Download Full Text (234 KB)


Corbin, Robert Hilton




1 audio file (running time: 2:52:21)

Interview Number


Date of Interview



Records an interview with Robert H. Corbin, who leads a party of researchers from the National Park Service (NPS), the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club (PATC) and several family members on a walking tour of Nicholson Hollow. The primary interviewers are Allen Tanner of the PATC and Paul Lee of the NPS. Additional questions and commentary are provided by Mr. Corbin's son, Joe, and other family members. The Corbin homestead was located on part of the land turned over to the NPS by the state of Virginia in the 1930s. The primary focus of the tour was the identification of home sites and their owners along the length of Nicholson Hollow. Discusses home and family life in the mountains, including the tan bark industry, apple, chestnut and ginseng harvesting, food cultivation and preservation, and the moonshine business. Community gatherings, such as weddings, funerals, corn husking and apple butter boiling parties are also discussed, with passing mentions of Camp Hoover and local entrepreneur George Pollock, owner of nearby Skyland resort. Mr. Corbin, who was nearly 80 years old, gives an extensive account of many of the inhabitants of Nicholson and Corbin Hollows, as well as Corbin Mountain. The second eldest of 21 children, Corbin was related by blood or marriage to most of the surrounding families. Some of the more notable relatives mentioned include Corbin's cousin George T. Corbin, builder of the landmark Corbin Cabin, Aaron Nicholson and Phinnel Fennel Corbin, who were both featured in George Pollock's book Skyland: Heart of the Shenandoah Valley. Corbin describes two local murders, including that of his father, William J. Corbin, who was killed by a family member, John Nicholson, in 1922.


The copyright interests in this collection have been transferred to the James Madison University Special Collections Library. For more information, contact the Special Collections Library Reference Desk (

Personal Names

Corbin, Robert Hilton, 1888-1978. Interviews; Corbin, George T., 1888-1978; Corbin, Phinnel, 1864-1981; Corbin, William Jordan, 1875-1922; Pollock, George Freeman, 1869-1949. Skyland: Heart of the Shenandoah Valley.

Family Names

Corbin family; Nicholson family; Hawkins family; Weakley family


United States. National Park Service; Potomac Appalachian Trail Club; George T. Corbin Cabin (Madison County, Va.); Mountain people -- Blue Ridge Mountains -- Social life and customs; Mountain life -- Shenandoah River Valley (Va. and W. Va.) -- History; Mountain people -- Virginia -- Shenandoah National Park -- Social life and customs; Rural poor -- Virginia; Country life -- Appalachian Region, Southern; Funeral rites -- Appalachian Region, Southern; Courtship -- Virginia -- History; Food habits -- Appalachian Region, Southern; Holidays -- Shenandoah River Valley (Va. and W. Va.) -- History; Traditional medicine -- Shenandoah River Valley (Va. and W. Va.); Ginseng; Distilling, Illicit -- Virginia; Land use -- Government policy -- United States.

Place Names

Nicholson Hollow (Va.) – History; Corbin Hollow (Va.) – History; Skyland (Va.); Madison County (Va.) – History; Shenandoah River Valley (Va. and W. Va.) -- Manners and customs; Shenandoah National Park (Va.) -- History, Local.


Tanner, Allan; Lee, Paul

Collection Title

Shenandoah National Park oral history collection

Collection Number

SdArch SNP

Streaming Media

Media is loading
(SNP034) Robert Hilton Corbin interviewed by Allan Tanner and Paul Lee



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.