Archive for the ‘From the Back Roads’ Category


A Ride Through Holly Grove

August 27, 2009

I forgot the thrill of biking through the countryside until yesterday when I drove through eastern Louisa County mapping out a biking route there. As you might suspect, I’ve spent this morning dusting off my bicycle and resolving to get my legs in shape for a long ride by fall. Here are some pics from the day to tweek your interest in taking the ride!  Watch our YouTube-

The route I’ll tell you about starts at the Holly Grove Ruritan park on the Crewsville Road.  The Ruritans welcome cyclers to park here.  (I’ll give you directions to the starting place at the end.)  I headed east on Crewsville Road, reveling in the beauty of  hay fields against a blue sky. Just before reaching Holly Grove Road, I screeched to a halt in front of a long stretch of split rail fence and rolling pasture beyond it. Folly Hill Farm, circa 1720, said the sign at the end of the driveway. “That’s right,” I thought to myself, “This was one of the very first settled sections of what would become Louisa County in 1742.” I knew the route I planned was going to take me past the 1750 era Sunny Side, complete with an English basement and the remains on the Shelton Mill on the South Anna River, but Folly Hill was a surprise!

Just around the corner on Holly Grove Road was Mr. Nicholas’ vegetable stand. He came out, of course, to see what I was doing with my camera. I introduced myself and he seemed genuinely delighted at the prospect of being a stopping spot on a tour.  He was quick to tell me he would have sweet potatoes in just a few weeks.  His stand is ready to welcome passersby… coming on two wheels or four!

The whole tour is 17.5 wonderfully peaceful miles. It might take you an hour or two…unless you get to talking to Mr. Kersey at the store, as I did. His recollections of life in Holly Grove (well, Inez, really) since the 1940s kept me another half an hour just listening and enjoying his delight in the people who came by and the service he and his father before him have provided to the community for seven decades.  Now, I’d be remiss not to warn you that he has a very prominent sign hanging amidst the lanterns and old snow sleds that clearly says, “No Politicians or Drunk Allowed on the Premises!”  He runs a harmonious establishment!

You can get to the Ruritans Park off of Rt. 522 by turning east on Payne’s Mill Road (Rt. 601) and then left onto Crewsville Road. Coming from Rt. 33, turn onto Willow Brook Rd at McQueen’s Store and then right onto Crewsville.

From the parking area, turn left and take the Crewsville Road 3 miles to Holly Grove and turn right. Go 1.7 miles on Holly Grove Road to Kersey’s Store…be sure you stop! Take a left onto Factory Mill Road (named after the Civil War era mill that manufactured woolen fabric for the Confederacy there) and go about 4.4 miles through beautiful rolling horse county.

Take a right onto Octagon Church Road. You’ll be on smooth gravel for 1 mile.  Then take a right onto Owen’s Creek Rd.for 1.5 miles to Owen’s Creek Country Store. Go right there back onto Holly Grove Road. Be sure to look into the trees on the left just before you cross the South Anna for Shelton’s Mill. It will be a beautiful view when the leaves begin to fall.

Just before you return to Kersey’s store, take a left onto West Chapel Road. Go about 2.5 miles back to Crewsville Road, take a left on Crewsville and your car will be waiting for you at the Ruritans.  If you want a longer ride, turn north on Willow Brook Road before you return to the Ruritan Park.  Go across Rt. 33 on Bethany Church Road and go as far as you’d like up toward Fredericks Hall. You can return down Wickham Road to Paynes Mill and then back to Crewsville and the Ruritan park.  This route can add 15 to 30 more miles for those serious riders who love country roads!

Have a great time and leave a comment on the tour for others to read what YOU liked best along the way.


The Old Mountain Road

July 28, 2009

To understand the sheer delight that will undoubtably  ooze through this post, it helps to know my license tag is “Bak Rdz”. Back Roads, that is. The Old Mountain Road (Rt. 640) and the inviting little spurs that take you off down some of the few remaining gravel roads in central Virginia are a treat for back road adventurers.

I was on a mission this past Saturday hunting for two things.  The first was fresh corn from one of the vegetable stands that sell fresh produce  along the roadside this time of year. If you see one, stop to look, even if you don’t think you need vegetables.  You’ll probably find a little sign posting the prices and a coffee-can with a slit cut in the top that says, “Honor System,” for your payment.  Just seeing such extensions of trust will do your heart good.  Somehow, Louisa County has kept its sense of rural community ethics in this modern world…and perhaps these  vegetable stands are a small, unassuming way of initiating newcomers and passing tourists into the way we live together here.

Well, I found the vegetable stand and then was on my way to Kersey’s country store in Inez to find the second item on my list.  I had been in the day before and spotted an old butter churn among the antiques that line his top shelf and hang from  every post. I had looked at it and told Mr. Kersey that I just had to be sure it would work for a demonstration piece for the hearth cooking guild before I bought it.  (You can watch the hearth cooks at work on the events page of . After bit of quick 21st century online research, I had decided it would do nicely.

I walked back into the store Saturday and nodded to the gentleman who was seated in one of the chairs Mr. Kersey must keep for neighbors who drop into the store just to sit a while and talk.   Mr. Kersey greeted me with a smile and said, “I said to myself last night that  if that lady from the historical society comes back in and wants that crock, I’ll just give it to her.”  And so I left, churn in hand (and an old brown and white pickle crock I couldn’t resist,  just for me!)

More another day about the Old Mountain Road itself.  It’s history includes the story about Jack Jouett’s ride along the western portion of the road in the dark of a June night in 1781.  Of course, he wasn’t just out for vegetables.  He was desperately trying to reach Monticello to warn then Governor Thomas Jefferson of a British raid intent on capturing the governor and his friends.  Of course, if one of you readers know the story, let me know and you can post the story instead!

Elaine Taylor, the Programs Director at the Sargeant Museum