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3/18/06 Wilhite Wagon Trail Work Day

project:  
Opening up the Wilhite Mountain trail from the Rapidan Fire Road to the top of Doubletop Mountain.
rendezvous:  
Parking area past the second bridge on the Rapidan Tract of the Rapidan WMA.
VOLUNTEER SAT PROJECT COMMENTS
Dan Lovelace (DGIF) yes  
Joseph Ferdinandsen (DGIF) yes  
Tate Heuer yes  
John Casteen yes  
Nate Guernsey yes  
Alison Heuer yes  

summary:  
The March crew successfully cleared up the old wagon road, which has an astonishingly mild slope that eases its way  up a rather austere mountain.  A considerable amount of admirable rock work was done many generations ago on the wagon road, well before the CCC made such craftsmanship its signature touch. 

Dan, Joseph, and John made good use of their orange husqvarna saws and removed the many large trees that had fallen across the wagon path.  Nate and Tate swamped for the sawyers and took turns operating a brush cutter to trim back the under brush, green briers, and mountain laurel from the trail.  Alison and the English Setter dog ran scout out in front of the crew.

In addition to cleaning up the trail from the Rapidan Fire Road to the top of the mountain, the crew also cleaned the Doupletop Mountain Trail from where it meets the Wilhite Wagon Trail to the 4x4 Road.  This created about a four and a half mile circuit hike that can be done on Doubletop Mountain.

There are a couple of old intersections and one switchback on the wagon trail that are a little challenging since the trail isn't blazed.  I plan on going back soon to better mark the trail. 

photos:  

Here are some picture of the trail after the work trip.  We will have a camera on future trips for some action shots.
 Thank you to Kerry Snow & the Blue and White Crew, from which this template was borrowed.   

We are planning to work on a trail in the Middle River Tract on the weekend of May 20th to the 21st.

Some History on the Wilhite Wagon Trail

In 1981, Tom Floyd who was active with the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club wrote a book Lost Trails and Forgotten People, The Story of Jones Mountain.

There are two passages in the book that refer to the Wilhite Wagon trail.  Here they are:

First Passage (Page 51):

The shadows of tragedy descended twice on the McDaniel family.  The hard-working Calvin McDaniel died before his children were grown.  Then, about 1885, fire swept through the home, destroying the house and all of the family’s belongings.  The family kept the land but did not rebuild.  Elic McDaniel moved to the home territory of the McDaniels on the Conway River.  Tom and Maggie (“Miss Mag”) moved with their mother to the top of Chapman Mountain on the Wilhite Wagon Road (now an abandoned trail in Shenandoah National Park, paralleling the Hoover Road, which was built later).  Their home was near a spring about a thousand feet west of the present-day Blakey Ridge Fire Road.  Ed McDaniel moved to the old Tom Graves place near Graves Mill but continued farming the Staunton River fields, holding title there until the establishment of the National Park.

 Second Passage (Page 84):

Time was running out for the mountain people, but before they could absorb the shock, another event distracted them and brought national publicity to the Rapidan area.  In 1929, President Herbert Hoover purchased 160 acres of land on the far side of Fork Mountain and built his summer White House in a hemlock grove where the Laurel Prong and the Mill Prong came together to form the Rapidan River.  The old Wilhite Wagon Road was closed, and the new “Hoover” Road was constructed for access to the presidential retreat.

The Wilhite Wagon trail is to the West of the 4 WD Trail.  It is mislabeled Wilhoite Wagon Trail.