The Carter Cabin is one of the oldest structures in Scott Co. Although we do not know the exact year it was built, we do know that according to family history, it was a part of the permanent settlement that grew up at the site of Crissman’s Fort, known also as Carter’s Fort, Rye Cove Fort, or Fort Lee. The original fort was built in 1774 by Isaac Crissman and turned into a permanent settlement ten years later by the brothers Thomas, Joseph, and Norris Carter. The cabin was later moved to the Carter Town area of Rye Cove where local historian Dr. Larry Fleenor tells us that it served as a stage relay station for the exchange of horse teams on the Fincastle Turnpike in the 1830s.
As we look around the structure, please notice that no windows were placed along the back wall as a safeguard against Indian attack. At one time after it was moved to Carter Town, a porch and additional rooms were added and the exterior was weather-boarded, but the cabin as it stands today is the main room of the original structure. Legend has it that there was once a trapdoor in the floor where captured Indians were kept imprisoned and where Confederate ammunition was hidden during the Civil War.
This structure has been passed down through six generations of Carters and was moved in 1997 to its present location at Natural Tunnel State Park through a generous donation to the Commonwealth of Virginia from the descendents of the Mosby J and Mary Ellen Boatwright Carter. The logs are original, but the mortar between the logs is not. The settlers would have used chink, a mixture of clay, water, straw, and manure. In addition, when the cabin was moved to the Park, protective renovations—including a new floor, roof, and front porch—were also completed in order to safeguard the original part of the structure.
The Blockhouse Historical Area of the Park had not even been envisioned when the cabin was donated, which is why it was placed in its present location.