There are seven brands of European beer chilling in the general store here and, living in the mountains surrounding this one-street village, are hundreds of retired bureaucrats who demand the stuff.

It's 47 miles east on the Harry Flood Byrd Highway to Washington -- the city of power, sepulchral stone and affected tastes. Yet reception of Washington's television stations, as well its big city vibes, is crystal-clear in this tiny town on the east side of the Blue Ridge.

Since most of the famously pretty leaves from the sweet gum, hickory and black tupelo trees are blown down now, there are vantage points all over the mountain where on a clear autumn day you can even see the Washington Monument.

An unincorporated town with one store and a riches-to-rags history, Bluemont is the beginning (or the end) of the suburban infection spreading west from the nation's capital, an infection tha's swelled the population of a horsey county called Loudoun by 54 percent in the last decade.

Here, near a notch in the Blue Ridge called Snicker's Gap, you can look east to the Loudoun Valley below and at night see thousands of flickering lights that didn' exist 10 or even five years ago.Creeping ever closer to Bluemont are subdivisions with names like Sugarland West and Heritage Square. Redskins coach Jack Pardee, Sen. John Warner (R-Va.) and his wife Elizabeth Taylor own property down in that valley known for its fox-hunting millionaires and pampered horses. A newcomer named Ronald Reagan has been out to the valley to relax over the last six months.

Bluemont itself isn't exactly booming. The U.S. Census Bureau doesn't recognize its existence as a separate entity. The last time Ellen Jones, who works as a clerk in the Bluemont Post Office and serves as the town's unofficial census taker, counted it up, there were 230 people here. But there are thousands of newcomers outside the town's ill-defined boundaries.

Art Holmes and his wife Joan, who have an eye-catching sign in front of their farm that says "Joan of Art," moved here four years ago from Potomac, Md., to retire, raise milch goats and keep their teen-age kids out of trouble.

Standing beside a wire fence that fails to confine his high-jumping goats, Art Holmes, 63, explained why he sold his $120,000 house in one of Washington's most exclusive suburbs and came to the Blue Ridge.

"There was a lot to be desired in Potomac. We had to inconvenience ourselves to let our boy [now 19] run our lives. We decided not to give him any more chances to go bad. A lot of people should do what we did. If they see something is going to happen to a kid they should get the hell out," said Art Holmes.

Holmes, a retired chief of procurement at Walter Reed Hospital who spent 31 years in the Army, took the money he made selling his house and for $90,000 bought an 11-acre spread surrounded by apple trees. While his wife works as a nurse at a nearby state prison, Holmes looks after his 16-year-old daughter (his boy has gone away to school), fishes and yells at the floppy-eared goats, who like to get up on the roof of his house and prance.

Holmes is one of the newcomers here who became fascinated with the history of Bluemont as soon as he bought land. The historical fixation among Washington emigrants has spawned a local controversy; there's a move here to rename Bluemont with its original name - Snickersville.

Edward Snickers was a rich man in the 18th century who ran a ferry on the Shenandoah River, which is just across the mountains to the west. The nearby pass was named after him and in 1813 Snickersville was born as a rest stop for wagon drivers moving east and west over Snicker's Gap Turnpike.

By the 1890s, Snickersville had grown into a wealthy resort town. According to a society column in The Washington Post, Snickersville grew "steadily in popularity with people who want[ed] to escape heat and social chichi without going too far from the capital."

In 1900, the Southern Railroad extended a line from Alexandria to Snickersville and then pressured citizens here to change the name of their town to something less hokey.

"Snickersville, they thought, was rather plebian," says Lewis Reid, 68, a native whose family came here in 1870 and who now lives on his family's original homestead in a house called "Reid's Roost."

Reid, a former Washington bureaucrat who moved back home eight years ago, says he wouldn't mind renaming the town Snickersville and getting rid of the Bluemont name imposed by railroad executives. The railroad canceled train service here in 1939 after it had become unprofitable, and that act nearly killed the town.