Friday, November 5, 2010

Belle Isle Saw Mill

This building sits next to the old Gulf station (which is now a Curves) on Route 198 between Hudgins and Blakes. For anyone reading who didn't live around here in the 1970s, Blakes, which had its own zip code, started around Tom Hearn's Corner and ended somewhere before the invisible line where Cobbs Creek begins, roughly the Mathews Chapel vicinity give or take.

Confused? Don't worry. Blakes isn't even remotely germane to this blog post. If you wish to read the cliff notes version, please skip to the * below.

Anyway there's a hard surface road called Belle Isle near this old building, and though I've always thought the name was pretty, I never realized it had any particular significance.

Yesterday before freezing to death standing in cold, horizontal rain at the regional cross country meet which Mathews High School won!, I spent a few hours perusing the archives and files at the Gazette Journal, our local paper.

There, among hundreds of files loaded with local history, I saw a folder labeled Belle Isle.

There were only two items in the file: a very old drawing of a saw mill, and a typewritten note from someone whose last name was Bell.

According to the note, the original Belle Isle house burned in the late 1800s but the saw mill survived for many years afterward. If Queens Creek hadn't been mentioned, I would have quickly put this folder back and declared Belle Isle to be in one of the neighboring counties, since none was specifically mentioned.

However, the note went on to say that a boat hauling goods from the saw mill  capsized before reaching the mouth of the creek--Queens Creek, the very same Queens Creek CBW lives on, which so happens to pass by a road named Belle Isle in the vicinity of the building above.

*So to summarize:

1. CBW always liked the name Belle Isle but never realized it had any particular significance before yesterday.
2. Heretofore, nothing of any historical significance seems to have happened on Queens Creek unless you count the Army Corps of Engineers' involvement in dredging the mouth of the creek at Cow Point, and we don't really.  However we're highly appreciative of those efforts otherwise nary a boat (pronounced locally as "nare boat") could pass through.
3. Heretofore? Really? And nary? (Pronounced "nare" though, seriously.)
3. I would never have known there was a saw mill at a place called Belle Isle on Queens Creek just down the road from me if  not for the treasure trove of history at the Gazette Journal,'s library,  where I will spend every Thursday and Friday from here until the year 2025 or my death, whichever comes first.
4. Congratulations to Emily Brown of Mathews, a freshman who easily snagged first place in yesterday's regional cross country meet.
5. Congratulations to Coach Greve and all the runners for their much-deserved regional championship.
6. If I don't force myself to stop, this list will go until Tuesday or number 3,658, whichever comes later.
7. Therefore (as opposed to heretofore), Happy Weekend to all and to all a happy weekend.

p.s. If you're in Urbanna this weekend for the Oyster Festival, look for the frazzled, frizzy-haired woman wearing a crab hat while tossing back oyster fritters. Then run in the other direction.


Kay L. Davies said...

When they drag you out of the newspaper archives in 2025, kicking and screaming, you'll be able to finish your book. Just think!
If I finish my book before 2025, I'll send you a copy as encouragement.

Kay L. Davies, erstwhile author of
An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

deborah said...

happy weekend!

Ann Marie said...

Huh.. I didn't know that either.. interesting.
I didn't keep up with much "Blakes" area stuff... I do have a photo for you of my grandfathers station though and it was truly in BLAKES.

Have fun with that oyster.. I think I will just stay home settle in with a bottle of wine and a quart of my own fresh oysters caught yesterday and avoid the .. well people.

WV Stisting.. doesn't it stisting when I am doing what you want to do .. buwhahahahahahahahaahah

Lynne M. said...

I think it depends on which end of the county(ies) you are from as to how the word "nary" is pronounced. I have heard it pronounced "nare", but for most watermen and Gloucester/Guinea residents (as well as myself) it is pronounced "na-ah", but a very quick, 1/2 syllable sound..

Maybe I should not be commenting this early in the morning, because I can't quite seem to spell it how I say it.. hmmmm.

Meg @ Soup Is Not A Finger Food said...

You have a Seinfeldian gift of taking one point of interest and spinning it into a whole, hilarious post. Really - it's a gift!

Daryl said...

LOL at me .. I thought the post title was Belle I Saw .. never mind ..

I hope you have a wonderful time at Oyster Fest .. maybe they need to move it to July ...

VW ediali .. nothing I got nothing, I am so tired I ediali

Caution Flag said...

We have a Belle Isle in Detroit. It was to be a bit of nature in an otherwise urban setting. Now it's an urban little bit of nature. A unique blend to be sure with its beautiful water and trees and occasional shooting.

Anonymous said...

The saw mill was run by steam back then. At some point and time it blew up killing 4 or 5 of its worker's. the man that own the saw mill was injured. Back then they used Mules to haul the wood out. The owner was able to climb up in the wagon an order the Mules to take him home. It was about a 10 mile run for the mules. He passed out from his injury's, but the mules carried him right to his front door. His wife was able to safe him . look it up!

J Bar said...

How interesting.

Sonny Postles said...

Belle Isle Farm, My folks owned the farm, I was raised on Queens Creek and shucked a lot of oysters and sold them to the locals.