Sunday, December 28, 2008

Legends of the Falls, 1

"Once upon a time there was a lovely Cherokee maiden…."



Wait a minute!

These Cherokee maiden stories annoy me. I think it’s because, when you scratch the surface, you’re more likely to find racist misogyny instead of any historical basis for the stories. But what else would you expect from the old white guys who concocted these legends?

It would be easy to fill a book with examples of this genre, though. Robert Frank (Jarrett House) Jarrett’s lovely Cherokee maiden, Occoneechee, has made a notable appearance on this blog, and so have the lovely strawberry-picking maidens admired by William Bartram. Just last week we had a virtual visit to the final resting place of the lovely Cherokee maiden, Trahlyta. Princess Cornblossom drew a passing mention here. We have yet to check in on the lovely Cherokee maidens Jocassee and Connestee. And the tourist attraction, Blowing Rock, is known for the legend of another lovely Indian maiden (either Creek or Chickasaw) who fell in love with a Cherokee brave.





One writer, commenting on the archetype, called these Indian maidens "exoticized embodiments of Nature."

NOW, we’re getting somewhere!

Here's the deal: the old white guys created legends where these lovely Indian maidens, these stand-ins for Nature, are pure, beautiful, loyal, and obedient to their male counterparts. In spite of all the admirable qualities, though, these lovely Indian maidens, these stand-ins for Nature, usually wind up dead.



NOW, these Cherokee maiden stories are beginning to get interesting…not so much because of what the legends reveal about the characters involved, but what these legends reveal about the people who invented them. Nature can be beautiful and life-giving. But that’s not enough to save Nature from a sacrificial death.

OK. That’s about as far as I intend to ride THAT horse. Plenty of scholars and activists have written solid critiques of the "Indian Maiden Stereotype." It’s not pretty. Not pretty at all.



Anyhow, what got me thinking about this was a visit to Issaqueena Falls, north of Walhalla, South Carolina. When you arrive at the trailhead for Issaqueena, you’re greeted with an exhibit that explains the legend of the lovely Indian maiden, Issaqueena:

Local stories about this site involve variations from the poem, "Cateechee of Keowee," a story of love and adversity penned by J.W. Daniels, A.M., in 1898. The following is a summary of Rev. Daniels' poem, which thrust Issaqueena into immortality. This beautiful waterfall is named for a Creek maiden called Issaqueena. There are many legends about Issaqueena. The most popular story tells how as a girl Issaqueena was captured by the Cherokee and given the name Cateechee. As a young woman she met and fell in love with a white trader named Allan Francis.

One day she overheard a plan by the Cherokee to attack the settlements on the frontier. To warn her lover, she found a swift pony and rode 96 miles to his trading fort. As she traveled, Issaqueena named the landmarks she crossed on her way -- Six mile Mountain, twelve Mile River, Eighteen Mile Creek, and others on her way to her final destination at Fort Ninety-Six.

Fearing retribution from the Cherokees, Issaqueena remained with Allan, eventually marrying him. In time, she, Allan, and their newborn baby moved back to Stumphouse Mountain where they built their home.


One day, the Cherokee Chief, angered with the white settlers, sent his warriors to capture Issaqueena. Issaqueena saw them coming and ran toward the waterfall to escape capture. Knowing that the Cherokee believed evil spirits lived in waterfalls, she pretended to leap to her death. She hid on the ledge below the top of the waterfall where she remained until it was safe to rejoin her family. Her dramatic escape began the legend of Issaqueena Falls.



Ho-hum. Yet another legend of a lovely Indian maiden and a waterfall? But a story by Buzz Williams, posted on the Chattooga Conservancy website really caught my attention. In Trailing Issaqueena, Williams traces the long and twisted evolution of the Issaqueena legend and some of the actual events that figured into the tale. It’s a great article, so I won’t attempt to rehash it here and fail to do it justice:
http://www.chattoogariver.org/index.php?req=issaqueena&quart=Sp2007



I could not find a copy of Mr. Daniels’ poem, "Cateechee of Keowee.” However, I did locate a similar work published in 1896.

Cateechee, the Indian Maiden
From Palmetto Lyrics, by Francis Muench.

FROM the Broad to Oconee through the Cherokees' lands,
Rang the blast of the trumpeter-shell,
For these were their Chieftain Kuruga's commands:
"At the tide of the New Moon assemble your bands
From hamlet and mountain and dell,

And fall on the farms of the cursed pale face,
Upon Cambridge, their outmost frontier,
And sweep,—with the hurricane's blast through the space
With the rush of the flame mid a forest ablaze—
Every trace that they ever dwelt here!"

Cateechee, Kuruga's fair daughter, scarce heard
Of the murd'rous design of her clan,
When deeply her heart in her bosom was stirred;
Yet mustering her courage nor breathing a word
She resolved upon thwarting their plan.

For dwells not at Cambridge, Frank Allan, her friend,
Her teacher at school and her guide?
And on him should the tomahawk's vengeance descend?
No, no! 't is her duty his life to defend,
No matter what fortune betide!

So leaving her wigwam with the daylight's first ray
And turned to the rise of the sun,
O'er mountain and valley she traveled her way,
Till she reached the Saluda at noon of the day,
And she followed its southerly run.

Nigh foot-sore she entered a grotto's dim nave
When the Day-Star stood low in the West,
And she tarried o'er night in the hospitable cave,
And gratefully prizing the shelter it gave
She named it by "Traveler's Rest."

With the limpid Saluda again for her guide,
Unwearied the next day she strode.
Till she sighted the village at even's dim tide
And the well-known cot by the rivulet's side,
Where her teacher, Frank Allan, abode.

"Ah, thou here, Cateechee, so wan and so worn?"
Spake Allan, amazed at her sight.
"Thy footsoles a-bleeding from bramble and thorn,
Thy tresses dishevelled, thy vestiments torn,—
Oh, tell me the cause of thy plight!"—

"Full Ninety-Six Miles, as an eagle will soar,
I traveled to spread the alarm:
Ere stands yet the Moon in the heavens once more,
My brethren's dread war-whoop will ring at thy door:
Flee quick then to save thee from harm!"—

"Oh thanks for thy warning, thy timely report
That ransoms from peril our lives!
But to flee from the foe is a coward's resort,
Yet fear not, 't is time yet to build us a fort,
Ere the host of thy brethren arrives!"

And they builded a fort in the shape of a star
On the brow of a towering hill,
With bastions that bristled with engines of war,
And ramparts that loomed o'er the landscape afar
And baffled the enemy's skill.

"But"—questioned the toilers when the work was complete
And they rested their shovels and picks—
"What name shall be given this shelt'ring retreat?"
"None other,"—spoke Allan—"none other so meet,
So fit as the name 'Ninety-Six.' "

"For Ninety-Six Miles, as an eagle will soar,
This maiden conveyed the report,
That soon will the Indian beleaguer our door,
And seeming it is that the suff'rings she bore
Shall live in the name of the Fort!"

'T’is to marriage that every good story will tend;
No exception is ours to the rule:
And so, when the Indian blockade was at end,
Cateechee was married to Allan, her friend,
And whilom her teacher at school.



Monday, September 8, 2008

Return to Atagahi




Synchronicity is a funny thing. After a couple of weeks of working too hard, the call of the wild was becoming ever more insistent. The time had come for me to get out on the trail and reconnect with my inner woodland gnome. But just before I left the house, I checked the computer. Google Reader alerted me to an update from one of my favorite blogs, where the following quote had been reprinted:

A Lakota woman named Elaine Jahner once wrote that what lies at the heart of the religion of hunting peoples is the notion that a spiritual landscape exists within the physical landscape. To put it another way, occasionally one sees something fleeting in the land, a moment when line, color, and movement intensify and something sacred is revealed, leading one to believe that there is another realm of reality corresponding to the physical one but different.


In the face of a rational, scientific approach to the land, which is more widely sanctioned, esoteric insights and speculations are frequently overshadowed, and what is lost is profound. The land is like poetry: it is inexplicably coherent, it is transcendent in its meaning, and it has the power to elevate a consideration of human life.

(From ARCTIC DREAMS, by Barry Lopez)



Aha! "A spiritual landscape within the physical landscape" has become as much a part of my reality as the air I breathe. And so I had this quote in mind as I arrived at Kuwahi, the mulberry place, the sacred mountain, where a sign explained:


The Cherokee believed bears had their townhouse inside this mountain. Bears would congregate and hold dances here in the fall before retiring to their dens for the winter.



I peered through the fog and the mist swirling around this mountain and tried to catch a glimpse of the valley below before reading from the sign again:


Nearby was the enchanted lake of Atagahi, where wounded bears would submerge in the water and be cured of their injuries when they emerged. The animals kept the lake invisible to hunters, but if a human were to sharpen his spiritual vision by prayer, fasting, and all-night vigil, there was a slight chance they might catch a glimpse of Atagahi at daybreak. The lake would appear as a wide but shallow body of purple water, fed by springs flowing from high cliffs. Paw prints of all the bears that had visited would be impressed in the sands along the shore. Fish and reptiles teemed in the water and a multitude of birds flew constantly overhead.


Looking down through the clouds, I could see a trace of a lake. As if to quell the excitement of tourists who might think they’ve seen Atagahi, the sign continued:


The lake you see in the distance today is Fontana, created during World War II to generate electricity for the war effort.


Yes.


Of course.


Fontana.


Not to be confused with Atagahi.




When I returned from Kuwahi, I picked up the most indispensible book ever written about the Southern Appalachians. I wonder if people appreciate how fortunate we are to have such a book about this place we call home - James Mooney’s Myths of the Cherokees. Mooney described the enchanted lake:


Westward from the headwaters of Oconaluftee river, in the wildest depths of the Great Smoky mountains, which form the line between North Carolina and Tennessee, is the enchanted lake of Atagâ'hï, "Gall place." Although all the Cherokee know that it is there, no one has ever seen it, for the way is so difficult that only the animals know how to reach it. Should a stray hunter come near the place he would know of it by the whirring sound of the thousands of wild ducks flying about the lake, but on reaching the spot he would find only a dry flat, without bird or animal or blade of grass, unless he had first sharpened his spiritual vision by prayer and fasting and an all-night vigil.


Because it is not seen, some people think the lake has dried up long ago, but this is not true. To one who had kept watch and fast through the night it would appear at daybreak as a wide-extending but shallow sheet of purple water, fed by springs spouting from the high cliffs around. In the water are all kinds of fish and reptiles, and swimming upon the surface or flying overhead are great flocks of ducks and pigeons, while all about the shores are bear tracks crossing in every direction. It is the medicine lake of the birds and animals, and whenever a bear is wounded by the hunters he makes his way through the woods to this lake and plunges into the water, and when he comes out upon the other side his wounds are healed. For this reason the animals keep the lake invisible to the hunter.



I have another book, as unreadable as Mooney’s book is engrossing. That book is Occoneechee, The Maid of the Mystic Lake, by Robert Frank Jarrett, the same Robert Frank Jarrett who was the original proprietor of the Jarrett House in Dillsboro. The only reason I mention his volume of bad verse is because the story of Atagahi inspired Jarrett’s interminable poem about the lovely Indian maiden, Occoneechee. Perhaps a brief sample is enough to discourage anyone from making the effort to obtain a copy of Jarrett’s book:


There the stream Oconaluftee
Hides its source far from the eye,
Of the white man in his rovings,
Far upon the mountain high;
And the forest land primeval,
Roamed by doe and wandering bear,
And the hissing, coiling serpent,
Was not stranger to them there.


Catamount and mountain-boomer
Sprang from cliff-side into trees,
And the eagle, hawk and vulture
Winged their course on every breeze.
At the footfall of this maiden
Sped the gobbler wild and free,
From the maiden Occoneechee
Flitted butterfly and bee.


For anyone who does enjoy that sort of thing, another hundred pages of it awaits the eager reader. I give Jarrett his due, though, he considered the spiritual landscape within the physical landscape, that enchanted lake, that place called Atagahi.


With James Mooney's help, I have Atagahi marked on my maps, in case my prayer and fasting gives me the glimpse I long for. Whenever I am near it, I listen carefully, in case I hear the whirring sound of the thousands of wild ducks flying about that enchanted lake.


Who knows? Maybe that sign on the mountain was right:

The Great Spirit told them, “If they love me, if they love all their brothers and sisters, and if they love the animals of the earth, when they grow old and sick, they can come to a magic lake and be made well again.”



Friday, August 29, 2008

Searching for Teresita

The events of one’s life take place, take place. How often have I used that expression, and how often have I stopped to think what it means? Events do indeed take place; they have meaning in relation to the things around them. - N. Scott Momaday




“Could you help me find Teresita?”

Should some perplexed traveler stop me with that question, I’d have a quick reply.

“Sure. Head west out of Franklin on US 64. When you get to Cartoogechaye, turn left on the Old Murphy Road. Follow that to North Jones Creek Road, look for Gillespie Chapel and you'll reach Teresita, between Pine Mountain and Black Mountain."

While that’s a reasonably accurate answer, it’s not what writer and critic Edmund Wilson wanted when he raised the question forty-five years ago. More on that later.




This story began when I heard N. Scott Momaday read a piece called “Riding is an Exercise of the Mind” from his book, In the Presence of the Sun. It’s amazing how a few carefully chosen words can possess the power to transport a person through space and time, and bring back a flood of memories. Momaday’s words did that for me:

One autumn morning in 1946 I woke up at Jemez Pueblo.

Two decades later I would be the one waking up at Jemez Pueblo, and at about the same age as Momaday was in 1946. The twelve-year-old Momaday had come to the place of his growing up, as he put it, and found a place much like the village I saw in 1968. He described the scene:

The village and the valley, the canyons and the mountains had been there from the beginning of time, waiting for me. So it seemed….

The landscape was full of mystery and of life. The autumn was in full bloom. The sun cast a golden light upon the adobe walls and the cornfields; it set fire to the leaves of willows and cottonwoods along the river; and a fresh cold wind rand own from the canyons and carried the good scents of pine and cedar smoke, of bread baking in the beehive ovens, and of rain in the mountains. There were horses in the plain and angles of geese in the sky.






Hearing those words from Momaday took me back to Jemez. I could smell the wood smoke. I could taste the bread from those beehive ovens. I could revisit my own adventures from the time I spent there. I remembered:

One afternoon, my new-found friends at Jemez asked if I liked apricots. “Follow us,” they motioned, and in just a minute we came upon a tree loaded with apricots ripened to perfection under the New Mexico sun. The heavily laden limbs beckoned and we began enjoying the golden fruit. I had never tasted apricots more delicious, either before or since.

I had never felt more at home anywhere else, before or since.

Suddenly, my trilingual buddies were yelling frantically to one another in a language I did not understand. They took off running as fast as they could go. I turned around slowly and saw an old man at the back door of his adobe house, holding a shotgun and scowling. Surely he wouldn’t shoot a skinny little tow-headed boy for raiding his apricot tree. Or would he? And how could you blame him if he did?

I didn’t wait to find out.

Edmund Wilson’s visit to Jemez Pueblo had preceded my arrival by almost 40 years. When N. Scott Momaday began a correspondence with him in the 1960’s, Wilson wrote:

There was a beautiful Indian girl there named Teresita…If you should meet her, please remember me to her.

Momaday never found Teresita, but later reflected on Wilson’s comment:

In his long lifetime, Wilson knew a great many people and traveled widely over the earth….It fascinates me that he should recall to mind a girl in the Jemez Mountains after a span of thirty years. But why should it?

If in August, some year, when I go to see the Pecos bull run through the streets of Jemez Pueblo, I find the old woman, I shall indeed remember him to her.

One indelible memory from Jemez was when the old ladies came around selling freshly cooked tamales. Every evening they'd carry baskets of steaming hot tamales wrapped in cornhusks. I wonder about Edmund Wilson’s Teresita. Since she had been a young lady in 1930, she could have been one of those tamale vendors four decades later. Or perhaps I saw Teresita in Jemez Pueblo taking bread out of a beehive oven. It might have happened.


Now, if a perplexed traveler were to ask me for help finding Teresita, I would hesitate before answering.

“Well, that all depends. Which Teresita are you looking for?”





There is great good in returning to a landscape that has had extraordinary meaning in one's life. It happens that we return to such places in our minds irresistably. There are certain villages and towns, mountains and plains that, having seen them, walked in them, lived in them, even for a day, we keep forever in the mind's eye. They become indispensable to our well-being; they define us, and we say, I am who I am because I have been there, or there. - N. Scott Momaday

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Great Haywood Artifact Scam


A portion of the 1760 Kitchin map. The village of Evanga is indicated where the Little Tennessee and the Tuckasegee Rivers meet.

The folks at the North Carolina Collection of the University of North Carolina library in Chapel Hill have been providing a wealth of research materials online, and just this week they’ve announced the beta version of North Carolina Maps. Eventually, this collection will make available via the web 1500 historically significant maps.

I was glad to see one map in particular, the 1760 Thomas Kitchin map, A New Map of the Cherokee Nation. As far as I know, this is the first published map to show any level of detail for the Tuckasegee River Valley. Kitchin engraved the map based on “an Indian draught” and it was included in the February 1760 issue of London Magazine, along with an article describing a punitive expedition against the Cherokee and the importance of obtaining allegiance of the Cherokee to prevent French incursions from the west. In June 1760, Colonel Archibald Montgomery led British forces into Cherokee country to quell the uprising, but was ambushed and turned back, south of present-day Franklin, NC.

The Kitchin map identifies several villages located near the Tuckasegee River, including Newni, Cunnulrasha, Tuckereche, Kittewano, Cunnawiskee and Tuckeseegee.

Thomas Kitchin (1718-1784) was one of the most prolific English engravers and map publishers of his time. He published a wide range of books, many of which were unrelated to the subject of geography. He also produced maps for magazines, such as The London Magazine and books relating to history. He collaborated with Emanuel and Thomas Bowen, and Thomas Jefferys. On his own, he published the General Atlas in 1773.

Nicholas Graham announced the launch of North Carolina Maps this week:

The site currently includes over 750 maps, primarily from the State Archives and the North Carolina Collection. Maps from the Outer Banks History Center will be added in the fall. There is an impressive variety of maps on the site, including many of the earliest maps of North Carolina, state highway maps, Coast and Geodetic Survey maps, and — my personal favorite — soil survey maps. North Carolina Maps also includes at least one map for each of North Carolina’s 100 counties.

New maps and features will be added to the site on a regular basis over the next two years.

The Kitchin map and many, many more North Carolina maps are at:

http://www.lib.unc.edu/dc/ncmaps/index.html

Friday, August 22, 2008

Unexpected Discoveries



North Carolina has plenty of places to discover, and one of my favorite books on those places is Carolina Journeys, Exploring the Trails of the Carolinas, Both Real and Imagined. It is different from other guide books – more personal and whimsical than similar volumes. I enjoyed it so much that I tried to contact the author, and learned the sad news that he had died after completing the book. It would have been fun to compare notes with someone who had worn out a copy of the 1939 WPA Guide to the Old North State.

In the introduction to his book, Tom Fowler took a couple of pages to explain his approach to sharing the places he had visited. Fowler wanted to write a guide book without providing so much information that it colored the expectations of the reader. Fowler explained that:

…the novelist Walker Percy thought about this effect of expectation upon perception. He described it as surrendering sovereignty over the experience to the expert – or at least to someone else who will evaluate your experience for you even before you experience it.
Carolina Journeys is intended to tell stories of poorly-known sites of interest in the Carolinas.


We realize that providing information about these sites is the first step in co-opting your sovereignty and reducing you to a sightseer – so our goal is to avoid providing too much information or too good directions or being too knowledgeable and authoritative. Much will be left up to you, dear reader and Carolina sojourner.



I appreciate how Fowler was careful not to rob the reader of the possibility for the experience of discovery. Nowadays, with the abundance of information just a click away, that sense of discovery is harder to come by. For whatever hiking trail or side road the traveller intends to take, it’s easy to find a detailed account posted by someone who’s already been there.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

But sometimes there’s extra excitement in finding a place you’ve never heard of. That happened with the waterfalls pictured here. Had it not been for a keen-eyed navigator scanning fine print on the map, it would have been easy to drive right past the place, even though it is right next to a highway. In fact, I’d already driven past it a dozen times without knowing it was there.

I have no doubt that some readers will recognize the place. It’s not hard to find if you know where to look. But this time, I’m not going to name the place, provide directions or divulge any clues.

Then, if you do happen to stumble upon it, you might be as pleasantly surprised as I was.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Tuckasegee Valley - 1760


A portion of the 1760 Kitchin map. The village of Evanga is indicated where the Little Tennessee and the Tuckasegee Rivers meet.

The folks at the North Carolina Collection of the University of North Carolina library in Chapel Hill have been providing a wealth of research materials online, and just this week they’ve announced the beta version of North Carolina Maps. Eventually, this collection will make available via the web 1500 historically significant maps.

I was glad to see one map in particular, the 1760 Thomas Kitchin map, A New Map of the Cherokee Nation. As far as I know, this is the first published map to show any level of detail for the Tuckasegee River Valley. Kitchin engraved the map based on “an Indian draught” and it was included in the February 1760 issue of London Magazine, along with an article describing a punitive expedition against the Cherokee and the importance of obtaining allegiance of the Cherokee to prevent French incursions from the west. In June 1760, Colonel Archibald Montgomery led British forces into Cherokee country to quell the uprising, but was ambushed and turned back, south of present-day Franklin, NC.

The Kitchin map identifies several villages located near the Tuckasegee River, including Newni, Cunnulrasha, Tuckereche, Kittewano, Cunnawiskee and Tuckeseegee.

Thomas Kitchin (1718-1784) was one of the most prolific English engravers and map publishers of his time. He published a wide range of books, many of which were unrelated to the subject of geography. He also produced maps for magazines, such as The London Magazine and books relating to history. He collaborated with Emanuel and Thomas Bowen, and Thomas Jefferys. On his own, he published the General Atlas in 1773.

Nicholas Graham announced the launch of North Carolina Maps this week:

The site currently includes over 750 maps, primarily from the State Archives and the North Carolina Collection. Maps from the Outer Banks History Center will be added in the fall. There is an impressive variety of maps on the site, including many of the earliest maps of North Carolina, state highway maps, Coast and Geodetic Survey maps, and — my personal favorite — soil survey maps. North Carolina Maps also includes at least one map for each of North Carolina’s 100 counties.

New maps and features will be added to the site on a regular basis over the next two years.

The Kitchin map and many, many more North Carolina maps are at:

http://www.lib.unc.edu/dc/ncmaps/index.html

Monday, August 18, 2008

See That Can of Worms?

At the Great Smokies visitor center recently, I came across this postcard.



The caption on the back reads:

With rod and bait pail in hand, Clem Enloe, 84, allowed a photographer to take her picture in exchange for a box of snuff (showing in her blouse). She refused to observe the park’s fishing regulations and fished year-round using live bait.

The photographer, Joseph Sargent Hall, was a young researcher working in the park in 1937. Enloe was quick to inform him that nobody would stop her from fishing in the park. Thankfully, we have a more colorful account of Hall’s encounter with the obstinate angler.

It was said of Mrs. Clem Enloe, from Tight Run Branch, NC, that she was "an awful hand to fish." People would slyly suggest, "have Mrs. Enloe tell about her fishing rights."

And she would snap at the interviewer, "Are you a little Park man or a big Park man?" Without waiting for an answer, she’d continue, "big Park man or little Park man, you son of a bitch, I fish when I please, winter or summer. See that can of worms?" (which were then forbidden in the park)

So far, I’ve been unable to determine the location of Tight Run Branch, NC.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Shopping for Apples



To make a long story short, I went shopping for apples today.

Now, for the long story. Hearing Gary Nabhan talk about about Silas McDowell’s Nickajack apples inspired me to go digging through my files. And here's what I found...

Working from his farm in the Cullasaja valley, Silas McDowell (1795-1879) lived in Macon County (NC) for most of his life and discovered or improved many varieties of apples. Thanks to McDowell, the Cullasaja Valley became a treasure trove of new apple varieties. In 1847, McDowell explained the origin of the Nickajack:

…it is the product of a tree left by the Cherokee Indians when they abandoned the country, and they had no mode of propagating their fruit other than by the seed. I found it when a small tree in an Indian improvement on a branch of the Sugartown [Cullasaja] called the Nick-a-jack creek - hence its name.

In 1855, McDowell listed some of the apple varieties that he had discovered. All except the first four on the list were of Cherokee origin:

Camack's Winter Sweet
Maverick's Winter Sweet
McDowell's Winter Sweet
Ducket
Cullasaga
Nickajack
Alarkee
Equinetely
Cullawhee
Junaluskee
Watauga
Tillequah
Chestooah




In 1858, McDowell’s friend and fellow nurseryman, Jarvis Van Buren of Clarkesville, GA, acknowledged that successful apple production in the South was a fairly new trend and credited McDowell for that success:

Many of these [apples] were originated by the Cherokee and Creek Indians, who, it appears, were entirely ignorant of the process of propagating by grafting, but depended upon the sowing of seeds, which were collected in their intercourse with the whites. When the Indians left the country, their lands were occupied by our citizens, and since the enthusiasm for cultivating fruit has become awakened within the past ten years, these desirable varieties have been made public. Amongst our best winter apples are the Equinetely, Tillaquah, or Big Fruit, Chestoa, or Rabbit's Head, Elarkee, and Cullawhee, all of Indian origin — the latter the largest apple known.




Years later, one of McDowell’s neighbors in the Cullasaja Valley advertised even more varieties of trees for sale. This announcement appeared in the July 22, 1881 issue of the Western Reporter:

Cheap Fruit Trees. Mr. W. G. Stanfield, near Franklin, is offering the following very choice variety of apple trees at the remarkably low price of ten cents each. Don't send off for trees when you can get them so cheap at home.
Buff
Comanche Winter Sweet
Maverick's
Hoover
Yellow Pippin
Early Harvest
Batchelor
Red June
Yellow June
Golden Pippin
Great Unknown
Winter Horse
Nansamond Beauty
Johnson's Fine Winter
Golden Russet
Aromatic Cordling
Howard
Clark Pearmain
Neverfail
Rhode Island Greening
Hail
Red Pippin
Black
Royal Pearmain
Summer Golden Pippin
Ducket
Winter Queen
Schockley
Stevenson Fine Winter
Northern Spy
King Russet
Newtown Pippin
Nonesuch

However, 33 years later, none of these appeared on a list of apples grown in Jackson County. These varieties were listed in the program for the 1914 Jackson County Fair:

York Imperial
Roman Beauty
Stayman's Wine Sap
Virginia Beauty
Wine Sap
Gano (Black Ben Davis)
Grime's Golden
Mammoth Black Twig
Bryson Seedling
Libertwig
Royal Limbertwig
Delaware Red
Bonum
Roman Stem
Wolf River
Buckingham




To make a short story long, that’s the background for today's shopping trip to buy apples. Granted, it’s still early in the apple season. In another month or two, I might have more choices than I had this afternoon. I'll probably find more locally-grown apples than I found today. But just for fun, I wanted to see how many apple varieties I could find for sale in Sylva.

What better place to start than Walmart?

They had a half-dozen different apples, with the Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, and Granny Smith coming from Washington state, and the Braeburn, Fuji and Gala shipped from Chile.

Moving on to Ingle’s I found the same roster of apples. The biggest difference from Walmart was that almost all the apples were from Washington state rather than Chile, and some of the apples were labeled organic.

Next, I visited Terry’s Produce Stand. He offered three varieties of early apples, the Cortland, Ginger Gold and Wolf River. Mercifully, none of them had come from as far away as Chile, much less Washington.

For my last foray, I stopped at Harold's Supermarket. From what I could tell, all the apples were grown in the US...no Chilean fruit at Harold's. On the other hand, I didn't see anything labelled organic. Signs above the display listed Winesap and Jonagold apples, but I couldn't find them. Harold's did have a relatively good selection of the usual suspects: Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Rome, Braeburn, Mutsu, Fuji and Gala. Additionally, they had three varieties tagged as locally grown: Ginger Gold, Wolf River and Poly Red.

When it comes to apple diversity in the market, that's a start. But who knows? Some good people are working hard to renew America’s food traditions. One day soon, we might reconnect with the rich heritage of apple-growing in our own corner of the mountains, and get our first tastes of the apples named for the places we call home. Walmart can keep their Chilean Fujis and Galas. One day soon, we might find a Nickajack, a Cullasaga, an Alarkee…

…or even the largest of all apples, the Cullawhee.

More Varieties - The Apple Journal has a nice online list with descriptions of dozens of apples. http://www.applejournal.com/useall01.htm

Scanning the list, I did not see the Poly Red, but I did find Paula Red, and the description fits the apple at Harold's. Some other names from the Apple Journal list caught my eye. Here are a just a few of the more intriguing ones:

Buncombe
Celestia
Crow Egg
Dixie Red Delight
Douglas Wormless
Hollow Log
Husk Spice
Irish Peach
Mountain Boomer
Oriole
Peace Garden
Pitmaston Pineapple
Pomme Gris
Rusty Coat
Sops of Wine
Winter Banana

Illustrations -
Top, the painting is from the USDA's National Agricultural Library Pomological Watercolor Collection. This delectable online exhibit includes selections from the 7700 watercolors commissioned by the USDA starting in 1887. Since the use of scientific photography was not widespread in the late 19th Century, the USDA relied on watercolor artists to illustrate newly introduced cultivars.
http://www.nal.usda.gov/speccoll/collectionsguide/mssindex/pomology/apples/apples_list.shtml

Photographs, from the Ewart Ball Photographic Collection, D.H. Ramsey Library, Special Collections, University of North Carolina at Asheville. These photos are from a 1920 Apple Show. The first photo shows a display table of North Carolina apples. The second shows a display by Holston Orchards, Altapass, NC. The third is of a large Wolf River apple grown by Patton and Gillespie. The marks on these photos indicate they were produced by Plateau Studios in Asheville where the legendary George Masa did much of his photographic work. Several years later, Ewart Ball acquired Plateau, and questions have lingered as to whether or not Masa was properly credited for his work.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Smackass Gap

I’ve always liked Hayesville. I've been to Clay County many times over the years, and just learned something new about the place. If you’re driving west on Highway 64, you’ll cross Smackass Gap shortly before reaching the county seat.



I’m serious.

I never knew this until I took a close look at a topo map for the area. Smackass Gap is just west of Ledford Chapel, a church on the south side of Highway 64 overlooking one cove of Lake Chatuge.

According to the Board on Geographic Names, the official federal place-namers, there is only one Smackass in the United States, Clay County's own Smackass Gap. It begs the question, "Why in the world did they name it Smackass Gap?"

I have no idea.

While searching for the answer, I did come across a website for Miz Eudora Rumph, a noted author (In the Sweet By and By) who proudly hails from Smackass Gap. I also learned that Miz Eudora will be hosting a tour of Smackass Gap on September 19 and 20. Apparently, a motor coach full of Red Hat Ladies will be arriving for two days of festivities, including dining at the Hayesville Family Restaurant, a visit to Clay’s Corner (home of the possum drop), Moonshine Mash, a picnic at Chatuge Dam, and lunch at the Jarrett House in Dillsboro.

For real.

Presumably, if you pay the $216 to attend this shindig, you will find out why the place is called Smackass Gap.


On US 64 at Smacksass Gap, Clay County, NC

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Culture of Corn



The preservation of traditional crops is more than just saving seeds. It includes the preservation of the recipes and stories that earned those crops a treasured place in local culture. Many individuals and groups have recognized the value of perpetuating old-timey varieties, and it’s encouraging to see what they’ve accomplished. But those efforts can be tenuous. The story of Cherokee flour corn is a good example.

Back in the 1980s, Western Carolina University Chancellor Cotton Robinson was involved in research to restore the original strain of Cherokee flour corn. As I recall, the Cherokee Boys Club participated in raising the corn and marketing the cornmeal. I remember buying a bag of it, and discovered that it made the best cornbread I even ate. If you were to bring me a bag of that cornmeal right now, I’d drop everything else, pull out the old black skillet and bake some cornbread.

I hope that the recovery of Cherokee flour corn hasn’t fallen by the wayside. Fresh-baked cornbread is one of life’s great pleasures, and Cherokee flour corn made it even better. I’ve not found another cornmeal that comes close. In searching for the latest news on Cherokee flour corn, I did find this description posted by "blueflint" on a message board:

[The Cherokee] late pre-history corn culture was mostly based on their white flour corn, which they are very well known for and this was grown through out the Cherokee lands. If you have never seen this corn grow, it will average 12' tall but in good soil can reach 18'. This is an 8 row white flour corn that grinds silky smooth.


My search also led to a business established to grow and market old Southern crops. Ten years ago, Glenn Roberts founded Anson Mills in order to "grow, harvest and mill near-extinct varieties of heirloom corn, rice, and wheat organically, and re-create ingredients that were in the Southern larder before the Civil War." The entire story, at http://www.ansonmills.com/about-us-page.htm , is worth a read. By searching for the ideal corn to produce grits, Roberts might have saved one variety from extinction. According to the Anson Mills website:

The corn was revered for its high mineral and floral characteristics, and its creamy mouthfeel. He found this corn in a bootlegger's field near Dillon, South Carolina in 1997, and planted and harvested his own first crop of 30 acres in 1998. Known as "Carolina Gourdseed White," the single-family hand-select dated back to the late 1600's. Gourdseed is a classic Southern dent corn, soft and easy to mill.

Preservation of the old varieties is so much more than just botany or agriculture or cuisine. To preserve the old crops is also to preserve language, beautiful and powerful language. I posted a piece on this last year, and it has some relevance to the current discussion:
One of the last conversations I had with someone born prior to the twentieth century was with Robert Lee Franks (1897-2000). While transcribing the 1990 interview, I recognized the poetry in his way of speaking. As he talked about growing corn, he spoke in the gentle rhythms of the past.

Here’s what Robert told me.

Making Corn

It took lots of ground to make corn,
The way the old people farmed it
On these hillsides,
Four foot apart the rows,
Hills of corn four foot apart.
Now that takes a big patch
To make anything.

We grew the Pigeon White, they call it,
And the Hamburg Red Speckled for a long time.
And we got off from that on to a corn
That was mixed a little bit with sweet corn,
Made a great big long grain
Sort of like Hickory King
But it would get ripe quicker.

Sometimes we’d grow a little wheat
And make our flour,
But not often, though.
We just traded corn
For most everything.
.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Finding Guaxule

May is an important month in the history of the Southern Appalachians. In fact, the (recorded) history of the Southern Appalachians began in the month of May, because it was in May of 1540 that Hernando de Soto and his 600 Conquistadors crossed the Blue Ridge and stopped over at the village of Guaxule (Guasili).

The de Soto party started their trip across the Southeast a year earlier after landing on the Gulf Coast of Florida. Among de Soto’s followers were three men who chronicled the journey and gave us the first written accounts of European contact with the Cherokees (or perhaps the people who preceeded the Cherokees). One of those writers described the Guaxilians that greeted the Spaniards:

The lord of the province, who also had the same name of Guaxule, came out half a league from the pueblo accompanied by five hundred nobles handsomely dressed in rich mantles made of various kinds of skins and wearing long plumes on their heads, in accordance with the common usage of the whole country. Thus ceremoniously he received the governor, showing by signs his regard for him and speaking to him most courteously and with a very lordly air. He took him to the pueblo, which had three hundred houses, and lodged him in his own. The house was on a high elevation like other similar ones we have described [a mound]. All around it was a public walk along which six men could pass abreast.

And although maize was scarce, or perhaps hidden away from the voracious explorers, the villagers provided "three hundred small dogs" to feed them. In all likelihood, those small dogs were possums, generally not consumed by the Cherokees, but "the Christians liked them and sought them to eat."

Someday, I think it would be great fun to retrace de Soto’s journey across the Southern Appalachians and to revisit Guaxule. And to do it in style, I would need to find the perfect ride for the trip. You know, something along the lines of a, hmmmm, classic DeSoto.

Maybe a sleek 1942 DeSoto Custom convertible


Maybe a pink 1956 DeSoto Firedome


Maybe a pint-sized DeSoto Firemite convertible


Assuming I could get behind the wheel of one of these beauties, the next challenge would be finding Guaxule. And with the accounts of three eyewitnesses to go by, that should be a simple matter. Right?

Wrong!

It might be easier to find the right DeSoto than to find the right Guaxule. At least seven different locations have been suggested as the spot where the conquistadors chowed down on possum.

Guaxule # 1 – Coosawattee Old Town, near Carters, Murray County, Georgia
Guaxule # 2 – Etowah, near Cartersville, Bartow County, Georgia
Guaxule # 3 – Nacoochee Mound, White County, Georgia
Guaxule # 4 – Peachtree, on the Hiawassee River, Cherokee County, North Carolina
Guaxule # 5 – Asheville, Buncombe County, North Carolina
Guaxule # 6 – Embreeville, on the Nolichucky River, Washington County, Tennessee
Guaxule # 7 – Garden Creek, on the Pigeon River near Canton, Haywood County, NC

Well, THAT narrows it down! Actually, recent archaeological research may have eliminated some of these sites from serious consideration. Charles Hudson has spent many years recreating de Soto’s route and has weighed in for Guaxule # 6. But another contemporary researcher, Bob Jones, makes a strong case for Guaxule # 7.

It continues to be one of the great mysteries of the Southern Appalachians, that month of May that marked the beginning of our history. Someday, I hope to hit the road in a classic DeSoto to follow the route of the Spaniards and to find Guaxule for myself.

But I'll take a pass on that roast possum, thank you.

Roan Mountain Mystery Noise a Real Humdinger


In just a few weeks, the rhododendrons of Roan Mountain will be in full bloom. It’s one of the prettiest sights I’ve ever seen. But that’s not the only reason I’m itching to get back there. What I really want is to hear some good old mountain music. And Roan Mountain is the place to find it.

No mournful ballads. No droning dulcimer. No scratchy fiddle. No plinkety-plunk of a banjo. This Roan Mountain music is something altogether different, as described and explained (with great certitude) by Henry E. Colton in an 1878 newspaper article:

Several of the cattle tenders on the mountain and also General Wilder had spoken to us about what they called Mountain Music. One evening they said it was sounding loud, and Dr. D. P. Boynton, of Knoxville, Hon. J. M. Thornburg, and myself accompanied General Wilder to the glen to hear it. The sound was very plain to the ear, and was not at all as described – like the humming of thousands of bees – but like the incessant, continuous and combined snap of two Leyden jars positively and negatively charged.

I tried to account for it on the theory of bees or flies but the mountain people said it frequently occurred after the bees or flies had gone to their winter homes or before they came out. It was always loudest and most prolonged just before there would be a thunderstorm in either valley, or one passing over the mountain.

I used every argument I could to persuade myself that it was simply a result of some common cause and to shake the faith of the country people in its mysterious origin but I only convinced myself that it was the result from two currents of air meeting each other in the suck between the two peaks where there was no obstruction of trees, once containing a greater, the other a less amount of electricity, or that the two currents coming together in the open plateau on the high elevation, by their friction and being of different temperatures, generated electricity.

The ‘mountain music’ was simply the snapping caused by this friction and this generation of electricity. Many have noted the peculiar snapping hum to be observed in great auroral displays, particularly those of September, 1859 and February, 1872.

As the amount of electricity in the air currents became equalized or surcharged, they, descending to the other side caused the thunder storm daily in the valleys near the mountain and sometimes immediately on the edge of the timber surrounding the great bald top. The air currents of the Western North Carolina mountains and the East Tennessee valley form an aerial tide, ebbing and flowing.

The heated air of the valley rises from nine in the morning until three or four in the afternoon, making a slight easterly wind up and over Roan Mountain. As night comes on the current turns back into the valley, almost invariably producing a very brisk gale by three or four o’clock in the morning which, in its turn, dies down to a calm by seven and commences to reverse by nine o’clock. This continual change of currents of air makes it an impossibility for any great malarial scourge to exist in the East Tennessee valley, especially its northeastern end.

A 2006 Australian newspaper reported something similar to the Roan Mountain Music, but failed to confirm a source for the sound which had been heard in New Zealand. That article mentioned a novel inspired by the auditory oddity:

This is not the first incidence of humming in New Zealand. In 2005, New Zealand author Rachel McAlpine wrote a book called The Humming. In her novel set in small town, an artist called Ivan and a number of the townsfolk are plagued by a low frequency humming noise. The book was largely inspired by the author's own experiences in the seaside town of Puponga on the northwest tip of New Zealand's south island which was itself at the centre of a humming mystery some years back.

Two copies of the said novel are available on Amazon, at a cost of $196.13 and $469.81!

It looks like I’m going to have a difficult time getting to the bottom of the Roan Mountain Music mystery. Any clues to understanding this curious phenomenon would be greatly appreciated.

And if you're going to Roan Mountain any time soon, I'd suggest you take a camera...

...and a tape recorder.


Gitchi-Kenebig and the Uktena

I often think about the civilizations that occupied this continent before us. We know so little of their rise and fall. It’s not easy to connect the dots and create a meaningful picture when you can barely find the dots. Once in a while, though, something happens to shine a light upon the dark mysteries.

Many months ago, I posted “gravity is the source of lightness” recounting my meanders along the Tuckasegee River to contemplate ancient fish weirs and recent stacks of stones. In that story, I mentioned Peter Waksman, who had discovered arrays of stacked stones in Massachusetts. Soon thereafter, I had the good fortune to hear from Mr. Waksman and to learn about his Rock Piles blog, which reports on unusual assemblages of rocks in New England.

A couple of weeks ago, Waksman described a recent discovery that had reminded him of something I had mentioned in my story about the Tuckasegee. I had included a photograph of the place in the river that the Cherokee called “Datleyastai” or “where they fell.” As I went on to explain, the “they” in this case were:

…two Uktena tangled as though in combat, rose from the river, and fell back into the water. Uktena, in case you’ve not seen one lately, is a monstrous snake, as big around as a tree trunk, with horns on its head, a bright, blazing crest like a diamond on its forehead, and scales glittering like sparks of fire. Whoever is seen by the Uktena is so dazed by the bright light that he runs toward the snake instead of trying to escape.

The arrangement of rocks that Waksman found near Westford, MA bore a resemblance to the Uktena with a horned head and a contrasting piece of quartz in the neck. Upon further examination, Waksman found a smaller creature following the first and it, too, had a strategically placed piece of quartz in its body.

After studying his story and photos, I consulted James Mooney (1861-1921), the anthropologist who recorded much of what we know about the Uktena. Mooney stated:

Myths of a jewel in the head of a serpent or of a toad are so common to all Aryan nations as to have become proverbial. Talismanic and prophetic stones, which are carefully guarded, and to which prayer and sacrifice are offered, are kept in many tribes.

Since it is likely that some of the Algonquin tribes were active in what we now call Massachusetts, this comment from Mooney really caught my attention:

The Uktena has its parallel in the Gitchi-Kenebig or Great Horned Serpent of the northern Algonquin tribes.

The effigy discovered near Westford just might be an Uktena, or more accurately, Gitchi-Kenebig. The piece of quartz in its head could be the magical Ulunsuti sought by the conjurer. It is fascinating to read the accounts of the earliest European travelers through Cherokee country, who wrote accounts of the talismanic stones treasured by the natives.

If you want to visit the home of the Uktena, then you should travel to Gahuti, or Cohuttta Mountain, in Murray County, Georgia. This was the place where the Shawano captive, Aganunitsi, attacked the Uktena. (Could this explain the enormous stone wall built upon the nearby Fort Mountain?) Mooney tells us:

The Shawano, who at one time occupied the Cumberland region of Tennessee immediately adjoining the Cherokee, were regarded as wizards by all the southern tribes.

Finally, D. G. Brinton explains how the Shawano shared the news of the Great Horned Serpent:

Among the Algonkins the Shawnee tribe did more than all others combined to introduce and carry about religious legends and ceremonies. From the earliest times they seem to have had peculiar aptitude for the ecstacies, deceits, and fancies that make up the spiritual life of their associates. Their constantly roving life brought them in contact with the myths of many nations, and it is extremely probable that they first brought the tale of the horned serpent from the Creeks and Cherokees.

So, do I believe there is a more-than-coincidental connection between the Uktena of the Tuckasegee and the Gitchi-Kenebig of Westford, MA?

Of course I do.

Recommended by Duncan Hines

This postcard destination won’t make it into anyone’s hiking guide to North Carolina lookout towers. But it warrants a mention, if for no other reason, by combining an observation tower with a waterfall. Frank Lloyd Wright attempted something similar with considerably more success.


[Observation Tower and Water Falls at Nantahala Inn – On U. S. 19, 9 miles west of Bryson City, North Carolina. From this Observation Tower panoramic views may be had of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and of Clingman’s Dome, the highest peak in the Park. Nantahala Inn serves the best in Southern Cooked Food – 35 units – Rooms or Separate Cottages – Swimming pool – Recommended by Duncan Hines.]

I have no idea if the tower / waterfall continues to stand / fall at Nantahala Inn. My guess? It has vanished.

Up the gorge from the Nantahala Inn another landmark has gone the way of the Edsel - Gorgarama Park and Restaurant. This postcard conveys the unique Gorgarama charm.



I especially like the Gorgarama-mobiles parked out front.

Perhaps the rights to the name from this fine establishment are available. Some quick entrepreneur would get rich by purchasing the Gorgarama name…

…and opening an All-You-Can-Eat Buffet.

"If the soup was as warm as the wine, if the wine was as old as the turkey, if the turkey had breasts like the maid, it would have been a fine dinner." - Duncan Hines (1880-1959)

On the Trail of the Rat

Well, you don't know what we can find
Why don't you come with me my friend
On a magic carpet ride
Well, you don't know what we can see
Why don't you tell your dreams to me
Fantasy will set you free
-Magic Carpet Ride, by Steppenwolf

Given the current worldwide shortage in magic carpets, we’ll need to find alternate transportation for the trip I have in mind.



A bright yellow 1941 Chrysler sedan should do just fine. Meet me at Boone’s Corner in Candler and we’ll take it for a spin on the Pisgah Motor Road.

First, though, let me tell you how this all got started. Shortly after I began collecting vintage postcards of Western North Carolina, I snagged this linen-era scene of "Mount Pisgah and the Rat" and encountered a mystery. The Mount Pisgah part was easy. There’s not a more recognizable peak this side of Grandfather Mountain.



But "the Rat"? I pondered over that one. Maybe the rat was one of the smaller hills poking up in the foreground. What were they talking about? I just couldn’t see it. Then, a few months later, I was reading Margaret Morley’s 1913 book, The Carolina Mountains:

That beautiful form with the dome-like top, southwest of Asheville, is Mount Pisgah, and that ridge, a little lower and to the left of the summit, is the Rat. " Pisgah and the Rat ! " — the two names inexorably yoked together because the two shapes make one group, and the lower of them has a form so suggestive that there is no escape for it. They are so near Asheville as to attract immediate attention from the newcomer, who, according to his temperament, is shocked or amused at his first introduction to "Pisgah and the Rat."

In the meantime, I had collected more images of Mount Pisgah and the alleged rat. Perhaps if I viewed the scene in person, the ridge leading up to Mount Pisgah would bear a greater resemblance to a rodent of gargantuan proportions. To check it out, I could drive the Nissan up NC 151 toward the Parkway.

But anybody could do that!

Instead, you’re invited to join me in that bright yellow 1941 Chrysler sedan. Fortuitously, it came furnished with North Carolina: A Guide to the Old North State published in 1939 by the Federal Writers’ Project of the Works Project Administration. So hop in, hang on, and open up the book to page 445, Tour 21A.

According to the Guide, the following scene awaits when we reach the 4.0 mile point on the Pisgah Motor Road:

Pisgah and the Rat, twin eminences, loom above the range straight ahead. From a distance the Rat resembles a rodent with tail extended and head lowered between its front paws.

Eureka! I pull over to the side of the road, and snap a few pictures with my Kodak Brownie. If I squint and turn my head to one side, I can barely, just barely, picture a giant rat skulking up toward the top of Mount Pisgah.



It's just like Peggy Lee always said:

Is that all there is, is that all there is
If that's all there is my friends, then let's keep dancing
Let's break out the booze and have a ball
If that's all there is

With a full tank of Ethyl in the Chrysler, I figure there’s no need to end this journey on an anticlimactic note. Let’s break out the booze, let’s have a ball, let’s turn the page, let’s roll on.

After four more miles of travel, we pass Stony Fork, "a colony of summer cabins, a few permanent homes, and a sprinkling of refreshment stands."

Then the road gets steeper and curvier as we wind to the top. I watch the temperature gauge pushing toward the danger zone, so I ease up on the accelerator to keep the radiator in this old Chrysler from boiling over. In spite of our automotive anxiety, the scenery along the way lives up to the promises of the Guide:


In May the woods are gay with azalea that varies from white to deep orange. The bloom of the laurel shades from white to delicate pink, and in June the purplish-red splotches of the rhododendron are profuse. Among flowers in the woods are columbine, bluet, wild iris, Indian pink, ladyslipper, and trillium.


Soon, we manage to reach the top. Just ahead is the Little Pisgah Ridge Tunnel. Anatomically speaking, we’re about to pass through the bowels of the rat. When we come out the other end, we’re that much closer to Buck Spring Lodge, the impressive log structure built by George W. Vanderbilt on his private hunting estate.



Nearby is the parking lot for the trail to the top of Mount Pisgah.



It’s too bad the refreshment stand is closed today. An ice-cold bottle of Double-Cola sure would hit the spot.


So we roll on along the Pisgah Motor Road and in less than a mile pass by the Pisgah Forest Inn, "a rustic hostelry from whose front porch the Pink Beds and the round dome of Looking Glass Rock are visible." Just across the road, the Frying Pan Campground (5,040 alt.) is the highest campground in the Pisgah National Forest.



After a couple of more miles we come to Wagon Road Gap and the junction with NC 284. Might as well take a little drive south toward Looking Glass Falls and the town of Brevard. Just past the Pink Beds, we pull into the U. S. Fawn Rearing Plant:

This is the only plant in the United States that has for its primary purpose the rearing of fawns. People in this area are given permits to capture fawns, which the plant buys at $4 a head and raises on bottles. When they are six months old, they are shipped to other preserves. About 135 fawns are reared each year.

I’d like to stick around for feeding time, but it’s getting late. The sun is dropping fast. And I need to drive you back to Candler before this bright yellow 1941 Chrysler sedan turns into a pumpkin.

It's been quite a day...

...on the trail of the rat.



Pisgah and the Rat slide show with many more vintage images of Mount Pisgah and the Rat, Buck Spring and Pisgah Forest Inn: http://www.flickr.com/photos/greatsmokies/sets/72157605167390984/show/


Recommended reading - A 2004 Becky Johnson article in the Smoky Mountain News reports on efforts to unearth and rehabilitate the ruins of Vanderbilt's Buck Spring Lodge. http://www.smokymountainnews.com/issues/11_04/11_10_04/out_unearthing.html