As a home school mother, Its often a hard task to find something both educational, and fun! Lets face it, if the teacher picks a boring place to go, at least they get out of the stuffy class room for a day. I selected a Museum in our breathtaking Appalachian Mountains. Rufus Ayers, a prominent Virginian Lawyer, built his home in Big Stone Gap, Va. In the 1880s. As we parked the car we were welcomed by some lovely local birds. Their songs seemed to welcome us with open “wings”!
Immediately, upon entering we were welcomed by a very friendly lady. The entrance to the mansion was beautiful. We were taken into a room to watch a video about the life of the Ayers family. The room was filled with Paintings of the lineage of the family, and the shelves were lined with old books! My boys began to ask our guide hundreds of questions, which, the lady did her best to answer. Their imaginations began to fill with what life may have been like here, and what the family may have done in the room we were in.
Next, we were led to a room full of Railroad and Coal Mining artifacts. We touched coal and saw different types of lunch buckets that the miners used. The boys were taken back by what the Miners used for lights inside the underground caverns, and the ways of transportation into the belly of the mines. As we looked over the model Railroad I could just hear Loretta Lynn singing “Coalminers’ Daughter.” Again the boys inquired from the lady how they used their Scripts to buy things.
As we headed up the elegant staircase, the smooth feel of the wood beneath your palms, and the smell of the house seemed to transport us to another time. Upstairs, we leaned what life would have been like for the family while the men were off working. We saw old sowing machines, hats, tons of sports memorabilia, books, and more items that helped them in their daily lives.
One more flight up, and we would find ourselves swept away into another part of the Ayers family life, the aspect of war. The uniforms on display reminded us how times had changed. While the photos on the wall suggested time had stood still.
Our visit was beyond what I had expected. And somehow, a part of history would still live on. The times had changed indeed, but the dream of a better life still lives on today. We took one final picture of the courtyard, tucked safely away from the rain as it fell, and said our goodbyes to the new friend we had made. If your ever in this area, don’t forget to take a step back in time. Come enjoy the Museum in Southwest Virginia. Where the birds serenade you and the rain welcomes you in!