Dozens of community members, project donors, and representatives from National Park Foundation and National Park Service joined our staff on October 3 to celebrate the replacement of the old flume at Mabry Mill and installation of new shake roofs on additional historic buildings at the site.
One of the most photographed locations on the Blue Ridge Parkway, the mill is the centerpiece of a collection of structures, including the 150-year-old Matthews Cabin, that comprise an outdoor museum where visitors can learn about early mountain life.
Under sunny skies, Blue Ridge Parkway Superintendent J.D. Lee, Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation CEO Carolyn Ward, and Madeleine Balkonis, Senior Manager of Community Partnerships with the National Park Foundation, thanked supporters and recognized the hard work of volunteers and National Park Service employees involved in the rehab work.
“This project is a wonderful demonstration of the impact individuals and groups can have on the preservation of the Blue Ridge Parkway when they work together,” Ward said.
The trio then cut a gold ribbon, marking the completion of the projects. Refreshments were provided by Cape Leisure as guests stayed to enjoy the park and share their experiences and memories. Kelly Johnson, Regional Director of U.S. Sen. Mark Warner’s office, and Floyd County Tourism Director Pat Sharkey were also in attendance.
Before the Parkway was built, Ed and Lizzie Mabry lived a pioneer life at the site, constructing much of the mill and surrounding buildings themselves in the early 1900s. Challenged by the land’s inadequate water supply, the Mabrys slowly acquired water rights and surrounding plots of land, assembling a complex network of flumes, ditches, and sluices to deliver water to the mill. The mill was acquired by the National Park Service in 1938. Today, park rangers host educational programs at the mill for visitors.
The restoration projects completed at the site this summer were a successful collaboration between the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation, National Park Foundation, and National Park Service, with private donations matched by funding from the National Park Service through a Centennial Challenge grant. Although the work is complete, fundraising for the project continues. We welcome additional donations to cover the final costs and any future rehab efforts.