The Mount Airy and Eastern Railroad

“The Dinky”

Page Nine: Meadowfield

                                                                                                                              

Today this is just a great field for growing corn, but at the beginning of the twentieth century one man tried to turn this place into a hub of commerce and transportation.

BEFORE

AFTER

While this is just one old store building that collapsed, it is a reminder of why remember the history surrounding this railroad is a good thing as it will be just like the store at Meadowfield gone due to the wind.

History along "The Dinky" includes the story of Patrick County's most highly decorated non-commissioned soldier.

                                                What Can You Say About A Man: A Tribute to Zeb Stuart Scales

 

                                                               

 

            Thirty years ago on many mornings I stood in the freezing cold of the Blue Ridge mountain air when Deputy Zeb Scales would pull over and offer a ride to Patrick County High School in a big green Dodge. This ride always include dialogue of Deputy Scales personal version of Patrick County history especially when crossing the Dan River you would always hear, “I help build that bridge.” This trait of telling teenagers still resonates with me and I find myself doing similar expressions about spots on the Ararat River or about Jeb Stuart’s birthplace.

 

            As an only child growing up somewhat isolated with Guynns or Smith boys being over a mile away I was excited when the Scales family moved back from Fort Bragg in the 1970s. Two beautiful daughters and two sons, one exactly my age named Stuart, and another son three grades younger, who became a particular favorite of my mother who refers to him as “My Joe” to this day, returned to Ararat. This brought cultural change to our little community because the worldly Scales brothers brought the latest cutting edge rock and roll and long hair to our fifth grade class at Blue Ridge Elementary School.

 

            Many games of basketball or football in the backyard until dark occurred and still occasionally, rounds of golf until dark along with groundings for jumping fire with bicycles, games of UNO or rook at the kitchen table and too many peanut butter sandwiches to remember. A walk into the front room of the Scales home brought exposure to the accomplishments of the father in his medal case displayed on one of the end tables.

 

            Many times Zeb Stuart Scales told me that he was really named Jeb Stuart Scales, but the hospital got it wrong on his birth certificate, an act that causes his sons to roll their eyes up in their heads and tell me that their father is pulling my leg. The irony that the obsession of my life, the preservation of Stuart’s Birthplace, is reinforced by the fact that a neighbor was named after the Civil War general or that his son is named Stuart spelled with a U not Stewart with a EW is not lost on me.

 

            About fifteen years ago I was showing retired Colonel J. E. B. Stuart IV around Ararat when I spied Sergeant Major Zeb Stuart Scales standing in his yard. I pulled in, introduced Jeb Stuart to Zeb Stuart and within moments these two veterans of Vietnam Conflict had transposed themselves into South Vietnam. Colonel Stuart serving as a transportation officer moving men and supplies and Sergeant Major Scales as a military police officer. They spoke of names and places that I could not pronounce as only two men who shared the common experience of war can.

 

            Zeb never spoke much to me about his military career as like most men who see war they do not want to relive it, but he was a decorated with a Silver Star and a purple heart, which he received for saving an officer and being shot for his valor. When he retired with the highest rank a non-commissioned soldier that of sergeant major, Zeb, became a deputy sheriff in Patrick County putting his life on the line for the people of this county. I never got a ticket from Deputy Scales and I am sure there are many who might have a different opinion of him. Later, Zeb drove the van for the Meals on Wheels program serving his community.

 

            Someone once told me that the only things important in life are the memories you leave your family after you are gone. Zeb and Polly have four children, seven grandchildren and one great-grandchildren and I am sure there are too many good times to bring him up at this time. I was grateful thirty years ago when he saved me from hypothermia while waiting for that school bus and I still am.

 

What can you say about a man’s life? I could tell you about a man who could wiggle his ears while pinching the blood out of your leg with his toes as he beat you at a hand of cards. I could tell you about a man who showed me how to make molasses from scratch, taught me how to use a chain saw and who made stacking wood an art form. But what I really want to share is that I am a better man for having known Zeb Stuart Scales and that Patrick County and the United States of America is a better place for his having served it.

 

Meadowfield looking from the Zeb Stuart Scales Memorial Bridge.

 

The Dan River left looking north towards Kibler Valley from the Zeb Stuart Scales Memorial Bridge and right looking south.

It appears that over the course of the twenty years the Mount Airy and Eastern Railroad "The Dinky" ran from Mount Airy to Kibler Valley that there was a Y-rail system at Meadowfield for turning around and for the two spur lines that seem to imamate from the location. One followed the Dan River into Kibler Valley while another followed up present day Bateman's Straight along the Ararat Highway terminating inside the Primland Hunting Reserve near the Kibler Valley Road. The next two pages show the different routes the railroad took from Meadowfield.

                                               

             Follow The Spur Of The Dinky Railroad Along The Dan River To Kibler Valley

          Follow The Spur Of The Dinky Railroad Up The Bateman's Straight To Kibler Valley

                                                                                    Return To The Dinky Home Page         

                                            

The path of the railroad came in from the left of the above map along Fall Creek where Andy Griffith's grandfather had a sawmill operation. The railroad crossed the Dan River at Meadowfield and over time two different lines we believe ran into Kibler Valley terminating near Danube Church and on the Primland property.