The Road to Alleghany

One of our clients called the office yesterday to report that a videodeposition we sent him last year was damaged and unusable.  And – of course – it was Friday afternoon and the trial starts first thing Monday morning. The DVD was edited and replicated, but not until the end of the day.  And with no Saturday UPS/FedEx delivery available, there was only one solution.


I’d never been to Alleghany County before, even though it’s not too terribly far from Staunton.  About 35 miles south, then 35 miles west.  The county seat is a small factory town called Covington, home of a massive MeadWestVaco paper plant and last stop before the renowned Homestead Resort.  I had high hopes for my visit.

I left at 7am this morning for the 9am drop-off appointment and thought I’d take a few minutes beforehand to look around and take pictures.  Unfortunately, I was just a tad underwhelmed.  Not to insult any Covingtonian, but it appears to have declined like so many other rural Virginia towns, with lots of empty storefronts and no people.  Granted, it was early on a cold Saturday morning, and I’m sure plenty of people live there.  But I can’t imagine seeing anyone milling about, as there is no place to mill to or from.  Still, it was quaint and quiet and a nice diversion on a cold Saturday morning.

I can say that there were a few standouts.  The courthouse is small but attractive. I particularly like the copper fresco.  Nice patina!  And then there is this pretty awesome farmer’s market pavilion (left).  The roof twists along the length of the market – kind of like my roof on a windy day. Quite a contemporary touch for a small old mountain town.  Also, the church to the right (I believe it was Catholic) was all dolled up for Lent.  But check out that incredible ironwork. It’s just gorgeous!  This building dates back to the mid-1800s, so I suspect the metal is original (or a reproduction of an original).

After my short stay in Covington, I headed back east and stopped at each small town on the way to the interstate.  First there was Clifton Forge, which has a slightly larger downtown than Covington and appears to be in much better shape economically.  At least there were open stores and a few people on the sidewalk.  Again, the downtown looks like most others in the area, so I didn’t take any pictures.  But one thing that intrigued me is this construction site. It’s the Clifton Forge Big Dig!  I honestly can’t figure out where the road was. Certainly they didn’t  just bury the basement level under the road? I dont’ know, but it makes for a pretty good conversation piece.

Next stop was Longdale Furnace.

I thought I was going to get off the interstate, find nothing, and decry false advertising.  But wouldn’t you know it:  there really is a furnace there!  Yet another relic from the civil war, from what the historical marker tells. Good thing, as Virginia is short in the civil war relic department.

I almost forgot to mention the scenery.  Below is a view of the Alleghany mountains.  They seem more rugged to me than the Blue Ridge to the east, but they are just as captivating.  ***I’d like to note that the mountains in this part of the state are rather short in stature.  I presume this is what attracted frontiersman to cross in this region, leaving behind a rich history all of its own. Once you get deeper into them – and further away from the highway – they are a bit more impressive. I love them nonetheless.***  It’s kind of cool to see them when they’re naked, with their ridges, folds and scars all exposed.  The red hue across the landscape is a result of the new leaves getting ready to pop.  I suspect that these hills will be awash with the perfect pale green of spring in a couple of weeks.

There were several rivers running down the mountain from West Virginia into Alleghany, with one running directly through Covington.  And they seemed to be relatively strong, despite the lack of snow this year.  I didn’t test out the water myself, but I’d bet it’s awfully cold in there!

Back to the tour:  My last stop was in Lexington.  It’s the largest and most thriving of all the towns on my tour today, and is home to two small but significant universities:  Washington and Lee and Virginia Miliary Institute. And while the student populations are pretty small, both campuses are relatively large and dominate the town.  First up was W&L, with its ivy-covered walls, massive columns and sweeping verandas.  I don’t know anything more than it’s an old liberal arts college with an excellent academic record. And the campus is very pretty – even in the winter.

And then there is VMI.  I don’t know what to say about this school except its campus makes me nervous.  OK, I’ll concede that it’s really is rather beautiful…. in a Mussolini kind of way.  But there’s still something about it. It could be the fortress-like facade, the moss-green paint job, or the fact that you are greeted at the front entrance by a cannon.  Regardless, I didn’t spend much time waiting around for it to grow on me. Again, no offense to anyone. I’m just more partial to ivy and verandas.

So there you have it.  My first roadtrip of the year.  The client is content, the boss saved a few bucks, I got a little traveling money.    I just love a happy ending!

2 thoughts on “The Road to Alleghany

  1. Me too! And it’s never too late to do it again. It just requires more planning. I’ll start working on that!

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