The Plank Road runs west from Keene toward the mountains. It was a toll road, and the original toll house still stands, a private residence now. It’s a very old road, once paved in wooden boards, and along it teams of oxen rolled huge hogshead barrels and cartloads of good from over in the Shenandoah Valley, coming down the switchbacks through Rockfish Gap.
The South Branch of the Hardware River runs a long much of the road, tumbling over rocks and ledges, and not far beyond the toll house is an old mill. Cocke’s Mill was one of over sixty flour mills in the county at the time, but one of only a few built of stone. Here valley wheat was ground into flour before it continued on it’s way to Scottsville where it was loaded onto batteaux for shipment down river.
There’s a clear spring that runs from a small pipe next to the mill, runs year round, and people often stop there to fill up gallons to take home. I stopped to take pictures just as a summer shower wet everything down and moved on.