Monday, July 10, 2023

Episode 659 (7-10-23): A Frog Level Foray

CLICK HERE to listen to episode audio (4:59).

Sections below are the following:
Transcript of Audio
Audio Notes and Acknowledgments

Related Water Radio Episodes
For Virginia Teachers (Relevant SOLs, etc.).

Unless otherwise noted, all Web addresses mentioned were functional as of 7-7-23.


From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the weeks of July 10 and July 17, 2023.  This is a revised version of an episode from July 2018.

MUSIC – ~16 sec – instrumental.

That song, by Trevor McKenzie—the title of which will be revealed later, so as not to spoil the upcoming mystery—opens an episode about a formerly hoppin’ southwestern Virginia crossroads, whose two-word name tells a tale of landscape, water, and seasonal aquatic creatures.  Have a listen for about 10 seconds to these mystery sounds, and see if you can guess this crossroads’ name.  The sounds are your hint to the first word of the name, and here’s a hint for the second word: water on it doesn’t flow downhill, and people on it tell the truth.

SOUNDS - ~11 sec - Gray Treefrog, Spring Peeper, Green Frog

If you guessed Frog Level, you’re a Virginia geography expert!  Along U.S. Business Route 19 in Tazewell County lies a large, flat, seasonally wet area that attracts lots of loud amphibians in spring and summer.  Just uphill from that area, where Route 19, U.S. Route 460, and State Route 16 all meet, the Frog Level gas station plus store and tavern was a popular spot for gathering, socializing, and politicking from 1932 to 2007.  In 2009, the historic building was moved about two miles to a spot adjacent to Tazewell’s Crab Orchard Museum.

The colorful history of the business included the creation by bar regulars of the Frog Level Yacht Club, with t-shirts that joked about refueling schooner vessels.  That whimsical name is also the title of this episode’s opening song, which recalls the business’s connection to the Prohibition and Great Depression eras.

Tazewell County, Virginia, is by no means the only locality to claim an area called Frog Level.  That water feature-and-creature-based name also is found, for example, in Caroline County, Virginia; in Waynesville, North Carolina; in Carter County, Tennessee; and in Fayette County, Alabama.  In Caroline County, Frog Level is an area between Boot Swamp and Herring Creek, in the Mattaponi River watershed.  In the North Carolina and Alabama cases, the name was applied to low, flat areas where the first railroad tracks were laid.  And in Tennessee, Frog Level is a remote, mountainous area of streams, waterfalls, bogs, and—one can presume—seasonally breeding and calling frogs.

Other wildlife-based names also add a natural-resource perspective to Virginia’s geography and history.  The Commonwealth is home to Buffalo Gap, Clam, Dolphin, Ducks Store, Possum Trot, and many others.  But, at least from a water perspective, creature place names don’t get much more descriptive, or fun, than Frog Level.

Thanks to Trevor McKenzie for permission to use part of “Frog Level Yacht Club,” from his album “Generational Things,” and we close with about 30 more seconds of that song.

MUSIC - ~32 sec – Lyrics: “With that calypso beat it always sounded so neat on the five-string, and an empty gas can could always double as a drum.  I know it’s fantasy and my mind plays tricks on my memory, but that’s how I recall the Frog Level Yacht Club.


Virginia Water Radio is produced by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center, part of Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment.  For more Virginia water sounds, music, or information, visit us online at, or call the Water Center at (540) 231-5624.  Thanks to Ben Cosgrove for his version of “Shenandoah” to open and close this episode.  In Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water.


This Virginia Water Radio episode revises and replaces Episode 431, 7-30-18.

The frog sounds heard in this episode—all recorded by Virginia Water Radio in Blacksburg, Va., on May 23, 2013—were Gray Tree Frog, Green Frog, and Spring Peeper.

“Frog Level Yacht Club,” from the album “Generational Things,” is copyright by Trevor McKenzie, used with permission.  More information about Trevor McKenzie is available online at

Virginia Water Radio thanks Jess Jones, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Virginia Tech Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation, for suggesting and helping with the previous version of this episode in 2018.

Click here if you’d like to hear the full version (2 min./22 sec.) of the “Shenandoah” arrangement/performance by Ben Cosgrove that opens and closes this episode.  More information about Mr. Cosgrove is available online at


(Photographs are by Virginia Water Radio.)

Wetland area at Frog Level in Tazewell County, Va., July 13, 2018.

Frog Level sign at U.S. Route 19, U.S. Route 460, and State Route 16 intersection in Tazewell County, Va., July 13, 2018.

Remains at the former site of the Frog Level store in Tazewell County, Va., July 13, 2018.

Former Frog Level store building at a site adjacent to the Crab Orchard Museum on U.S. Routes 19 and 460 in Tazewell County, Va., July 13, 2018.


City of Fayette, Alabama, “A Brief History of Fayette,” online at

Crab Orchard Museum, online at

DeLorme/Garmin Company, Virginia with Washington, D.C., Atlas and Gazetteer, Ninth Edition, 2021.

Frog Level Farm, Aylett, Va. (King William County), online at

Frog Level Volunteer Fire Department (Caroline County), online at

Historic Frog Level Merchants Association, “Historic Background of Waynesville [Haywood County, N.C.] & Frog Level History,” online at  (This Web site was accessed in 2018; as of 7-10-23, the site stated that it is “under maintenance.”)

Kevin Kittredge, Fans of Frog Level Service Station preserve Tazewell County icon by moving it a hop, skip and jump away, Roanoke Times, 3/26/11.

Bill Lohmann, Welcome to Frog Level, a short hop to good living, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 10/28/15 (on the Caroline County, Va., community called Frog Level).

Mark W. Peacock, “Appalachian Treks/Frog Level,” 8/24/14 (describing an area in Carter County, Tenn.), online at

Joe Tennis, Hopping Along: Work under way to restore Frog Level store, Bristol Herald-Courier, 6/3/10.


All Water Radio episodes are listed by category at the Index link above (  For other frog episodes, see the “Amphibians” subject category. 

Following are links to some other episodes on Virginia geography.  For other episodes about water-related places, see particularly the “History” and “Rivers, Streams, and Other Surface Waters” subject categories.

A walk across Virginia – Episode 110, 5-14-12.
Cumberland Gap – Episode 544, 9-28-20.
Exploration of the Chesapeake Bay – Episode 140, 12-10-12.
Forks in waterways – Episode 545, 10-5-20.
Fort Valley – Episode 331, 8-29-16.
Geography in general – Episode 265, 5-11-15.
Mountain gaps – Episode 288, 11-2-15.
River origins of Virginia's signers of the Declaration of Independence – Episode 220, 6-30-14.
Virginia connections to the Ohio River Valley – Episode 422, 5-28-18.
Virginia’s National Park Service Units – Episode 229, 9-1-14.
Virginia Peninsula and Historic Triangle – Episode 273, 7-6-15.
Virginia rivers quiz – Episode 586, 7-19-21.
Virginia's Western or Alleghany Highlands – Episode 577, 5-17-21.
Water and settlement of Roanoke – Episode 181, 9-30-13.
Watersheds – Episode 581, 6-14-21; Episode 582, 6-21-21; Episode 583, 6-28-21; Episode 585, 7-12-21; Episode 587, 7-26-21; Episode 588, 8-2-21; Episode 589, 8-9-21.
Water Places in U.S. Civil Rights History – Episode 619, 3-7-22.


Following are some Virginia Standards of Learning (SOLs) that may be supported by this episode’s audio/transcript, sources, or other information included in this post.

2020 Music SOLs

SOLs at various grade levels that call for “examining the relationship of music to the other fine arts and other fields of knowledge.”

2018 Science SOLs

Grades K-4: Living Systems and Processes
3.5 – Aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems support a diversity of organisms.
4.3 – Organisms, including humans, interact with one another and with the nonliving components in the ecosystem.

Grades K-5: Earth Resources
4.8 – Virginia has important natural resources.

2015 Social Studies SOLs

Virginia Studies Course
VS.1 – Impact of geographic features on people, places, and events in Virginia history.
VS.10 – Knowledge of government, geography, and economics in present-day Virginia.

United States History: 1865-to-Present Course
USII.6 – Social, economic, and technological changes from the 1890s to 1945.

World Geography Course
WG.2 – How selected physical and ecological processes shape the Earth’s surface, including climate, weather, and how humans influence their environment and are influenced by it.
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

Following are links to Water Radio episodes (various topics) designed especially for certain K-12 grade levels.

Episode 250, 1-26-15 – on boiling, for kindergarten through 3rd grade.
Episode 255, 3-2-15 – on density, for 5th and 6th grade.
Episode 282, 9-21-15 – on living vs. non-living, for kindergarten.
Episode 309, 3-28-16 – on temperature regulation in animals, for kindergarten through 12th grade.
Episode 333, 9-12-16 – on dissolved gases, especially dissolved oxygen in aquatic habitats, for 5th grade.
Episode 404, 1-22-18 – on ice on ponds and lakes, for 4th through 8th grade.
Episode 407, 2-12-18 – on snow chemistry and physics, for high school.
Episode 483, 7-29-19 – on buoyancy and drag, for middle school and high school.
Episode 524, 5-11-20 – on sounds by water-related animals, for elementary school through high school.
Episode 531, 6-29-20 – on various ways that animals get water, for 3rd and 4th grade.
Episode 539, 8-24-20 – on basic numbers and facts about Virginia’s water resources, for 4th and 6th grade.
Episode 606, 12-6-21 – on freezing and ice, for kindergarten through 3rd grade.