In honor of the wearin’ of the green, my Irish roots inspired me to share a legend from the vaults of Virginia State Parks. Okay, so Patrick County is named after Patrick Henry and not St. Patrick, but is it a coincidence that a county named Patrick is home to a legend dealing with fairies?I think not.
Fairy Stone State Park provides another fascinating feature – the fairy stones that give the park its name. It seems that Fairy Stone State Park is one of the best places to find these naturally formed staurolite crosses.
One third of Patrick County is in the rolling Piedmont plateau and the remaining two-thirds in the picturesque Blue Ridge Mountains where the Blue Ridge Parkway forms the County’s western border with Carroll and Floyd Counties to the north. Millions of years ago, two tectonic plates collided and the mountains were formed. One effect of their formation was the creation of the staurolite crystals that give the park its name.
Fairy stones are staurolite, a combination of silica, iron and aluminum. Staurolite crystallizes at 60 or 90 degree angles, hence the stone’s cross-like structure. The stones are most commonly shaped like St. Andrew’s cross, an “X,” but “T” shaped Roman crosses and square Maltese crosses are the most sought-after. The rare staurolite stones are found elsewhere but not in such abundance as at Nancy’s Fudge in one of our Virginia State Park gift shops, you will know that a trip to their factory outlet store should be in order.
The only thing this story needed to make this more appropriate for St. Patrick’s day would have been a leprechaun or two. Oh well, you can’t have everything. Coming soon – what kind of a name is Hungry Mother?