The "Story" of Sky Meadows has its origins not in the year of 1983,
when the park officially opened; not even in the early 1840's when
Mount Bleak was built. The inhabitation and agricultural use of the
Piedmont and Blue Ridge area was well established long before the
arrival of Europeans. Anthropologists believe that Siouan-speaking
peoples who were once united in the Ohio River Valley ventured
both west and east thousands of years ago separating into Western
and Eastern Siouan cultures. Though these early inhabitants of Vir-
ginia were hunter-gatherers, it is not generally known that the
Manahoac Tribe were a Siouan-speaking nation that called the upper
Piedmont area home and its people probably used sophisticated agri-
cultural techniques. One such technique may have been the growing
of squash, beans and maize together. The broad leaves of the squash
kept the soil from drying out around the base of the maize plant and
the maize provided a support for the beans. Each plant replenished
different nutrients to keep the soil from being depleted.
It did not take long for the push west from "Jamestowne" to reach
the Crooked Run Valley. By 1719, Thomas Culpeper, Sixth Lord
Fairfax of England, inherited more than 5,282,000 acres situated
between the Rappahannock and Potomac Rivers. By using natural
passage ways from the Tidewater region, passage ways previously
well traversed by buffalo and Indians, English colonists made their
way into the interior of Virginia with its diverse forests and meadows
of grasses populated by exotic fauna and flora.
By the early 1730's, squatters and tenants soon began to dwell in the
Crooked Run Valley. Though the land was claimed by Tidewater
gentry such as Colonel Robert ("King") Carter, an agent for Thomas
Culpeper, it was Captain James Bell who formally instituted legal
land ownership in the Crooked Run Valley. In 1731, Captain Bell
purchased from Lord Fairfax a 7,883 acre tract on the east side of
the Blue Ridge south of Ashby's Gap. When Ball died in 1749, his
property was divided into 2,000 acre parcels and distributed among
his daughter and five grandsons. John Edmonds purchased land from
one of Ball's grandsons in 1780. Edmonds then built a one-and-a-half
story house (which still stands) and established a blacksmith shop
near what is now the entrance to Sky Meadows State Park at the in-
tersection of U.S. Route 17 and Edmonds Lane. Edmonds died in
1798, and his land was divided among his five children. Sons Elias
and George sold most of their inherited land to Isaac Settle, respect-
ed postmaster and tavern keeper in the nearby village of Paris.
Isaac Settle built a large brick house in 1812, and named it "Belle
Grove" (located just south of the park) where he and his wife Mary
raised three children. In 1842, he sold the Belle Grove farm to his
son-in-law Lewis Edmonds, who, a year later, sold 148 acres to
Isaac's son Abner Settle. In addition to being a farmer, Abner was
a co-owner of the general store, "Settle and Rodgers."
The adjoining property to the original homestead had a prominent
ridge from which one could view the surrounding rolling hills and
streams. On this ridge, Abner built the stone portion of what is now
the "Mount Bleak" house ("Bleak" in this case meaning "exposed"
or "breezy"). By 1850, he had added the frame portion of the house
to accommodate himself, second wife Mary, their six children, and
his father. Five more children were born to the Settles by 1862
(Abner also had a son, Thomas Lee, from his first wife, Isabelle
When the darkening clouds of impending civil strife loomed on the
horizon in 1860, the people of Crooked Run Valley and the Gap at
Paris did not realize the devastation that warfare would bring to the
area and the families thereof. Patriotic to their Virginia homeland,
many Crooked Run Valley residents were torn in their loyalties.
One of Abner's sons, Thomas Lee, volunteered to join the 7th
Virginia cavalry as an army surgeon, while two other sons, Isaac
Morgan and Abner Carroll, decided to protect their homes by join-
ing the independent command of Colonel Mosby (of Mosby Rangers
fame). All three sons returned home safe and sound at the end of the
war in 1865; however, Abner's health had declined during the war.
In 1866, because of declining health and financial difficulties brought
on by the war, Abner Settle sold the Mount Bleak farm to Thomas
and Emily Glascock. Abner and Mary moved to Delaplane, Virginia
(then known as Piedmont Station).
Glascock sold the property in 1868 to George M. Slater, who had
been a member of Mosby's Rangers (43rd Battalion Cavalry) during
the Civil War. Slater and his son owned the farm until they both died
in 1923. During the following decades, the land changed hands
In 1966 a housing development was planned and the property was
divided into 50 acre lots. This scenic area was saved through the
actions of Paul Mellon, heir to the Mellon Bank fortune, philanthrop-
ist and an owner/breeder of thoroughbred racehorses. Virginia State
Parks received the 1,132 acre farm as a gift from Mr. Mellon in 1975.
After building facilities to accommodate the public, the Common-
wealth opened Sky Meadows State Park in 1983.
A 248 acre corridor between the park and U. S. Route 50 containing
three miles of the Appalachian Trail was added in 1987.
On the east side of Route 17 is a parcel of land that was purchased
from Lord Fairfax by George Washington. During the 19th and 20th
centuries, the land had been farmed by several local families.
In 1991, Paul Mellon presented this additional 462 acres as a gift to
the park. The Virginia Outdoor Foundation was active in this acqui-
sition process. It is not known as the Lost Mountain Bridle Trail area
and visitors on foot and on horseback can also enjoy this scenic his-
toric area. Many visitors ask, "Why the name Sky Meadows?" Dur-
ing World War II, Robert Hadow, British Consul-General, and his
family would spend summers on the property and it is claimed that
he was impressed with Mount Bleak, stating that it reminded him of
Scotland's Isle of Skye. The farm was therefore named "Skye Farm".
Later, in 1949, United States Attorney General John Scott used the
name "Sky Meadows" in a 1976 letter to the Fauquier Democrat
newspaper, stating, "The high broad meadows, under the sky, suggest-
ed to us the name Sky Meadows."
Crooked Run Valley