National Geographic : 1945 Jul
Potomac, River of Destiny next customer. Washington County, Mary land, was reported to have used some 20,000, 000 rented bees during blossomtime last year. The largest individual applegrower in this country is Senator Harry F. Byrd, whose many different orchards are widely distributed in both the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia and the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia. With his brother, Thomas B. Byrd, he owns approximately 6,000 acres, including a thou sand or more which he planted during years of relative depression and which have not yet come into production. Senator Byrd went into apples 40 years ago as a boy. He told me that he loves noth ing better than to see the trees grow and the harvest under way. Despite his major role in Washington, he spends week ends at his properties, mastering complex technical phases of the industry and developing important new types of fruit. Not until railroads made shipment to large eastern city markets possible, especially after the Civil War, did apple growing become a money crop for this region. True, George Washington stipulated in his leases that tenants must raise apples, and al most every farm has always had an apple orchard. But there was no market for the fruit. Indeed, one of the chief uses for fruit in early days in this country was for cider, apple jack, brandy, and wine. The Story of Apple Pie Ridge The first commercial applegrower in the regions of which I write was W. S. Miller, whose operations on "Apple Pie Ridge" date from about 1851. No success as a wheat farmer, he tried a vineyard and a winery, but was forced out of that business by his wife when she was shocked by the sight of a drunken man in the gutter on her way home from church. A buyer for a New York City commission house paid Miller $6,000 cash for one of his crops, and that unheard-of sum gave the whole Shenandoah Valley apple industry its start. Apple culture is so intensive that one may travel miles through apple country without seeing orchards, for they are scattered or spotted about only in especially advantageous positions. But though new plantings have come to the fore in recent years, Apple Pie Ridge, settled in part after the Revolution by released Hes sian prisoners, is still one of the most densely planted areas in the East. It is a low, irregular rise of land, which extends about 20 miles from the vicinity of Winchester, Virginia, to Martinsburg, West Virginia. A story I ran across in the apple country concerned the planting of the great Tonoloway orchard, which covers four miles of a steep mountainside near the Potomac River at Han cock, Maryland. A pioneer grower, the late Edmund P. Cohill, had serious difficulty in clearing the slopes of their rough covering of shrubs. His son Billy, then only in his early teens, had read an article on the ability of goats to clear land and urged his father to give him the money to go to Texas and buy a large flock of goats. This was done. The goats proved highly effective and Billy sold them at a profit. Later he became a priest, served in China as a missionary, and died there. Near Antietam battleground and a few miles northeast of the Potomac lies the city of Hagerstown, close by the crossroads of two great natural highways, the old Appalachian trail down the Cumberland and Shenandoah Valleys, and the historic National Road with its auxiliary highway from Baltimore to Wheeling on the Ohio River, now Route 40. This was the most famous and important of all early highways, being the first con structed by the Government. Beyond Cum berland it took the route followed by Brad dock in his disastrous campaign against the French and Indians. The influence of the National Road, also known as the Cumberland Road, upon the early settlement of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin was incalculable. Hagerstown and Washington County have long been regarded as unusually favorable for survey purposes, as they are considered typi cal, or average, for the United States. There is a nice balance of urban and rural, and of industry, trade, and agriculture. Until the war caused the Fairchild Engine & Airplane Corporation to expand its opera tions in Hagerstown, the city had a highly diversified, locally owned group of industries, from organs to sand-blast machinery. But in the process of making the city the hub of trainer production for the Army, since superseded by cargo planes (Plate XII), a policy of using existing space and of sub contracting of the most extraordinary pro portions was adopted. Taken over were the M. P. Moller organ works, the exhibition hall on the county fair grounds, a lodge of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, a residence, a furniture store, a label and banner factory, a silk-hosiery mill, a paper mill, a flooring factory, a leather com pany, and a number of garages.