By Angela H. Hill
The Patrick County Historical Society and Museum is set to receive a whisky still exhibit within the next week or so. The still dates to 1889, and was still working when it was seized in a 1988 raid in the Charity area of Patrick County.
Earlier this week, historian John Reynolds of the Patrick County Historical Society Museum was working on approval from the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control that allows him to legally transport the still. ABC approval is required regardless of whether the still is no longer in use, and even if it no longer works.
The still is being transported from its current home at History Museum of Western Virginia in Roanoke to the Patrick County museum adjacent to the county library. George Kegley of the History Museum of Western Virginia explained that the Roanoke museum is moving from downtown’s Center in the Square to the nearby O. Winston Link museum and will not have room for the still.
Since the still is from Patrick County, Kegley said, the History Museum of Western Virginia wanted to donate it back to Patrick County.
Reynolds said that once the still is here, museum staff and volunteers should be able to set up the display fairly quickly. The still is supported by a base of faux rock, and the exhibit includes the worm, a galvanized bucket, a paddle, a propane tank, wooden crates, mason jars and a large display panel with exhibit information.
To make room for the still at the Patrick County museum, a few cases have been emptied and exhibits shifted. One exhibit that will go into storage for now is the collection of teacups and ashtrays from one of the museum’s founders, May Ross McDowell. The collection stems from Ms. Ross McDowell’s extensive global travels.