Solar Hill Historic District


    How Solar Hill Got Its Name

    The following is reprinted from Blue John Remembers, a collection of articles authored by Clarence Baker Kearfott published by the Bristol Historical Association.
    Bailys Beads phenomonum Solar Eclipse Showing 'The Baily's Beads'

    It seems that somewhere between 1860 and 1871, a tract of land was subdivided into lots; but sales proved to be slow. Sometime during the period immediately prior to 1871, there occurred an eclipse of the sun and the eclipse was nearly total in Bristol.

    A party of astronomers was sent to Bristol to make an observation. They chose the highest available point in town and in order to properly orient their telescope, they established a meridian - that is a true north and south line - along the top of Solar Hill, and placed markers or monuments at each end as reference points for the instruments.

    All this activity undoubtedly drew many interested spectators as well as others who were just plain curious. It was decided to hold an auction for the sale of the lots and the Reverend David Sullins acted as the auctioneer. He received his choice of two lots for his services. Many of the visitors recognized the commanding view from these lots and sales picked up.

    It is said that when the big day arrived and the moon began to creep across the face of the sun, the Reverend Sullins threw his hat into the air and shouted, "Hallelujah!" at the top of his voice. Incidentally, this Reverend David Sullins was the founder of Sullins College.

    Thus, from this observation of a solar eclipse, the name Solar Hill was applied to the hill and Solar Street to the street running along the top of the hill.

    Click here for more information about the Solar Hill Historic District in Bristol, Va.


    Editor's Note: The eclipse in question was the total solar eclipse of August 7, 1869. A phenomenon known as 'The Baily's Beads' was first photographed during this eclipse. The effect is caused by the photosphere shining through lunar valleys, creating a rope of 'beads' around the moon.


Last Updated: 1/21/2015 5:10 PM
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