Mayberry, Maybury, Maybrey, Mabry

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I get google visits from searches for the popular tourist stop along the parkway that is just barely in Floyd County. I’ve seen searches with all these spellings.

By most accounts, it is the most photographed single feature along the 469 miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway. From this weekend on til it closes in early November, the parking lot there will be full most weekends–especially Sunday afternoons when we get Carolina heat refugees, probably starting even sooner than usual this very warm year.

Everybody knows how to find it. Not many know how to spell it.

It’s Mabry–named after a prominent mill proprietor and his wife by that last name (Ed and Mintoria “Lizzie” Mabry, both born in 1867.)

I became immersed in the Mabry story just about exactly three years ago, “on assignment” for my friend, Elizabeth Hunter, for a story she was doing for Blue Ridge Country Magazine. She needed high resolution photographs of the little white church, Concord Primitive Baptist, where the Mabrys attended; pictures of their tombstones a couple of miles from the mill; and any local color I could scare up to accompany a possible sidebar for the magazine.

My D70 was backordered, and on its way from Thailand. Doug Thompson took pity on me and graciously let me borrow his Nikon D100 for the two days it took going back and forth between Goose Creek and Meadows of Dan to get the shots I needed.

I did get the story, the images, the good memories–and I learned the correct spelling for Mabry Mill at Milepost 176, which by the way, is owned and managed by a resort company in Arizona and NOT the National Park Service.

Here’s a link to my post from back in April 2004. And here’s a little gallery of a few images from that memorable adventure.

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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.

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  1. The restaurant there has (or had) a unique dish, two pancakes with barbeque pork between them. Maybe not the healthiest meal but it sure was yummy.

  2. I know what you mean about the searches. One of the first photos I posted on my photo blog was a picture of Brinegar Cabin on the Parkway. Every week a few folks end up stopping by the site because of that photo.

  3. Years ago, after flying into San Francisco, my Samsonite suitcase was damaged by the airline. They paid for it, and I found a repair facility in the city. The repair shop was a small storefront, owned by a little old man. He examined my luggage and suggested that it would be best to trade it for a refurbished item. While I was waiting for him to retrieve his stock, I looked up on the wall above his dusty toolbench – there hung a calendar open to the current month, with a picture of Mabry Mill.

    I knew instantly that this was Mabry Mill, and looked for the credit. The caption said, “Country Mill”. The calendar was from an unknown west coast business. One of those nice happenings that shrink the world a little.

  4. Nice story with much more detail unrevealed. The Hyltons have been around Floyd and Patrick counties about as long as my family, which is prior to their beginnings.

    And you can still get the barbeque between two cornmeal cakes at the Mill. That and the country ham biscuits will leave a person happy but scrambling for water throughout the remainder of the day.