark leather clothes and what looked like a leather cap. It had a bare human-like face, and was muttering to itself and making a noise that sounded like a laugh. Suddenly, it brandished what I think was a small knife, and we got the hell out of there." The only known, purported photo of the creature/apparition is shown left, in which the photographer managed only a blurry shot of what he claimed was a "little devil" running away from him.
More than one witness has reported sensing a presence before actually encountering the creature, leading them to conclude that the being possessed some form of telepathic powers. Legend of the mysterious resident of the woods has grown over the years, and neighborhood kids have given the creature the name "Rufus." What do all of these accounts add up to? Could there indeed be some sort of supernatural lifeform taking up residence along Dreaming Creek? One former Windsor Hills resident summed it up "I never believed in that kind of thing until I saw it with my own eyes.
Rufus is real!" "Mags" the Headless Cat Found along the Lynchburg Expressway by city employee Earl Swinton, what at first appeared to be the remains of another misfortuned animal soon became the surprise of Earl's life. Swinton had collected the remains of a cat which had been decapitated in an accident, but a half hour later as he was disposing of his collection for the day, Earl was shocked when he noticed that the cat's headless body was breathing.
It was a slow, labored breathing, accompanied by a faint rasping sound from the cat's neck, but the cat was breathing nonetheless. Earl immediately alerted his supervisor, who contacted a nearby animal emergency center. Before the day was out, the cat which had survived the loss of its head was the talk of the local veterinary circle. The animal center was flooded with phone calls and visitors who had to see the cat firsthand before they would believe what they were hearing.
"Mags," as the cat came to be known, was nursed back to health over the next few weeks on an intravenous diet, a drinking straw to help her breathe and with a healthy supply of love and attention. Mags was eventually adopted by an owner who remains anonymous for fear of unwanted publicity. However, the owner has allowed medical scientists to examine the animal, who have concluded that the cat was able to survive by a means in which its central nervous system assumed all autonomic functions in the absence of the brain, an uncommon occurrence in nature, but not unheard of.
Mags is shown to the left in October, 2000, being held by renowned British veterinarian Kenneth Hubsteed who traveled to America to examine the cat, and who has since published a medical book on Mags, entitled "Mags the Amazing Headless Cat." The Koffee Pot Restaurant(Elvis' Toilet Paper) He didn't have time to play "Hunka Hunka Burnin' Love," and for that matter, it really wasn't the sort of "performance" that his fans would consider memorable, but Elvis Presley did once leave his mark in Central Virginia.
It happened in August of 1976, when his band's plane was headed to Roanoke for a concert but got diverted to Lynchburg. On the way out of Lynchburg, the band stopped briefly at a small Timberlake Rd. diner known as the "Koffee Pot" (shown left in a vintage photo before the giant coffee pot on the roof was removed). The band stopped at the restaurant not to eat, but for Elvis to use the bathroom. He was in a great hurry to make his Roanoke show, but he took the time to autograph one of the toilet paper rolls and to add his famous "Takin' Care of Business" logo.
Picture to the right is this unusual and undoubtedly unique memento which the shop still proudly displays today. UPDATE: "Elvis has left the building!" At least, the toilet paper roll bearing his signature is no longer on premises at the Koffee Pot. Owner Estelle Meadows recently disclosed that the toilet paper has been loaned to a year-long travelling exhibit of Elvis memorabilia which will be visiting forty-two cities around the country.
The Johnson Farm Silo Concord dairy farm owner Hugh Johnson thought something was up one day in the summer of 2002 when he saw a car pull over on the road by his farm, and four people got out and began taking photos of his barn. When a few days later, a small van pulled up and unloaded nearly a dozen people, Johnson hopped in his pickup and drove down to the road to inquire. As Johnson recounted to the Appomattox Times-Virginian, "It was a bunch of young guys from Washington DC.
..city types...all sharp dressers." As Johnson learned, the object of the group's attention was his grain silo, which one person told him had recently been featured in a magazine whose name Johnson didn't recognize. While he still did not completely understand their interest, he invited the group onto his property to have a closer look at the silo. "They were nice enough folks, but a bit too silly for my liking.
..laughing and giggling and so forth from the minute I introduced myself. They must have taken a hundred pictures of that silo. Go figure." Interest in Johnson's silo has reportedly tapered off, but not died completely. Because of the publicity, and with the assumption that the structure is of some architectural significance, it is worthy of inclusion here as a Little-Known Attraction of Central Virginia.
Zebulon Miller Tomb(disproved the adage "You Can't Take It With You") For close to a hundred years, treasure seekers have been flocking to Bedford County in search of the elusive "Beale Treasure." So far, no one has found it. Indeed, some skeptics say it never existed. Little do these or other treasure seekers know that there is an authentic treasure buried in the heart of Lynchburg, in the Zebulon Miller Tomb at the Virginia Methodist Cemetery.
In his death in 1885, Zebulon, the eccentric and tight-fisted younger brother of renowned local philanthropist Samuel Miller, proved to his critics that you can indeed "take it with you." Five years earlier, Zeb hired a team of German engineers to design, build and install a tomb, eighteen feet deep and encased by three-feet thick concrete walls, fortified to hold his own mortal remains and more than $2.
3 million in gold and silver coins. Zeb then hired a Swiss agent to ensure that his final wishes to be buried with his fortune would be carried out. A $1 million trust fund was set up to ensure perpetual care of the tomb, and to provide for guards around-the-clock. The guards were dismissed in later years, as an elaborate electronic alarm system was installed. As a result, the Zebulon Miller Tomb and its buried treasure have remained undisturbed to this day.
The Great Popcorn Blizzard of '58(The Tyreeanna Crow Mound) In the late 1950's, Lynchburg businessman Stuart Pittman, father of E.C. Glass High School varsity basketball sensation Dwayne "Pitter-Patter" Pittman, was asked to take on the job of producing the popcorn to be sold at all home basketball games. The elder Pittman happily obliged. After two years of supplying popcorn at the games, Stu seized upon the favorable reception of his secret-ingredient popcorn, and quickly expanded his operation to include all local movie theaters.
His kitchen-table business soon grew into a thriving enterprise with over forty employees, running twenty-four hours a day, supplying his popcorn up and down the East Coast to movie theaters, sporting events, concert halls, department stores, state fairs, circuses -- anywhere and everywhere popcorn was sold. Pittman's success was sadly short lived, however. Less than a year after moving his business to a large, state-of-the-art facility on Jefferson Street, a catastrophic triple-cauldron hot oil explosion leveled the facility and rained down six inches of popcorn that covered most of downtown Lynchburg and the Lower Basin.
Even worse, the sticky mess attracted thousands of swooping crows, most of which were choked, poisoned or mutilated in the feeding frenzy. City crews spent three full days rounding up all the scattered crow carcasses, then trucked them just outside the city limits to Tyreeanna, forming a huge mound which was then covered with two feet of a dirt and lime mixture. The crow mound (shown right) can still be seen today just off Rt.
460 near the intersection with the Concord Turnpike. The remains of Stu Pittman were never recovered from the site of the explosion. A now-famous news-wire photograph of the disaster, depicting the Lynchburg daytime skyline darkened by the presence of the relentless crows, is rumored to have been the inspiration for Alfred Hitchcock's famous movie, "The Birds." The Avalon Club(and the Little-Known Secret Superstar Gig of 1976) It's a major happening in Central Virginia when a big-name act plays in the area, for example, Elvis Presley's 1974 performance in Roanoke.
Few are aware, however, of another superstar act who appeared in the area two years later, at an obscure night club in a secret gig that must rank among one of the most unusual entries in the annals of untold rock & roll history. It happened one Saturday night in August of 1976 at the now-defunct Avalon Club on Rt. 24 in Appomattox, a popular BYOB country music spot in Appomattox County. On that evening, the regulars made their way into the club, expecting to find the regular band ("Country After Dark") on stage.
What they found instead was a stage with instruments and microphones but no performers. A few people were dancing to a country record being played over in the corner, but most were milling around, sipping from their brown bags and getting restless. Suddenly the lights dimmed (the lights never dimmed at the Avalon Club) and a few people could be seen in the shadows taking the stage. A familiar electric guitar riff tore into the room, the lights came back up, and the crowd got their first look at the band, a group of young, long-haired guys in odd clothing who were playing "Johnny B.
Goode" with intensity. No one recognized the odd-looking performers, but that didn't matter. Everyone was on their feet dancing away to the old Chuck Berry tune (including Avalon regular Aubrey "Mr. Bones" Benson, pictured right). Despite the initially warm reception to the performers, things would soon take a turn for the worse. Following the first song, the lead singer (who was also wearing eye shadow) said a few words to the crowd, but all the crowd could gather through the distorted sound was that he was British.
The band then broke into a second tune, one unfamiliar to the crowd. Some tried to dance but most took a seat. Impatience quickly turned to anger as the band assaulted the restless crowd with a string of unfamiliar tunes. Taking this all in was Clint Patterson, a younger member of the crowd, who thought he had seen the band on television and who recognized some of the tunes from hearing them on his sister's radio.
Clint recalls "I remembered that one that kept going 'What A Drag It Is Getting Old.'" By about the fifth song, the crowd had seen and heard enough, and Avalon regular Harold "Cootie" Hodges led the charge onto the stage, initiating a melee which saw one band member take a whiskey bottle to the head, and which left the band's amplifiers and drum kit destroyed. Clint recalled the situation recently, saying "Hey listen, we were all just a bunch of hard working country boys looking to have our normal good-time Saturday night.
We didn't go down there to see no long-haired sissy boys. Besides, you could hardly understand a word that skinny dude in tight pants was singing." As the reader may have surmised by now, that "skinny dude" was none other than Mick Jagger and the band was the Rolling Stones, who have a long tradition of kicking off a tour with unannounced "rehearsal" gigs at obscure, off-the-beaten-path venues. The Stones have rarely commented on their disastrous appearance in Central Virginia, but rumor has it that the never-released "Grin and Grab It" was shelved after an argument stemming from that night.
Lead guitarist Keith Richards (whose face still bears a scar from the whiskey bottle smashed over his head that night) once commented to Crawdaddy magazine about the incident, saying "Blimey, I hadn't seen a crowd that bloody rowdy since Altamont." (thanks go out to Clint Patterson for supplying the details of the Rolling Stones' secret Avalon Club gig) The Hiccup Man(He's Had Hiccups For Sixty-Four Years.
Find Him A Cure And Win $500!) His name is Russell Harrison, and he has a very bad case of the hiccups. In fact, Russell (or "Hick" as his friends call him) has been hiccuping for sixty-four years. The hiccuping began when he was four years old, and not a day or night has gone by for Russell since that time without the bothersome affliction. He has tried every home and folk remedy known to man. He has been to countless so-called medical experts.
He has been the subject of at least two five-year long studies at John Hopkins University and the Mayo Clinic. He has gone under the knife, twice. He has even tried professional hypnotists, all to no avail. You've probably seen the story of Russell's plight on TV's Sixty Minutes, Nightline, and 20/20 with Barbara Walters. Over the years he has appeared on just about every talk show around, from Johnny Carson (see left) to Letterman to Leno to Imus to Politically Incorrect.
"This has ruined my life," said Russell in a recent interview which was punctuated by the uncontrollable spasms of the diaphragm. "I've been through four and a half divorces and countless botched relationships, not to mention all the jobs I've drifted in and out of. My dream was to be a country music singer or disc jockey, but these hiccups ruined that dream. Mel Tillis got lucky. He has a real bad stutter but it goes away when he sings.
When I try to sing, my hiccups won't quit. Oh well, I guess the good Lord had a reason to give me these hiccups, and if he sees fit, he'll send a cure my way someday." Even after all these years, Russell has not given up the hope of one day being hiccup-free. For the last twelve years he has had a standing offer of a $500 reward to the first person to deliver to him a cure that works. If you are up to the challenge, you can usually find Russell sitting out on his front porch at 186 Hickory Hill Drive in Campbell County, just watching the cars go by.
..and hiccuping. The First House With Indoor Plumbing Lynchburg's first private residence with indoor plumbing was the palatial Johnstone House, located at 4301 Washington Street and completed in 1899. For a time, the generous owners freely allowed friends and neighbors, and sometimes complete strangers their first opportunity to experience the pleasure and comfort of a modern convenience. Word of the Johnstone's indoor privy soon spread, and long lines, like those pictured right, formed daily, as curious area residents patiently waited their turns to see and use the facilities.
In a short-lived effort to capitalize on the relentless stream of patrons, Mr. Johnstone levied a twenty-five cent surcharge per person. Within a week, the City stepped in due to public health concerns, fined Johnstone for creating a public nuisance and ordered him to close his lavatory to the public. In addition, the City enacted an ordinance forbidding assemblies of more than five persons without a permit, a law that remained on the books for over a hundred years.
"The Listening Post"(the story of the missing Doughboy statue) At the foot of Monument Terrace in Lynchburg stands a well-known attraction with a little-known history. "The Listening Post," more commonly known as the "Doughboy," is a World War I memorial statue which has been Lynchburg's most famous and recognizable landmark since 1926. Hundreds of residents pass by each day, and thousands of tourists visit each year, but few if any ever notice the mysterious "scar" on the statue's left leg, or are aware of the bizarre story surrounding its origin.
The Doughboy was originally a gift to the city from its creator, a renowned French sculptor named Henri Toulouse-Rouseau, who bestowed his treasure upon the city as a good-will gesture to his newly adopted city and country. Toulouse-Rouseau was a veteran of WWI's French Guard, having served three years duty in a trench on the brutal Western Front. He came to Lynchburg after the war to teach art appreciation at a local women's college and enjoyed great popularity there.
However, a year after the placement and dedication of the Doughboy statue, Toulouse-Rouseau was accused of having an "improper relationship" with one of his young students, and found it necessary to leave the city on short notice and under cover of darkness. Infuriated by the town's provincial attitudes, Toulouse-Rouseau demanded the return of the Doughboy statue, but lost his bid to repossess it in a court battle that raged through the summer of 1927.
Then, on the morning of August 31, 1927, residents and city officials were astonished to discover that the Doughboy statue was missing...all, that is, but the statue's left leg from the knee down (see photo right). Someone had somehow managed to yank the statue from its pedestal, but had made off without the leg which had remained attached. Authorities immediately began inquiries as to the whereabouts of Toulouse-Rouseau, who was naturally the prime suspect in the heist.
Months passed without any information, but finally, a Lynchburg resident visiting in Savannah, Georgia stumbled upon the hobbled statue in the flower garden of the Savannah School of Arts, a school that was also home to none other than newly-hired Professor of Art Mr. Henri Toulouse-Rouseau. Lacking a plausible alibi, and no doubt fearing a lengthy jail sentence, Toulouse-Rouseau eluded authorities and departed the country, never to be heard from again.
The Doughboy made a triumphant return to the Hill City on a flat-bed rail car, greeted by a parade of well-wishers and a torch-bearing master welder, who proceeded to reunite the Doughboy with his waiting left leg. Evington's Lost Locomotive(wreck site of the "Gorilla Train") Pictured right is the decades-old locomotive engine which sits rusting in the dense overgrowth beside an old railroad bed near Evington, Virginia.
The locomotive has been there since the night of February 5, 1952, the night of the wreck of what became locally-known as the "Gorilla Train." That night, a broken rail derailed the northbound Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey circus train, a train whose next normal stop would have been Lynchburg for the circus scheduled there the following weekend. Along with the normal consist of circus animals, the train was carrying over fifty gorillas who were part of a special trapeze act.
Several of the gorillas (and other animals) perished in the accident, but thirty-five gorillas escaped from their wrecked cars into the woods near Evington, and into the annals of local legend. Despite numerous repeated attempts to snare individual gorillas, officials had no success in capturing any of them, and the gorillas soon gained infamy with their reign of mischief throughout Campbell County.
There are too many stories to list here, but their antics included harassing dogs, cattle and horses, stealing vegetables from gardens, peeking through windows at night, swinging from trees onto roofs (and in some cases, relieving themselves while there) and making a general nuisance of themselves. Some residents reported incidents of being awakened by gorillas "howling" as the sun rose. In one bizarre incident, a gorilla reportedly climbed into an unattended, running pickup truck and released the hand-brake, causing the truck to roll down a driveway and crash into a tool shed.
Gorilla sightings in the area continued for nearly three decades, dwindling to only a few per year by the late 1970's. The last reported sighting was in 1981. The only known photo of one of the Evington gorillas is shown to the left, taken in 1967 by Horace Dalrymple, who found the animal perched on the ridge of his roof. Home of "Gino" and "Talia" Creators(the World's First Anatomically-Correct Dolls) Lynchburg is home to a number of unsung "celebrities," among them being Horst and Mabelle Kleinh�hnchen, who briefly made an international splash in the early 1980's in a highly-publicized series of events.
Horst and Mabelle had a bone to pick with Mattel Corporation. For years, they had written letter after letter to the company insisting that the popular Barbie and Ken dolls be made anatomically correct. The couple felt that the identical, featureless mounds in the private areas of each doll sent the wrong message to children about human sexuality. Eventually, Horst and Mabelle grew frustrated with their lack of progress and with Mattel's seeming disinterest, and the couple formed their own company and began manufacturing their own anatomically-detailed childrens' dolls here in Lynchburg.
The couple's venture soon hit a roadblock, however, when they learned that U.S. laws prohibit representation of the male anatomy on a doll. Having already invested a significant amount of capital in the business, the Kleinh�hnchens turned to the international market, and eventually found an outlet for their product in Italy, where the demand for anatomically-correct dolls was strong. The couple decided to market their two A.
C. Barbie and Ken look-alike dolls in Italy as "Gino" and "Talia." The dolls have been a great success all over Europe, and Horst and Mabelle have amassed a fortune in profits and royalties. Recently, the couple's fortune grew larger when they won a sizeable lawsuit against a pornographer who had created an unauthorized Stop Motion Animation movie involving the dolls in a variety of explicit sexual interactions.
The Kleinh�hnchens live at 515 Manor Heights Dr. in the Bridgewood area of Forest, Va., where they are at work on a line of anatomically-correct stuffed animals to be marketed in the Ukraine. The "Kool-Aid Kar"(a Little-Known Lynchburg Attraction on Wheels) Believe it or not, this car runs on Kool-Aid. Over twenty years ago, during the energy crisis in the late 1970's, local inventor Roy Calloway devised a carburetor that overcame evaporation problems with sugar-based fuels in gasoline engines.
Needing a soluble mixture for the sugar, his experimentation led him to the popular children's drink, Kool-Aid, which he discovered to have just the right properties. Eventually, Calloway perfected the fuel mix (80% Kool-Aid and 20% methanol or ethanol) which, together with his special carburetor, provided an alternative to gasoline in gasoline-based engines. Calloway's attempt to secure a patent, however, was blocked by the major oil companies, who enlisted the help of the powerful Washington Crude Oil Lobby in eventually getting laws passed that have kept Calloway's invention from seeing the light of day.
..almost that is. Calloway, in defiance of a little-known federal law that forbids the operation of any motor vehicle that burns a sugar-based fuel, can frequently be seen cruising around Lynchburg in his lime-green "Kool-Aid Kar." Risking arrest each time he hits the road, Calloway has decked his car out with signs and decals that bring attention to the unfair treatment he has received at the hands of the big oil companies and the Federal Government.
In fact, from various convictions through the years, Calloway has spent a total of seven years in jail; but he refuses to be silenced. According to Calloway, grape-flavored Kool-Aid provides the best mixture and results in the best mileage - 89 miles to the gallon. Lynchburg Traction and Light Company(demonstration site of alternative electric chair) In 1938, the State Of Virginia Department of Corrections solicited bids for an electric chair in an attempt to modernize.
An unusual response came from local Lynchburg inventor Porter G. Dabney, who submitted for consideration an alternative, the "electric cross," an upright contraption to which the condemned was to be strapped and then administered a lethal voltage. Dabney claimed (with accompanying mathematical formulas) that his cross design was scientifically more efficient and humane than the standard run-of-the-mill electric chair.
The experts tended to agree, but the electric cross was voted down by the Va. Dept. of Corrections Procurement Committee, who cited an issue with "inappropriate religious symbolism." Porter didn't give up, however, and announced an outdoor, public demonstration of the electric cross at the power house for the Lynchburg Traction and Light Company, which provided current for the town's streetcar lines.
Nearly a hundred curious citizens showed up, but curiosity turned to horror at the gruesome spectacle which ensued when the device was demonstrated on a large dog (see photo left). Shamed by the public outcry which followed, Dabney abandoned his device, and turned his attention to other pursuits. The Lynchburg Traction and Light Company, site of Dabney's morbid demonstration, was located at 12th and Kemper Streets in Lynchburg, a location which is now a parking lot for the Greater Lynchburg Transit Company.
Site of Lynchburg's First Case of "Road Rage"(and the unpopular "Little Daphney Law" which resulted) On April 28, 1910, the wife and infant daughter of Lynchburg mayor Burton Brumfield were riding in a horse-drawn carriage headed north on Fifth Street. As the carriage began the descent down Fifth St. Hill, the driver of a Model T Ford following the carriage became impatient and began squeezing the car's horn repeatedly, spooking the horse.
The horse bucked, then went into a full, out-of-control gallop down the hill, eventually running off the road and between two closely-spaced trees, destroying the carriage and killing Mayor Brumfield's five-year-old daughter Daphney. The mayor's wife Delores was also seriously injured in the accident and ultimately lost the use of her arms. The Model T left the scene of the accident, and its driver was never identified.
Mayor Brumfield, anguished and outraged by the tragedy, subsequently enacted an ordinance prohibiting any motorized vehicles within the Lynchburg city limits. The ordinance, which became known as the "Little Daphney Law," proved very unpopular, and soon led to the ousting of Mayor Brumfield in a failed re-election bid four years later. Brumfield was defeated by Crandall T. Sussex, who campaigned for office on a "We Want Motor Cars" platform, and whose first act as mayor was to repeal the Little Daphney Law.
Two weeks later, Lynchburg saw the opening of its first automobile dealership, Seven Hills Motor Company, a partnership of none other than the new mayor himself, Crandall Sussex, and his brothers Wallace, Wendall and Walter. "Valleyville"(The Town That Doesn't Exist) Hidden away in the Shenandoah Valley, "Valleyville" is considered by many to be Central Virginia's own twist on the legendary "Area 51.
" Like its famous counterpart, Valleyville is an off-limits region whose only access roads are gated and guarded, whose perimeter is electronically sealed and monitored, and whose existence itself is denied by the government. Unlike Area 51, however, Valleyville serves an entirely different purpose. There are no runways at Valleyville and no top-secret aircraft being tested in the middle of the night, and there are most certainly no pieces of UFO wreckage or frozen alien corpses secreted away there.
Instead, Valleyville is by all outward appearances a town...a seemingly self-contained town which for all intents and purposes is sealed off from the rest of the world. Tucked away in a nook-and-cranny of the Blue Ridge Mountains and Shenandoah Valley, there is no vantage point in Valleyville from which another town or even a road can be seen. Likewise, it is nearly impossible for the outside world to peer into Valleyville, and airspace within three miles of the town's center is restricted.
Shown above is a rare photo of the town, a very fuzzy image taken several years ago with an extreme telephoto lens by a daring soul who ignored sternly-worded warning signs and who braved barbed wire to reach a distant vantage point. What is the purpose of Valleyville? There is much speculation, but the running consensus is that Valleyville is in all probability some form of international (or possibly internal) political "detainment center.
" A Charlottesville newspaper in 1994 hired former Navy Seal Peter McGowan to infiltrate Valleyville and uncover its secrets, but after acknowledging initial entry, radio contact was broken and McGowan was never heard from again. Efforts are ongoing to bring down the shroud of secrecy surrounding the town, but for the time being, Valleyville remains the "Town That Doesn't Exist." "The Spock"(The World's Only Church of Star Trek) A few miles south of Lynchburg in Campbell County sits a large and attractive octagonal building which is home to one of most unique churches in the world.
Founded in 1977, "The Spock," as the church is called, is the world's only church of Star Trek, a religion centered on the popular 1960's television series featuring the adventures of a crew of interstellar explorers. "The Spock" promotes beliefs associated with one of the popular characters in the TV series, Mr. Spock, who was from a peace-loving race of aliens known as "Vulcans." The ideology of the church is centered on so-called Vulcan philosophy which includes the belief in pure "logic" and which emphasizes a lifestyle devoid of emotion.
A huge stained-glass likeness of the church's namesake is featured in the sanctuary, where churchgoers recite sequences of dialogue from the series and participate in what they call a "Holy Mind Meld." Many church members wear stick-on pointed ears (mimicking those of the TV character) during services and at other church functions (in one case of excessive dedication to the "faith," one member attempted to have his ears surgically altered but with disastrous results, requiring extensive corrective surgery).
"The Spock" is not without controversy, as reportedly in the late 1980's disagreement arose within the church over the lengths to which members should go in emulating the purely logical and emotionless Vulcan approach to life. Some members advocated a reasonable degree of emotion (citing Mr. Spock's half-human side), but a core group of hard-line members insisted on a rigid adherence to Vulcan ideology.
The stricter view won out, and as a result, several members left the church and publicly denounced its practices. One resentful former member went so far as to publish a science fiction story based on his rigid and stifling upbringing in the faith, a story which concludes with the destruction of the Campbell County sanctuary by a "phaser" blast from an orbiting "starship" at his command. Despite the dissent, "The Spock" boasts a membership today of over 120, and actively campaigns for new members at area fan conventions and at Star Trek movie showings in local theatres.
Leonard Nimoy, the actor who played Mr. Spock in Star Trek, has refused comment on "The Spock." The Galax "Gravity Hole"(the world's only known low-gravity cavern) Although not actually in central Virginia, the Galax low-gravity cavern bears inclusion here for its uniqueness. In 1996, Virginia spelunkers Tim Doyle and Vaughan James were exploring unmapped areas of a cave near Galax, Virginia when they entered a chamber in which they suddenly felt light on their feet.
They quickly discovered to their utter amazement that, in this chamber, they could effortlessly leave the ground merely by "pushing off," and rise high into the chamber before gently falling back to the floor. What Doyle and James had discovered was soon confirmed by government scientists to be a "gravity hole," a phenomena that had, up to that point, only been theorized by geophysicists. The gravity hole is essentially a region of reduced gravity which results from an unusually-dense mass immediately above the area, suspected in this case to involve a high concentration of the element iridium.
The Galax low-gravity cavern has since become a hotbed of controversy and dispute over ownership and intended use. A court battle currently rages between landowners wanting to create an amusement park which features the "Low-G" cavern as a centerpiece, and the federal government who has laid claim to the cavern with the intention of researching the gravity hole phenomenon further and potentially using it for astronaut training.
The Seven Hills Swingers' Club Pictured right, this two-story turn-of-the-century home at 209 Garnet St. in Lynchburg was once a center of local controversy. In 1996, local resident Fred Ferebee and his wife Violet placed an ad in the local newspaper seeking "an adventurous relationship" with other area couples. Successful in their quest, Fred and Violet soon formed the "Seven Hills Swingers' Club" operating out of their home.
The club stirred the ire of neighbors with its late night parties, and saw numerous visits from law enforcement, who while wary of the goings-on, were powerless to put a stop to things. After about a year, interest seemed to have waned, and Fred and Violet expanded their advertising campaign to the back pages of a few national magazines and to the Internet. As the couple's ads became increasingly suggestive, the visitors to 209 Garnet St.
became proportionally more unsavory. In 1998, Lynchburg Police raided the home after neighbors had reported seeing a donkey and goat being led into the dwelling under the cover of darkness. Fred and Violet were fined for violating an ordinance prohibiting livestock in the city limits, and the club was shut down. The couple left town the following year, and the new owners of 209 Garnet St., Mike and Lauren Hunter, now operate a bed and breakfast on the premises.
The Elon Obelisk Several miles off of state route 130, nestled among the trees in a dense wooded area near Elon, stands one of Central Virginia's greatest mysteries, a 75 foot tall stone obelisk of unknown origin. Only from a few vantage points can the top of the mysterious monolith be viewed from a distance. Area residents, as well as archeologists from the near and far, have puzzled over the obelisk for decades since its discovery, and a photo of the tower appeared in a 1964 issue of National Geographic.
Resembling a Mayan ruin in the Central Americas, the pillar is in a deteriorating state, and the wooded area around it is littered with chunks of fallen masonry, some rather sizeable. At the base of the obelisk is an apparent inscription, but there is disagreement on the language of the inscription due to its poor legibility. Although there is no scientific evidence to support their claims, some believe the stone tower to have curative powers.
In 1972, the "Elon Obelisk Society" was founded by such a group, which still today numbers a few dozen members who meet regularly to discuss and speculate on the origin and purpose of the curious artifact. If you desire more information on any of the "attractions" described on this site, please use the e-mail link at the bottom of the page. Please DO NOT contact local tourism agencies, museums, historical societies, or any offices or individuals associated with the mentioned localities, as they would likely doubt your sanity as a result, and for good reasons! The World's Ugliest Building(whose architect was jailed for bad taste) An example of an architectural style inspired by Picasso's Cubist Period, the office building pictured right sits quietly and largely ignored today in downtown Lynchburg at the corner of 10th and Church Sts.
Anything but quiet, however, was the controversial construction of what was known locally as "Kubrik's Cube," a building that would soon achieve international infamy as the "World's Ugliest Building." In early 1966, Houghton J. Prescott, president and founder of the now-defunct Friends of Lynchburg's Historical Architectural Integrity & Preservation Society, petitioned the Lynchburg City Council to deny a building permit to an out-of-state contractor, in an effort to, in Prescott's words, "prevent the raising of a structure so monstrous and ill-conceived, its very presence must be considered as nothing less than an assault to the sensibilities and genteel tastes of the good citizens of this fair city, and an affront to the refined and exquisite architectural heritage of Historic Downtown Lynchburg.
" The request was tabled pending further review, and weeks later, a building permit was quietly and routinely issued. However, soon after completion of the building, Prescott's ominous forewarning of stylistic calamity was impossible to dismiss as the "Cube" quickly became a laughing stock in architectural circles because of its bland design and wildly-garish day-glo colored squares, and it was soon was dubbed the "World's Ugliest Building" in the Architectural Digest.
Belatedly outraged and embarrassed, City officials immediately filed a lawsuit against the project's chief architect, one Thornton Kubrik of Elmira, New York. In a media-fueled, circus-like atmosphere, Kubrik was found guilty of "extreme bad taste and blatant civic insult and endangerment," and was fined $100,000 and sentenced to five years in jail. In addition, the owner of the "Cube" was ordered to substantially remodel the eye-sore or face its demolition (at the builder's expense).
The seemingly-harsh verdict was overturned on appeal in 1968 by an acknowledged landmark decision - the ACLU successfully arguing that architectural styles are protected as free speech under the First Amendment - and Kubrik was released to return to his practice in Elmira. The building was painted green in 1971. The NASCAR Cap Museum When Clifford Shifflet began collecting NASCAR caps in the mid 1990's, he didn't realize that his hobby would soon evolve into the world's first NASCAR Cap Museum.
Shifflet is well under way toward that goal with the collection he currently has on display at his Texaco Station on Rt. 58 just west of Martinsville. Recently moved from a temporary hat stand to a new glass display case, Shifflet's collection (seen right) is rapidly growing, and also includes a few cups and other NASCAR items purchased at the famous Martinsville Speedway. The hats have all been worn by famous drivers, and Shifflet recently held a contest in which blindfolded contestants competed to match the names of three drivers with three of the more soiled hats, relying only on their noses as a guide.
Jake Freytag of South Boston drove away with the door prize (a "Remember Dale" bumper sticker and a free gallon of unleaded) after correctly matching up all three hats. Freytag won based on his knowledge of the brands of oils used by each driver, and he remarked (as quoted in the Martinsville Bulletin), "I reckon I knowed the smell of Valvoline and Quaker State before I learnt to walk." Shifflet invites other collectors to contribute to his NASCAR cap collection, and his dream is to eventually open a full-fledged museum.
UPDATE: Shifflet was contacted in early 2007 by Ridgeway resident Roy Spuckler who offered to loan for display a collection of NASCAR diapers worn by notable drivers during recent races, but Shifflet turned down the offer, noting "That Roy is a little off if you ask me. Besides, this is a cap museum. Don't want no Depends, even if Tony Stewart did wear them." NASA/USGS Rotational Tuning Facility #9 Lynchburg is home to an unusual scientific facility, a "rotational tuning" station, part of a global network of twenty-four such stations operated jointly by NASA and the U.
S. Geological Survey. Each station houses three powerful F-5 rocket engines which are fired in tandem with those at all stations around the globe when it becomes necessary to make minuscule corrections in the Earth's rotational speed (angular velocity). The global array was built in the early 1970's and has been used for two corrections, the most recent firing occurring on August 16, 1988 in which a synchronized burn lasted 8 minutes and 14 seconds.
Another correction was scheduled for May 2003, but was cancelled after it was deemed unnecessary. Rotational Tuning Facility #9 is just south of River Ridge Mall in Lynchburg, however, the facility is within a government restricted area and visitors are not allowed. UPDATE: Reliable sources indicate that all of the currently-operational rotational tuning stations, including #9 in Lynchburg, will in the very near future be fired for up to twenty minutes, in what one USGS official has described as a "desperate" attempt to correct the tilt on the Earth's axis and resulting rotational "wobble" induced by the 8.
8 magnitude earthquake in Chile on February 27, 2010. More details will be posted when available on what will no doubt be a ground-shaking, window-rattling event for Lynchburg and the surrounding area. Boyhood Home of Frank McIntire(inventor of baseball catcher's mask) Picture left is the boyhood home of Frank "Pie Face" McIntire, 1889-1963. Every baseball player playing the position of catcher is indebted to Frank McIntire, as he was the inventor of the forerunner of the modern catcher's mask.
McIntire was the catcher for the 1909 Hill City Tobacconists, in a day when catchers wore no protective gear. After sustaining repeated injuries, it occurred to Frank that he could protect his face by cutting two eye-holes in a tin pie plate, then securing it over his face with leather straps. He fashioned a pie-plate mask and began wearing it regularly, thus earning the lifelong nickname "Pie Face.
" Soon, every catcher in the league was fashioning pie-plate masks for himself. Frank's story ended on a sad note, however. On the last day of the 1909 season, he sustained a devastating beaning from a pitch, putting him in a coma for several days. He eventually came to, but with severely impaired mental faculties, a condition requiring him to spend the rest of his days in the Lynchburg Invalid's Home and Asylum.
Sadly, Frank insisted on wearing his pie-plate mask on a continuous basis for the rest of his life, refusing to take it off except for meals and Holy Communion. Ironically, a catcher on a rival team patented the catcher's mask and earned a great fortune; McIntire died penniless and is buried in an unmarked pauper's grave in the Lynchburg's City Cemetery. Frank McIntire's boyhood home is located on Bocock Rd.
just north of the Little Opossum Creek bridge. United Cigarette Factory(Bolzak's Exploding Cigarettes) In 1882, James A. Bolzak of Lynchburg revolutionized the cigarette industry with his invention of a cigarette making machine. Within four years, Bolzak was marketing 30 million pounds of tobacco a year from his factory in Lynchburg. Bolzak's fortune would soon turn to ruin, however, when in 1890, a leak of lubricating fluid went undetected in the cigarette machinery, and thousands of contaminated cigarettes were distributed widely under Bolzak's "One-Eyed Jack" and "Brown Dick" brands before the dangerous flaw was discovered.
The tainted cigarettes tended to explode with fury in the face of smokers when lit, causing hundreds of deaths and disfiguring injuries. Those cigarettes that didn't explode wreaked their own havoc in the form of serious and often-fatal lung ailments. The cigarette fiasco produced a crippling barrage of lawsuits against Bolzak, resulting in Bolzak's own personal bankruptcy as well as the ultimate demise of the cigarette factory.
Despondent from the tragic turn of events, Bolzak took his own life by stepping in front of a speeding locomotive on the railroad tracks near his factory. The building which housed James Bolzak's "United Cigarette Factory" still stands today, and is located just off of Carroll Avenue near the Norfolk Southern Railway tracks. Treasure Island and the "Leonardos"(Leonardo Statue Pedestal) Ukiah Kandler was born in 1826 to Lynchburg's wealthy Kandler family.
At age eighteen, he was sent to Milan to study art. There he studied the works and notebooks of Leonardo Da Vinci. Ukiah became convinced that Leonardo was a prophet of God, and from the notebooks and art left behind by Leonardo, he determined that the world was going to be destroyed by flood on July 4, 1876. He returned to Lynchburg to spread the word, establishing the "Leonardos," an artist/religious commune (with some 500 followers) on what is now Treasure Island.
The world didn't end on July 4, 1876, but Kandler's world came to an abrupt end the following year. That was the year of a record James River flood that swept over Treasure Island, washing away Kandler and what remained of his followers. Also lost were all of Kandler's art works, including the life-size marble sculpture of Leonardo that some at the time said rivaled the magnificence of Michelangelo's David.
Kandler's remains were never recovered, nor any of his artwork. The only remaining trace on Treasure Island of Kandler and the Leonardos is the empty pedestal where the Leonardo statue once stood. Chestnut Grove(Thomas Jefferson's "Home Away From Home Away From Home") Few visitors to Monticello, Thomas Jefferson's magnificent mountain estate near Charlottesville, would ever guess that Mr. Jefferson actually spent a number of summer days in his waning years in this modest Lynchburg abode (right) which he dubbed "Chestnut Grove," located at what is now 4714 Polk Street.
After his presidency ended in 1809, Jefferson wanted nothing more than to spend his retirement in quiet respite at his beloved Monticello. However, he soon found himself overwhelmed there with unwanted visits from friends, distant relatives, political office-seekers, interviewers, portrait artists and the like. Seeking escape, Jefferson first built Poplar Forest, an architectural gem in its own right, as a summer retreat in Forest, Va.
But, the hoard of well-wishers soon followed. As a final attempt to find solitude, Jefferson secretly built Chestnut Grove, this modest nondescript frame house in Lynchburg, and with the desired results. It wasn't until many years and three owners later that neighbors learned the real identities of the reclusive couple they knew simply as "Mr. Tom" and "Miss Sally." The Southern Liberal Confederation Most Lynchburg residents are aware of the highly-publicized political organization that was once based here, Jerry Falwell's "Moral Majority.
" Few are aware, however, of another political organization that was founded in Lynchburg, an unusual group which reportedly once boasted 200,000 members. The "Southern Liberal Confederation," as it is called, promoted an unusual mix of offbeat views with a "southern heritage" theme. The Southern Liberal Confederation was founded in 1980 by Lynchburg resident Ted Cumby, who claimed that by 1988 the group's ranks had swollen to over 200,000 members across the South.
The SLC was strictly an underground operation until 1996, when Cumby conducted an unsuccessful candidacy for Lynchburg City Council. Making no public appearances, Cumby's campaign relied instead on a local media blitz with videotaped ads in which Cumby (seen left) angrily denounced "the North" with statements such as "We are disillusioned by the growing right wing during the Reagan years, the continued acts of Northern aggression against the Southland and the continued de-funding of our Southern culture and heritage.
We particularly resent the overall Northern mind set that Southerners are stupid, and we are determined to consolidate all Southern liberals into a single political force to resist this growing menace and its infiltration of Southern politics." In addition to demanding the halting of garbage and waste shipments from Northern states into Virginia and other Southern states, Cumby also advocated that the government "suspend tax exemptions from businesses masquerading as churches," "halt the removal of historic Southern symbols, statues, and artifacts from public display," "ban trigger-locks," "lower the legal age of consent," "require unattractive people to wear more clothing," "relax immigration laws, except those pertaining to Northern Europeans," "raise speed limits on residential streets," "allow for the formation of a Southern economic trading block" and "lift restrictions on public breast-feeding.
" Cumby also called for adding an extra thirty seconds to the mandatory "moment of silence" in Virginia public schools. Lynchburg voters soundly rejected the bizarre assemblage of views in the SLC platform and gave Cumby less than one percent of the vote. Cumby delivered a bitter concession speech (again by videocassette) in which he vowed "Lynchburg and the nation hasn't seen the last of the Southern Liberal Confederation.
Northern tyranny will fall, and the South will rise again. More importantly, all Americans will eventually realize that drug abuse is a medical, and not a criminal problem." Following his unsuccessful bid for city council, Cumby retreated to his mountain abode where he continues to live, coordinating the efforts of the Southern Liberal Confederation through his high-speed satellite Internet connection.
(There is no affiliation between this web site and the SLC) The Midnight Meteorite It came from out of nowhere on the night of June 12, 1886, missing the newly-dedicated Court House by only fifty yards, landing in an adjacent vacant lot. The violent impact woke up the whole town, and left a crater approximately 25 feet deep. In the weeks that followed, the 19-ton meteorite was excavated (see photo, left) and moved to its current location on the East bank of the James River at the foot of Ninth Street.
In 1912, The Daughters of the American Revolution attached a plaque to the heavenly body, marking the site of John Lynch's Ferry and Lynchburg's first house. "Weeping Jesus" Rock Some see a rock with typical geological features, but others claim to see a divine image in this rock wall on the Blue Ridge Parkway near the Thunder Ridge Overlook. Specifically, some claim to see the image of a "Weeping Jesus," and the most extreme claims include the presence of flowing tears (although no such phenomenon has ever been documented).
It should be noted that the shadows which form the "image" in the rock are best viewed in mid-morning lighting conditions. The "Weeping Jesus" Rock is just off the Parkway at mile marker 73. UPDATE: On February 12th, 2007, Troutville resident Phyllis Quigby signed a sworn affidavit in the Botetourt County Magistrate's office, stating that three days earlier, she had witnessed the image on the Weeping Jesus Rock "sobbing uncontrollably.
" She further asserted that the only possible explanation for what she observed was that this was the day that Anna Nicole Smith had died. Quigby says she plans to return to the site in 2008 on the same day, but with a digital camera in hand. Ray's Market(former home of Bigsbie Super Subs) Most everyone knows of Subway spokesman Jared and his amazing weight-loss success on a diet of Subway sub sandwiches.
Relatively few, however, know the saga of the late Norman Tubb and his "diet" of Bigsbie Super Subs. The "Bigsbie" sub sandwich was the brainchild of the owner of Ray's Market in Altavista, Ray Buncombe, who wanted to spur a backlash to the Subway thin-is-better craze by promoting the concept of "hearty eating" and high fat content (the Bigsbie foot-long boasted 53 grams). Buncombe began a regional ad campaign featuring local man Norman Tubb (seen in the publicity photo shown right), a regular customer who was once a scrawny 160-pounder, but who had gained well over a hundred pounds eating submarine sandwiches prepared at Ray's Market.
Response was positive, and within a few months, Buncombe had sold Bigsbie Super Subs franchises to several convenience stores throughout Central Virginia. The campaign went sour, however, when spokesman Norman died at Ray's Market during a brawl with Buncombe, who had become angry with Tubb for his personal habits involving a daily, prodigious use of the restroom adjacent to the store's dining area.
As a result of a legal technicality, Buncombe was cleared in the incident, but the negative publicity, as well as a lawsuit from Tubb's family, forced Buncombe to discontinue the Bigsbie Super Subs line and to dissolve his franchise agreements. Buncombe still operates Ray's Market in Altavista. Robert Hochstetter Burkhalter House(Mark Twain's Visit to Lynchburg) Mark Twain once spent the night at the Robert Hochstetter Burkhalter House, located on the west corner of Madison and B Streets.
Twain was in town to testify in a lawsuit filed against him by a local author named Horace J. Boggs. The 1885 civil suit alleged that, "Twain had wantonly and with malice misappropriated the Intellectual Property of Mr. Boggs," using Boggs' 1883 self-published novel, The Tragedy of Strawberry O'Finley, as a blueprint for his own novel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. In Boggs' 1142-page novel, Strawberry O'Finley is an eight-year-old girl who runs away from home with her talking pet parrot.
Strawberry escapes her abusive step-mother by stealing a batteau and poling it down the James River all the way from Lynchburg to the Atlantic Ocean, and then on to South America, where she meets an untimely and graphic death in the nest of a family of crocodiles. The parrot escapes and flies back to Lynchburg to recount the tragedy. In a newspaper account of the trial, Judge R.J. Kennsington asked Twain if he had ever read Strawberry O'Finley, to which Twain replied "Yes, your honor, I read it just last night, in my room, and for the first time.
" The judge then asked Twain for an opinion, to which Twain responded, "With all due respect to Mr. Boggs there, to my way of thinking, little Miss O'Finley didn't meet up with those crocodiles quite soon enough!" Twain's humorous response brought a roar from the courtroom onlookers, and Judge Kennsington dismissed the lawsuit as "unfortunate and frivolous," concluding the trial in under twelve minutes.
According to the newspaper account, Mark Twain then adjourned to the Piedmont Club with a group of gentlemen well-wishers, where he enjoyed billiards, cigars, strong cider and good cheer well into the night, finally catching the midnight train back to his home in Hartford, Connecticut. The Western Hotel(birthplace of French Toast in America) Nearly every area resident is familiar with "Poplar Forest," Thomas Jefferson's retreat in Forest, Virginia (and if you have visited this web page before, you also know about "Chestnut Grove," Jefferson's "home away from home away from home").
During his many visits to the area to oversee construction of Poplar Forest, Jefferson would frequently stay overnight at the Western Hotel in Lynchburg, located on present-day Fifth Street. On one particular visit, shortly after having returned from Paris and his five-year appointment as Minister to France, Jefferson surprised the staff and guests of the Western Hotel when he offered one morning to prepare a breakfast for all featuring an element of French cuisine previously unknown in America.
..the dish we know today as "French Toast." So enamored with the dish was the chef that he immediately added it to the hotel's regular fare, and word quickly spread throughout the States of Jefferson's culinary discovery. "Mr. Jefferson's Breakfast," as it came to be known, quickly became the most popular item on the breakfast menu at the Western Hotel. On display at Monticello is a printed menu from hotel which lists the breakfast as including "two lightly sugared wedges of French Toast, sliced tomatoes, and a flute of champagne.
" Also, in honor of Jefferson's discovery and contribution to American breakfast fare, the Charlottesville Shoney's features "T.J.'s Toast" on its breakfast menu. Note: An unfounded rumor has circulated for years that Jefferson also passed on a recipe for "Old Style Pepperoni Pizza" to the same chef at the Western Hotel, but this remains absolutely unsubstantiated and is refuted by Jefferson scholars.
Tobacco Row Abandoned ICBM Silo Whoever heard of Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles in Central Virginia? Well folks, believe it or not, during the Cold War, there were many more actual ICBM sites than were known to the general public, and they were not confined to the geographic areas normally associated with such sites, these being the higher latitude mid-west locations. Several were located along America's eastern seaboard, including this now-abandoned site just east of Tobacco Row Mountain in Amherst County.
Nearby residents became acutely aware of the site's existence on the evening of October 19, 1962, when a warhead-carrying missile was inadvertently launched. Fortunately, the U.S. military managed to destroy the missile by remote signal over the North Atlantic. Two decades later, the warhead was recovered from the ocean floor using a robotic submersible. Pictured above left are some of the signs one will find on the perimeter of the Tobacco Row ICBM silo site, which itself is overgrown and accessible only on foot.
Also pictured to the right is a rare look down the single silo at the site. City Stadium / Spring Hill Cemetery(Babe Ruth's Home Run) In the summer of 1939, a cash-strapped Babe Ruth, who had recently retired from Major League Baseball, was barnstorming the country with his "Bustin' Babes All-Stars" team. Ruth's team played the Lynchburg Cardinals in an exhibition game at City Stadium, and the Babe himself came up to bat in the top of the first inning.
Ruth promptly hit a home run of Homeric proportions, a grand slam effort off of Lefty Drbosky, and one much to the delight of the reported crowd of over 5000 in attendance at City Stadium. The Babe, who was reportedly staggering and presumably hung over, sent the first pitch from the hapless Drbosky soaring over the right-field fence, over Wythe Road, over the brick wall of Spring Hill Cemetery, and well into the heart of the graveyard, where it landed and bounced into the in-progress graveside service of Miss Lillian Dunwoody (the ball actually struck the headstone of the neighboring James Bulloch grave, pictured left).
The home run ball was promptly snatched up by Miss Dunwoody's grand-nephew, Cornwall, who subsequently refused repeated requests to donate the ball to the City of Lynchburg for museum display. The Ruthian clout was later measured at an astounding 812 feet. Much to the disappointment of the assembled crowd, it was Ruth's only swing and only plate appearance of the day, as he promptly fell asleep in the dugout after completing his home run trot.
Despite Ruth's absence from the remainder of the game, the "Bustin' Babes" went on to deliver a 21-1 drubbing to the Lynchburg Cardinals. In 1989, the family of Cornwall Dunwoody donated the Babe Ruth home run ball to the Lynchburg Museum where it is on display. The Oppenmeyer Tower(the skyscraper without an elevator) The seventeen-story Allied Arts Building has been a downtown Lynchburg landmark and source of civic pride for over seventy years, but the controversy surrounding its construction has been largely forgotten.
Joseph J. Oppenmeyer, a newly-transplanted European diamond mogul, commissioned the building's design and construction in 1929. The final design, unbelievable by today's sensibilities, did not include an elevator. Construction had been steadily progressing for three years and was only two weeks from completion and a much-anticipated July 4th, 1931 grand opening, when the Federal Land and Buildings Commission passed a national ordinance that required any building over four stories tall to include an elevator.
The Elevator Ordinance, as it was later referred to, infuriated the cash-strapped Oppenmeyer, who was badly in need of tenant income, as his fortune had been in slow but sure decline since the onset of the Depression. No amount of last-minute political lobbying in Washington D.C. could secure a grandfather clause for the Oppenmeyer Tower, which stood on June 30th completed but empty, lacking an all-important occupancy permit.
On the first day of July 1931, in total dismay and disgust over the situation, Oppenmeyer publicly vowed to hurl himself nude from the building's pinnacle at noon on the rapidly-approaching July 4th holiday. His demise was averted, however, mid-morning of the 4th, when it was announced to the gathered crowd of newspaper reporters and curious onlookers, that the Allied Arts Group, an out-of-state consortium of silent investors, had agreed to buy the Tower (for pennies on the dollar, however).
The Allied Arts Building officially opened six months later with a new name and a newly-retrofitted elevator. Ironically, Joseph Oppenmeyer, forced into bankruptcy in the meantime, spent the remaining five years of his life as an employee of the Allied Arts Group - operating the elevator. "Knotted Rock Cliff" Discovered in 1998 by local hikers, this unique geologic formation a few miles from Humpback Rocks on the Blue Ridge Parkway is one of the original inspirations for the Little-Known Attractions web site.
During an off-trail hike which took them to the ledge of a modest cliff, Jim Jamerson, Ed Childs and his wife Katie discovered a hole in the ground which they initially believed to be a cave entrance. As it turned out, it was a passage which led them to a portal in the face of the cliff. Hiking to the bottom of the cliff, the group discovered that the cliff face featured several similar holes resembling knots in a tree, and they unofficially named the site "Knotted Rock Cliff.
" (Katie hiked back to the top and into the one passage they had discovered to pose for the photograph shown to the left). Although several "knots" adorn the cliff face, the group could not locate passages to any of the other portals. The formation was unusual enough, but the group also discovered a series of carvings in the portal (shown right), along with what they believed to be arrowheads. Intending to re-explore this site on a future hike, the group marked their path out with cloth strips tied to tree limbs, however, subsequent attempted trips to the site have failed to re-locate it.
Anyone having additional info about this formation (including specific directions to it from Humpback Rocks) is invited to share this information using the comment/feedback link at the bottom of this page. Falwell Airfield and the Cuban Missile Crisis(just what DID the Air Force leave behind in Lynchburg?) During the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, the Air Force deployed a variety of aircraft at various civilian airfields across the country in preparation for an invasion of Cuba.
In Lynchburg, several airplanes were briefly stationed at Falwell Airfield just outside of the city limits. The airplanes flew out after the crisis subsided, heading back for their home air bases, however, one B-29 (shown right) developed engine trouble and had to return to the airfield. During repairs, major structural problems were discovered with the aging airplane, requiring it to be permanently grounded.
The Air Force had no choice but to disassemble the plane and truck it out piecemeal. During this process, amidst great secrecy, certain objects which had been on board the B-29 were secretly moved to the Lynchburg City Armory for safekeeping, with plans to later remove these items from Lynchburg by convoy. However, due to an oversight involving lost paperwork (and partly due to the secrecy which prevailed during this situation), the items in storage were forgotten.
Sixteen years later (in 1978), following a public event at the Armory, a worker stumbled across two cylindrical metal objects in storage and immediately assumed them to be pressurized soft drink containers. The worker retrieved the items and placed them along with several such containers for pickup. A few days later, the containers were picked up and returned to the Pepsi Bottling Company on Mayflower Drive, and later that day, the containers made their way into the automated refilling machinery at the bottling plant.
It wasn't until the machinery jammed on one of cylinders that an employee noticed something was different about that container and another just like it. What had been assumed to be soft drink containers were in fact not soft drink containers at all, and were instead inscribed with military markings. The government was notified, and a shroud of secrecy immediately descended on the situation. It has never been determined with certainty what those two objects actually were, but one of the eyewitnesses who observed the markings on the containers (an employee of the bottling company who had served in the Army Air Corps during World War II) contended until the day he died that the objects had in fact been.
..two Mark IV atomic bombs. Grave of Madame Kletor�ska, Rustburg Medium Just south of Rustburg in the East Orthodox Church Cemetery off of Rt. 501 is the grave of one of the area's most notable and controversial residents, the Madame Vilma Kletor�ska. "The Madame," as she was known in the town, came to America from Hungary in 1863 with her father, General Zolt�n Kletor�ska, a military advisor to Civil War general Jubal Early.
As her father fought beside General Early in the Wilderness Campaign, Madame Kletor�ska rapidly gained attention as a fortune teller and medium, operating out of the Fontaine Hotel in Rustburg. In 1867, after General Kletor�ska died on the battlefield, the Madame elected to remain in America, and to continue offering "spiritual guidance" to an ever-increasing number of hotel visitors. Within a few years, the Madame's operation had become so profitable that she was able to buy the Fontaine Hotel, which she renamed "F�rd Hely," reportedly in honor of an ancestor.
Seldom was F�rd Hely not filled to capacity, but despite the additional business this also brought other Rustburg merchants, the townspeople were growing wary of the Madame. Although out-of-town visitors praised the Madame for her services, local residents seeking guidance routinely came away disappointed. Many became suspicious of the fact that the staff of F�rd Hely was all-female, as well as that nearly all of the out-of-town customers were men.
The burning question in Rustburg became, was Madame Kletor�ska perhaps a fraud, and was her fortune telling business/hotel a front for a brothel? Despite numerous investigations over the years, no evidence of wrong-doing was ever uncovered. On December 2, 1921, as Madame Kletor�ska lay on her deathbed, she uttered what many believe was a final message from the beyond, a cryptic phrase which remains unexplained to this day.
In a delirium, the Madame repeated the words "Old, the Mao, let her son yawn, Ed must hurt," over and over for several hours before finally expiring that evening. With the passing of the Madame, F�rd Hely closed its doors, the stream of visitors to Rustburg ceased, and many in the town privately breathed a sigh of relief. F�rd Hely was demolished in 1932, and the former hotel site is today home to a popular fast food establishment.
Jimmy Owens Bust(The 1936 Seven Hills of Lynchburg Marathon) Long before the annual Virginia Ten Miler road race began attracting world-class runners to Lynchburg, Oscar Martin, an early pioneer in fitness running, organized the first (and only) Seven Hills of Lynchburg Marathon. Martin, the track and field coach at the local high school, set up the 26.2 mile loop to encompass all seven of Lynchburg's historic Hill Districts (Garland, Daniels, College, Federal, Diamond, Franklin, and White Rock).
The 1936 event boasted a field of 42 participants, including three of Martin's students. The winner of the grueling event, in a time of 2:42, was none other than Jimmy Owens, the twin brother of Jesse Owens. For his efforts, Jimmy won $100 and a key to the city. Unfortunately, Jimmy pulled a hamstring in the final yards of the race and was unable to compete along side his famous brother in the Olympic games in Berlin later that summer.
A bust of Jimmy Owens stands today in Miller Park at the Park Avenue entrance, marking the start and finish line of what to this day remains Lynchburg's only marathon. Pinehurst Mulleted Naturists Retreat The "Mullet" haircut is the rage these days, and the Pinehurst Mulleted Naturists Retreat in Appomattox County offers a resort with instant appeal to mulleted nudists/naturists looking for Bed & Breakfast accommodation with the option of all meals and all of the comforts of home.
This privately-owned wooded retreat is situated on 20 acres bordering the Buckingham-Appomattox State Forest. With no close neighbors or passing road traffic, the retreat is totally private and is the ideal place for clothing-optional relaxation. Once each year in August, the Pinehurst Group stages a Mulleted Naturists Pride Walk through the town of Appomattox. UPDATE: In response to a lawsuit filed by the National Nudist Association charging discrimination, the Pinehurst Group has begun offering clip-on mullets at the retreat's entrance gate.
"Free Pickins" Apple Orchard Some say Frank and Ethel Richards are crazy. Others praise the Bedford County couple for their kind generosity in allowing the public to pick apples free of charge at their fifteen-acre orchard. To the right is the promotional photo which is seen posted in churches, stores and many other locations all over the county. "Free Pickins" Orchard is located two miles east of Bedford on Rt.
122 at Lone Jack Road. Parking is available in the Antioch Baptist Church parking lot. The only requirement is that you must bring your own bushel baskets, and you are asked to take and listen to one of the complimentary audio cassettes found at the entrance, featuring recordings of the Richards performing original Gospel tunes on flute and didjeridu. The Lynchburg Alternate Reality Tour You've now read about Lynchburg's Little-Known Attractions, and probably wondered how to find some of the more obscure sites, or wondered how you will have time to visit them all.
It will probably come as good news that the Blue Ridge Bus Service is now offering a weekly "Lynchburg Alternate Reality Tour" departing each Saturday morning at 9 AM. The tour sticks close to town and doesn't take in all of the above-described attractions, but does cover the bases fairly well, stopping at several locations for photo opportunities, and driving by others. Tickets are available in advance, and you may also order coffee mugs or T-shirts (L and XL sizes only).
Climb on board, enjoy the ride, see Lynchburg's Little-Known Attractions first hand and learn more about the unique and unusual alternate reality at our very doorstep. If you desire more information on any of the "attractions" described on this site, please use the e-mail link at the bottom of the page. Please DO NOT contact local tourism agencies, museums, historical societies, or any offices or individuals associated with the mentioned localities, as they would likely doubt your sanity as a result, and for good reasons! Digging deeper into obscure and mostly-overlooked area events and landmarks, we are continuing to unearth new attractions.
Please bookmark this site and return again soon for more unusual, mostly-overlooked and nearly always absurd"Little-Known" Attractions of Lynchburg and Central Virginia. Future Attractions! The Bird-Flipper of Yellow BranchThe "Flinging Mile"The Lynchburg Municipal Smoking AreaThe Chatham CavemanAirplane Crash Site / Death of "The Beatnecks""Setting Sun Acres" Retirement VillageThe Giant Rubik's CubeThe Central Virginia Crop CircleAndy's Ass-Kicking MachineThe Biscuit-Throwing BarnLynchburg's Greatest Letdown andIrene's Barefoot Diner Here is what people are saying about the "Little-Known" Lynchburg Attractions web page: "Fascinating page.
I am originally from Lynchburg and had never heard of most the items on this page. Keep up the good work." "You guys have created a great website and invaluable historical information! I grew up in Lynchburg and certainly remember some of these places and events! I really enjoyed looking and reading and look forward to more!" "I live outside of Lynchburg, in Rustburg VA, I never had any idea that there were so many amazing things around here.
.. And to think.. I used to say this was the most boring place on earth... I saw the address for the site in the newspaper today. Keep up the great work guys." "I found out about your site from an article in the Lynchburg News and Advance. I really didn't believe the article, but pictures are worth a thousand words. You have created a truly spectacular site." "This is the most fun -- and, entertaining! -- site I've ever visited online.
Thanks from a delighted native of the area who never heard of any of these!" "I am most interested in the list of researchers and authors of these 'Believe It Or Not Ripley' Lynchburg findings. And here I thought I have lived for over fifty years in a conservative, dull, boring environment, whereas the truth is, I could spend another fifty years exploring the exciting, historical, humorous environment detailed in this article.
Is there an available pamphlet or book printed for the public to share? Having been a travel agent for many years, none of these locations had ever come to my attention. Lynchburg and its environs could become the 'Sightseeing Capital of the USA!'" "Thank you so much for having this web site. I knew there had to be more to this 'burg' than the home of Jerry Falwell. And I will recommend this site to people who think there isn't much to see or do here.
" "I don't know whether to believe any of what I read, but some of the attractions at least seem plausible, but then maybe that was your intent. I am interested in finding the Beauregard Cemetery, but I haven't been able to find it any mention of it elsewhere. If it exists, where is it 'near Lynchburg.' I understand Lee was not involved in the Battle of Lynchburg; how would his horse have been killed during the battle?" (Editor's note: Robert E.
Lee's cousin Garfield P. Higgins had borrowed and was riding Phantom that fateful day) "I really enjoyed your website after reading about it in Darrell Laurant's column. You have done a great job and have certainly found some interesting little-known information. You have included a couple of small errors, however. Thomas Jefferson's other home, Chestnut Grove, must have a different address because there is no 4700 block of Polk St.
. I am looking forward to the next items that you mentioned are coming soon. Thanks!" (Editor's note: Thank you for bringing this to our attention) "I've lived in Evington for twenty-six years-never heard about the train wreck and the Gorillas, Wow! It's like finding something really dark or juicy about your own family tree. Keep up the good work and happy hunting." "I read your page on the train wreck in evington in 1952.
I have lived in evington for 47 years. I have a uncle that has lived here for 92 years and is still living this day. He has never heard of a train wreck in that year. He was also 49 years old at that time and as of today he has a very good memory of the past years. Other people of old age that live in evington now have never heard of it. So i would like to know where you got this information from? I printed out the page that i read and took it to a grocery store in Evington and let people read it, old and young, and no one knows anything about it.
I would like to know where that house is that the gorilla was on top of?" (Editor's note: It is surprising that such an event could vanish from local lore in such a relatively short time span) "It's very questionable about a train wreck in Evington containing all the circus animals. Having lived in this area over 50 years, never heard a comment about this wreck. But, I will add, about 1980, my son returned from Evington, very excited, he had seen a wild man running; from afar, he and a friend saw what they described as a wild man running.
They thought it to be human, appearance was as you would describe a caveman. To this day, he is still wondering, what did he see? Since reading this; Wreck of the Gorilla Train, he is going to make a return visit, he may never know what he witnessed that day; a Caveman or a Gorilla?? I am certain of one thing, those two young men did see something very unusual that day, it has never been forgotten.
" (Editor's note: It is possible that your son and his friend encountered the Chatham Caveman, who will be featured in an upcoming update to the site) "I know the story of the train wreck in Evington to be true, as I married the daughter of one of the escaped gorillas. Also, the Chatham "Cave Man," my Mother-in-law, is still living but she is unable to shinny up trees anymore. We bought her a "Climbing" tree stand from Cabelas last Xmas and she delights in sitting in it and waving to traffic on 29 South.
Thanks for a very entertaining tour of the Hill City's lesser known sites." (Editor's note: Saw your mother waving yesterday, but she only bears a resemblance to the Chatham Caveman. We are reasonably certain that the Chatham Caveman is indeed male) "I really like the Little-Known Attractions section (which by the way is an oxymoron because how would they attract people if no one knew about them?)" "My wife and I are interested in retreating at the mullet naturist resort.
Can you please give me directions and or a telephone number, or direct me to a web site?" "Can you provide a map to the nudist place?" "I found your site very interesting. I tended to believe most of what you were sharing until I got to the Appomattox August Nudist march. The picture shows them naked. But it doesn't look like Appomattox. So I'm guessing that yes they march, but certainly not naked.
Right? Thanks for putting together such an interesting site!" (Editor's note: It's Main Street in Appomattox, and yes, they are buck naked) "I found the article on the Rotational Tuning Facility very interesting. So interesting in fact that I have been trying to search out additional information about the other 23 facilities and their locations. To date I have been unable to locate any information other than what is published on your web site.
Can you please provide me with additional information or government links for information? In your article you referenced the location of this site as south of the Lynchburg Mall. Where south? I would like the to visit this site or at least near its location." "After reading Darrell Laurent's story in the news, I looked at the retroweb and was fascinated by all of this. Sent the URL to my brother who works at NASA Langley in Hampton.
He had never heard of NASA Rotational Tuning Facility #9 and, frankly, was dubious whether or not this was a true story. He took it around Langley and the engineers at Langley laughed at him. The opinion at NASA Langley is that you guys are pulling our legs up here. If you feel this information is accurate, I'd like to know where you got the info so I can funnel it back down to my brother so he can save face.
Thanks." (Editor's Note: NASA is a very large organization, so it is understandable that one center would not necessarily know about the activities of another) "I've heard of this. But did you know that rotational facilities 16 & 18 are located on large ships stationed in the Pacific and South Atlantic oceans respectively? Because of their mobility, this creates a dynamic instead of a static array (of 24 stations).
With a dynamic array engineers have more flexibility to make correctional burns without inducing wobble in the earth's rotation or possibly disturbing the earth's orbit around the sun! These ocean going stations have six Saturn 5 rocket engines each. The three engines mounted on the ship's bow are used for the correctional burn. Three identical engines located on the ship's stern allow the ship to maintain its position during the correctional burns.
" (Editor's Note: The idea of a floating rotational tuning facility is utterly absurd) "I worked on a Rotational Tuning Facility in Alabama that looked just exactly like the one you found in Lynchburg. To tell you of the length the government goes to keep this secret, they had us convinced we were helping put man on the moon! How could we have been so gullible!" "I love this website. I took copies of this to the bars.
Boy did I get things started. Where can I get more info on these stories? On the Frank McIntire story, some say the baseball catcher's mask was invented way before 1900. Some say the sink hole story never happened. I am trying to check all these things out. Your help would be great. Keep these stories coming!!" "Absolutely phenomenal. Why is this not in a book for sale somewhere in town? I was a journalism major and feature editor of the campus paper at Liberty University, and I used to always pride myself on featuring creative and hilarious stories.
.. but this tops anything I have ever known or read about Lynchburg." "My husband and I were reading these and wondered, are these real? Some of them seem too strange to be true. where did you find this information? Very interesting and amusing to read, but we were wondering the validity of some of them." "I am a 16 year old who has lived in Galax all my life, and I have never heard of this 'Gravity hole.
' If it exists, where is it located so I can check it out for myself?" "You have a very interesting site on the not-so-well known attractions of Central Virginia. I am an avid spelunker, and the cave that you refer to with the anti-gravity sounds quite interesting. I was wondering if you had directions on how to get to the cave, as myself and my spelunking friends would greatly enjoy going there, if it does exist.
Have a nice day." "I was wondering if the gravity hole was open to the public." (Editor's Note: No, unfortunately, it is not) "I would like to know exactly where The Spock is. My friend and I went searching on Leesville Road for almost 2 hours and did not find it. Please give us exact directions on where it is located." "I am interested in finding an address for the Church of Spock. We have driven Leesville Rd.
from one end to the other without sighting it. Can you assist?" (Editor's note: The Spock is near the intersection of Justman and Solow Rds.) "You say that the Spock is at the intersection of Justman and Solow Rds, but where in the heck are those roads?? Are they actually off of Leesville, and if so, how far down Leesville???" (Editor's note: way on down) "The TV program 'City Confidential' is on A & E cable 26 in Lynchburg.
This Sunday they are going to broadcast the show they filmed here last year at this time on the Haysom murders. Anyway, when the crew was getting ready to come to town they requested directions to go to your (damn) Spock Church." (Editor's note: A&E apparently did not locate The Spock, as their 'City Confidential' segment on Lynchburg did not mention it) "Hey! Last week my friends and i went looking for the old missile silo out near tobacco row mountain.
We found the east side of the mountain but the instructions say "just east of the mountain" do you know anymore specific directions? just east of the mountain is pretty big. Thanx a lot for your time!" "Could you tell me about where the Tobacco Row Mountain Missile Silo is? My boss lives up there and has thought about where it could be since we discussed this site at work, and he can't come up with a clue.
He says he knows where 'the rock' is if that helps any. Thanks, we have had more discussions about this site than anything else lately." "I would be very interested in more specific details as far as directions go to many of the places listed on your web page. Although some of them sound a little far-fetched I'm still the kind of person to go off on an adventure just to prove it. I would like directions that are slightly more specific for the following locations Zebulon Miller Tomb, Tobacco Row Abandoned ICBM Silo, Weeping Jesus Rock, Valleyville, NASA/USGS Rotational Tuning Facility #9, and the Galax Gravity Hole.
Actually, any information you might have on Valleyville that you didn't include in your summary on the website would be of great interest to me. I have to admit, that one has me the most intrigued. Thanks a lot if any of this is possible. And keep this site UP! It's probably one of the most interesting websites I've visited in a long time." (Editor's Note: We are working with Mapquest.com to develop an interactive map to the hard-to-find locations) "I've searched everywhere since reading this article for any information pertaining to Valleyville Virginia and can find nothing.
Can you possibly provide with any additional information? This story is just one of several that really have astounded us all (my friends and I). Thanks!" "In general, I find your site's contents to be both intriguing and amusing. I'm most interested in the story of Valleyville. Would you happen to have additional info or know where I may find additional info? I have heard a couple of, what I consider to be, very unreliable stories related to Valleyville.
...i.e., 'there's one road in and out,' 'once in the area, don't ask questions about Valleyville,' and 'there are many no-trespassing signs at the entrance and if you breech this area you will be shot on site.' I have a friend who has a friend who supposedly knows a woman who has additional information on Valleyville. Oh well, we'll see how this pans out, but if you have any info, please let me know.
" "I'm surprised that with Valleyville supposedly being a government facility, that the information and photo is permitted to be on the internet." (Editor's Note: It is our position that American citizens have a right to know about Valleyville) "I investigated the town of Valleyville this evening. It appears to not exist. The closest town that resembles the picture on your web site is Glasgow. When viewed from the Blue Ridge Parkway, it appears as the picture shows.
I am investigating weather the name has been changed or not. I have contacted one (probably unreliable witness) that indicated that their may be some restricted air space somewhere in this region. However until I can verify this more, I am not sure what to believe. I did experience an unusual occurrence this evening around 6 - 7PM. While driving down Rte 60 heading toward Buena Vista, three unidentifiable lights in the sky, one red, one white and one blueish, triangular pattern sort of hovering in place, just blinking on and off, then disappeared.
I spotted some aircraft, generally one white light flanked by red and blue on the wings, moving steadily so I do not think the lights were aircraft." (Editor's Note: We agree) "How could a B-29 bomber land at Falwell Airfield?" (Editor's Note: Large airplanes could land at Falwell Airfield by using the steep slope at the end of the runway to assist in braking) "I've told just about all of my friends and some family about your website.
They've al gotten just as much of a kick out of it as I have. My mom and I actually found the 'Midnight Meteorite' while we were looking out of the window of Amazement Square. I looked at her and said 'Remember that website I told you about? The one with weird info on Lynchburg? Well that's the meteor that apparently whammed into Lynchburg.' She burst out laughing and really wanted to go down there and read the plaque on the rock, but there was a surly looking man leaning against it.
We decided to do it another day. I signed up to get updates. I'll tell all to do the same." "You brought conversation to my associates and I for several days. I was getting ready to call you on the meteorite one...it seemed that a rock of that size (if quartz fell from the sky) would destroy the entire city, not put a hole in a construction site." (Editor's Note: The photo depicts the meteor's excavation site, not a construction site) "Me and my friends went on the little adventure because we thought it would be cool to see a rhino and The Spock.
Well little did we know that there is no Beating Stick Rd.. We even asked a person that has lived there for like 25 years. But me and my friends would like better directions or an update." (Editor's Note: Word has it that someone stole the road sign, most likely a college student as a souvenir for his dorm room) "This is an unbelievable site. Glad I have it. I used to live in Lynchburg, Va. some 24 years ago and having grown up in the town was flabbergasted by the stuff that I didn't know existed there.
Used to live on Oak Ridge Blvd, near where the sink hole is. Does your information say anything about a limestone quarry that is on the same site?" "For starters, this is a great site, really like the stories, fact or fiction! When I was a child growing up in Lynchburg, the approximate sinkhole area was know as a Greenstone quarry. Its reputation was as the only Greenstone quarry in the world, shipping tons of Greenstone around the United States and the world.
And, as you can probably tell from a lot of patios in Lynchburg, it was very popular here in the 50's and 60's. Do you know of this quarry and any chance it created the sinkhole story? It may make a good addition to your site." "Folks, that is not a sinkhole. That is the old greenstone quarry. I don't know what the smoke is all about." (Editor's Note: One theory has it that the sinkhole revealed a vein of greenstone.
We remain skeptical) "I'm a Lynchburger who was born and raised there (but now live in Texas). How much truth is there to the Retro-Lynchburg site covering all those unusual sites such as sinkholes and rhinos, etc? Are they all made up? I was in town last week and took a "self-guided" tour to see if I could find some of the places. The Sinkhole, near Fort Hill, really has me baffled. My mother grew up over there, about a block or so from the marked area.
She said she'd always heard that there was an old stone quarry there, but had never heard anything (or can even recall anything) about an explosion during those early years of the 1950's. She's got an awful good memory, and says she thinks she'd remember hearing about that - being so close to her home. Is there any truth to that explosion taking place - including the deaths? Anyway, she and I we pretty fascinated in reading all of the information, but couldn't verify anything.
How about that statue (or bust) of "Jimmy" Owens? I went all through Miller Park and wasn't able to find it. I hate so sound like a wise-guy, but is this mostly just a hoax? My mom and I sure would like to know. Please email me back and let me know what you can. Thanks for your help." "You need to do more research on Lynchburg history. The Koffee Kup has never been called the Koffee Pot. In the 60's it was a dairy freeze type of place then in the early 70's it became a D.
Q., then later it was enclosed and The Koffee Kup was born and still carries that name to this day although there have been several owners over the years. How much of the other stuff is bogus? I'll have to check it out." (Editor's Note: Elvis paid his brief visit to the 'Koffee Pot' restaurant, not the 'Koffee Kup'...similar names, but different establishments) "Wow! What an excellent and fun website! Keep up the good work, it's great learning things about your hometown you never knew.
..!!!" "Frankly, I couldn't believe what disgusting information you have put on this page. I had been asked and told about theses attractions and I had to see for myself. It is a disservice to Lynchburg and shows a complete lack of judgement as well as respect for this area and the true attractions. What could possibly be you motive behind this? It is definitely not funny and does nothing for this area.
I can only think that you have a pretty sick mind to 'put on' people in this way. There are a lot of believers that some would call dumb, but I think what you have created is beyond stupid. While I have left my e-mail address, don't bother to respond, as I would find it hard to believe anything you would choose to say or print." (Editor's Note: We hope you will take some solace in the fact that we rejected several stories we considered potentially offensive, including the rather peculiar and gut-wrenching tale of "Billy Boy, The Incontinent Indigent of Southport Mall") "A wonderful site.
I can't wait to see what you fellows turn up next." "I think you people are big freaks, and the people that believe in any of this horse poo need their heads examined." "Without a doubt this is one of the most interesting sites on the web today. I have passed it around to many people I know, and it is greatly loved. I am also sure that many other areas of the country have stories like these, including my hometown.
" "Hi we live in Windsor Hills, and want to know more about the 'Black Vortex of Windsor Hills.' Seems odd that where we live our cell phone does not work until we drive out of it, and we can't get good radio or tv reception via antenna. Also do you know anything about the group of people that meet at an area college monthly to discuss what is going 'on' in Lynchburg? Like, why does 86 % of the people here have 'sinus' problems, 7.
8 people out of 10 complain of 'just not feeling well' most of the time, and why do people in Lynchburg smoke more than the national average....twice as much as other places per capita, and why is the birth defect rate here is higher than national average the last 2 yrs...25 birth defects alone last year, concern enough for our local hospital to urge moms to be, to be screened...and why Lynchburg wants a study done on kids, I believe 5th 6th grade down, to find out why they are depressed!! and of course why does the city water purity report sent to people say, and it is almost the first sentence 'we have no radiation in our water supply' and there is a lot more!!!!!!! Just wanted to know if you know anything about the group of concerned citizens that meet monthly.
..." "Hey I like the site, and I live in Amherst, there is no Rhino out here I have asked everyone about the Fletcher farm in that area (Just about every farm I came to) and found nothing, but the real subject I am writing about is Government Testing in Lynchburg. You guys want to research something, research the glowing mist that everyone claims is not there. Come down here any night and take a look around, you'll see it.
Also why 9 out of 10 people are either sick and not feeling well, something just isn't clicking here. And last but not least, the military bunker in the mountains which the government finally admitted to. But please if you have any info about this or anything in reference to that please send me an e-mail." "WOW! Was I excited to see an actual article referring to that Rhino out in Amherst County. I would almost have had to report to your web site that this Lynchburg attraction be removed from your list.
Fortunately, I’m not that good a shot when I’m totally inebriated. I would caution Mr. Fletcher to mend his fences better to keep that darn animal out of the middle of Beating Stick Road. Also, you might want to correct your directions. You must get on Rt. 635 north of Lynchburg." "I am a resident of Amherst County, and on certain clear evenings, when looking due south, I swear I can see a rhino through the lens of my telescope.
Admittedly I don't live near a cattle farm, but I think it may be another example of the Zeiglehr effect. Keep up the good work uncovering these rare gems of little known local history!" "Your site is excellent. It's intelligent, interesting, fun but never insulting." "Dude, you have way too much time on your hands to make all of this up and type it out. If you have children, I feel sorry for them.
However, I'm just as concerned about the fact that I just sat there and read it all." (Editor's Note: We share your latter concern.) "I really enjoy this web site. I have lived in the Lynchburg area for 54 years, and never heard any of these stories. I am looking forward to more!" "I am a NY transplant from Lynchburg. I never realized what attractions I missed while growing up in the area. I have a whole new reason to re-visit my home-town.
" "A resident of Boston, I grew up in Crozet, VA and never knew any of this! What a great website. I discovered this site through a listing on Fark.com. Keep up the good work- forget Montecello and Michie tavern, I have new attractions to see now!" "This site is awesome!!! I have been driving through Virginia all my life to get to N.C to see family. We offten made stops at little historic sites such as Patsy Cline's home.
I wish I had this list when I was growing up, when we stopped for breaks in the car ride. My current girlfriend is from Va. so when I'm there next I'm now gonna make a large point of coming back to Lynchburg." "How come when I went to the Lynchburg Public Library and looked back in the newspaper microfilms, there was no mention of the Riverview Amusement Park from June 16 thru June 20, 1963 and no mention of the Lynchburg West End sinkhole in the newspaper from March 13 thru March 18.
Surely, both of these events would have made the headlines in the Lynchburg Daily Advance. Also, I have lived in Lynchburg for the past 62 years and don't remember anything about either of these events." (Editor's Note: It is very odd that the newspaper would not have covered these events. It is also possible that these stories have been expunged from the files. This certainly warrants further investigation) "I caught a rumor that Paramount was thinking of commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Riverview Amusement Park disaster by constructing a 3-D motion simulator ride recreating the first - and last - ride of the Riverview Ferris Wheel at Kings' Dominion in Doswell, VA.
Do you know whatever happened to those plans?" "Boy, do you have your facts wrong and you certainly don't know anything about flying especially something as large as a B-29. I trained at Falwell Airport 20 years ago. There is absolutely no truth this story. Falwell Airport's only runway is 2900 ft long, is only 50 ft wide, and has a hill with 5% grade in the middle. A B-29 would never be able to land or even taxi around the airport.
Maybe you meant Lynchburg Municipal or another old military auxiliary airport located east of Lynchburg. Maybe you should check your facts." "I’m going to flat out say that I do not think any of these are real. And for several reasons most of the pictures are faked or doctored, some of the stories are too unbelievable and even if some were true we more then likely would have heard about. Why isn’t anything about the sinkhole in the newspaper archives? Well you suggested that maybe they took the article off the microfilm that it would have been stored on.
Now why would they do that? Is there that much to hide about a sinkhole? Lee never had a horse named Phantom, I checked with several historical resources to find that out, and changing the Earth’s rotation? Are we that dumb? Not to mention the little waiver in red that says its for entertainment purposes only. So if these are “true”, prove me wrong. Tell me where exactly NASA has their station, or where the ICBM silo is because that is something I would like to see.
Just tell me where I can find any of these things cause I don’t think they exist. Now I do know there is a large piece of sunken ground off of Sussex but is it from a sinkhole, doubtful. Thanks for your time." (Editor's Note: We stand by our research, as well as our speculation. We also stand by our red waivers. Just recently, we also stood by the sinkhole, gazing in once again with wonder and awe at the alternate reality before our eyes.
) "This stuff about Central Va. is wild. Is all of it true?? Even the 2.3 million in the ground?? The Gorillas, And the Rhino? You guys did a great job on this site." "Your Lynchburg page is fantastic. If you cleared out some of the obviously fake stuff, you would be in the news a lot more often." "This site is too great! I've sent it to everyone I know -- at least the ones who can appreciate irreverence and humor.
Not to mention truth." "The comments are almost more entertaining than the site. The Weekly World News has nothing on this site man!" "My Uncle Jeffrey was an artificial butter man at Stu Pittman's popcorn plant, and died that day along with 72 other proud and brave popcorn technicians. I feel your website has honored their memories, and for this I thank you." "What happened to the information on screaming statue? It was a popular site when I was growing up.
There was no mention of it in the future attractions this time." (Editor's Note: The legend of the "screaming statue" turned out to be bogus, thus eliminating it from consideration) "Was recently given this web page and read it thoroughly..We have lived in Lynchburg 31 years and had not heard of most of these events. Keep up the good work and give us more." "The picture and story of the Kool-Aid car you have put on your webpage are very much false.
Yes, the car does have all that writing on it, but it's talking about what the government did to him. You're totally destroying the messages he is trying to give. He might be crazy (I'm not sure), but you could at least tell people his legit story, not this false kool-aid story. And there is no kool-aid man above the back right tire. I have seen this car, the man who owns it, and his home many times.
He lives right down the street from me. If you want me to, I could get you a picture of the REAL car and try and get the REAL story. But, I wish you wouldn't lie to us or look at your sources first." (Editor's Note: We have seen the car to which you referred, and it is painted purple. A visit to the eye doctor is recommended, as the Kool-Aid Kar is green.) "Why can't you burn a sugar based fuel in a car?" "I must repeat, this is a great site.
Only people from Lynchburg would actually take any of this to heart and be offended by it. You may want to include--after careful research of course--the story of Robert Redford's fist fight in the Texas Tavern during the 1970s. Redford was passing through on his way to North Carolina to a movie shoot. He got into a fist fight and was arrested. Redford was allowed to leave several hours later with no charge after signing a few autographs.
" "I assume this site is for entertainment but a story about a headless cat is tragic, not entertaining. Whether it is true or not, it shows the worst taste possible that the poor animal's story is exploited and that anyone would allow it to live when it should be put out of its misery. It makes me ashamed to be a Virginian and ashamed to be part of the same human race as the people involved in this story.
TAKE IT OFF THE WEBSITE!!!!!!" "This is by far the best local web page I have ever seen, and not completely believed. Keep up the good work." "I found some of your stories really funny. I laughed harder when reading the comments to hear that people either a) took you seriously and asked for more specific information or b) got really hurt and offended over precious Lynchburg. Really, most people who visit the city think its terribly backwards and frankly, some of those activities you describe would spark my interest much more that (some) of the true-life attractions.
" (Editor's Note: We are attempting to verify the authenticity of the "true-life" attractions to which you have referred) "Funny, funny, funny. Even funnier? Speed-readers that don't get it till half way down the page." "This is THE GREATEST SITE! I do believe it is the ONLY one I am (will finish) reading EVERY word. I feel, by the way that it is written that it is the truth ....??? I HOPE. I don�t want to find out someday that all this was a hoax .
..?" "Well, I sure found your 'little known' Lynchburg sites interesting, but it seems a bit much to me. Alternate Reality, yes, but referencing people having died or been killed in different places or events, well, that's a bit over the top for me. I love the site, but I guess some things bother me more than others. Anyway, thanks for responding." (Editor's Note: Upon responding to the sender of this e-mail, we learned that he had been recently decapitated in a tragic gardening accident) "For five years, I spent hours every week looking for this sort of stories.
How delightful, how entertaining, how fascinating. Thank you. Even if half (or more) of it were totally fabricated, it's still some of the best reading I've done in a long time..." "Great Site! But come on. They aren't all for real. Are they?" "On one side I hear that ALL of this is, in fact, the truth. On the other, however, I hear that little to NONE of these stories are authentic. I'm torn between the two.
Are all these attractions for real or not? I wouldn't know for sure because I don't live in Lynchburg, Virginia and cannot ask anyone who lives there to verify these events. PLEASE help me out here..." "Without a doubt, you have created a website to which I will repeatedly return. You may well indeed be the long-awaited reincarnation of Phineas T. Barnum." "I have lived here in Lynchburg all my life and you have shown me just how much I don't know about my hometown.
Thanks." "I must say, this is a terribly amusing site. Those blokes who are not enjoying it must lead a terribly sad life. A laugh now and then doesn't hurt in these troubled times. Even if all of the stories are not true, and even if they are. Thanks for the entertainment. Best Wishes!!!" "I'm in Lynchburg EVERY Saturday morning and I have never seen this double decker bus!! I've lived here for quite a number of years and never heard of it.
I would like to make a reservation for this tour of all these attractions. Please contact me with info. Thank you." "just wanted to say that your site is one of the funniest sites i have seen on the internet and i have sent it to several of my comedy loving friends... it will be interesting to see how many believe it...but not to take anything away from what you have done...its a masterpiece...it IS a work of art.
.. i would love to catch a buzz with you guys when you're brainstorming...great stuff... was a helluva ride!" (Editor's Note: Will you be supplying the Ganja? We are all out) "This is entertaining but honestly is it a hoax? I was in Lynchburg recently and I spoke of some of these things and people thought that I was nuts." "How much does the Lynchburg Alternate Reality tour cost, where does it leave from, and where do I get tickets?" Comments or questions on this web site ?