On the night of August 19–20, 1969, Nelson County Virginia was struck by disastrous flooding caused by Hurricane Camille. The hurricane hit the Gulf Coast two days earlier, weakened over land, and stalled on the eastern side of the Blue Ridge Mountains, dumping a world record quantity of 27 inches (690 mm) of rain, mainly in a three-hour period. Over five hours, it yielded more than 37 inches (940 mm), while the previous day had seen a deluge of 5 inches in half an hour, with the ground already saturated. There were reports of animals drowning in trees and people who had had to cup their hands around their mouth and nose to breathe. Flash floods and mudslides killed 153 people, 31 from Roseland, Tyro, and Massies Mill alone. Over 133 public bridges were washed out in Nelson County, while some communities were under water. In the tiny Davis Creek community, 52 people were killed or could not be found; only 3 of 35 homes were left standing after the floodwaters receded. The bodies of some people have never been found; others washed as much as 25 miles (40 km) downstream along the creeks and rivers. The entire county was virtually cut off, with many roads and virtually all bridges gone.
Meanwhile, about 400 miles or so north, as the dove of peace flies, the highways of lower New York State were jamed with carloads of hippies headed home.
Trapped in traffic, out of rolling papers and headed home with stories they would tell for the rest of their lives the unwashed multitudes listened to their car radios and heard the call for help from Nelson County Virginia. Hippies, having nothing better to do anyway and looking for an adventure, headed south to lend a hand. Many found friendship enough to stay, and some found wives and husbands. They camped in open fields and bathed in the receding rivers and streams and in the fullness of time the dope smoking hippies began to find an easy camaraderie with the sons and daughters of the proud and fiercely independent moonshiners who were desperately trying to put their lives back together. Unusual bonds were formed. Hippies and rednecks interbred. The rest is history.
As of this writing Nelson County Virginia enjoys an excellent public education system, a thriving art community, magnificent unspoiled countryside and consistently remains the only county in Central Virginia to vote Democrat. A blue dot in a sea of red. Vineyards and artisan breweries have exploded like mushrooms and, I have it on excellent authority, the moonshine and local weed are second to none.
“Bad Moon Rising” is a song written by John Fogerty and performed by Creedence Clearwater Revival. It was the lead single from their album Green River and was released in April 1969, four months before the album and exactly four months before the Great Nelson County Flood. The lyrics fit the reality all too well…
I see the bad moon arising.
I see trouble on the way.
I see earthquakes and lightnin’.
I see bad times today.
Don’t go around tonight,
Well, it’s bound to take your life,
There’s a bad moon on the rise.
I hear hurricanes ablowing.
I know the end is coming soon.
I fear rivers over flowing.
I hear the voice of rage and ruin.
In a few weeks there is going to be a concert in Nelson County. You can read all about it here. Interlocken Music Festival | Sept 5 – 8, 2013 | Oak Ridge …
It is being put together by some outside money folks who are billing it as another Woodstock. It ain’t. Many of the locals are not amused and a tad pissed off at the disturbance of our bucolic existence. With tickets running from $300 to $1100 and tents, rented by those running the show, going for $500, it seems almost sacrilegious to mention in it the same breath as Woodstock. Tickets to Woodstock cost $18.
Many members of the local community can’t even come close to affording a ticket to this fiasco. Some of them that pray are praying for rain.
On the 44th anniversary of the Nelson County Flood AND Woodstock a full moon is flying high over my house and I think back to Woodstock where the acid and the weed and the love was free… for just a little while, in the rain.
Times have changed. We have grandkids now. The world is a colder place, it seems to me, and the information provided below regarding the upcoming concert… well, it soils what’s left of my memories of times when music wasn’t all about money. When everything wasn’t all about money. When it wasn’t so fucking obvious that plutocrats have their grubby little hands in everything.
Sorry, no kisses tonight
- Festival Admission
- Dedicated Festival Check-In with Private VIP Entrance
- Exclusive VIP Viewing Area
- Secure & Private Camping Adjacent to the Concert Field
- Exclusive Access to Air-Conditioned Bathrooms with Flushable Toilets and Showers
- Invitation to the Welcome BBQ Party
- Private VIP Cash Bar
- Complimentary Late Night Munchies
- VIP Parking Pass (One Per Order)
- Limited Edition Screen Printed Festival Poster
- Festival Welcome Gift Bag with Festival Survival Kit, Tote Bag, Water Bottle and T-shirt
- VIP Laminate
- Please Note: If you are driving in an RV, you will also need to purchase a VIP RV parking pass.