Blue Ridge Heritage Project digs into final chimney memorial

BRHP breaks ground on the final chimney memorial.
Published: Mar. 25, 2023 at 10:52 PM EDT
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GROTTOES, Va. (WHSV) - The Blue Ridge Heritage Project is digging the last part of its chimney vision.

The chimneys are not only a reminder of the people who were in that area, but it is also meant to stimulate conversation about the human displacement that happened across the Shenandoah Valley.

According to the nonprofit organization, the Commonwealth of Virginia used the power of eminent domain to acquire land for donation to the federal government in order to create Shenandoah National Park using 1081 individual tracts of land. Hundreds of families and individuals were displaced from their homes so that the Shenandoah National Park could be established.

“They evicted the people that lived in the houses. They either tore down or more likely burn down the houses, and, in many cases, the families were still there,” Blue Ridge Heritage Project Founder and President Bill Henry said

Descendants of the displaced are witnesses and factors of the progress. The point is to make sure this part of history never gets buried.

“We have to continue education. We have to bring children, and we have to tell the story of these people, our families, that were kicked out of their home to build a national park,” Albemarle County Descendant Carrie Ehart said.

People involved say the chimneys are not just telling history but correcting the wrongs done to their families.

“If we don’t protect those stories, we’d be doing them a disservice. We’re smart people, intelligent people, hard-working people, not what they were portrayed,” Ehart said.

“It’s strength and endurance of the people that it took to live up there in to endure the hardship of losing their homes,” Henry said.

This fulfills the goal of having a memorial site in all the counties Shenandoah National Park sits in.

The stone memorial for Augusta County will be placed in the Grand Caverns, finding this home took three years. The last stone chimney is scheduled to be completed in November.