Friday August 7, 2020
On the Blue Ridge Parkway, we went for a hike on Fisher Peak Loop Trail. Less than three miles, it is a moderate hike, although it took us two hours. It’s a winding trail through woods and a meadow. I would call it a wandering trail, wandering so it will make a decent workout. It’s good exercise, but we were spoiled by the Gulley Creek Trail.
I wanted to get a look at the New River, and there is a scenic drive on the other side of the river, ending up at Fries. Googling earlier, there was a highly-rated ice cream place named Sweet Lily’s in the Caboose. It reminded me of “Eat at the Bus” in Hyder, Alaska, one of the best and most unique places I have ever been. By the time we got there, we were hungry and excited. Sadly, it was closed. There is a pretty park beside the New River below a big dam with water flowing over the top, so it looked like a small Niagara Falls. With all the rain we’ve had, the river was high and muddy.
We went into The Cafe and got some ice cream cones for the kids and lemonade for us, and went back out to the park. Fries (pronounced Freeze) is an interesting, little place. It is only .8 sq. miles, but right on the river.
Fries was named after North Carolina cotton mill owner Colonel Francis Henry Fries. Jim ‘Pipe’ Carico (of Stephens Creek, Virginia, the nearest incorporated town) contacted Fries in 1900 and proposed Bartlett Falls on New River as a site for a hydroelectric dam that could power a cotton mill.
Fries purchased the surrounding rural farmland then hired a local labor force to build a dam, a cotton mill and a full-service company owned town. By 1901, the New River Train was extended to the mill site and Fries petitioned the Virginia State Legislature to incorporate the new town of Carico, VA in honor of Jim ‘Pipe’ Carico. For reasons that are not well documented, the town name was instead legislatively changed to Fries, Virginia and officially incorporated in 1902.
“Despite the heavy reliance on manual labor, mules and oxen, the town’s construction progressed quickly and the open call for employment spurred migration to the town. Around 300 houses, a post office, a church and a company commissary were wedged into the surrounding hillside before the mill began operation in February 1903 — with “the most sophisticated technology in the world.”
After changing hands numerous times, the mill closed in 1989. At the time the mill closed, it employed 1,700 people.” from Wikipedia.
We are on “The Crooked Road”, known for it’s country music. We came here for the “Fiddler’s Convention”, which is now held in Galax on the other side of the river, but it was canceled due to Covid19.
We went to dinner with Mark and Sue Ann at Creek Bottom Brewery Restaurant. It was Friday night and it was busy. However, they have nicely spread-out tables outside. It took a long time to get our dinners, but we had nice conversations. Mark and Sue Ann probably knew everyone there, some coming over to visit. Poor Melissa kept crying, “Pizza!” She hadn’t eaten much for lunch and was hungry. Finally, dinner came and all was well. It was another great visit with Mark and Sue Ann.