East of the Blue Ridge

Chronicles of an On30 quarry railroad

Touring Phoenix Soapstone

The Phoenix Soapstone Company in Nelson County closed up in the late 1920s.

A family cemetery and a few quarry sites are all that designate the old Phoenix town site.

Phoenix is a long lost soapstone town in an isolated corner of Nelson County. There is almost no sign of the stone operation left. I would occasionally drive down there and look around. Hunter’s shacks, trailers, yards full of junk and mean dogs, impenetrable woods. I never knew much about it.

An opportunity to learn more about Phoenix presented itself when a gentleman contacted me through my website. Jim Farrar was born and raised in the old town of Phoenix. He is related to many people still living in that area. Jim is interested in the history of the old soapstone operations, and he was willing to meet up with me and show me the sights.

Jim unloads his ATV on a bitter cold February morning. Time to see the sights!

Jim returns to the Phoenix area occasionally to maintain several family cemeteries.

A family burial site in the woods near Phoenix that Jim maintains.

Jim’s family connections to Phoenix extend back to the soapstone quarrying days and beyond.

Jim’s father is buried in Phoenix

In all the years I have been keeping an eye out for information regarding the soapstone operations in Nelson County, I had never been able to find out much about Phoenix. Jim’s recollections and records have made me aware of how interesting an operation Phoenix was. I really appreciate him taking the time to show me around and relate some of his memories of growing up there.

As is typical when trying to piece together a picture of the past, one question answered leads to three new questions. I am looking forward to heading back up to Phoenix with Jim to find out more about the area.