Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Time Out For Discovery!

This is the sleepy town of Saltville, Virginia - nestled into a valley tucked deep into the Blue Ridge mountains of Middle Appalachia.

For more than a year now Martha and I have put off and put off again plans to take a little field trip to visit Saltville (only about an hour away) and the Museum of the Middle Appalachians.

The history of Southwestern Virginia is fascinating and I love learning about things that have happened here over oh.....the past 25 million plus years or so.

We are here!

And yes, it was 28 degrees when I left home yesterday morning.  There was snow on top of White Top mountain - frost line visible and beautiful in the morning light.

We chatted as we drove through flurries - of this, of that, of everything and inbetween.  

As we descended from higher elevations it became evident that spring was in full bloom here - trees blooming pink and white, leaves sprouting bright green and verdant.

And the grass.  It was nearly neon enough to require sunglasses.  So very bright!

Let's not even talk about what this pollen in the air did to my poor eyeballs! Hello allergy season! (But I'll take it!)

Mastodon float, anyone?

I was super tickled when we entered the museum, paid our nominal $5.00 admission fee and then hearing the docent ask "Are either of you 60 or older?"   

Oh the happy dance of senior citizen joy!

I got $2.00 back due to my decrepit old age and did a little jig.  Perhaps nearing the age of dirt has side benefits after all!

Oh - and that $2.00??  I had discovered upon arriving at the QPO to get the morning mail out before Martha's arrival that I had left my wallet at home. (One of those things that required my getting my credit card out of my wallet at home to make an online purchase, and I left it there at home by the computer.)

What was I to do for spending money while out and about?

I happened to have a few bills at the QPO, and with no wallet handy folded them and put them in a lovey ziplock bag and secured them in the zipper pocket of my jacket.

All day long Martha kept laughing at me as if I were some kind of drug dealer carrying around cash in a ziplock bag every time I went to make a purchase.

Such a good day of laughter!

So back to the Museum - what's up with the Mastodon?

Up until about 11,000 years ago, mastodons roamed the North American continent along with many other now extinct species, as well as many animals that are still around today. No one really knows for sure what caused their extinction, but we do know that there were lots of mastodons in our local area.

Thanks to the vast amount of salt to be found there, the valley in which present-day Saltville is located has always been a magnet for a large variety of animals.  Numerous fossils have been found in the Saltville Valley, and more are being discovered all the time (many of which end up in the museum).

Today, Saltville is a magnet for humans who have an interest in natural history, and the Museum Of The Middle Appalachians is a great place to start! [source]

To even consider a time when these beasts roamed this area!

Martha with fossils.

We toured the museum going from geology, to extinct animals, to native american life before even getting to the salt and other mineral exhibits.

Framed collections of arrowheads remind me of patchwork designs:

It must have taken quite the collection and patience to design this.

More collection.

We spent a lot of time examining the designs on ancient pottery, the craftsmanship of arrowheads and other tools and imagining what life was like here for the earliest of humans inhabiting this area.

I loved the words of Tecumseh -

So live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart.

Trouble no one about his religion, respect others in their views, and demand that they respect yours.

Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all the things of your life.

Seek to make your life long and of service to your people.

Prepare a noble death song for the day that you go over the great divide.

Always give a word or sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend, or even a stranger, if in a lonely place.

Show respect to all people, but grovel to none.

When you arise in the morning, give thanks for the light, for your life, and strength.

Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living.

If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies in yourself.

When your time comes to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with the fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song!

And die like a hero going home!

For years, Saltville supplied a large portion of the United States with table salt. Wars were fought over salt.  Cultures were built around it. Since the 1780s salt has been continually produced in the town.  

Industry capitalized on salt products and created the first full infrastructured "company town."

I appreciated the little theater and the different "movies" we could watch about the discovery of salt in the Saltville Valley and how salt brine was brought up from below ground and boiled to evaporate the water leaving salt crystals behind.

Salt was so very important - to tan hides for leather (shoes, belts,horse tackle, saddles and more) but also for preserving food because there was no refrigeration.  A life without salt meant death.

When cotton yarn or fabrics are dyed, salt is added to the dye bath as a mordant to help the fibers absorb the dye. Salt was important to our fabrics too!

Later, during the Civil War, the Confederacy depended on Saltville for its much-needed supply of salt for preserving its soldiers' food. 

Two battles took place in Saltville as Union forces attempted to destroy the salt works and eliminate the south's only significant supply of salt. On December 20, 1864, Maj. General George Stoneman's troops succeeded in doing just that, dealing a devastating blow to the welfare and morale of the Confederate army. In just a few short months the war would be over.

Today the salt mines lie idle, but Saltville is very proud of its heritage as one of the Civil War's most important battlegrounds. If you pay them a visit, you'll be able to see many artifacts from the days when the small town of Saltville, Virginia was indeed the "Salt Capital of the Confederacy".

In 1894 the Mathieson Alkali Works out of Great Britain began establishing chemical factories in Saltville using the salt reserves found there.  It was the beginning of the modern chemical industry in the USA.

in 1932 Saltville had the world's largest dry ice plant in production.

By 1952 the world's second largest chlorine plant was in little ole Saltville VA.

In 1969 Saltville's hydrozine helped put a man on the moon.

But as we know - chemical factories and manufacturing can be a threat to the environment.  In the 1970s the EPA classified 2 of the sites as Super Fund Clean Up sites to eventually restore environmental health.

I know it's a lot.  It was a great morning with loads of discovery and realizing how the benefits we can extract from the earth can enhance life in many ways, but also damage the world around us through destruction of the land and the pollution left by chemical plants.

I need to go back again and finish watching the last few movie clips as we had absorbed all our brains could handle at the time.

As we drove out of town and toward our lunch destination I thought of all of the things this place has been to so many over decades and beyond.

When what you thought were chicken breasts become chicken wings!

Yesterday morning I defrosted what I thought was chicken breasts, and it turned out to be wings!⁣
This gave me the opportunity to try quick air fryer recipe and it is definitely a winner winner chicken dinner!
Pat chicken wings dry and rub with olive oil. Sprinkle with two tablespoons ranch dressing mix and toss.⁣
Cook in single layer in air fryer for 25 minutes at 360°. Turn the wings halfway through cooking.⁣
Turn the wings over one more time and increase the heat to 400 degrees for 5 more minutes.⁣
Toss with more ranch dressing mix if desired or serve with BBQ sauce!⁣
There are only two of us so it looks like we will be enjoying Wing leftovers for the next few nights to come!
This recipe is a keeper if you can even call it a recipe.

It was yummy, easy and satisfying and perfect for the end of a long out and about day.

Monday's April Showers PDF pattern release has exceeded all expectations as we are all (in this hemisphere anyway!) clamoring for spring followed by summer.

Thank you so much for your positive response!  I see photos of you digging through your stashes, posting images of fabric pulls and first blocks already.  Sew! Sew! Sew!

I love how ALL of the purples are so varied and play together so well.  Mother nature knows what she is doing!

I used my Essential Triangle Tool for the half-square triangles in April Showers.

I used the Simple Folded Corners ruler or Simple Folded Corners Mini for the stitch & flip corners on the diamond rectangle units.  

I use these rulers all of the time.  If you don't have them, invest in yourself and get them! You'll find them in the Quiltville Store.

Traditional rotary cutting and piecing methods are given to those who don't have the rulers.

Does your purple or green (And neutrals - always!) stash need a bit of enhancement?  Check out these color rolls by Cotton to Quilts!

The best variety and fantastic service!  And I'm so grateful that Cotton to Quilts is once again offering up 2 fabric rolls for this gift-away!

We'll be drawing for one winner who will receive the PDF pattern for April Showers and a facets of purple color roll, and a second winner who will receive the April Showers PDF pattern and the facets of green color roll!

Head on over to Monday's Gift-Away post and get your entry in!

Quiltville Quote of the Day -

Most of us agree on one thing, you have to schedule in your time to create.
As busy as we all are, it is important to leave enough time for your own creativity.
Say yes to yourself!

Have a wonderful Wednesday, ,everyone!



  1. Oh, Bonnie! Your words about creativity and allowing time for it to bloom resonates so well with me... I get absolutely cranky and totally out of sorts when I cannot get in the studio and, if not sew! get together some yarn and knitting needles, do so embroidery... hallelujiah my sewing machine is ready to come home from her spa day, gone since Apr. 8... LOL, procrastination prevented me from oiling up the Featherweight... it's been ages since I've gone to retreat! Thanks, Bonnie, for the history lesson(s) it's almost as good as being there! I promise, Spring is on the way, she said that at lunch yesterday! <3

  2. Great post! Made me wonder where do we get most of the salt we consume today? I looked it up..biggest salt producing country is China! So much of our salt we consume today comes from the ocean. Thank you so much for sharing your life with us!


    1. There is a saltmine in Kansas somewhere, and a huge one under Detroit, MI which is mostly mined for rock salt these days. It's been mined since the late 1890s. I guess Saltville has them beat! Thanks for the tour Bonnie. Love those mastadons!

  3. Did you use powdered ranch dressing on wings? or the rradybtobise liquid? looks good!

    1. She says Ranch dressing mix, so I bet it is the dry, powdered mix. It does sound good. I think I'll try it on chunked up chicken breasts! LOL

  4. We saw the Home of J Sterling and Caroline Morton Salt Company in Nebraska City. The Mansion there is called Arbor Lodge, their Summer Home. He is called the father of Arbor Day. His son Joy Morton took control of what he renamed Morton Salt Co in Chicago. I Love finding the History when I travel too. The statue in the trees has a girl pouring Salt. We didn't get to go inside because of Covid restrictions and it was undergoing some renovations. Have to wait for more of my sashing Fabric to finish my Rhododendron Trail. Plot twist, change of Plans day.
    Thanks for sharing.

  5. There are huge salt mines under the city of Detroit. How fun is that?

    1. There are mines under Lake Erie in Cleveland. Maybe same stretch of salt?

  6. I have always loved history and I love when you share the history around you. Who knew when we were younger, that there was more history than what was just in books. And thank you for the reminder to schedule time to work on my UFO...it was wonderful to work on beautiful fabric. Thank you Bonnie for all you share with us; it is appreciated

  7. When I was scrolling down (or up?) I thought you were showing antique quilts till I read the description. Those would make beautiful quilts.
    So glad you enjoyed your day.

  8. What an interesting history your local area has, sometimes it is great to explore in our own backyard. I spent yesterday with daughter and granddaughter exploring the local indigenous lands around the Swan River in Western Australia was a beautiful Autumn day of sunshine

  9. Thank you for sharing Tecumseh's teachings. I am going to save them and refer back to them, as needed.

  10. Bonnie, thank you so much for this history lesson about Saltville! I am originally from Virginia but had never heard about this. It was fascinating! And I absolutely love April Showers!!!

  11. The words of Tecumseh are inspirational and empowering. Too bad more people don't read them and take them to heart. There is a large salt mine about 20 miles from me that had a major collapse after an apparent minor earthquake about 30 years ago. Much environmental damage as the ground water was contaminated and wells made unusable. The salt from this mine is used for rock salt.

  12. Very interesting post. Thanks for taking us on your road trip.


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