So Where’s The Church?

Rock Hill Church Road was once a state-maintained road with a county road number (714 I think) that is now in VDOT limbo status of not abandoned but not maintained. There are three full time residences on a half mile of single lane gravel road.

That said, it is named for a church that presumably once stood somewhere along this short single-lane path–most likely near Roberson Mill Road, the “main” artery of travel for the community near the Blue Ridge Parkway.

And so, as I do the work of re-placing myself after 20 years embedded by head and heart on Goose Creek, I begin anew to get my bearings and find my relationships within this new and not unpleasant but not familiar dot on the surface of the Third Rock.

We are learning when and where to look for wildlife and enjoying the proximity to town that makes this location more convenient for drop-in masked visitors for a porch sit. I suppose these surroundings are as familiar as we should expect at just a little more than two weeks in place.

But now that we’re mostly out of cardboard, I’m looking around wondering what in the world am I? Why is this road a “church” road is there is not somewhere along here the foundation of that building?

I feel certain somebody knows the answer, and when I find out, I’ll let you know (the tension for you must be terrible not knowing!)

Meanwhile, we are keeping our eyes open. I see on the topo maps a “path” that at some point paralleled the existing road and turned west. At just that point today exists a copse of fairly mature trees between pastures north and south, with within those trees lies a large mass of rocks.

In fact there are two masses of rocks–those larger ones in place long enough to be covered in lichens; and a second pile of apparently newer baseball to grapefruit sized rocks much smaller than those typically culled from a tilled pasture. I can’t explain them.

But there does not seem to be a foundation (old steps etc) that would suggest a building ever stood there. At least now we have explored that spot we see every day on our walk down to the mailbox.

And I’m thinking somebody in the community can at least tell us what denomination the church was, so we can research it that way, if they don’t know exactly where it stood. And when we find out, we will be better “placed” in the time continuum of the current WHERE of our lives. And that life-context is part of what I refer to as my “personal ecology” that extends from MY space and place to be grounded on the globe, in the now and then, and in Earth’s life-systems, starting at home.

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fred

Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

5 thoughts on “So Where’s The Church?”

  1. Well Fred I’m glad you got moved in the new place sounds like you like it the old church was probably a Methodist one the were all over the place but that’s just a guess .
    How’s the new book coming along maby some day I can read it ? Any way enjoy your new home hope the smell of the misses cookies don’t bring in crouds from the road if they do be sure and serve some milk .

  2. Hi Fred – I identify with your nosing about your territory – we have done similar exploring regarding our place in the world.
    I’m interested in what you discover about that “ghost church” – maybe it’ll inspire a temporary art installation proposal…

  3. Super, Jeremiah, this is a treasure. But darn you! Now how will I get anything done! Many thanks, and good to hear from you.

  4. Hey Fred, I checked out Jeremiah’s link and if you look at the Floyd 1957 overlay, your end of the road doesn’t exist. Only at the far end off Harmony Rd. are there any structures. You can slide the transparency slider to see the modern map under the old one. From the looks of things a big portion of Rock Hill Church Rd doesn’t exist any longer if you consider it only a half mile long. From the looks of the maps it once was almost two miles long…

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