The Arbogast House
The Arbogast House was built in 1902 for John Edwin “Ed” Arbogast. Ed was a livestock dealer, lumberman, political leader, and holds the record as Virginia’s youngest sheriff when he was elected in 1899 and served until 1911. Short of stature, he was known to often sit atop telephone books and encyclopedias so he could see over his steering wheel while driving.
The Arbogast House was completely restored in 1997 with additions including a wrap-around front porch, five additional bathrooms, and a commercial kitchen. Original oak and walnut wood are still featured throughout the home. The third story has boarded a variety of colorful characters — from railroad workers during the 1920’s and 1930’s to an owner of The Recorder, our local newspaper, who wrote controversial letters to the editor using a pen name to stir up sales. While the 3rd story is now private, our 2nd story features three unique guestrooms with Victorian decor.
Highland County, Virginia
Named for its high altitude and boasting one of the smallest populations east of the Mississippi River, Highland County is nicknamed Virginia’s Little Switzerland. Although settlers began arriving in the area as early as 1745, Highland County was not officially formed until 1847. Portions were carved from neighboring Bath and Pendleton Counties to create the new county of Highland. The isolation of the area required great perseverance and commitment from the early German and Scotch Irish settlers, but in many ways, it gave the area its identity and character. Highland County has a rich tradition of both strong individualism and community spirit.
Monterey is the county seat of Highland County. Since Highland is the least populated county in Virginia, it seems appropriate that Monterey’s population stands at roughly 150 citizens. From the late 1700’s until 1847, the town was known as Bell’s Place. It was named after James Bell, owner of a log cabin located on Main Street. The cabin still stands and now serves as the thrift shop called The Attic that benefits our local SPCA. In 1848, when General Zachary Taylor was elected President, the local justices changed the name of the town to Monterey as a tribute to Taylor’s victory at the Battle of Monterrey in the Mexican-American War.
History of the annual Maple Festival
Did you know it takes between 35 to 50 gallons of sap, depending on how much maple sugar there is in the sap, to produce just one gallon of pure maple syrup?
Highland County is the nation’s southernmost producer of maple syrup, an industry celebrated each spring at the Highland Maple Festival. During the second and third weeks in March, the conditions of freezing nights and warm, sunny days put the sugar camps at peak performance, tapping trees and boiling the watery sap until it is reduced to sweet syrup.
The Festival has been an annual event in Highland County since 1958 when it was created by Dr. Thaine Billingsley. He was visited by an Ohio surgical supply salesman who was familiar with a maple festival held in Chardon, Ohio, a rural community east of Cleveland. The visit sparked an idea with “Doc” Billingsley who was president of the Highland chamber of commerce and he mobilized that group to help organize the first Maple Festival.
To bring more attention to the Maple Festival, organizers invited state officials to visit Monterey during the festival. The Highland Maple Festival now attracts hundreds of vendors and between 40k to 60k visitors every year. It has truly become one of the premier events in the mid-atlantic states. The money raised by all the civic organizations is put back into the community as scholarships for high school seniors and support for groups like the rescue squad, the volunteer fire departments and the local ruritan clubs. The festival gives back to the county residents every year in many ways.