So, we moved. Loaded a huge rental truck full of furniture, pulled one of our cars and drove the hours and miles that it took to answer the call from those mountains in Southwestern Virginia and Northwestern North Carolina.
My husband and I have lived in so many different and varied places over the past 22 years that moving is not new or scary. And this hopefully last move we make is from Northern Virginia outside of DC to a new/old home in rural Appalachia. And as the title of this post states–rural does not even come close to describing the area we now call home.
First, it is a community–one can’t describe it as a town any longer. It has a history nonetheless, one that is began in the early pioneer days before the revolutionary war. Then it was steeped in early textile days and times of mountain rivers providing sources of power. But the town that once was here, called Mouth of Wilson is now represented almost solely by the local post office. And on our first day here my husband and I drive to the post office to get the keys to our post office box and check our mail. Driving around the bend in the road we saw a medium sized farm tractor pulling out of the parking space by the post office and then leaving–the driver of course with his mail. I dare say there are other communities in the country where this is a common occurrence, but for us it made us laugh and smile with the realization that we weren’t “in Kansas any more”.
Mouth of Wilson is named for a man named Wilson who worked with Thomas Jefferson surveying this land over 200 years ago. Wilson died here by the creek that was named after him and here at the site that became the town, the Wilson creek has its mouth where it enters the beautiful New River.
The town once boasted a textile business that made wool blankets from locally raised sheep. In its height of prosperity, it had a thriving general store and car dealership with gas station. Local “mill houses” surrounded the town that sat on the banks of the Wilson Creek at a T intersection of two main roads in the area.
The mill closed many, many decades ago, followed by the closing of the general store and then the dealership. A few local people tried to keep the gas station and a convenience type of store there at the site but today all that is left are the dilapidated buildings and remnants of the mills. The mill houses that remain sit falling in alongside the road. Even the post-office has moved to a new location about a mile up the road. The old post office has held a business or two, most recently a specialty lighting store but even today that is gone.
The closest grocery store is about 15 miles away, gas is about 5 miles away and many other “conveniences” like restaurants are even further. And yet, when you are from a place like this and truly feel at home here–you know you can’t really be “rural” unless that distance is there.