Monday, July 14, 2014

Episode 222 (7-14-14): "Over the Waterfall" and Cascades Falls are Gateways to Giles County, Va., Culture, Geography, and Water

Click to listen to episode (3:17)


From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the week of July 14, 2014.

This week, we feature a traditional tune and the sound of a splashing spectacle.  Have a listen for about 40 seconds and see if you can guess how the two are related to one another, and to the human and natural heritage of Giles County, Virginia.


You’ve been listening to part of “Over the Waterfall,” performed by Stewart Scales, followed by the sounds of Cascades Falls, an approximately 70-foot-high waterfall near the Giles County town of Pembroke.  According to the Library of Congress, the tune of “Over the Waterfall”—under various names—has a long history both in Europe and North America.  Since the late 1960s, it’s become a popular, old-time fiddle tune, largely due to a version played by Giles County resident Henry Reed and recorded by folklorist Alan Jabbour.  Mr. Jabbour’s recordings of Henry Reed and other traditional musicians captured their local styles, skills, and knowledge and introduced these cultural treasures to people far beyond the Southern Appalachians. 

Listeners to Henry Reed’s music may also hear echoes of one of Virginia’s water-resources treasures, the spectacular Cascades Falls, because it’s located only about 20 miles from Mr. Reed’s adopted home town of Glen Lyn, Virginia.  According to Mr. Jabbour, “Over the Waterfall” is one of many traditional fiddle tunes in which cascading musical phrases aim to mimic the flowing and falling of creeks and streams.  Thanks to Stewart Scales for his version of “Over the Waterfall,” and we end with a few seconds of another version, this time by Simple Gifts of the Blue Ridge, with the sound of Cascades Falls in the background.


For other water sounds and music, and for more Virginia water information, visit our Web site at, or call us at (540) 231-5463.  From the Virginia Water Resources Research Center in Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water.

[All Internet addresses mentioned were functional as of 7/11/14]

Cascades Falls in Giles County, Virginia, July 10, 2014.

One of many smaller cascades on Little Stony Creek as it flows downstream from Cascades Falls in Giles County, Va.  Photographed here on July 10, 2014.

This episode's first version of “Over the Waterfall” heard in this episode was recorded for Virginia Water Radio on July 11, 2014, by Stewart Scales, used with permission.  More information about Mr. Scales and the group New Standard is available online at

This episode’s second version of “Over the Waterfall” is copyright by Simple Gifts of the Blue Ridge, used with permission; the sound of the Cascades Falls was added by Virginia Water Radio to the original.  More information about Simple Gifts of the Blue Ridge is available from their Web site at

Sources for this episode
Information on “Over the Waterfall” and on Henry Reed (1884-1968) was taken from the Library of Congress, “Fiddle Tunes of the Old Frontier: The Henry Reed Collection,” online at; and from, a Web site produced by Terry Reed, Henry Reed’s granddaughter.  Henry Reed’s version of “Over the Waterfall” is available from the Library of Congress’s online audio archive, at

Additional information was provided by Alan Jabbour, personal communication, July 11, 2014.  Information on Alan Jabbour was taken from his Web site,

Information on the Cascades Recreation Area in the Jefferson National Forest was taken from the Giles County, Virginia, Web site at; and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries’ “Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail” Web site, at

Other sources of information about Virginia waterfalls
Two previous Virginia Water Radio episodes featured music and information about waterfalls:

“Twin Falls,” Performed by Simple Gifts of the Blue Ridge, Honors a Virginia Travertine Treasure
(Episode 205, 3-17-14); and

“Crabtree Falls” by Timothy Seaman
(Episode 125, 8-27-12)., “Virginia, West Virginia, and Maryland Waterfalls,” online at

National Park Service, “Shenandoah National Park/Waterfalls,” online at

Virginia Water News and Other Information
            For news, events, and resources relevant to Virginia's water resources, grouped into categories, please visit the Virginia Water Central News Grouper, available online at