Standing on the rolling hills of High Rock Farm in springtime, with my brother Tom, I was struck by the magnificent view we were taking in. It wasn’t just this expansive view that caught my eye on Tom’s couple hundred acre farm in Rockbridge County, Virginia, for there was a picture at every turn. I can certainly understand why my brother decided long ago to move from the Washington, D. C. area, to live in the country. As we stood there, he told me the story of High Rock Farm and it goes something like this….
“The farm got its name a couple of hundred years ago,” Tom said, retelling the story that the elderly, bewhiskered local historian Ed Patterson told him over fifteen years ago. Ed was in his eighties at the time. Tom continued, “High Rock Farm parallels High Rock Road. At the turn of the last century, there was a huge rock in the middle of a steep section of the road below the farm. When the farmers needed to travel up the hill along the road in their horse drawn wagon, they could not get their wagon up the road due to the huge rock. The traveler would stop at the rock, walk up to the farmhouse, and ask the farmer to help him get over the rock. The High Rock farmer would then take a team of plow horses down to the stranded traveler, attach ropes to the wagon, and haul the wagon up over the rock. Hence, the name High Rock Road and High Rock Farm,” Tom finished, paraphrasing the lore passed on to him by the now late Ed Patterson.
Tom purchased the centuries old farm roughly twenty years ago, which included a farmhouse and an old hand hewn barn (still in place), where the horses were kept. The plow horse stalls are huge and tell a story from a long time ago. “Picture the pace of life of the traveler and the farmer,” my brother said to me as we looked out over his rolling hills. ‘What a different time they lived in!”
Not all that much has changed at High Rock Farm. High Rock Rd. is still a narrow, dirt, one lane road; too narrow for meeting cars to get by each other due to sheer drop offs. The boulder in the road is gone but the slow pace of country life continues. Cattle still graze the hillside and bales of hay are still rolled. A small addition to High Rock Farm is the log cabin built by my brother that sits strategically placed, looking out over this panoramic vista and the Beebe farm.
I wanted to make this painting a significant piece, 30” by 40”, to capture the grandeur and the feeling I felt when standing there with my brother. The strong sunlight was hitting the not so distant Allegheny mountaintops, spreading warmth along the treetops, and pouring over the rolling hills. Spring was coming quickly, with the white Locust trees and Dogwoods blooming. The wild Hickory tree buds were a little behind the lavender flowered Black Walnut tree.
High Rock Farm couldn’t have a better caretaker than my brother, knowledgeable about every species of tree and vigilant in maintaining the historic barn and property. For Tom and his two boys, High Rock Farm has become the family farm. The legend lives on!