Friday, September 15, 2017

Episode 386 (9-18-17): Water and History in Paint Bank, Va.

CLICK HERE to listen to episode audio (3:45).

Transcript of audio, notes on the audio, images, and additional information follow below.

All Web addresses mentioned were functional as of 9-15-17.


From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the week of September 18, 2017.

SOUND – ~6 sec

That’s the sound of Potts Creek, a Jackson River tributary, recorded in the Craig County, Virginia, community of Paint Bank on Labor Day 2017.  Faintly audible in that recording is this week’s mystery sound.  Have a closer listen for about 20 seconds, and see if you can guess what’s making the grinding sound, accompanied by water flowing and dripping.  And here’s a hint: what takes powerful water for a spin?

SOUNDS - ~19 sec

If you guessed a water-powered mill wheel, you’re right!  You heard the steel and wooden wheel of Tingler’s Mill, a restored grist mill that began operation in the 1860s, on a mill site that dates back to the 1780s.  Tingler’s Mill is one of many surviving structures or sites preserving Virginia’s early history of water power for processing agricultural goods and other activities.  Beside powering Tingler’s Mill and its predecessors, Potts Creek provided the source of Paint Bank’s name, due to iron-containing, reddish clay in the stream’s banks that was reportedly used by Native Americans and European settlers for paint, pottery, and bricks.  Iron and manganese mining joined milling and timbering as industries attracting business and people to the Paint Bank area, with some 2000 people living near Potts Creek in the early 1900s, and the area drawing military attention in the two world wars for its potential manganese reserves.

Paint Bank today benefits from being home to Tingler’s Mill, a combined general store and restaurant, a hotel, and a Virginia state fish hatchery; from being close to the Hanging Rock Raptor Observatory in West Virginia; and from being surrounded by western Virginia’s remarkable ridge-and-valley scenery.

We close with some music suitable to Paint Bank’s historic water-powered mill wheel: here’s part of “Millers Hill” by The Steel Wheels, from Harrisonburg, Va.

MUSIC - ~23 sec


For more Virginia water sounds, music, and information, visit us online at, or call us at (540) 231-5463.  Virginia Water Radio is produced by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center, part of Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment.  Thanks to Stewart Scales for his banjo version of Cripple Creek to open and close the show.  In Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water.


The sounds of Potts Creek and Tingler’s Mill at Paint Bank, Va., were recorded on September 4, 2017.

“Millers Hill,” from the 2006 album “Blue Heaven,” is copyright by The Steel Wheels, used with permission.   More information about The Steel Wheels is available online at

Click here if you’d like to hear the full version (1 min./11 sec.) of the “Cripple Creek” arrangement/performance by Stewart Scales that opens and closes this episode.  More information about Mr. Scales and the group New Standard, with which Mr. Scales plays, is available online at


Potts Creek in Paint Bank, Va., Sep. 4, 2017.
Tingler’s Mill restored wheel and building, Paint Bank, Va., Sep. 4, 2017.

View inside Tingler’s Mill building, Paint Bank, Va., Sep. 4. 2017.
Mountain ridge view (looking northwest) at Paint Bank, Va., Sep. 4, 2017.


On Tingler’s Mill

“Tingler’s Mill has a long and varied history.  As a present day fixture in Paint Bank, its presence makes a grand statement about revitalization and historic preservation.  In the past, however, it was an important element of everyday life in the town of Paint Bank, Virginia, area farmers and residents as a source for grain and flour by grinding corn and wheat.

“The grist mills sits on Potts Creek, on property owned by Revolutionary War hero Colonel William Preston. Preston was given the land grants in 1780 for his service in the war. … [For more on William Preston, see Historic Smithfield Plantation, “Prestons—History,” online at]

“While the unincoporated town was officially formed in 1851, the mill building itself was not built until 1863.”

Source: Quoted from “The Tale of Tingler’s Mill” sign on display on September 4, 2017, at the restored mill in Paint Bank.

On the Virginia State Fish Hatchery at Paint Bank

“The Paint Bank Trout Hatchery is another station that was taken over from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  It hatches and rears all three species of trout for stocking in Virginia waters, and it is a participating hatchery in the National Broodstock Program. Paint Bank fish are stocked in the Roanoke area, from Craig to Henry counties.”

Source: Quoted from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, “State Hatcheries,” online at

On Craig County’s Origin

Craig County is a case study of how Virginia’s modern counties connect historically to one another.  The area of Craig County was originally part of Augusta County, then, in turn, part of Botetourt County, Roanoke County, Giles County, and Monroe County, West Va., which was part of Virginia prior to the Civil War.

Source:, “Counties and Cities,” online at


Depot Lodge (in Paint Bank, Va.), online at,

Fredericksburg Area Tourism Department, “Walk Through History...Mill Sites and Water Power,” undated, online by Central Rappahannock Regional Library at

Casey Higgins, “Virginia’s Watermills,” 9/12/16, online by Virginia Tourism Corporation at

Gwen Johnson, “Down Home in Paint Bank,” Cooperative Living, September 2005, online at

Paint Bank General Store, online at; and Swinging Bridge Restaurant (part of the Paint Bank General Store), online at

Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, “State Hatcheries,” online at

Visit Craig County, “Paint Bank,” online at

Visit Southern West Virginia, Hanging Rock Raptor Observatory, August 12, 2012, online at


All Water Radio episodes are listed by category at the Index link above (  See particularly the “History” subject category.

Following are links to some other episodes on Virginia geography (including, in some cases, the role of water-related geographic features in Virginia’s history).
A Walk across Virginia – Episode 110, 5/14/12.
Exploration of the Chesapeake Bay – Episode 140, 12/10/12.
Geography in general – Episode 265, 5/11/15.
Water and settlement of Roanoke – Episode 181, 9/30/13.
Water and the Civil War – Episode 101, 3/5/12; Episode 104 – 3/26/12; Episode 164, 6/3/13; Episode 201, 2/17/14; Episode 223, 7/21/14; Episode 318, 5/30/16.
Water and the Revolutionary War – Episode 103, 3/19/12; Episode 168 – 7/1/13; Episode 273 – 7/6/15.
Water origins of Virginia Declaration signers – Episode 220, 6/30/14.
Watersheds – Episode 156, 4/8/13; Episode 209, 4/14/14; Episode 251, 2/2/15.
Virginia's Western or Alleghany Highlands | EP379 – 7/31/17.


This episode may help with the following Virginia 2010 Science SOLs:

Grades K-6 Earth Resources Theme
3.11 – sources of energy.
4.9 - Va. natural resources, including watersheds, water resources, and organisms.

Grades K-6 Living Systems Theme
6.7 - natural processes and human interactions that affect watershed systems; Va. watersheds, water bodies, and wetlands; health and safety issues; and water monitoring.

Grades K-6 Matter Theme
6.5 – properties and characteristics of water.

Physical Science Course
PS.6 – energy forms, transfer, and transformations.

Earth Science Course
ES.6 – renewable vs. non-renewable resources (including energy resources).
ES.8 - influences by geologic processes and the activities of humans on freshwater resources, dependence on water resources, and identification of groundwater and major watershed systems in Virginia.

Physics Course
PH.7 – energy transfer, transformations, and capacity to do work.

The episode may also help with the following Virginia 2015 Social Studies SOLs.

Virginia Studies Course
VS.1 – impact of geographic features on people, places, and events in Virginia history.
VS.2 – physical geography and native peoples of Virginia past and present.
VS.10 – knowledge of government, geography, and economics in present-day Virginia.

United States History to 1865 Course
USI.5 – factors that shaped colonial America and conditions in the colonies, including how people interacted with the environment to produce goods and service.

World Geography Course
WG.3 - how regional landscapes reflect the physical environment and the cultural characteristics of their inhabitants.

Virginia’s SOLs are available from the Virginia Department of Education, online at