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A Florida couple bought the historic Cliffside mansion in Galax, along with five cottages and six barns all situated near the New River Trail State Park, during an auction on Nov. 9.
The sale to Don and Liz Bortniak of Lake Worth, Fla., largely keeps intact some of the most visible properties and structures along the trail, a 57-mile biking and hiking route that follows a former rail line from Galax to Fries.
The Bortniaks bought the buildings and about 21 acres for $1,267,350.
The three-story Cliffside mansion was built in 1902 by Thomas Felts, who led the Baldwin-Felts Detective Agency in the early 20th century. Baldwin-Felts men were famous, some would say infamous, for breaking up strikes and engaging in shootouts with coal miners in West Virginia. The agency also hunted down members of the “Allen clan” after the bloody gun battle inside the Carroll County Courthouse in Hillsville in 1912.
The property was put on the market by Jim and Becky Griffeth, who have owned the house and more than 200 acres since 1989. The auction was conducted by Woltz & Associates of Roanoke.
“A great couple bought this property,” auctioneer Jim Woltz said of the new owners. “I believe we have people who want to preserve the property the same way the previous owners did.”
Not all of the property was kept together. The farm was divided into 17 tracts at auction. Six individual buyers bought woodland, pasture land and some higher property all along Chestnut Creek.
James Dolinger of Galax bought the biggest chunk when he purchased 106 acres of wooded and open land for $212,000.
Other tracts along the trail and creek were purchased by other buyers. No information was available about those individuals.
Personal property was also auctioned during the two-day sale.