The Death of Life

There was a drought at Carvins Cove, Roanoke, Virginia in 2002. I asked my mom and grandmother, who are from this community, if anything like this had ever happened before. Neither of them could recall. My grandmother is in her 70s so at least in that span of time, the answer was no. Although I was very young, I remember all the brown and dry cracked dirt, I felt like I was standing on a mountain.

Photo cred: Western VA water

I remember it not being as peaceful and the feeling of excitement and joy I had always felt going there being absent. As a child I could see the difference in the adults’ behavior but of course had no idea what it all meant. Just that not only was it different for me but my family as well. Everyone behaved differently because we all have a relationship with this space in different ways and I guess that is why it is burned into my remembrance. That was the one time I remember we didn’t stay. I didn’t get to play and run around. We didn’t have a picnic or cook out and enjoy ourselves. That was our routine and this time none of that happened. In all the times I have been since then and see the water lapping at the edge of the shoreline and the boats backing in at the dock, I have a flash of what it looked like to see the dock standing alone with no water around it and being able to walk a block or more to the water’s edge. It was a sobering sight. That event has really given me an appreciation and thankfulness as to how it looks today.

Photo red western VA water

The beauty I see now and take in to my spirit. The blessing that has always been there really resonates with me now. Most people don’t realize the beauty in simple things, like the water tickling your toes you hang the off the dock in the water.The whole world was that little corner to me, memories whizzed by through the car window, as if they only wanted to be seen for a moment. Now as I travel through the community my ancestors have lived in my whole life, past my great-grandparents home and along the winding road that takes me there and I see the clearing come into view I realize the gift. I try to take it all in since I live away and am not able to go there on multiple occasions in the summer like I did when I spent time with my grandparents in Virginia. It is true to say Virginia is for lovers, it is for lovers of the world and its great spaces, for reconnecting with who you are, realizing your mortality, and accepting it. The moments are few but the impact is greater as I enjoy my pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. One of the jewels of a small community that was once called Hollins, Virginia.

The Biggest County in America

With my post today I would like to history about the surrounding area Botetourt County, Virginia. The reason I name this chapter the biggest county in the world was because Botetourt County was is a very vast open expensive land. It extended to the Mississippi River which covered Kentucky, parts of West Virginia, Indiana, Ohio and Illinois.

The land was mainly settled by the English and east and the Germans and the mountainous west of Virginia, it will be now know to be Franklin County and Roanoke County. Some important figures of the time where col. William Preston of Botetourt, col. William Fleming who as of 1781 was the head of the local government commission. Andrew Lewis a militia commander at the battle of point Pleasant.

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A drawing of Col. William Preston of Botetourt

A little known fact is that George Washington when he was a militia col.,He rode around inspecting frontier forts and stopped at Fort William in Botetourt, and then went to what is now Roanoke to spend the night at a widows home. There is quite a bit to be said before the schools that popped up around this time. In the community of Salem, Virginia in 1842 Roanoke College was founded all while in Hollins the women’s school had been there since 1837 started out as raw milk female seminary, later to become Hollins College then University.

Hollins College was a female seminary school that went by the name of Valley Union seminary. It is one of the oldest institutions for higher education for women in United States. Although it is still a female college men are allowed to come and work at the graduate programs there. Some of the things people that attended there where Author Annie Dillard, sportswriter Mary Garber, good night moon author Margaret Wise.

The Cocke Building on Hollins Campus

Originally the buildings of Hollins College were going to be a resort area of the sort but when venture failed, the property and buildings were acquired for the seminary. After the start of the school in 1825 they hired a math instructor named Charles Lewis Cocke, he came with his wife Susanna and bought 16 slaves. In the same year of 1846 he started the first school for enslave people in the Roanoke area. Many of the slaves worked at the school and is pay received an education. In 1851 Cocke abolish the men’s department of the institution. In 1855 the name was changed to Hollins Institute because of a large donation.

Prior to being known is Roanoke the town was called big Lake due to the fact that there were many salty marshes in the area that attracted animals. Farming was a big contribution to the city when it was first starting out as well as in the late 1800s, because it but Industry and trade to the Blue Ridge Mountains and opened it up as a Route. Later on the county became known for railroads and a tractor residence to help build those does having a population boom around the time that they arrived.

All facts for this post were taken from:

Hollins Wikipedia page

the visit Roanoke website

The Forest of Watchers

It is important to watch over natural formations, I say this because with the growing population it is becoming harder and harder to preserve natural spaces. The Western Virginia land trust periodically asked staff to check the easements that they have at Carvins cove. With 39 easements in total, it is very hard to keep track of in total 6185 acres. The trust sends teams to take” snapshots” of small portions of property to make sure that the city is not violating the agreements they have set up.

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Photo Credit : Trip advisor

They began go so far as taking aerial views of the cove just to make sure nothing is being built that the team didn’t see. Even though they do all of this their goal is still for people to partake in the nature of Carvins Cove, ”We’re still promoting and allowing people to use it — we’ve got almost 40 miles of trails there — but we don’t have the funding at this time to expand on other opportunities,” Buschor said.

      One of the conservationist Mr. Holnback said that, he expects city officials may eventually decide to build some small structures to provide an educational experience for students and residents, but otherwise expects the land to look much the same as it does now:

“The cove is probably for the foreseeable future going to be a relatively pristine wilderness-type area with some really fantastic trails — a great place for people to go hiking and horseback riding, mountain biking, kayaking, canoeing — and that will be most of its use.”

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Photo Cred: Hollins Around

Although the space should stay natural to me, I think that in order to entice people to use and take advantage of nature it has to have something that will bring them back to it so if that means educational aspects. For example if they modified some of the trees to be an obstacle course or some type of gym area like the presidential fitness playgrounds they have at schools where it is only for the enrichment of the body and not unnecessary attractions. Although the Cove already has activities like kayaking and hiking and biking for professionals as well as beginners in my opinion the cove could still use some type of deeper interaction with its space. I understand that watching over the cove is important that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t do things to entice people to come to the cove. 

It could be something as simple as boat races or Family triathlons are something to bring people to the cove as well as have them interact with the natural space that they’re in.They could even use the idea of protecting the natural space as a way to keep people enticed bring children to help them do the team work on the ground to see if they find any structures or violations. Not only will this help the community it would breed new conservationist and environmentalists that could keep the cove a natural space where people come to relax and play.

All quotes were taken from:

A short human history of Carvin’s Cove

The first human settlement of part of the 12,000 acres at the base of Mt. Tinker was by a man named William Carvin in July of 1746.He received a land grant for 150 acres along Carvin’s creek. Some of this land was devoted to Hollins University, while the rest of the land behind the dam would come to be known as the Happy Valley community.

Future site of the Carvins Cove Dame -the Falls at Carvins Cove from the creek bed. 11-25-26
Photo of a waterfall at Carvin’s Cove in 1926

At the time of this Carvin’s Cove was not a part of Roanoke County, but a part of Botetourt (pronounced: bodytot) County, in the city of Hollins.From my research it stayed in the families hands until November of 1926 when then Roanoke announced that the Virginia company would build a $700,000 Dam to impound six billion gallons of water for the city. The Dam is 80 feet high and was completed in 1928. The Virginia Company was devastated by the great depression and was bought by the Roanoke water works for just $1 dollar in 1936.The City of Roanoke paid $4,523,437 bought out the water works company for all of the land that they held including Carvin’s Cove after it was voted in favor of evaporating the Roanoke Water Works Company and passing a $5,000,000 bond issue in 1936.

Carvins Cove Water Treatment Facility 1947
The filtration plant at Carvin’s Cove

During World War II German prisoners of war were housed in Salem to clear timber for the cove in the spring of 1945. In 1946 the damn reached his full capacity filling the pond, now known as Carvin’s Cove. In 1947 the cove put into operation a filtration plant that could filter 6,000,000 gallons a day. Nothing really happened with the cove until 1954 when the filtration plant capacity was up to 16,000,000 gallons. In 1966 Tinker Creek Tunnel was open to divert water from Tinker Creek to the coast reservoir. The construction of this tunnel cost $1.25 million you Dollars and it had a maximum flow of 286 million. The cove’s filtration plant was last updated in 1994 in terms of capacity to what it is today at 28 million gallons.

Drought in 2002

In 2002 the greater Roanoke region experiencing a record drought, Carvins Cove had reached an all-time low of 34.1 feet below the shore.  Discussions between the County and City of Roanoke were held on ideas for best meeting the valley’s water needs. In 2004 the Western Virginia Water Authority was formed as a regional  water and wastewater service provider for the valley. The Authority bought the reservoir and land up to the 1,200-foot area around it. The City of Roanoke still has ownership of the remainder of the land at the cove, making it the second largest municipal owned park based on acreage in the United States. 

In 2009 the City of Roanoke completed the donation of a two-part conservation in Roanoke and Botetourt counties that permanently protected 11,363 acres of open space around the reservoir, making it the largest publicly-held easement in the state. The first part, 6,185 acres, was placed under easement in 2008 and the remaining 5,178 acres were placed under easement in early September 2009.In 2014 the Western Virginia Water Authority purchases the last remaining privately held piece of real estate in the watershed to protect the reservoir from potential runoff.

The facts for this blog post were taken from :

The things we don’t see

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we called fires in the cove” stretch Fires” becuase although they were wild fires, they were contained by the water of the cove and the wind,and were limited for a “stretch,” which is closer than “over yonder.” I never thought of the cove itself on land being that big. You know how when you’re little and everything seems to be so large and you only can capture what you see no one could’ve ever told me that Carven’s Cove was more than just that dock. I vividly remember that it was space for the men only and I was getting a secret pass. Whenever I went it was with my grandfather and it was fun, but other times it was my uncle and my grandfather. The one thing I noticed though when the two of them went together it was that they could make that huge corner of the cove feel so small. I’m not even because they are use me or may me upset they were the sweetest to me but they would argue and like when I was younger I just thought they didn’t like each other something but since I’ve gotten older I realize it was almost like i’ll fight over ownership of the space I think they both felt the need to cement themselves and I felt like they didn’t know how to share the space without directly bothering each other.

Now that I am older, I realized that they were taking me to the cove as a way of parenting. Because by this Point in life my dad wasnt really keen on being a parent. And it’s not that I don’t think my dad loved me, but I I Realize now that he didn’t know how to be a good parent. This is my uncle and grandfather’s way of making up for that even though in a way neither of them really know how to be good dad’s either. They tried the best I give them kudos for that. But one thing I realized was that even though the cove is near where my grandmothers from, she never went with us she would always just clean whatever we caught and that was the end of it. I guess I was her way of letting me have time with them and I was the only thing that they were paying attention to. It’s kind of weird though because even though the cove holds happy memories for me now that I’m older I seen that it was a lot that I didn’t realize was going on because I was so young and I don’t blame myself for not recognizing it but at the same time I feel like the adults in my life could have made a greater effort and helping me understand what was going on. Because other than telling me like hey your parents are getting a divorce I kind of doubt with it on my own. And being six years old and trying to figure out like did I do something wrong and kind of having the battle within yourself it comes out in strange ways to other people and it doesn’t necessarily mean that there something wrong with you or that there’s something wrong with them sometimes it’s just reacting to something that you don’t really know how to react too.

My first time at Carvin’s Cove

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An Aerial view of Carven’s cove

Carvins Cove is located in Roanoke,VA. At one point in time it was known as Hollins,VA. It is about five miles away from the Women’s College Hollins University. I remember my first trip to Carvins Cove, I was about six years old and my grandfather and I had gone fishing. Now this is not the first time that we have been fishing but it was one of the first times that I caught a fish. See this day started out very early we got up and it was still dark and the night before he bought me my first fishing pole which was canary yellow and if I could put it in normal words it looks like Bumble Bee the transformer if it were fishing pole. Then we packed lunches I distinctly remember it was ham and cheese sandwiches with apple juice and M&Ms and celery. I distinctly remember this because he let me pick out the candy and my grandma made sure we packed vegetables and at the time I guess you could say I had a celery fetish, plus, who doesn’t love a ham and cheese?

After we packed our lunches we made the drive to Hollins, right before we went up the long winding road to Carvins Cove we stopped at the gas station and got a big styrofoam bowl of nightcrawlers. They live around the cove, which is why they were so easy to come by,but what I learned that day was when they are warmed by the light they are reflective so when they make contact with water or is impaled on a fishing hook they give off a shimmery hue. We went up a long windy road which I have never been sure of its name. Although the drive to Carvins Cove is very peaceful, if you don’t drive carefully you could drive off the side of the mountain because there are no guardrails. I guess you can say in a way I was a little afraid even though I trusted my grandfather.

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walking trails along Tinker moutain, near Tinker creek a book we have been reading in class!

When we got there we walked down to the dock and sat to start threading and baiting my fishing hook. It was one of the most peaceful things that I have done, sitting and watching the ripples in the cove. I loved going and sitting and having that moment of serene peace. The lake was a great spot because it doesnt have any human made noise pollution. You would think a small child wouldn’t realize peacefulness of something but it was easy to get swept up in listening to the water lapping the bank and hearing the wind blow through the trees and smelling the Earth. This was memorable because not only did this help to introduce me to nature,but I got to spend time with my grandfather and start to build aa real relationship with him.

When I was younger he was often at work so I didn’t even really see him so this was a special treat for me. My granddad died when I was seven so this was one of the last times to be in a moment with him. I just remember something about him telling me how you have to jiggle the rod just enough to make the fish want to come, but not too much to the point that they don’t come near your bait.