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In Search of the Dehart Distillery

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Dehart DistilleryAt the turn of the last century there were many legal distilleries in Southwest Virginia. In Franklin County, Virginia alone there were 77 legal distilleries. Unfortunately, Prohibition put an end to Virginia’s legal whiskey industry. One of the operations forced out of business was the Dehart Distillery, producer of Mountain Rose Corn Whiskey. The flyer on the right was printed in 1916 by Dehart just before the start of prohibition in Virginia. It warns consumers to stock up on it’s whiskey before the coming prohibition.

The site of one of Dehart’s distilleries was located in Philpott, Virginia. I’m quite familiar with the area since my friends and I raft the Smith River below the Philpott Dam. I’ve also found old moonshine stills in the area. I got a tip that the old distillery was located in one of the hollows below the dam.

My goal was to find the remains of the old distillery and to find any old moonshine stills that would inevitably be located along the creek. I wasn’t exactly sure how accurate the information about the location of the distillery was. There are a few creeks that feed the Smith River below Philpott Dam, so I just picked one and started walking upstream.

Within a couple hundred yards, I came across the confluence of two creeks which created a flat level area – the perfect location to put a moonshine still. Of course that’s exactly what somebody did. There were mason jars everywhere, rusting metal buckets, and lots of debris from a moonshining operation. I found what appeared to be a boiler, but I couldn’t be 100% certain.

Continuing up the creek, I found the remains of an old building. The chimney was all that was left of the structure, the rest having rotted away long ago. This may have been the Dehart Distillery, which was in operation up until about 1917, but there weren’t any other clues to indicate what the structure was. I’m not 100% certain that this was in fact the old Dehart Distillery. It might have been just an old house. I’ll have to do a little more research to confirm it.

Sitting next to the remains of the old building was a literal toxic waste dump. Quite a few 55 gallon drums sat rusting away. The drums, which were labeled Eastman Chemical Company, were in various states of decay. Some of them had already leaked all of their contents into the ground (and presumably into the creek,) while others were still filled to the top with some greenish chemical goodness.

Continuing up the creek, I pushed my way through laurel thickets as the terrain got steeper. I finally came to the source of the creek, which – surprise – had an old moonshine still rusting in the creek. There wasn’t much left of the still, but it was obviously an old submarine still (because of all the nails.)

Franklin County, Old Still Sites

9 Comments to “In Search of the Dehart Distillery”

  1. I wonder if there is any connection to the two DeHart home sites on Rt 40 in the community of Charity in Patrick Co. Both sites were legal distillrys at the turn of the century. One of the homesites is now a bread and breakfast apply named the Mountain Rose, the other was made into a park from the proceeds from the Alice Dehart estate. I’m 53 and i can remember when my grandfather, W.B. Clark (a famous apple grower in Woolwine, Va.)would deliver truck loads of late season ground pick apples to different farms in Franklin Co. especially around the shooting creek area. Jim Clark 276 930 2646


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  7. Hi Jim,
    Thanks for this fascinating information. We’ve also been searching for any details on the DeHart Distillery, since a customer of ours pointed out that the DeHarts have deep roots in this industry. We are also DeHarts and coincidentally own a distillery in Lewisville, Texas. I’d love to get more information, if any should be available.
    Thank you again for your devotion to such a fun topic!

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  9. About 2 weeks ago I was in a older couples home, they were telling me they haven’t vacuum in a year because they are not able. So I was being nice and I vacuum the whole house and mattress. The next day when I got dark me and a friend start getting bit by something we couldn’t see we were driving in the car and little white bugs start flying off of me. I went to 2 doctors and they treating me like I was crazy. I was scared to go home because I was scared it was to spread. Finally I called a pest control and the man took me serious. I got my house sprayed and my cars. Washed everything and dried 2x and vacuum everything really well. I was still getting bit I start looking at my skin and I have little white bumps on my legs. I start pulling them out and they were eggs. Its awful! I got the bug tested and its a lint bug. Its a mite, a super mite! They said to boil all clothes and Pyretherin 1 its a soap every 3 days til its gone completely. I use rubbing alcohol and kerosene NOT together to open my pores so I can pull them. I also use STOP BUGGING ME! I got it from CVS. It says it kills and prevent bed bugs and mites on contact and It does. I spray inside my clothes before I put them on. I spray my sheets, pillows and blankets before going in to bed. I spray it in my hair. I will spray myself down and less then a min later I have a brown spots on me. Its the lint bug dead. They go from white to brown. I woke up yesterday and when I was sleeping they laid eggs on the roof of my mouth. Doctor gave a antibiotic. I can feel them moving in my legs. I feel like I’m going crazy at times. I haven’t been back to work yet. I was scared I was going to spread the the bugs because they fly. But since yesterday when I start using stop bugging me spray I feel like I’m getting a little more control. Nothing is flying off of me. I just need to get all the eggs out so I can get rid of them completely. I didn’t itch. When I get bit it feels like a little shock. I can’t wait till they are gone for good. I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy

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