Imagine living on a farm in rural Virginia in 1850. Visit the Chippokes Farm & Forestry Museum and see for yourself how our ancestors endured this rugged life. Chippokes, one of the oldest continually farmed plantations in the country, is endowed with thousands of artifacts. Many have been generously donated so that the story of Virginia's agriculture and forestry communities may be told.
The exhibits, on display in a series of farm buildings, represent various stages of farm life. They include building a farm, preparing the soil, planting, cultivating and harvesting. Additional exhibits feature tools used by craftsmen such as the blacksmith, wheelwright, cooper and cobbler. Others feature farm animals, processing, preserving, small tools and housewares. Many tools on display were hand-forged by our ancestors, who struggled to raise their crops, gardens and animals by any means.
Some displays show a succession of tools used for the same job. Each was an improvement over its predecessor, saving time and energy for the farmer. Wheat harvesting provides an excellent example of this process. First there was the handheld sickle, reaping hook and scythe, which cut the wheat. Next came the handheld grain cradle, which cut wheat and swept it aside. With Cyrus McCormick came the reaper, which allowed the farmer to ride his horse or mule that pulled the reaper. Later still came the grain binder, which also bundled stalks for easy handling. Discover how each invention affected the farmer and his family and fueled the economic changes of the era.
Chippokes features many rare artifacts. One of the oldest is an oxen-drawn plow called a rooter or bull tongue plow. Another of the more valuable artifacts you'll find at the museum is the pre-Civil War wooden-tooth cultivator. There are about 600 items on display as well as more than 8,000 in the museum's inventory. All but a few were donated.
There's also a working sawmill nearby. It was restored and permanently installed as part of the museum's displays in 1993. The mill is operated on special occasions, such as the annual Chippokes Steam & Gas Engine Show, special forestry programs and the Pork, Peanut & Pine Festival. Victor Stewart, the previous owner of Chippokes plantation, bought the unique portable sawmill in the 1930s. The museum and sawmill are connected by an 1800-foot Forestry Interpretive Trail that offers a spectacular view of one of the plantation's ravines. There are three bridges along the trail that were constructed by local Eagle Scouts.
For several years, Mr. Rooster and family have occupied the restored Chicken House. In 2007 Jack the donkey and friends were added to the Museum collection. Currently his “herd” consists of two sheep, Haley & Comet, and four frisky goats, one of which has been appropriately named Trouble. The animals are part of just one of several tours the Museum Staff offers to the public. SOL and Scout Badge programs are very popular.
A visit to the Chippokes Farm & Forestry Museum would not be complete without checking out the Museum Store. You will find items of interest for all members of the family. And be sure to have your Time Travelers form stamped before you continue your tour of the plantation.
Your donations help:
They will be used to promote the museum, programs and our mission.
There are many ways you can get involved.
Click here to learn more: