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Photo by Tom Landon | Special to The Roanoke Times
The old wrecked car on Mill Mountain.
Monday, May 6, 2013
Our mountains are the source of quite a few questions, and over the next two weeks I'll tackle a few of them. Our first comes from a reader who sent several Mill Mountain queries. I'll attempt to answer one of them now, and hold another for next week, pending more research.
Q: I'd like to know more about the old car that sits along a hiking trail on Mill Mountain. It's been there a very long time, but seems like a mystery that would be next to impossible to solve.
Mike Davenport, Roanoke
Ah, the old black car on the side of the trail. My kids have been throwing rocks at that thing since they were old enough to walk. This question has appeared in this column before, and was partially answered by an earlier What's on Your Mind guy, Tom Angleberger. Tom has gone on to become a successful writer of adolescent fiction, so he's kind of my role model.
He wrote in 2006 that the car reached its current location in 1963 or '64, when a group of kids, including Roanoker Ben Temple, found it in the woods and tipped it over to see what would happen. It came to rest after a few rolls, up against a sapling, now a mighty oak. It's a '53 Chevrolet and it appears that no one knows for sure how it got there on the mountainside in the first place.
A 2004 Roanoke Times story quotes property owner Chick Pace as saying he had heard rumors that the car got there after someone was murdered and was rolled down the mountain inside it. Others say moonshining was involved. My own guess is that it might have been teenagers out for a joyride, but unless someone reading this column has something they want to get off their chest, we may never know how the rusted hulk came to be in the middle of the woods on the side of a mountain in the first place. Anyone have something you'd like to tell us? Unless it WAS murder, my guess is that the statute of limitations is on your side.
Q: Can you tell me where I can find a map that labels all of the mountains in the valley? People say to me, "What's the name of that mountain?" and I don't know and I think I should. I bet others wonder, too.
A. LeNoir, Roanoke County
It's funny how even long time Roanokers don't know the names of our local peaks. I know a few off the top of my head: McAfee Knob and Tinker Cliffs, Roanoke Mountain and the Peaks of Otter are easy, but I hadn't even heard of Rich Patch Mountain (elevation 3,074 ft.) or Salt Pond Mountain (2,438 ft.) until I looked at the fairly new signage at the Star overlook. I'd suggest that as a good place to start.
Unfortunately, the display there will tell you only about the mountains you can see, and leaves out things to the west and south of Mill Mountain. But have no fear. Several years ago the paper created an amazing interactive web graphic that gives all the names from Johns Creek Mountain in Giles and Craig counties to Cahas Mountain in Franklin County. The link to that graphic is here and a picture from the sign at the star can be seen on the What's on Your Mind blog. Thanks to Christine Elder at the Discovery Center on Mill Mountain for providing the photo.
Have a question? An answer? Call "What's on Your Mind?" at 777-6476 or send an email to email@example.com. Don't forget to provide your full name, its proper spelling and your hometown.
Look for Tom Landon's column on Mondays. Read the WOYM blog on roanoke.com anytime.
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