Lynn Coffey, the source of recorded history and culture of 20th century Nelson & Augusta

Lynn and Bill Coffey at RVFNHC program
Lynn and Bill Coffey at RVF NHC program

For 25 years, from 1981 through 2006, years Lynn Coffey published the monthly newspaper of the same title from her home at Love Gap, Virginia on the Blue Ridge Parkway. During this time she personally interviewed each of the people featured in the stories. During its publication there were 300 issues of BACKROADS. When she retired, these same people kept asking if she would write something more permanent to preserve all the articles since they contained a rich history of their culture, a history and a tradition that was slipping away. She has gone one better and as of now written 5 books. The most recent was published in 2015 and title MOUNTAIN FOLK More Oral Histories of the Appalachian People. Her other books in order of publication are:

  • Backroads 1: Plain Folk and simple Livin’
  • Backroads 2: the road to Chicken Holler
  • Backroads 3: Faces of Appalachia
  • Appalachian Heart

These are available for $21 each at the Rockfish Valley Foundation Natural History Center. You can call (434) 226-0446.

Reminiscent of the Foxfire series, the first 3 books are a compilation of these stories, with personal interviews, activities, and crafts of the Appalachian culture. The last two books involve recent interviews as well as other material of interst. The entire set deserves a place in the library of anyone interested in Nelson and Augusta counties.

Bestselling author Brad Herzog writes about the first book, “Backroads is a treasure trove of mountain lore, mountain humor, mountain history, mountain interests, and mountain concerns. But mostly, it is a loving account of mountain people.

Backroads publication index

With 17,950 references, creating an index to Lynn Coffey’s BACKROADS was a daunting task.  It was undertaken by volunteers at the Waynesboro Public Library over the course of many years.  Once completed that index was put on line and inspired Lynn to make gifts of  complete sets of BACKROADS to places such as Waynesboro Pubic Library, Nelson County Public Library, UVA Special Collections Library, VA  Historical Society, Library of Virginia, Smithsonian Folk Life Center and others.  We at the Rockfish Valley Foundation are honored to be Lynn’s friend and have her books for sale.  The index is a valuable resource.  You can locate articles on just about everyone and everything of interest and importance in Nelson and Augusta Counties in the 20th century.  Many thanks to the Waynesboro Library staff and volunteers. AND to Lynn Coffey for her labor of love for 25 years of BACKROADS and her continued interviews and publishing.

3 thoughts on “Lynn Coffey, the source of recorded history and culture of 20th century Nelson & Augusta

  1. This book is absolutely wonderful as is its author! It can be purchased from Ike Godsey’s Store at the Walton’s Mountain Museum in Schuyler, VA. It can aso be purchased online from the museum’s website. The book is easy to miss in the list of books…but it is there!

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