Fullhardt Knob is part of the AT that passes through Botetourt County. There is a shelter, outhouse, and water source on the second peak of Fullhardt's coming from Route 11. It was once a fire lookout for the surrounding mountains and community. A gentleman that has lived here for over eighty years told me that he remembered as a boy going up the mountain and an older man named Bage Shay lived in the lookout cabin during fire season as the lookout. He recalled Mr. Shay showing him a nine-foot pine snake that he had killed up there.
If you climb the cut-in trail from Mountain Pass, you can still see the remnants of the communication line for the lookout. The cabin is no longer there but there is a shelter. The mountain that was my great-grandfather Gibson's is part of two peaks that is considered Fullhardt. Fullhardt is the last name of a family that once lived in this area.
John Gibson bought a large amount of property in this area to farm. He left his family of moonshine and prostitutes behind in Franklin County and started fresh with his wife and children in 1905. He was the father of my grandfather. In the 1930s the mountain was taken for the creation of the Appalachian Trail. He was given a little money for it and was able to keep the field at the foot of the mountain, in which he grew tomatoes. There was a cannery over the hill and one around the corner.
When I first moved back from Florida there was a lady in her sixties who kept squatting at the shelter and the town would try to get her to leave. She had been in politics in Georgia and lost her mind. She would sometimes claim to be a queen. My cousins even put her on a bus and sent her home to her family but she returned. People would see her hauling her groceries from time to time up Fullhardt Knob. I can't recall where I got this picture but this is a picture of her.
© 2022 Michelle Gill