Blackwater High School — Lee County, Virginia

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Blackwater High School is located near the intersection of Virginia State Route 70 which travels north from Jonesville South over into the Kyles Ford area of Hancock County, Tennessee and State Route 604 which is also known as the Dr. Andrew Jackson Osborne Highway.

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The school was built in 1925 and has many of the same archecture ideas and themes as the school that was built in that era at Keokee on the other end of Lee County.

I cant find a whole lot of information about this school, other than a website that is dedicated to the history of the community of Blackwater.  I combed through some of the guestbook entries and I am led to believe that this school was a combined school meaning it served grades K-12.

The school closed at the end of the 1970-71 school year but is still used every year for a gathering of alumni for the annual Blackwater Reunion.

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Ewing Theatre — Lee County, Virginia

This blog is usually filled with abandoned or old schools and/or post offices, but another one of my hobbies and joys is getting out and photographing and researching the history of old theaters like this one and drive ins.

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Ewing is located in what is locally known as “The Lower End”  or the western end of Lee County near Cumberland Gap.  In fact, Ewing is one of the western-most settlements in the state of Virginia.

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I’m not entirely sure when this theater….or theatre opened or closed.  My guess would be that it was constructed in the 1950s and probably closed in the 1980s.

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On Cinematreasures.org someone had posted links to news paper clippins showing show times for shows all the way up to 1979 when the movie “Superman” was playing.

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Children under 5 were admitted free at that time.  What a concept right?

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Today the building stands in a state of disrepair and is basically a hulled out shell of its self.  I would love to find pictures of this place in its heyday.

Flag Rock — Norton, Virginia

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The Flag Rock Recreation Area is also known as “Norton’s Mountain Masterpiece”.  It boasts 25 developed acres, which includes our Flag Rock Overlook.  Aptly named after German immigrant Karl Matuszczyk, planted an American Flag on this large outcropping rock in the 1920’s.  Flag Rock was dedicated in 1974 and opened on June 12 1976DSCF9002

Haysi High School, Haysi, Virginia

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School consolidation has become a common practice in the hills of appalachia.  Populations decline, revenue sources dry up and school divisions and districts are forced to close aging schools.  This past June, Haysi (pronounced HAY-SIGH) High School became the latest victim to school consolidation in the region after 87 years of serving the northern end of Dickenson County.

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Located high on a hill behind the town of Haysi just off of Virginia state route 83 the school was closed for good in June of 2015.  Dickenson County voted to consolidate Haysi, Ervinton and Clintwood High School into one central high school all the way back in October of 2010.

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Haysi High School was a 8-12 facility and the last reported enrollment figure that I can find is 264 students as of 2012.  That number had to be higher at closing because in 2013 the Dickenson County Board of Education voted to close Ervinton High School early and combine those students with Haysi Students, so I am thinking it was closer to the 400 mark when the school closed in June of  2015.

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The new school, Ridgeview which combined students from Haysi (&Ervinton) with Clintwood opened up State route 83 between  Clinchco and Clintwood closer to the center of the county.

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I suppose these guys were the guard birds watching over the building.

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Hopefully the town or county can obtain this building and recruit some industry or some useful municipal services for the citizens so the building can be of use for many years to come.

Trammel, Virginia 24289

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Trammel, Virginia, was a coal mining town that was built by the Virginia Banner Coal Corporation in 1917. The last spike of the Carolina, Clinchfield, and Ohio Railway, which was completed in 1915, had been driven near here.  Trammel is located in southern Dickenson County along state route 63 just north of Dante.  Trammel is one of the most intact coal mining towns remaining in Southwest Virginia and the most intact remaining in Dickenson County.

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In the 1970s the company that owned Trammel went out of business and became an estate.   In 1985 the town was auctioned off piece by piece.  Luckily most of the residents were able to buy their own homes.

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As you can see there isnt a whole lot left in Trammel.  Many of the houses are dilapidated and abandoned.  The Post Office at Trammel opened on October 8, 1919, and closed on November 16, 2002.  the zipcode was 24289

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One thing that does remain is the shell of the old Company Store.  The Virginia Banner Coal Company Store to be exact.

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As you can tell this building has been abandoned for many years.

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Clinchco Elementary, Clinchco, Virginia

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Clinchco, and all of Dickenson County, Virginia is a very interesting place to me.  Dickenson County is the youngest of the Virginia counties.  It was formed in 1880 from portions of Wise, Buchanan and Russell Counties.

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Back when I first started with my fascination of exploring rural areas and more specifically coal mining areas I ran across Dickenson County and the small town of Clinchco specifically on a cold March morning in 2008.

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on that day I explored the tiny town of Clinchco which sits along side state route 83 and the McClure River.    While I was driving through I just really was captivated by the rugged feel of the town.  I started following the news coming out of Clinchco and Dickenson County.

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I remembered the school and how new-like it seemed and had hoped it would remain open for the town.  Then I got to reading about the flood proofing going on in town and all of the contracts with the Army Corp of Engineers.  For some reason, this school was built in the 100 year flood plain.  Why?  I have no idea.  The plan was to replace this school and the school at Sandlick with a consolidated school out of the flood plan.IMG_0406

then  in 2011 many Virginia school divisions, including Dickenson County were faced with deep budget cuts.  The enrollment at Clinchco Elementary had fallen to 164 and on July 20, 2011 in a 4-0 vote the Dickenson County Board of Education voted to close the school.  School boundaries were redrawn and students from Clincho were divided among Sandlick and Ervinton.

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According to sources I have found online from press releases and such from teh US Army Corp of Engineers, as part of the flood proofing project and work going on in Dickenson County, this building will be demolished.  Such a shame that the building has to be tore down and destroyed.  ScreenHunter_600 Sep. 16 21.50

The building and grounds seem to remain relatively untouched since it was closed in 2011.

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Who knows how many days left this building has to be standing.  Im very happy to be able to provide these images and documentation to what was Clinchco Elementary School.

****UPDATE**** December 22, 2016:  Thanks to a facebook friend I have learned that the school at Clinchco has been demolished and the lot completely cleared.

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Powell Valley Overlook, Norton, Virginia

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The Powell Valley Overlook sits on the north-bound side of Highway 23 between Big Stone Gap and Norton.  The end of the boardwalk sits about 40′ above the highway at one of the most spectacular bridges in the state: it sits on the steep slope of a solid rock face, leaving you wondering just why it doesn’t slide off the mountain.

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At the bottom of the valley is state route Oe 610, or Powell Valley Road. At one time, before the completion of Highway 23, this was the only road connecting Big Stone Gap with Norton, and all points north and south in this part of the state. The state route takes a long, curvy, steep climb up the mountain at the north end of the valley, intersecting Highway 23 near the overlook today.

Lee County Historical & Genealogical Society Museum

I’ve noticed this old church for many years its just to the west of Jonesville on 58 off in a little holler that really makes you envision Icabod Crane could have actually galloped around that twisty road Once upon a time. Scenes like this setting is what inspires writers to create engaging stories. There is beauty all around us. It doesnt have to be something fancy and flashy. This church has relocated long ago and now serves as the Lee County Historical and Genealogical Society Museum.

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The Museum is located about 4 miles west of Jonesville just off of US 58 on Old Friendship Road.

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The Blackwater Community of Lee County, Virginia

There is a semi interesting story as to why I ever went to Blackwater in the first place.   Back in 2008 when I was working at Walmart in Jonesville I worked in lawn and garden so I was outside for a big part of my day.  One day I was outside and a fully blacked out  GMC Denali pulled up and the passenger window rolls down,  this lady with a very obvious french infulenced american accent proceeds to ask me for directions to Blackwater.  At this time I was new to Lee County, I had no idea where it was.  So I had to get a co-worker to come over and give her directions.  When the Denali left I saw that it had Quebec Canadian license plates on the back.  For some reason, this peaked my interest in Blackwater.  So one day on my day off I drove across highway 70 to Blackwater.

The road to Blackwater is very curvy and mountainous, but it is also very scenic and relaxing at the same time.  Blackwater is definitely off the beaten path, and it isn’t anything spectacular, but it is just a nice place to drive when you want to collect your thoughts and think.

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This first picture is from highway 70 looking back toward Jonesville as you are crossing over into Blackwater.

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This is the old Blackwater High School.  It is located on the AJ Osborne Highway about a mile off of Highway 70.  The school ceased functioning as a high school in 1972.  I can’t find out for sure, but I think the building was used after that as an elementary school.  The school is obviously well maintained and secure, unlike many other old schools you find in Appalachia.

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Looking toward Blackwater High School on AJ Osborne Highway.

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The Blackwater, Virginia post office is located in this building.

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The intersection of AJ Osborne Highway and Highway 70.  Turn left you go to Tennessee, first stop Kyles Ford, more on that stop tomorrow!