Grayson County/Fries Hydroelectric Dam

Over the Thanksgiving holiday while visiting with family, I found myself in Grayson County and did a little exploring. Ended up in Fries (pronounces “freeze”) and had the chance to check out an early 1900s hydroelectric dam. Very interesting to see a town that was built out purely because of industry. Had time allowed for it, could have spent many more days exploring the area. Scroll down or click the link for some photos.

Fries was named after North Carolina cotton mill owner Colonel Francis Henry Fries. Jim ‘Pipe’ Carico (of Stephens Creek, Virginia, the nearest incorporated town) contacted Fries in 1900 and proposed Bartlett Falls on New River as a site for a hydroelectric dam that could power a cotton mill.

Fries purchased the surrounding rural farmland then hired a local labor force to build a dam, a cotton mill and a full-service company owned town. By 1901, the New River Train was extended to the mill site and Fries petitioned the Virginia State Legislature to incorporate the new town of Carico, VA in honor of Jim ‘Pipe’ Carico. For reasons that are not well documented, the town name was instead legislatively changed to Fries, Virginia and officially incorporated in 1902.

More on the area and history from Wikipedia here.

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