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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • FLY CANADIAN PACIFIC, c. 1950s

Nethers: 1935

Nethers: 1935

October 1935. The post office at Nethers, Virginia, in Shenandoah National Park. View full size. 35mm nitrate negative by Arthur Rothstein for the FSA.

 

Family History

My grandfather, Festus Hudson, is the man sitting under the window with his legs crossed, closest to the door. My Aunt Bertha is the little girl sitting down with the brown curls and my Aunt Catherine is the young lady leaning against the pole. Although the home is no longer in our family, my Uncle Junior owns a beautiful home right down the road, and my brother owns a little farm right up the road near the park entrance. It was beautiful growing up in this area and visiting grandma!!!!

Nethers store

This is the Nethers General Store. which, as was typical then, housed a post office in one corner. The Storekeeper was also the Post Master/Mistress. The house beyond was the very fine residence of Festus and Mary Hudson, owners of the Nethers store. The location is on Nethers Road one mile east of the Old Rag Mountain trail head, just across the road from the old Nethers Mill. The house, store and Mill were all built in the 19th century. The house was recently restored and is occupied. The mill is slated for restoration. The store closed about 70 years ago was torn down about 40 years ago. The Nethers store was, of course, not in Shenandoah National Park.

Anonymous Tipster is confusing this Post Office with the Old Rag Post Office, which was in a tiny store that was located where Tipster describes at the junction of the Old Rag saddle trail and the Weakley Hollow fire road. It was razed at the creation of the National Park in 1935.

Each morning I stood on the Nethers store porch shown in the picture awaiting the school bus to Madison High School during the 1960's, and have explored the interior of the store building to my great fascination.

Hudson house

At the time this picture was taken, the house in the background belonged to my grandparents, Festus and Mary Hudson. Hence my first name. The last man on the right on the on the P.O. porch I believe is my grandfather. I will find my pictures of him and compare.

Nethers, pre-park

This photo was taken before the area was made into a national park so it was not the park warden's home nor that of the mayor. It is a home that was probably build decades before the park was even thought about. There were plenty of nice homes like this in the area -- not all folks were poor and living in little log cabins.

[This photo was taken the year Shenandoah National Park was opened; Congress had authorized it nine years earlier, in 1926. The caption notes that this post office was in the park. - Dave]

Stone Wall

The stone wall would be the back side of the chimney, made from the local stone. You can see a couple of these relatively flat stones tucked under the porch in the foreground, as well as the chimney on the far side of the house. The reason for exposing that rear wall is in case of a chimney fire. If a fire does start anywhere in the chimney, you can access it from outside rather than tear the interior walls down. The reason it doesn't reach the roof is that the chimney is already exposed on all sides in the attic for ease of access.

Couple of things ...

There are a couple of thing in the photo I don't understand. First, the pipe running along the ceiling right above the door of the P.O. with what looks like a valve at the end. Is it the remnant of gas lighting outside? Second, am I seeing things or are the roof supports NOT touching the floor? The one on the farthest left is not at all supported, while the one that the lovely girl is leaning against seems to have been shored up with a metal handle. Anybody have any ideas?

[Below, closeups of the posts in the question. The one on the left does indeed come up (or down) a bit short. They're both mounted over metal risers to keep the wood from rotting. - Dave]

Probably was nicer than it looked

I believe the post office building deliberately designed to look rustic - that was a common trait of buildings in national parks and other tourist destinations in the 1900-1910 era. In fact, that building is very similar to some of the buildings my father took photos of in Yellowstone and Craters of the Moon in the 1950s. The girls are also dressed quite nicely, and their clothes are in perfect shape (muddy shoes, but it is raining). And the guys in back are also well-dressed and may very well be out shooting the breeze on a rainy Sunday afternoon.

With respect to the house behind the post office, that brick panel doesn't look like a boarded-up chimney to me. If it were, it would reach the roof and it would likely be made up of proper bricks. The stone looks to me like expensive decorative fieldstone, not an uncommon design element in the Arts and Crafts era. It looks to me as if that house might be the park warden's home or the local mayor's - it's quite posh for the time.

Bricks

They probably just tore down the chimney on that side of the house and rather than re-side it left the bricks in place.

Brick in wall

What's with the bricks in the side of the house in the back? A sealed up mill?

Nethers

Sorry to be so careless in reading that. I know exactly where that area is and must have passed very close. Next time I will take a detour and see what's left. Thank you for these always fascinating pictures.

"Are you...

from New York City? Really? I saw some pictures in that LIFE magazine, such big buildings! Is there trains under the street? Really? I'd a like to see that place some day!"

And who knows; maybe she did.

Denny Gill
Chugiak, Alaska

Nethers PO

The Nethers post office may have been inside the park, where the Saddle Trail off the back side of Old Rag Mountain meets the Weakley Hollow Fire Road.

Nethers

People with no future. And chairs less so

Nether VA

I have been around this area a long time. There is no current "Nether" though there is a road in the area called "Nether Springs"--which is a more common place name in Britain, from the Bible, i.e. "upper and nether springs." I wonder what happened to this place.

[It's Nethers, not Nether. In Madison County on SR 600 (Nethers Road). It's the trailhead/parking spot for the hike up Old Rag Mountain. Google search results and Mapquest map. - Dave]

 
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