Note: I found these photos on my hard drive from a walk I did last August. It’s not really this green in February.
Franklin County, Virginia has been called the Moonshine Capital of the World. I’ve commented before on how easy it is to find old moonshine stills rusting away in the woods. There has been so much moonshine made in Franklin County that you can literally walk up any creek and find an old moonshine still.
I decided to put that bold statement to the test one day: I drove around Franklin County, randomly picked a creek, parked on the side of the road, and just walked up the creek.
And I found three moonshine stills.
The area I picked was near the Smith River in a remote section of the county (much of Franklin County is remote.) The Smith River divides Franklin County on the south from Henry County and I’ve found many stills on the Franklin County side of the river, but few on the Henry County side. I drove until I found an area where there weren’t too many houses around and just parked on the side of the road next to a creek.
The first moonshine still I found was at the confluence of two creeks. The still was typical of most that I find: a twisted, rusting piece of metal. It’s interesting to note that I’ve found many stills where two small creeks meet. I think it’s because the terrain that’s created by two creeks meeting is typically flat – a nice area to place a moonshining operation.
I also found what appeared to be a perfect still furnace. It was shaped with rock on three sides and even had rocks across the top. It looked very much like the still furnace diagram in the Foxfire Book. When I looked at it closer though, I noticed water trickling out of the bottom of it. It was probably a spring box which is pretty common in these parts.
I continued walking up the main creek and I found two more stills. One was located high on the banks of the creek. It looked like that’s where it had landed after being blown up by the law. The third still was further upstream, lying in the creek, and hidden by weeds.