Appalachian Trail Histories

A view of the town of Fries, Virginia, in March 1911. The photographer Lewis Wickes Hine visited Fries that year to document the working conditions in the Washington Mill, visible in the left margin of the photograph. The flat bottomed river boat in the foreground is a typical example of the kind of boat used along the New River, including at Dixon's Ferry where Appalachian Trail hikers crossed the river on their way north or south until 1952.

Fries view.jpg

The Washington Mill in Fries, Virginia, photographed by Lewis Wickes Hine in May 1910, just upstream from where the Appalachian Trail crossed the New River at Dixon's Ferry. The mill provided employment to almost everyone in the town of Fries and many others living nearby. When the mill closed in 1989, it still employed 1,700 people. Today only the dam remains and is owned by a Swedish company. The mill itself was scraped off in the early 2000s. Text added by the photographer reads, "Housing conditions are fairly good, but housekeeping not very good. Working very good. Good light, fresh air."

Washington Mill.jpg

From 1930-1952, the Appalachian Trail crossed the New River at Dixon's Ferry, just north of the mill town of Fries. Hikers going south would knock at the door of the Dixon family home and request a ride across the river. Those coming north would shout from the far bank, approximately 100 yards away.

Charlie Dixon (rear) or his wife would take them across in the ferry boat pictured here, a typical New River flat bottomed boat, for 5 cents. Charlie Dixon's father, William Oliver Dixon, is in the foreground. The men had been out placing set lines in the river when this picture was taken sometime in the 1940s.

Dixons Ferry.jpg