Schuyler Virgina - The Walton Museum
Schuyler Virginia, nestled in the Blueridge Mountains was named for Schuyler George Walker and became back in the late 1800s a booming town of 7000 and industrial center of stone cutting which was badly hurt during the Depression and never recovered. The native soap stone was milled into flat table tops for labs, hospitals, fireplaces, sinks etc. Today the town is only 2000 even though the plant is still open, the hospital, theatres, jewelry store, movie theatres and nine general merchandise stores are long gone.
Schuyler's claim to fame is the Walton Museum. Earl Hamner the creator of "The Waltons" grew up here as a boy. "The Waltons" was a TV produced series which ran for 9 seasons and centered around a rural family and takes place sometime between the Great Depression and World War 2 under the presidencies of Eisenhower and Truman.
Based on the book "The Homecoming" the story is about John Walton Jr. or John-Boy and his 7 siblings and parents. The time frame takes us through the of adulthood, marriages and the boys enlisting and going to War etc. The signature scene at the close of each episode is the family saying goodnight one to another as each bedroom light goes out. The series won many accolades including the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series.
During the boyhood of Earl Hamner the High School he attended went on to fall on hard times and was eventually converted into the community center and after the popular TV series became the Walton Museum. There is a $5 admission fee and as one enters the making of "The Waltons" is playing on a screen. Earl used his personal boyhood experiences of working in the soapstone factories and after they closed due to the depression, he started a sawmill next to his home, all portrayed in the TV show. Earls real brother James still lived there for years and was the inspiration for Jim Bob in the series. The local S&H grocery store was the inspiration for Ike Godseys General Store. Earls father was never able to see his success but his mother enjoyed the show.
Earl's brother James moved to Charlottesville at the end of his life and has now passed along with the rest of the family. The original house has now been preserved much to Earl's delight. Schuyler Virginia has a special charm and after visiting it is easy to see why the intrigue of a family facing Depression and War in this area was such a great TV hit.
Each room of the museum is a replica of the Walton home, John-boy's bedroom, the living room, kitchen etc. The museum included, John-boy’s signature glasses and a moonshine still along with displays of soapstone and Earl Hamner's other manuscripts. The room that displays Ike's General store is also a souvenir shop and one can take home memorabilia or send a postcard from the post office inside which will be stamped "sent from Walton's mountain, Virginia."