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Interview with Dr. French H. Moore, Jr.
Page Four.

Conducted on November 17, 2009, in Abingdon, Virginia


(FM)    Turned into a nice visit we just sat there and talked for a good while about her coming to Damascus and Mr. Cartwright was there with her, then she sold the thing.   You know, she’s the one who really saw the thing.

(RS)     Yeah.  She’s a visionary.  She came here, and they started out really basic.

(FM)    Yeah.  It’s grown and grown.  It’s what ..….six bike shops?

(RS)     I think six total.

(FM)    You know, one of the guys that came up here from North Carolina, to look at our trail the other week, he has a bicycle shop.  He could not believe, because you know that we took him to Damascus and drove down the street, that there were that many bikes in one town.  (Laughter)  I guess they all do pretty good.  I don’t know…..  (Laughter)

(RS)     Yeah, during the season.  You know Elena has been working with Adventure Damascus for awhile.

(Elena Norman)  Yeah, they stay busy….. I was thinking that they …. That their monthly average is more than what your section of the trail cost.  Is what one of those shops makes in a month.

(FM)    Yea…  So it was a good investment.

(EN)   Oh yeah, it’s a pretty good return on your investment.

(FM)    As the mayor told this group, it’s just turned Damascus from disaster to ….. You know they always had a negative balance in the bank.  And now they have a positive balance.  (Laughter)

(RS)     You’ve outlined a number of obstacles that you faced, including the hostility of  many of the farmers and land owners.  And just the inertia of the bureaucracy sometimes.   What other kind of things really frustrated you?  What other frustrations did you run into?

(FM)    It just took so long.  It seemed like everything we did took…..  I guess I get impatient.  You know, you can see the end and you want it to get there quick.  And it’s kinda’ like the Creeper train, it just didn’t get over the mountain fast enough.  (Laughter)

(RS)     I like that.  (Laughter).

(RS)     What other things do you recall?  Was there ever a point that you just wanted to say forget it?  It’s too much work…

(FM)    There were probably a few times that I just remotely thought that.  But I’m not the kind of person who gives up.  I never have been.  I wouldn’t be serving on the Council for 42 years if I were.  (Laughter)  You know, it was just a, such a slow thing and there was so much bitterness.  You know the Smith boys were just so bitter about it.  And I just could see that people weren’t going to burn their barns or raid their cattle.  I mean…. (laughter)
It was just a wilderness you know, and if we hadn’t done this, it would still be a wilderness.  Because people would be getting through there and you can’t just take that, you can’t wipe the trail out.  If you have a lot of money and those huge earth movers.  But otherwise it was a way for the people to do ugly things and get from Damascus to Abingdon or Abingdon to Damascus without getting out on the road.

log on trestle
A large log has been placed on a
trestle in an attempt to prevent traffic.

(RS)     Right.

(FM)    They could get out on the trail and ride their motorbikes or whatever.  And people….  You know at first we had trouble with people wanting to ride 4 wheelers and stuff.  So our decision was, the next time we catch somebody we were going to sell their vehicle on the Courthouse steps.  (Laughter)    And then you know, they’re going to realize that we’re serious.  You’re not going to ride those things on the trail.  And now you have so many people that, you know, they would be caught before they got anywhere.  Don’t catch many people riding 4 wheelers on the trail.

(RS)     It’s pretty rare these days.  That you find anything like that. 

(FM)    It was interesting when we wanted to expand to Glenrochie Country Club, you know through that section over there.  Well they came to us and wanted to build a road across the trail.  Well I had to bring the Richmond guys down.  (Laughter)  Cause they felt obligated to tell us what to do.  (Laughter)  And so, you know, I didn’t want to hold up the expansion of the golf course cause that’s another recreation.  That’s what I tried to explain to the guys in Richmond.  I said you know, we’re not just building a subdivision over there.  We’re building 9 more holes of golf course, instead of having 9 we’ve got 18.  That’s just a different kind of recreation.  It’s awkward, the thing that they had to put the traffic light.  You know, I don’t think that ….uh….what’s the guys name that put that in….

(RS)     Roger…

(FM)    No. no ....  Meade…  I don’t think he realized just how much it was going to cost.  And I think he thought we would forget it.  So he builds his road across and I saw him one day.  And I said when are you going to put those traffic lights in?  (Laughter)  You mean you was really serious about that?  (Laughter)  I said when we park a truck across your road going over there and you can’t sell the lots you’ll see how serious we are.  But anyway, he put the traffic lights up.  (Laughter)  Cause he thought he was going to buffalo us you know.  Just let it go and it won’t happen.  (Laughter)  But I was not going to have those people on the trail getting run over by some hotshot flying out into that subdivision.

(RS)     First you’ve got Roger Reynolds there…..

(FM)    Oh yeah, Roger watches like crazy.  You can’t have a better watchdog.

(RS)     One more question…. I know that you played the major role in seeing this becoming reality.  And Dave Brillhart seemed to be the first to get the concept of what could be.....

(FM)    He brought us the idea…  And then at one time when we were  trying to figure out how to get up the money, we were going to borrow money and he….and we had about 6 or 8 guys that worked with us and they all agreed to sign the note.   But we all agreed that whatever it was going to be that we would each take our share of the note to bat.  So we could borrow the money and buy the right of way. 

(RS)     French, I know you've got to go. Thanks for your time. I'll talk to you later about getting some photos, and will let you read this before I put it online.

(FM)     You're welcome. I always enjoy talking about the Creeper Trail.

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