By Lucy Lea Rudd
The Homestead Hikers took an April hike to the Shot Tower on the New River Trail near Max Meadows. Hike leader Lucy Rudd arranged for the tower to be opened for the group and hikers climbed to the top of the 75-foot tower to view the 125-foot drop where shot was made in the olden days.
Following this, the group walked the New River Trail to Foster Falls. The trail was formerly the Norfolk and Western railroad track between Galax and Fries. Prior to 1917, Foster Falls was a thriving community of 100 homes, a hotel, a general store, a mill, and an iron furnace. The Dinky Railroad—called that because it was narrow gauge—brought the iron ore to the furnace.
The town declined after, in 1917, floods and ice washed the bridge out and the mine and furnace were not profitable enough to rebuild the bridge. Visitors can still see parts of the bridge and rock pilings in the river.
Today, Foster Falls is part of the Virginia State Park system. The old hotel, at one time a girls’ training home and later an orphanage, is being converted into a bed and breakfast. A beautiful place on the shores of the New River, there is a lot to do at Foster Falls State Park—picnicking, camping, fishing, kayaking, biking and even horses to ride. To add to all that, the Homestead Hikers can include eagle watching as they were lucky enough to sight an eagle along the trail.
The Homestead Hikers organized in 2014 through the Reynolds Homestead. Hikes are led by volunteers and cover trail both within and outside the county. The May hike will be led by Kurt and Norma Bozenmeyer and Ellen Jesse on Sunday, May 8. Hikers should meet at 2 p.m. in the parking lot at Stuart’s Knob, one of the many trails in Fairy Stone State Park. Guests are always welcomed—especially moms on this special day. Anyone interested in joining this group of over 50 members should contact the hikers at firstname.lastname@example.org. Check us out the Facebook page for more information.