Blue Ridge Heritage Project
The Stone Chimney at Greene Commons
Beginning in the late 1920s the state of Virginia began using the power of eminent domain to acquire land in eight counties – Greene, Albemarle, Augusta, Madison, Page, Rappahannock, Rockingham, and Warren – to be turned over to the National Park Service for what would become Shenandoah National Park. No accurate records exist to verify exactly how many people were living on land that was to be acquired for the new park, but estimates place that number at several thousand. This included landowners as well as tenants, caretakers, and others who didn’t have title to their homes. A special census taken in 1934 revealed that 465 families were still living in the park and would need to be relocated. When a family was evicted from their home the house and outbuildings were torn down or, quite often, burned. Stone chimneys can still be found throughout the park as a reminder of the people who once lived in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
The chimney at Greene Commons is one of eight monuments – one in each county where land was acquired – erected by the Blue Ridge Heritage Project (BRHP) to recognize and honor the individuals and families who lost their homes and land for the creation of Shenandoah National Park. The BRHP chose a stone chimney for the monuments to represent the strength and endurance of the mountain people. Like the chimneys of the mountain homes each monument is of a different design and built of stone locally available. On the plaque affixed to each county’s monument are the names of the displaced residents from that county. Accompanying the monument at Greene Commons are interpretive displays that tell of life in the mountains before the coming of Shenandoah National Park. Learn more about the Blue Ridge Heritage Project and the people who once lived in Shenandoah National Park at BlueRidgeHeritageProject.com. Follow the driving tour posted on the website to explore the Blue Ridge Mountains and to see the other seven monument sites.
The original chimney standing at the Foothills Farm. Photo by Larry Lamb