Stone’s Tavern wasn’t on the way to anywhere but the highway that passed through was a shortcut of sorts. Truckers who didn’t mind crossing two steep but not overly high mountains could cut miles from a trip. Steep mountains often cause overheated engines going up or overheated brakes coming down. The two service stations in Stone’s Tavern were well able to deal with either condition and had cold soft drinks for the drivers while brakes or engines cooled.
— “Heresy,” Stories from Potomac County
Flint Hill, where I grew up, sits near the bottom of a steep little mountain, while Stone’s Tavern was right at the base of its mountain.
Trucks seldom overheated going north through Flint Hill toward the mountain. The overheating happened when the trucks were pulling the mountain grade. Mr. I. M. Williams, about halfway to the top of the mountain, offered free water from his well which was right beside the highway.
Probably there were, over the years, many trucks that stopped and took advantage of Mr. Williams’ generosity. The two-lane road over that mountain was busy only a couple of times each day so few drivers would have been inconvenienced.
Brakes overheating coming down the mountain was another matter entirely. The first southbound downgrade is straight and a trucker, unfamiliar with the mountain, could allow excessive speed. Unfamiliarity, bad brakes, or whatever the reason, overheated brakes and runaway trucks were distinct possibilities—and occasionally, a good way to stock one’s pantry.
From the bottom of the mountain on Rte. 522 southbound it is only about 5 miles to where the road Ts into a through highway. At this junction, there’s a stop sign and a choice of two 90 degree turns. There is NO straight through.
A few times each year trucks lost their brakes coming down our mountain. I don’t recall any local folks injured by these runaways, but at the junction, things got dicey. One or more trucks lost their brakes and wrecked every year. If it was a truck loaded with foodstuff, locals could spread the word and descend on a wreck much quicker than insurance agents or state police. Anything that wasn’t broken was hauled away before either could arrive to assess and secure the scene.
Sally had her day-trippers through Amissville while we had our truck wrecks near Flint Hill. Growing up in the country wasn’t as dull as you’d think.