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Douthat State Park (Clifton Forge)

October 3rd, 2012 Sears Homes No comments

Our family first visited Douthat State Park in 1960. In fact, thanks to my father’s meticulous note-taking, I know that our first visit was on June 13th, 1960, which was also my father’s 41st birthday.

Last week, my “new” family (Hubby and I) returned to Douthat and stayed at Cabin #1, the very cabin that the Fullers stayed at throughout their annual pilgrimage in the 1960s. Our last visit was 1969, when Hurricane Camille chased us out, a couple days ahead of our scheduled departure date.

Enjoy the photos - old and new.

To read about the amazing collection of Sears kit homes in Clifton Forge, click here.

Our family first visited Douthat State Park in 1960. Heres a picture of my youngest brother with our mother, Betty Mae Brown Fuller.

Our family first visited Douthat State Park in 1960. Here's a picture of my youngest brother with our mother, Betty Mae Brown Fuller. They're standing in front of the boat rental area by Lake Douthat. Mother was a big believer in life vests, anytime her children were within 200 yards of a body of water (June 1960).

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Apparently, Mother was a big believer in life vests when her children were digging for worms, too, lest he hit an undiscovered body of water hidden just below the forest floor.

Apparently, Mother was a big believer in life vests when her children were digging for worms, too, lest he hit an undiscovered body of water hidden just below the forest floor.

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My eldest brother Tommy fishing on Smith Creek (June 1960).

My eldest brother Tommy fishing on Smith Creek (June 1960).

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My father giving it a go on Smith Creek.

My father giving it a go on Smith Creek.

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Close-up of Tom Fuller (June 1960).

Close-up of Tom Fuller (June 1960).

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Mother and my youngest brother standing on a pretty ricket bridge over Wilson Creek.

Mother and my youngest brother standing on a pretty ricket bridge over Wilson Creek. He looks pretty worried. I would be too.

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Tommy Fuller - more than 52 years ago - at the boat docks by Douthat Lake.

Tommy Fuller - more than 52 years ago - at the boat docks by Lake Douthat.

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Last week (September 2012), my husband and I visited Douthat and we stayed at Cabin #1, the very cabin where our family spent some very happy times. It was quite surreal returning to the very same cabin. The last time I was inside that cabin was 1969, and our family vacated it in a hurry when a park ranger knocked on our door in the wee hours and told us that we had to evacuate immediately, due to torrential rains and flooding from Hurricane Camille.

Last week (September 2012), my husband and I visited Douthat and we stayed at Cabin #1, the very cabin where our family spent some very happy times. It was quite surreal returning to the very same cabin. The last time I was inside that cabin was 1969, and our family vacated it in a hurry when a park ranger knocked on our door in the wee hours and told us that we had to evacuate immediately, due to torrential rains and flooding from Hurricane Camille.

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Inside, the cabin was just as I had remembered. The cabins were built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps. The fireplace was made from native stone from the Blue Ridge mountains.

Inside, the cabin was just as I had remembered. The cabins were built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps. The fireplace was made from native stone from the Blue Ridge mountains.

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The living room was smaller than I remember...

The living room was smaller than I remember...

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And my parents bedroom was teeny tiny!

And my "parent's bedroom" was much smaller! In fact, it was teeny tiny!

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The porch hasnt changed much in the last 50 years.

The porch hasn't changed much in the last 50 years.

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A placard by the front door commemorates the CCC.

A placard by the front door commemorates the CCC.

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In

The doors and hardware are - for the most part - original to the cabin.

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Sadly, the condition of the cabins has been deteriorating. We saw roof leaks and mildew on several ceilings inside the cabin. For all the money our government wastes on overseas spending, youd think they could throw a few thousand at this historic treasure and try and preserve it. As Norm says on This Old House, once a house loses its boots and hat, it wont last long.

Sadly, the condition of the cabins has been deteriorating. We saw roof leaks and mildew on several ceilings inside the cabin. For all the money our government wastes on overseas spending, you'd think they could throw a few thousand at this historic treasure and try and preserve it. As Norm says on "This Old House," once a house loses its boots and hat, it won't last long.

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During our visit, we didnt do any fishing, but we did go fishing for a good signal from the local Appleton Mountain repeater.

During our visit, we didn't do any lake fishing, but we did go "fishing" for a good signal from the local Appleton Mountain repeater (Ham Radio). Hubby toted this stick antenna around for a bit, helping me find the "sweet spot."

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Sweet

The sweet spot turned out to be about 30 feet in front of the cabin, hanging on a tree branch. There's a lot of high tech equipment in this picture. That's a stick antenna, on loan from RASON (Radio Amateur Society of Norfolk), hanging on a piece of clothesline rope, held in place by a log which served as a counter-weight. Incredibly, we got a very clear signal from the Appleton Repeater, about 60 miles away in Bedford, Virginia. I'd LOVE to know where that repeater is located! Is it atop the Peaks of Otter?

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I highly recommend a visit to Douthat State Park. About 15 minutes from the park (in Clifton Forge), you can visit the C&O Railway Museum, and see this beautiful steam locomotive up close and personal!

About 15 minutes from the park (in Clifton Forge), you can visit the C&O Railway Museum, and see this beautiful steam locomotive up close and personal! Byron from the C&O Railway Museum gave us a first-class tour and we relished every moment. It was a highlight of the trip. Both Hubby and I were very impressed with Byron. He was a wonderful tour guide and regaled us with countless *amazing* stories.

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And Hubby got to play engineer!

And Hubby got to play engineer!

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To read more about the C&O Train Museum in Clifton Forge, click here.

To learn about RASON, click here.

To read about those splendiferous kit homes in Clifton Forge, click here.

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Sears Homes abound in Clifton Forge, Virginia!

September 16th, 2010 Sears Homes 5 comments

In the 1960s, our family  frequently traveled from Portsmouth, VA to Douthat State Park in Clifton Forge. Ensconced by the Blue Ridge Mountains, Douthat was (and remains) one of my favorite places on earth.  We’d venture into Clifton Forge to use the laundromat and to buy supplies at the local grocery store.

Even in my childhood, I’d noticed that Clifton Forge had lots of train tracks and lots of trains coming and going.  (Today, there’s a delightful train museum in Clifton Forge - The C&O Railway Heritage Center - stuffed full of treasures and ephemera and photographs. It’s at 705 Main Street in the heart of the city.)

About 40 years after those fun family vacations in Douthat, I returned to Clifton Forge to look for Sears Homes. Take a look at what I found!

To see more pictures of Sears Homes in Virginia, click here.

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

Sears Princeville from the 1919 catalog

Sears Princeville from the 1919 catalog

Sears Princeville in Clifton Forge - and what a beauty!

Sears Princeville in Clifton Forge - and what a beauty!

Sears Woodland from 1918 catalog

Sears Woodland from 1918 catalog

Sears Fullerton!

Sears Woodland!

In all my travels, I have never seen a Model #113, until I saw it in Clifton Forge!

In all my travels, I have never seen a Model #137, until I saw it in Clifton Forge!

Landscaping prevented a better photo, but you can see one side!

Landscaping prevented a better photo, but you can see one side!

From the front

From the front

The Sears Auburn is another unusual house. This is a massive house with lots of interesting details.

The Sears Auburn is another unusual house. This is, as the catalog states, a massive house with lots of interesting details. Note the interesting brickwork on the porch, and the bracketing under the eaves.

There are many trees sitting right in front of houses in Clifton Forge. This large evergreen prevented me from taking the picture I wanted to take. Nonetheless, even from this angle, you can clearly see this is a Sears Auburn.

There are many trees sitting right in front of houses in Clifton Forge. This large evergreen prevented me from taking the picture I wanted to take. Nonetheless, even from this angle, you can clearly see this is a Sears Auburn.

Another view of the Auburn

Another view of the Auburn

Close-up of the brickwork on the front porch.

Close-up of the brickwork on the front porch.

Sears Elsmore from the 1919 catalog

Sears Elsmore from the 1919 catalog

Sears Elsmore on the main drag in Clifton Forge

Sears Elsmore on the main drag in Clifton Forge

Like Sears, Montgomery Wardd also sold kit homes. Heres a Montgomery Ward Lexington from the 1927 catalog.

Like Sears, Montgomery Wardd also sold kit homes. Here's a Montgomery Ward "Lexington" from the 1927 catalog.

And in the flesh - The Montgomery Ward Lexington in Clifton Forge!

And in the flesh - The Montgomery Ward Lexington in Clifton Forge!

Aladdin was another kit home company that, like Sears, sold kit homes through mail order. Aladdin Homes are fairly common in Virginia and I found a few in Clifton Forge. However, most of the kit homes I found in Clifton Forge were Sears Homes.

Aladdin was another kit home company that, like Sears, sold kit homes through mail order. Aladdin Homes are fairly common in Virginia and I found a few in Clifton Forge. However, most of the kit homes I found in Clifton Forge were Sears Homes.

An Aladdin Sheffield in Clifton Forge

An Aladdin Sheffield in Clifton Forge

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