Rock Castle Home is a new film that is currently in-progress.
A 1930s mountain community displaced by the Blue Ridge Parkway struggles to hold onto its collective past. In “Rock Castle Home” we travel backward in time to meet early settlers, displaced Natives, and then fast-forward to reflect today with descendants and other interlocutors on the meaning of national landownership, wilderness, moonshine, the American Chestnut, the pioneer spirit, all of which help us understand why historical home-places often remain contested, layered, and sacred to us all.
In the mid-1930s, the idea of the Blue Ridge Parkway was born and the Rock Castle Gorge – just down the ridge from the scenic highway route near Rocky Knob in Virginia – became part of a grand plan to include beautiful side jaunts for the recreationally-minded. The NPS land would not only buy the road route there, but to expand to take in an especially beautiful gorge. But first the remaining farm families had to be moved. Parkway officials set about acquiring land, eliciting the help of one local man to help spread the word that the NPS wanted to buy the farms. The result was displacement, both voluntary and forced.
But the story does not end there. Today, Rock Castle descendants work hard to remember their ancestors, collect photographs, and writings to preserve their families’ heritage and their connection to this special place.
I am both a descendant of people of the Gorge and I own a small cabin adjacent to the land. This project is a labor of family, place, and historical and cultural connection for me. It is like many of my other projects, but this time I can walk out our cabin door and begin work.
Other descendants are working with me. Thus far, I have received funding from the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation and Virginia Humanities. Many people, both local and regional, have already expressed an interest in seeing this project come to fruition, including the potential use for an educational film on the Parkway itself.
Interested parties should contact me, Charlie Thompson, via this website. Please know that we are currently trying to raise production funds for the film. I’m donating my time, but I have to pay those good people who work for me! Thank you for being in touch.