The Legend of Virginia’s ‘Hungry Mother’

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Appalachia

Deep in the Blue Ridge Highlands of Southwest Virginia is a state park that is over 5-square miles in size and features Appalachian woodland, a serene 108-acre lake, as well as mountain vistas that are second to none. This place is known as Hungry Mother Lake and for more than a quarter-century it has played host to a countless number of camping outings, family get-togethers, weddings, happy memories too numerous to record.

Interestingly, however, the very name of this Virginia State Park speak of grizzly tales in centuries past.

According to local legend, during the French and Indian War, unrest along the Native Americans and white settlers reached and all time low and natives soon destroyed several settlements along the New River – south of the park in what is now Grayson County.

Molly Marley and her small child were among the survivors taken to the raiders’ base, which was located just north of the location of the park.

The pair eventually escaped, wandering through the wilderness eating berries and perhaps even tree-bark in order to sustain themselves.

Wearied from having been taken captive and attempting to walk back home while malnourished, Molly finally collapsed, and her young child wandered down a creek until he found a search party of settlers.

The only words the child could utter were “Hungry Mother.” The search party arrived at the foot of the mountain where Molly collapsed to find the child’s mother dead.

Today, this mountain is known as Molly’s Knob, and the stream is called Hungry Mother Creek.

Like articles like this? Then you would love Appalachian Magazine’s Mountain Voice: 2017: A Collection of Memories, Histories, and Tall Tales of Appalachia!  Click here to check out the book on Amazon!

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