Visting the Historical Area of Explore Park in Roanoke Virginia

Visiting Explore Park in Roanoke, Virginia

Explore Park.

Roanoke, Virginia.

This past Sunday, my husband and I visited Explore Park, located just off the Blue Ridge Parkway at milepost 115.

The day was gray and overcast, with rain coming in the afternoon.

I didn’t expect to get too many shots as the light was not in my favor.  I opted not to bring along the tripod since it was more of a scouting expedition.

Also, I had some new hiking boots that I needed to take out on a trial.


You are an aperture through which the universe is looking at and exploring itself. – Alan Watts

Makes you stop and think, doesn’t it?

Historical Area.

We decided that we would head to the Park’s historical area.

I was hoping that there would be some interesting doors for Thursday Doors.  If you aren’t familiar with Thursday Doors, it’s hosted by Norm over at Norm 2.0. Today, he’s asked us to share some doors that remind us that there is beauty in the world. This is in light of the recent tragedy in Quebec City, which is very near his hometown.

While I may not always succeed at it, my goal is to spread love and light and kindness… through my blog, through Instagram, and hopefully to those I meet in my daily walk through life.

Taking Photos.

The upper photo was posted on Instagram on Monday.

I liked the perspective and the depth of field.

There was a sense of beauty in it to me.

I usually try to find a good quote to go with my photos when I put them out there (I spend way to much time hunting for the right ones!)  When I came across that quote by Watts, it made me think, in the same way that the photo made me think.

I was capturing what it looked like to peer between the timbers of the shed in the photo below.  This shed (or whatever it was supposed to be) was one of my favorite structures.

I loved how the light filtered between the logs.


As I wandered around the historic area, I thought about what it would be like to stand on the inside of the buildings.

I looked around at them and wondered about the hands that had built them and the feet that had walked around inside them.

Humans, like me, making their way through this world.


There were some buildings that were replicas and some that had been moved from their prior location and given a new home.

Most are not available for public admittance, but there are two buildings that have been repurposed for recreation programs or rented for events (those buildings are not included in this photo gallery).


1837 Farmhouse.

The home above was originally built in 1837 in Roanoke County.

You can read more about it and some of the other historic buildings here.

It is representative of the type of home that most middle-class farmers from this area owned.

This home came from an 80-acre farm where 40 acres were actively farmed.


Future of Explore Park.

There are great plans in place for the development of Explore Park.

There are plans for camping, fishing access, a zip line, a bouldering wall, kayaking and canoeing through rapids, and tons more amazing things.

If you are interested in the long-term vision you can check that out here.

The upper and lower door photos came from the backside of the barn that is planned to be used in the future as a venue site.

I loved the rustic vibe of them.


These doors are below the main structure of the barn, so there was an underground feeling when you peered inside.

I have this irrational fear that somebody is going to pop up when I look inside old buildings.

One too many scary movies!

After these shots, I turned to watch a train chugging along the mountainside in the distance.

It is in moments like that, standing there breathing in the crisp mountain air, feeling like I am a tiny part of the whole, that I am able to appreciate my move to Virginia.


One-Room Schoolhouse.

One of the buildings is an original one-room schoolhouse moved here from Franklin County.

It reminded me of my grandmother , and her tales about when they went to live with her grandmother, Ella Tewksbury (yes, I believe she was married to that family line of Tewksbury’s.  But before being a Tewksbury, she was born a Redwine and married a Yount and one of her numerous children was my great-grandmother).

When my grandmother was a teenager, they lived with Grandma Tewksbury for a while up in the mountains of Arizona.  There was no power, just kerosene lamps, and candles.  They used an outhouse and went to a one-room school. My grandmother always described that time as one of the best in her life.

A place where life was so simple and when the school had a production the entire town would show up to watch, even if they didn’t have kids in school.


More Tales.

She told tales of skinny dipping with her cousin and sister in the river.  And of the time that the ranger came up on horseback and stood there talking to them while they tried to get lower in the water and pretend that they weren’t naked.  And how it would just so happen that her mother and aunt were up visiting another ranger in the fire tower when the call came over the radio about some teenage girls out skinny dipping.  They thought they had been so clever.  Needless to say, it was a small enough place that their mothers knew who was being talked about.

I still laugh when I think of her telling that story. I always found it fascinating that she loved that rural place so much when the next move her family would make was into the heart of downtown Los Angeles.



Since I was testing out my hiking boots, I thought I’d try to play around taking some shots of them.

The hiking boots will probably be returned (they said I had 90 days and the ability to test drive them-I’ve never actually done that before so we’ll see).  The boots kept pressing into my Achilles tendon on the downhill and bothering my leg on the uphill.  They were great on flat land, but I no longer live near flat land.  I may just need to go with a shorter style.



The shot above was a barn.

I am amazed at the skill that goes into building something like this.

And lastly, we come to a work of beauty.


Slone’s Grist Mill.

It was built between 1880 and 1890 in Franklin County.

I find water wheels to be a spectacular feat of engineering as well as a thing of amazing craftsmanship.


I hope that you’ve enjoyed my little tour of the historic area of Explore Park.

Let your light shine!


26 thoughts on “Visting the Historical Area of Explore Park in Roanoke Virginia

  1. What a great place and there are some really neat doors there too!

    I really like the textures on that chimney, and the barn doors with all the different colors and patterns of wood.

    Hope you have many good hikes in those boots!

  2. Wonderful post Amy.
    Sounds like those boots might be cut too high for your liking. I have wonky ankles, multiple sprains from tennis so I welcome the extra support higher up but it took some getting used to at first.
    This place looks like a wonderful spot to explore. I love, love, love, log cabins 🙂

    1. Thank you Norm.
      I thought I’d go for the extra support on the front side since the terrain can get rocky. I’ll probably give them a try on a few more short hikes before I give up on them 🙂
      The place was very beautiful and we only explores a very minute area of the trails. I haven’t seen a log cabin yet that wasn’t amazing in its own way 🙂

  3. These old buildings have such interesting and unusual features …. the thin, vertical ‘windows’, the layered chimney in the 3rd photo and I loved the stacked thin rock at the grist mill. What a great place to explore (pun intended 🙂 )

    High top boots can take some adjustment if you’ve never had them before. Perhaps this particular boot isn’t padded enough around the top to give you both support and comfort.
    The outdoor shop where I buy my boots have an incline ‘step’ (don’t know what else to call it) to allow users to test the feel of a hiking boot going up and down. You’re right, a boot will feel very different while climbing and descending on hilly terrain. Ask your local store if they have an incline step to test your next boot.

    1. I did love their interesting features. That style of stacked rock is quite common stonework around these parts and is so beautiful.
      I’ll probably give the boots another try on a short hike since it’s been a while since I’ve worn that height of a hiker. There is another store that I may check out that would be more likely to have an incline step. Thanks for the advice!! 🙂

  4. Gorgeous pictures! I’ve always loved old wood cabins, any old building really. It always makes me wonder which hands and stories have pulled open the doors and lived within the walls. I particularly love the picture of the chimney side of the log house! Beautiful.

    And I love the quote about doing your little bits of good. As a stay at home mom it’s really easy to feel like all the small things you do throughout the day go by unnoticed or unappreciated. I know that they’re not, but it can feel that way. Great reminder!

    1. Thank you. 🙂 I think old buildings have so many stories to tell!

      I think it becomes easy to want to be able to make grand differences in the world and sometimes we forget that we are making a difference in our small ways. I always thought I wasn’t really offering anything to the world, just raising 3 children. But my difference making was that I was growing little people, now teenage people, who will hopefully go out into the world full of compassion and kindness because I tried to nurture that.

      My grandmother fully believed that being a mother was the greatest calling that we could ever have. And I still consider her the wisest person I’ve ever known. I’m glad you were reminded that you are making a difference. 🙂

      1. Yes, I agree completely! Great words. It reminds me of a C.S. Lewis quote. Something to the effect of, “Children aren’t a distraction from your work. They’re your greatest work.” So good.

  5. I always enjoy your posts, but this is a fabulous post!
    Thank you so much for sharing these beauties. Oh I bout fell in love with the hallway in the barn, and I swooned over the doors. Fantastic design, amazing really, how this is done.
    Pity about the boots, but ya gotta appreciate a nice test drive 🙂

    1. Thank you! 🙂 That hallway was something else. And all those sticks (branches?) above created the floor of the loft above. I can’t believe the work and thought that must have gone into the designs.
      I’m hoping I just need to get used to the boots. I’m going to give them another try before opting for a different pair.

I'd love to hear your thoughts! Share them here.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.