Tucked away in the arms of mothering mountains, there lies a sleepy, little town that hardly a soul may think to venture to. Not because it’s not worth a trip, but because most people now days seek out Water Parks, Zoos, or Beaches with Five-Star Hotels. And when I say sleepy, I don’t mean life no longer lives there. The town I am speaking of is, Deerfield, Virginia, and I know first hand that life does indeed live and breathe in this tiny, untouched town where the world finally slows down.
My husband was born and raised there and much of his family, still own homes and land in a place where the progress of our age seems to be more of a stranger than a common visitor.
They have the bare essentials: a tiny little store they jokingly call, The Deerfield Mall, a Post Office, a Fire Department, and once upon a time, it’s very own Historic School House, which is now a Community Building and Library.
My husband was actually the last to go to that School, which combined it’s classes and grades to very few teachers and might have seemed more like something out of Little House on the Prairie, or ,The Waltons, to those of us now. (That’s how small it was.)
Deerfield is made up of folks who are mostly Natives — those who come from long families that were born and raised there, and Hunting Camps — those who visit from time to time during Hunting Season. Population is roughly, 336.
There is a cellphone tower — finally— but no cellphones will work out there as there has been nothing else done to it. No Brand has reached out to claim it and the local telephone company, MGW, usually makes people more mad than anything else these days– lacking better and more affordable calling packages to make having a phone easier on the wallet. Pretty much, living in Deerfield, makes everything long distance.
They have great internet, since the owner of MGW’s son owns, LINGO, but there seems to always be an issue with folks needing help with Routers not working or lines and the hefty bill of having to have someone come out and fix it.
Sadly, Deerfield is becoming one of those places damaged by Taxes and a World that would soon run it over rather than just leave it alone. Sometime after 9/11 when the economy went belly up, Tax Assessors went out and marked the worth of everything far too high. It’s enough to make a person choke. That means, properties don’t sell like they should. Instead of being priced at their actual worth, they are listed for prices that would better reflect a newly built home with granite counter tops, skylights and all the trappings of a newer age. While many homes are nice there — and Id love to still have one– they need updated and some, repaired- certainly not up there with the the price tag that makes them untouchable to locals who would like to, well, re-locate, or stay where they were raised or are familiar with.
Don’t get me wrong, there are quite a bit of eye-catching homes stretched far and wide, here or there, in Deerfield. But that brings me to another problem… people from bigger cities and net-worth building million dollar homes in an area of modest people. Perhaps this is the reason Assessment skyrocketed? I’m not an expert, just broken-hearted because I’d give anything to go back where life slows down a bit in a world that seems to be spiraling out of control. Unfortunately, even the Modest Homes have a price way out of reach.
Deerfield is a stretch of long roads bordered by mountains on both sides. Land is the key-word here because there is so much of it. Just a trip to the grocery-store or nearest town, Staunton, Virginia, where there are places like Walmart, Food Lion, Krogers, etc, can take you up to 45 minutes one way.
The people are still friendly there. Most have never known a stranger, and for those who haven’t a clue as to what that means, it means, they will never treat you like one even if you are.
The Deerfield Mall has just enough of what a person may need if passing through or in a pinch. Pop, Beer, Smokes, Snacks. A small kitchen in the back will get ya something quick.
For gas, folks will have to hit, The Mountain View Store, or as folks also like to call it ,The Forks of the Road, because that’s what the road does up there. One fork takes you to Deerfield and the other, to Highland County.
To dine, you can hit the Buckhorn Inn, which is on the way to Deerfield. Check out that post here: The Buckhorn Inn House Dressing
And then there is White’s Wayside, famous for it’s Depression Bread since 1929. A picture from then and now….
While both, The Buckhorn Inn and White’s Wayside, are actually in Churchville, Virginia, it’s as I said, on the way to the hidden gem of Deerfield.
The charm of Deerfield is, the privacy and the small, Mayberry feel. While there isn’t an Andy Griffith or Barney roaming the roads, there is a sense of comfort when the world takes a rest. People out there still raise their own food, butcher it in their own buildings, hunt and make things from scratch. Many heat with wood and live frugally with the times. They plant gardens and they keep chickens — and have done so before it became a “thing” on Social Media or Backyard Chicken sites.
Their kin is buried out there and while many families have lost their homesteads to greedy relatives selling it off, many can still ride past, point and say, “That’s where my Great Grandpappy shot his first deer or gave my Great Grandma her first kiss.”
The tiny burial ground where my husbands people were placed is so old that the hidden cluster of graves are sinking into the ground. What gravestones there are, are so old, the names have completely worn off of rock depressingly eroded. The land this hidden cemetery sits on used to be in his family until relatives sliced it up and sold it off. My husband dreamed of buying it back one day but so far, that has never happened. It weighs against our spirits that one day, no one will know a graveyard is still there or, they will just plow the whole thing over.
Money is the seed to preservation and while many of us work instead of plopping on our butts in front of a TV all day, we will never have enough money to preserve anything, especially in lost and overlooked treasures like Deerfield.
A place that will also be plowed over, soon enough, as The Pipeline, fights to shove it’s way through there despite the natural springs, history and near extinct, Native Trout.
While I love certain things about progress, Cell Phones– which makes getting a flat tire and not being stranded a real possibility, or the Internet, which makes Blogging, Researching, and keeping up with the world as easy as breathing, some things are just depressing.
The only thing that eases my mind just a little bit is that there are still places like Deerfield, Virginia, out there. Places tucked away deep within’ the Appalachian that time may turn it’s back on causing the majority of everyone else to turn a blind eye to, but those of us who are lucky enough to know about them, will never forget. Some of us try to carve out a life there, hoping the world wont change so much that our kids and grandkids will have a chance to stay if they have a mind too. Some of us will be forever haunted by what we had to leave and at some point, will always find ourselves going back….even if just a little while.