The Rapp for May 16

Go Down the Mountain

The novel’s been out only a few weeks and already it’s achieved Amazon bestseller status — referring to author Meredith Battle’s fact-based “Go Down the Mountain,” which tells the story of the people whose land was taken in the 1930s to make way for Shenandoah National Park.

“I grew up in Virginia and I never heard this story in school,” Battle said. “Even Shenandoah National Park’s visitors center didn’t include an exhibit about the displaced until 2006, after the park service was pressured by a group of descendants to add one.”

Descendants and relatives of the displaced started reaching out to Battle as soon as the novel was released to express their thanks to her for telling the story.

“People have sent me old black and white photos of family members standing in front of the homes they lost,” Battle said. “Hearing from them has been the most rewarding aspect of writing the book.”

Locals sitting on the porch of the Nethers general store and post office in 1935. By Arthur Rothstein

Bill Henry, president of the nonprofit Blue Ridge Heritage Project, an organization dedicated to preserving the legacy of the people displaced by the park, said he appreciates that the novel “helps bring attention to the families who lost their homes and land. Fiction based on the history makes these stories more accessible to those who tend not to read history books.”

“I’ve tried to open a window into what their lives were like,” Battle said.

At home

A poet as well as a painter, local artist Joan Wiberg is showing her “impressions of fleeting moments” at Middle Street Gallery in Washington only through May 24.

“I strive to see deeply that which I see daily,” Wiberg says. “An abandoned barn, a leaning pine tree out my back studio window, morning glories decorating a rusted metal gate, flowers hastily put in a jar on the windowsill, and a cat perched on a worn fence post in the sunlight after a snow.”

This quiet house,

my window view,

the cat asleep,

a time for seeing and painting.

In her show, “At Home,” Wiberg captures ordinary scenes in moments of magic light — through early morning haze, in the fire of a setting sun, and in the cold blue light from snow. “The mundane and often unremarkable can become transformed by light grazing its surface,” she says.

Local artist Joan Wiberg’s magical show “At Home” is on exhibit through May 24 at the Middle Street Gallery in Washington. Courtesy Photo

Other members of the Middle Street Gallery co-operative will also show works at the gallery during May. The gallery is located at 325a Middle Street. Hours are Fri.-Sun. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Please call (540) 675-1313 or visit for more information.

On the radio

Sally Mae Foster is a charming and versatile songstress. Her voice is syrupy sweet, yet raw and powerful. Her sound is simplistic juxtaposed with her complex writing style. She calls in folk roots with a yoke around her neck and a harmonica pouring out the visions of her reckless heart.

Sally Mae Foster can be heard this week on Courtesy Photo

Listen to the interview at and find out more about Sally Mae at

Wine and more

By John McCaslin

Given the interest and growth in Virginia’s wine industry, writer Nancy Bauer has doubled the print run for her just-released Virginia Wine Travel Journal 2019, a comprehensive annual guidebook to Virginia wine country. Tourism numbers surrounding the state’s wineries are growing at a nearly 40 percent rate.

“The wine world is moving so quickly here in Virginia, and what’s written one season is old news the next,” says Bauer, who counts 26 new wineries, cideries and meaderies. Which means the commonwealth now boasts some 275 wineries, many of them of course right here in Rappahannock County.

Throughout the book, Bauer not only writes in detail about what Rappahannock wineries have to offer, she also gives shout outs to other establishments in the county, including restaurants, distilleries and breweries. The journal sells for $15 bucks and is available at wineries or online at Amazon or Shopify.

Women’s center

The Culpeper area’s new women’s center, UVA Obstetrics and Gynecology, a department of Culpeper Medical Center, is officially accepting patients. Housed adjacent to Culpeper Medical Center at 633 Sunset Lane, the new women’s center offers a convenient location and increased access to obstetric and gynecological services for the community.

With both primary and preventative care services available to women of all ages, the center is equipped to meet the healthcare needs of women in every stage of life. Providers, trained to understand the changing needs of women over time, offer care for long-term OB/GYN health in adolescent, adult, pregnant, menopausal or postmenopausal and geriatric women.

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The Rappahannock News welcomes contributions from any and all members of the community. Email news and photos to or call us at 540-675-3338.

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