hard to believe that it has been over 20 years since we last heard those
famous words from the television series "The Waltons". However,
Schulyer Virginia, is a place where you can still hear those words echoing
along the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Walton's Mountain museum is located appropriately enough inside Schuyler
Elementary School from which Earl Hamner, the real John Boy Walton and
creator of the show "The Waltons", actually graduated in 1940
in a class of 12 students. The museum itself is very simple and quaint
which is very fitting to the era and theme the television show portrayed.
It readily intermingles historical facts of the 1930s in rural Virginia
with the Hollywood depiction of the Walton family.
The museum offers guided tours which provide personal insights of the
community and surrounding area through the eyes of a knowledgeable tour
guide who grew up in the area. As a side note, our guide appeared to be
very impressed with the fact that we rode motorcycles and informed the
entire audience that a local preacher rode a motorcycle and had promised
rides to his congregation, which she found very amusing. I must admit
is was very refreshing to feel so warm and welcomed as a motorcycle rider.
museum itself is laid out in several different rooms. The first room on
the tour is the kitchen which includes a replica of the famous Walton
kitchen table, as well as many antiques from the depression era. The next
room on the tour is a replica of a living room similar to the one shown
on "The Waltons" and includes the actual radio used during the
program. The museum also includes replica of John Boys Room which contains
a case containing many items from both Earl Hamner's life and the television
show itself, including 2 Emmys from the show and the horn from the old
truck. In honor of the Baldwin Sisters and their famous moonshine "recipe"
the museum also has a Recipe Room complete with an actual still. For those
who are interested, in this room, you can also find the process and history
of making moonshine explained in great detail.
addition to the tour, the museum offers a video. This is a "must
see" for those curious as to what the actors look like now and what
they are doing these days. The video also offers a behind the scenes glimpse
as to what life was like for the actors portraying the Waltons and the
impact the show had on them.
Throughout your visit to the museum it is easy to get confused between
the characters and the real family. Here are some things to keep in mind:
The Waltons never really existed, the Hamners did. The real John Boy (Earl
Hamner) renamed his television family in honor of his favorite director.
There were actually 8 Hamner children but two sons were condensed into
the character of Ben Walton leaving 7 children in the actual television
show. If you get too confused, you can sort it out in the museum where
the black and white photos along the wall are of the actual Hamners and
the color photos are of the television characters portraying the Waltons.
If you are looking for the real Walton's mountain you can forget about
that too as it does not really exist. The original movie Spencer's Mountain
was actually filmed in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
As for the actual Hamner/Walton home, the real house looks similar to
the one you saw on television and is actually located across the street
from the museum. It is a private residence still belonging to the Hamner
family. You are permitted to take pictures of the house but not open to
the location seems remote with scenic and rather uneventful roads leading
into it, you really aren't that far from many modern conveniences including
gas stations and restaurants. Unlike the days of John Boy's childhood,
you don't have to rely on an old truck to get you to Godseys store and
getting to the big city of Charlottesville isn't a major production requiring
a lot of preparation and planning. In fact, there are places to eat within
walking distance of the museum including the Schulyer Family Restaurant,
which is located inside Schulyer's first high school.
Unfortunately, it is impossible to visit the real Godsey's store as it
has long since burned to the ground. The original store wasn't quite as
innocent as the one portrayed on the television program either. It was
actually a pool hall that served beer, sandwiches and pies. However, the
essence of Godsey's Store (the one from TV land) is captured inside the
museum itself where you can actually have post cards mailed with the special
"Walton's Mountain" stamp and purchase souvenirs of all things
Walton. If you are lucky, you may be able to catch a glimpse of Joe Conley
aka "Ike Godsey" from the television program during one of his
annual treks to the museum.
It is truly hard to believe that the Walton's haven't been playing inside
our homes since the early 1980s and little Elizabeth is now in her 30's
but time does go on. Even the real John Boy aka Earl Hamner, Jr is actually
78 years old. Even though time marches forward, it's nice to know that
it can stand still, if only for a moment, at Walton's Mountain Museum.
Location: Rt. 617 Schuyler, VA
Hours: 10 A.M. - 4:00 P.M. March through November
For more information visit: http://www.waltonmuseum.org/