SKETCH OF THE PIONEER LIFESTYLE: A TOUR OF THE MOUNTAIN GATEWAY MUSEUM
From the time that McDowell County was settled in the late 1700s up until the early 1900s, the residents here lived close to the land. Most families grew or made just about everything they needed. Terrell Finley of the Mountain Gateway Museum in Old Fort takes us on a tour of the museum, which houses artifacts of this self-sustaining lifestyle. He tells us about food preservation, home processing of meat, shoe making, bee gums, digging roots and herbs, and the making of corn liquor. (In this video, we barely scratch the surface of the museum collection. To take it all in, you’ll need to visit in person. Directions plus days and times of operation are here.)
Part 1 of the tour:
In Part 2, Terrell spends quite a bit of time on the making of corn whiskey.
Hear a firsthand account of moonshining from Mr. Dean Branch, recorded at his home on Highway 70 just east of Marion, here:
PEACEFUL VALLEY FARM
Peaceful Valley Farm, located on Pine Cove Road just outside of Old Fort, has been in the McEntire family for six generations. Primarily a dairy farm in years past, the focus now is on providing hands-on educational experiences for area school children to help them understand the value of farming. And the McEntire farm is still a working one, supplying produce to local farmers markets and to the needy. In addition, their heirloom white corn is a favorite among restaurants in the region.
On a hot July day, John McEntire was kind enough to slip out from under the shade of the front porch to take us on a tour. Along the way, we learned a lot about traditional farming and about self-reliance. The temperature that day had most of the livestock at the shady far end of the fields, but we did get to spend a little time with some chickens and rabbits!
As part of the mission of Peaceful Valley Farm, the McEntires also enthusiatically embrace the arts and have artists in pottery, woodturning, and painting on site. You can meet those great folks on our Arts and Crafts page.
Join us on our tour of Peaceful Valley Farm:
“MIRACLE ON WINGS”
With a highly-developed social structure and efficient division of labor, the honeybee is truly a miraculous creature. Beekeeping is both an art and a science and it figures prominently into the agricultural history of McDowell County. In this clip, third-generation beekeeper Ray Revis takes us through his family’s bee yard and gives us a glimpse into the fascinating world of honeybees. He also reminds us that “One out of every three bites you take, you owe to a honeybee”.
With traditional American bees having largely died out due to mites and colony collapse disorder, Ray and many other beekeepers are now working with Russian stock. Find out more at Ray’s web page and from the Russian Honeybee Breeders Association.
THE STORY OF A McDOWELL FARM FAMILY
Donald Anderson recalls that “Most of my time as a youngster was spent hoeing corn”, and he comes from a long line of farmers. His grandfather farmed land in the community that is now covered by Lake James and his father was a tenant farmer just north of Marion until, as the recipient of the first FHA loan in the county, he moved the family to the Glenwood community.
Donald tells us about the life of a McDowell County farmer in the early 20th century, about electricity coming to Glenwood, and about his years teaching Vocational Agriculture in McDowell County.
Listen to Donald Anderson here: