The Rockfish Valley

The Rockfish Valley encompasses the area from Brent’s Mountain and Three Ridge Mountain to Afton Mountain. It lies in the shadow of the eastern slopes of the Blue Ridge Mountain. Two hollows located near streams within the eastern slopes are named Spruce and Stoney Creek. The upper Stoney has a falls.

Rockfish Valley is named for the fact that before the dams on the James River were constructed, rockfish ran from the bays as far west as the valley –thus the name Rockfish Valley. The Rockfish River has a north and a south fork and flows through a major portion of the valley –from near Reed’s Gap and from near Humpback Mountain. The two forks merge near the southern intersection of Routes 151 and 6.

The Monacan Indians are said to have camped near creeks and small streams in the Rockfish Valley sometime before the 1700s. The first white settlers came to the Rockfish area prior to 1734 and to the Nellysford-Wintergreen vicinity before 1740. They were mostly of Scotch and Scotch-Irish origin. The first trail in the valley, known as “The Thoroughfare,” was cleared in the 1740s. Present Route 151 closely follows this route.

Among the first settlers were the Coleman and Ewing families. Howes Coleman, purchased thousands of acres from the 1780s to the early 1800s. Around 1812, he built his permanent home, “Wintergreen,” there. Wintergreen Resort uses the name today. He also built the Ewing home, “Elk Hill,” around 1825.

Farming used to be the main livelihood and tobacco was the cash crop. Some wheat and corn were also raised. Later, orchards also produced some income.

There are number of communities located in the valley, each with its own characteristics. Beech Grove is located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge on the road to Wintergreen Resort. The name was derived from a large beech tree growing at Beech Grove Christian Church. A mill, a church, a general store and post office were once located at Wintergreen named for the Coleman home.

Source: Nancy Coleman Garth Small in Sanders, Paul. Heartbeats of Nelson, Piney River VA, 2007