This last installment of the Afton Highlights series will cover history, art, and food. If you missed the first two, check them out here: Part 1: Trains, Hiking, and Wine, Beer, and Cider and Part 2: Bicycling, Swannanoa, and Farms and Farmer’s Markets.
The village of Afton, Virginia, was established in 1859. The construction of a train tunnel linking Augusta and Albemarle Counties was completed in 1858, and a train depot and post office were built at the east end of the tunnel (this became Afton!). The train tunnel was the longest of it’s time and was primarily constructed by Scots-Irish immigrants who had settled in the area in the mid-1730s.
Piedmont and Rockfish Valleys, Afton, VA
The naming of Afton, Virginia, was most likely influenced by the River Afton, a small river in Scotland. Robert Burn wrote a poem in 1791 about the River Afton called Sweet Afton, and this poem helped popularize the naming of other U.S. towns as well (there is also an Afton in Wyoming, Minnesota, and New York).
In 2011, Afton (along with neighboring Greenwood) was recognized by the National Register of Historic Places as a rural historic district, and a marker was installed May 2013, on US 250 past the junction of Hillsboro Lane and US 250 North.
There’s a neat variety of artists and artisans in Afton who work with ceramics, ironwork, fiber and more. To find local artists and their work, visit the Piedmont Council for the Arts’ artist directory. Another helpful resource is the Artisans Center of Virginia website – they provide Artisan Trail Network maps for studios and craft venues. You can also find local artists at markets and festivals like the Nelson County Farmer’s Market and the Crozet Arts and Crafts Festival (held twice a year).
One of our favorite subjects! There are some popular and delicious places to grab a bite to eat in Afton such as Blue Mountain Brewery, Paulie’s Pig-Out, and The Blue Toad.
Blue Mountain Brewery has tasty beer of course (I love the malty ones like Steel Wheels and Blue Reserve, and Josh loves the hoppy ones like Full Nelson and Red Zeppelin), but they also have really great food. We recommend a pizza (herbed crust with unique toppings), the Reuben sandwich with fries, or the bean burger (house made and so good).
Paulie’s Pig-Out is another favorite, but I’ll be honest – we always have pulled-pork barbeque sandwiches with coleslaw and a side of mac and cheese. It’s so good we’ve never tried anything else! They do offer a lot of other items like ribs and barbeque chicken. Paulie’s Pig-Out is take out only, but you can call ahead to place your order for pick-up.
Paulie’s Pig-Out sign and smoker
The Blue Toad is a fun place to listen to live music, and they offer at least one beer from every state. For meat-eaters, they offer a lot of tasty choices – we recommend a burger (the one with bacon, mushrooms, and Swiss cheese is my favorite). In addition to great burgers, Blue Toad also makes good soup.
There you have it! A highlight of the many wonderful experiences Afton offers. Now that I’ve presented a teaser on things like hiking, wineries, farms, and food, I’ll feature one specific topic at a time, in more detail. Let me know if you have any requests.