Ralph Waite and the Real Walton’s Mountain

Ralph Waite

Ralph Waite, 85, passed away and the real “Walton’s Mountain” is in mourning.

Schuyler, pronounced “Sky-ler,” is about 30 miles south of Charlottesville, Virginia. Situated between Rockfish Gap and Scottsville, the town of 400 was founded in 1882. Best known as the boyhood home of Earl Hamner, Jr., the town, along with the rest of Nelson County, was devastated by fragments of Hurricane Camille in August 1969. The hurricane, which dumped three feet of rain in the region, made it a major weather event in America during the late 20th Century.

Schuyler

Schuyler is not a town with grid streets and a central downtown. It’s more like a hamlet with pockets of houses sitting here and there along the winding country road.

During the early 1900s Schuyler thrived on the soapstone factories in the region. Soapstone is a rock that’s soft enough to be carved into flooring tile and countertops. The mining of soapstone kept the region afloat until synthetic materials became popular and the Great Depression hit the country.

Schuyler became a bedroom community for people who worked in Charlottesville. Located about 30 miles up the road, Charlottesville is the home of the University of Virginia and the region’s primary medical center, University of Virginia Hospital.

Museum

Ralph Waite Walton’s Mountain Museum is in the Blue Ridge Mountain foothills in western Virginia. The old high school, which was built in 1924 and in use until 1955, is now the Community Center and also the location for the museum.

A visitor to the museum will be able to see duplicates of John-Boy’s bedroom, Ike Godsey’s Store as well as The Waltons kitchen and living room. Next door is a new Military Museum which is annexed to the main building. A half-hour video introduces the visitor to the displays and gives a brief history of the area.

In 1992, with permission and financial help from Earl Hamner, Jr., the museum opened. The price of admission to the museum helps support Schuyler’s food bank, literacy program and the county’s volunteer fire and rescue squads. Scholarships for students, a health clinic and the local library are also supported through the work of the museum making it a win-win for the town and visitors.

The admission price is $5 and gets the visitor a guided tour of the museum and a place to visit a spell. The visitor is free to roam the museum and grounds and revisit favorite exhibits until closing time.  About twenty years ago, Ralph Waite was able to visit the real “Walton’s Mountain” and had good things to say about the museum and its work.

To get there take Interstate 64 West from Richmond, Virginia, and get off at State Route 29 as the interstate passes Charlottesville. Turning right on Rockfish River Road the museum will be the second building on the right.

Earl Hamner, Jr., AKA “John-Boy”

Earl Hamner, Jr., is the author of what many say is the most popular television series in Ralph Waite and the Real Waltons Mountain1America, The Waltons. Born in Schuyler, Hamner wrote several other autobiographical stories about his life in the Blue Ridge Mountains during the depression. Spencer’s Mountain, 1963 was turned into a feature film starring Henry Fonda and The Homecoming was the basis for the hit TV show.

Earl Hamner, Sr.

John-Boy’s father, played by Ralph Waite, was based on Earl Junior’s real life father, Earl Hamner, Sr., who had worked at the village soapstone factory until it closed in the early part of the Great Depression. Just like in the series, Earl Sr. lost his job at the factory and opened up a sawmill next to his home.

Earl Sr. died in 1969 before his son’s work was turned into the television series. His widow Doris lived until 1990 and was able to see her son become a famous author. Doris, who had actually had eight children, once joked that “…she could afford eight children, but CBS could only afford seven.”

Although television viewers will miss Ralph Waite, the real “Walton’s Mountain” can still be visited today.

By Jerry Nelson

Sources
Walton Mountain Museum
Dels Journey
Daily Mail

2 Responses to Ralph Waite and the Real Walton’s Mountain

  1. susu April 9, 2014 at 4:56 pm

    Good night daddy Walton…u will be missed

    Reply
  2. Larry Smith February 26, 2014 at 7:38 am

    Ralph Waite will so be missed he was Americas favorite father . He reminds me of my own father and I watch the Walton’s still to this day. RIP (John)

    Reply

We will read your comment immediately so leave a remark!

RSS Guardian Express

  • Obesity Society Recommends Kids Drink Fewer Sugar Sweetened Beverages April 24, 2014
    The ever-expanding line of sugary drinks may actually be contributing to the obesity epidemic, especially when it comes to kids. Even one sugary drink per day can contribute to weight gain, which is why The Obesity Society is now recommending fewer sugar sweetened beverages for kids. This includes soda, sports drinks and any other beverages […]
    Tracy Rose
  • Christians Faced With New Dilemma April 24, 2014
    Many who consider themselves Christians are finding themselves faced with a new dilemma. These so-called “Christ-followers,” except for a few hiccups, have tried to follow Jesus (who they see as the Son of God) as much as their limited selfish condition will allow. But lately, they find themselves encountering people or groups of people who are ready and […]
    Rick Hope
  • Kaley Cuoco Chops Hair for Real This Time April 24, 2014
    Kaley Cuoco has chopped of her hair for real this time. It is not quick Miley Cyrus short, but it is much shorter than the Big Bang star is used to. To make it clear that this time is was not a prank at the expense of her fans, she shared a photo of herself […]
    Alexandria Ingham
  • Avril Lavigne New ‘Helly Kitty’ Song Racist? April 24, 2014
    Hundreds of people recently took to Twitter to complain about Avril Lavigne’s new song Hello Kitty being racist. However, others have defended the decision to use the colorful, girly, cupcake style entertainment in her new music video. For many, the new track is just downright terrible. The new music video involves four deadpan Japanese girls […]
    Alexandria Ingham
  • HBO and Amazon Team Up Against Netflix April 24, 2014
    HBO has teamed up with Amazon Prime against Netflix to allow Prime members the ability to watch HBO classics like The Sopranos and Six Feet Under as well as some of the newer popular shows like True Blood. However, Amazon Prime members should not get too excited as their, nearly, $100 per year subscription fee […]
    Michael Smith

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 629 other subscribers

Quantcast