Fort Pickens, Pensacola Beach, Florida

Day 1751

     Hidden beneath this vegetation is Battery Langdon, Ft. Pickens. Its 12-inch gun could propel a projectile 17 miles out to sea. This massive gun bunker, begun in 1917 and competed in 1923, was covered with soil during WWII to camouflage it from enemy aircraft.

     In 1816, the United States began constructing Third System forts along its coastline to protect important waterways and seaports. Five years later, the federal government began fortifying areas along Florida’s 3,500 mile seaboard. Pensacola Bay was one such area.

     Tidbit of Information: Unlike First and Second system forts built between 1794–1812, Third System forts had durable construction materials and uniformity. Brick and stone forts were more resilient to time, nature, and battles. Maryland’s Ft. McHenry is a third system fort. The Third System came to an end around 1867. More powerful weapons technology, like steel breech-loading rifled cannon and steel steam-powered warships, made the forts obsolete.

     European powers had long considered Pensacola Bay one of the most important on the northern Gulf Coast. With depths ranging between 20–65 feet and a length of about 13 miles, the bay afforded excellent anchorage and protection for ships. After the Adams-Onís Treaty of 1819, in which Spain ceded East and West Florida to the US, Pensacola Bay became a US territory. In 1825 President James Monroe signed a law establishing a new navy yard and depot on the bay. Forts were needed to protect the natural bay and navy yard, and thus Fort Pickens was conceived. In May 1828, the federal government acquired 998 acres on Santa Rosa Island to build Fort Pickens. The fort is named for Brigadier General Andrew Pickens, who fought in South Carolina during the American Revolution.

     The fort would be built on the western end of Santa Rosa Island, a low-lying barrier island that provides natural protection to the bay and mainland Florida. From this location, Fort Pickens would command the approaches to the channel, control access into and out of the bay, work with forts built around the channel, and prevent an enemy force from using the island to launch attacks against the navy yard. With five walls, cannons installed at Fort Pickens could fire at all points of the compass. During times of peace, a garrison of 60 soldiers could occupy Fort Pickens, increasing to 500 during times of war and up to 1,000 soldiers during a siege.

     Another Tidbit of Information: At the time of its completion, Fort Pickens was the largest brick structure on the Gulf of Mexico. It exhibited the latest theories in coastal defense design, construction, and weaponry. The fort illustrated the growing power of the US, and as a part of the Third System, it helped make the nation virtually impregnable.

     While the fort was a formidable force, it really only saw actual action during the Civil War. Fort Pickens was only one of four seacoast forts in the south that remained under Union control. When the confederates, who were holding the mainland, took on the Union soldiers at Fort Pickens they were met with a fierce battle that lasted two months. The Confederate soldiers were finally forced to retreat.

     And yet another Tidbit of Information: On October 25, 1886 the Fort was used as a prison to house Geronimo and his braves. Now, everyone knows Geronimo, but how about the 14 braves that survived with him? They are:  Natchez, Porcio, Fenn, Abnandria, Mahi, Yahenza, Fishnoith, Touze, Bishi, Chona, Lazalyah, Molzos, Nulthigal, Sophonne and Louah.

Pensacola Beach, Florida

Day 1750

     Pensacola Beach, (known as “Ochuse” since the expeditions of Hernando de Soto in 1541) is an unincorporated community located on Santa Rosa Island, a barrier island, on the Florida’s Emerald Coast.

     Tristán de Luna y Arellano was born 1510 in Borobia, Spain. A Spanish explorer and Conquistador, he came to New Spain (now Mexico) and was sent in 1559 on an expedition to colonize Florida. Luna established a colony called Santa Maria de Ochuse at modern-day Pensacola, the earliest multi-year European settlement in the continental United States.

     “CIG” is a 3ft. sea turtle made from 1238 cigarette butts from the Pensacola Beach. Bet you didn’t know cigarette butts grew on the beach.

     We went out in search of the Eighth Methodist Church. We never found it. We did find the First Methodist Church. Not as exciting as the Eighth, but you work with what you are dealt.

    The First United Methodist Church of Pensacola was founded December 7, 1821 and is the oldest Methodist congregation in Florida. This is actually the fifth building the Church has occupied and dates back to October 14, 1908.

     This house was built in 1867 for Danish sea captain Charles F. Boysen. It was constructed using materials from wrecked buildings along the street. Boysen was the Norwegian Vice-Consul, and during his tenure the home served as a Consulate of Sweden and Norway. In 1882 the house was acquired by Edward Aylesworth Perry, who served as Governor of Florida from 1885-1889 and lived here until 1900. The house is now owned by First United Methodist Church of Pensacola.

Technical Stuff:

Pensacola, Fl. to Pensacola Beach, Florida: 22.4 miles

1 hour 7 minutes

9.7 MPG

Diesel: $3.08

Pensacola, Florida

Day 1749

     We have been to Pensacola a few times before. See Day 819 and Day 981 and Day 984 and Day 985.

     When you go to Ocean City, Maryland, you have to go to Thrasher’s for their french fries. In Pensacola, you have to go to Bailey’s Produce for their fresh vegetables direct from local farms. 

     Baileys Produce can trace its beginning to 1936 when Doc Bailey began selling crops grown on his family farm in Jay, Florida. He and his wife Helen opened Bailey’s Curb Market in 1938.

     Their boys grew up working in the family business. Their son, David, and his wife Billie, put their skills to work and later passed them on to their sons. David Jr., Doug and Don working alongside their parents to provide fresh fruits and vegetables to the Gulf Coast area. Don Bailey became their business partner after graduating from college. 

     Because each days produce is fresh from the farm, and changes daily, all signs are magic marker written.

     This is General Bernardo De Gálvez. Every time I tried to take his picture, he turned his head. 

     He was the Spanish Governor of the Louisiana Territories at the time of the American Revolution. In 1779, when Spain became an ally of the American Revolutionaries, he was the Commanding General of Spain’s army and naval forces in the New World. On March 18, 1781, he led the naval charge into the well-defended Pensacola Bay. After weeks of siege, on May 8, 1781, he successfully drove the British out, making the “Siege of Pensacola” the longest battle of the American Revolution.

     Built in 1907, this building was the original City Hall. Today it is a museum, named for Theodore Thomas Wentworth, Jr. born July 26, 1898, in Mobile Alabama. His family move here in 1900 and at age 22 he became the youngest County Commissioner ever elected in Florida. He was an avid collector, and it is his collection that formed the basis of this museum. 

     Here, Barbara is getting directions from J. Earle Bowden, a newspaper cartoonist.

     The Seville Quarter of Pensacola looks a lot like New Orleans.

     The Charles Lavalle House, built in 1805, is the oldest standing house in Pensacola. There might me a sitting house that is older.

     And….here is Charles now:

Technical Stuff: Dothan, Georgia to Pensacola, Florida: 156.2 miles

3 hours 3 minutes

10.5 MPG

Diesel: $2.89

There is more to Dothan than meets the Eye

Day 1748

     Back in the 1800’s what we call water towers were called standpipes. The Dothan Dixie Standpipe stands one hundred feet tall and sixteen feet in diameter. The city’s early growth is a result of pure and plentiful water. The Standpipe sits atop a 625 foot deep artesian well which began supplying fresh water to the city of Dothan on April 5th, 1897. The Dothan Dixie Standpipe is the oldest continuously operating water tower in the State of Alabama.

     Hand me my wrench, please. 

     This Atlantic Coastline passenger station was constructed by the Atlantic Coastline Railroad in 1907 during Dothan’s rapid growth as a commercial center. This station served Dothan until 1979. 

     The station is guarded by the Gargoyle.

     As stated yesterday, the current prominent industry of Dothan is peanuts. A closer look at this industry and how it effected Dothan is located in the George Washington Carver Interpretive Museum. Unfortunately, the building was locked.

     I called the museum, no one answered. I left a message and did not receive a return call. I don’t know if it was locked because of the china virus or, like a greater part of downtown, is abandoned.

     The old downtown commercial center of Dothan appears to be mostly vacant and run down. The buildings span the period of Dothan’s early growth from 1885 to 1930.

     During this time Dothan grew from a small rural town into the trade and transportation nucleus of the area, the last area of Alabama to be settled and developed.

     This section of the city began losing its importance as a commercial hub in the late 1960’s when retail businesses began moving to outlying shopping centers and malls, abandoning many buildings. 

     By 1992, most of the shops and business had left in favor of Ross Clark Circle’s busy traffic, shopping center, and malls. This is what we have all come to expect as a downtown modern center. 

     A small group of citizens began the process of bringing downtown back as an attraction, commissioning murals to be painted on the historic buildings left vacant. There are currently 19 murals, including a hidden mural inside the Dothan Opera House. 

     We tried to enter the Opera House, but like most of the other buildings it was locked, with no notice or explanation. The Opera House was built as a municipal auditorium by the growing town. Seating 800, it opened October 8, 1915, with a performance by a local orchestra. The 3 story masonry structure remains basically unaltered from its original plan. A new civic center was built across the street in 1971. 

     On February 9, 1903 delegates from this area formed a new County from three existing counties and named it Houston after former Governor George S. Houston. In March of that year an election was held and Dothan was named the new county seat. In 1905 the Houston County courthouse was dedicated. In 1960 that building was torn down and this building was constructed, which opened in April 1962 in the same spot as the original:

     A few blocks away is the Federal Courthouse, all in the new section of Dothan.

 

 

 

 

Dothan, Alabama

Day 1747

     When we entered Dothan to walk the town, we saw these children frolicking in the sunshine.

     Between 1763 and 1783, the region that is now Dothan was part of the colony of British West Florida. You remember from Day 352 and Day 529, one of the 15 colonies that wasn’t. During the American Revolution, British West Florida decided not to join those rabble-rousers.

     The first permanent white settlers consisted of nine families who moved into the area during the early 1830s to harvest the abundant timber. Their settlement was named Poplar Head. For nearly 30 years, the Poplar Head community changed little. By the late 1870s, however, with the rise of the lumber, turpentine, and naval stores industries in the area, more settlers came to the area for work. They began clearing the surrounding land for farms and built more homes. Soon, they asked for their own post office. 

     So imagine this: It is November 11, 1885, the town fathers are sitting around the pot belly stove discussing what to name their town after they were informed that the Post Office cannot use their name of Poplar Head, as it was already the name of another town in Alabama. “Well,” says one, “since we are a lumber town, why don’t we name it Bunyan, after Paul Bunyan?”  “How about Colfax, after Schuyler Colfax, the 17 Vice President of the US?” “How about Irvin, after Irvin McDowell, the famous confederate General?” “How about Jumbo, the star attraction in P. T. Barnum’s circus?” And the most timid town father suggested “Kisimova after Eugenia Kisimova, Bulgarian feminist, philanthropist and women’s rights activist?” No, they all decided, they would name the town Dothan (דֹתָן), after the biblical city in Egypt where Joseph’s brothers threw him into a cistern and sold him into slavery. Yes, they all agreed, that is it. Go tell the Postal Authorities. 

     The above Joseph statue at Millennium Park is a ten-foot cast bronze sculpture in the downtown area. It represents the Bible verse “For I heard them say, Let us go to Dothan” (Genesis 37:17).

     Following the devastation of the cotton crops by boll weevil infestation in the 1910s, the area embraced peanut farming and has developed into one of the largest peanut-producing regions in the world.

     Eventually, farmers turned to peanut production, which was successful and brought financial gain to the city. It became a hub for the production and transport of peanuts and peanut-related products. Today, one-quarter of the U.S. peanut crop is harvested within 75 miles of Dothan. Peanuts Around Town is a public art project organized by The Downtown Group, consisting of 5-foot-tall peanut sculptures decorated in various fashions and displayed around Dothan.

     Ok, you are in downtown Dothan and you want to go from College Drive to Appletree Street? You take Troy Street, of course. The smallest city block in the United States.

     Boy, it is a hot summer day:

     Cones are to protect Barbara from cars.

     Wow! I didn’t realize we were in town that long.

Technical Stuff: 

Milledgeville, Georgia to Dothan, Alabama: 230.9 miles

5 hours 10 minutes

10.4 MPG

Diesel: $2.89

Old Governor’s Mansion, Milledgeville, Georgia

Day 1741

     Only 8 governors lived in the Governor’s Mansion in Milledgeville, Georgia. Mainly because the mansion was only in use from 1839 when it was built until 1868 when the Capital of Georgia was moved to Atlanta.

     We were fortunate to receive a private tour of the mansion.

     The building of the mansion was started in 1835 with the first Governor residing here in 1839.

     Prior to 1839, the governors lived in private or rented homes.

     General William T Sherman and his 30,000 troops marched into Milledgeville on Wednesday, November 23, 1864. He made this building his headquarters.

     (He was going to come in on Tuesday, November 22, 1864, but the building is closed on Tuesdays.)

     Governor Brown was governor at this time and shortly before Sherman’s arrival fled to Macon, Georgia. He returned to the mansion the following year, but was arrested by federal troops. He was taken to Washington, D.C. and briefly imprisoned.

     Andrew Johnson pardoned him on the condition he resign the governorship. By the summer of 1868, Georgia’s capital was moved from Milledgeville to Atlanta.

Scenic Mountain Campground, Milledgeville, Georgia

Day 1740

     Because we are in the Deep South, with 90 degree weather, we decided just to hike around the campground. 

     Scenic Mountain RV Park and Campground has 83 camping sites on 112 acres. Amenities include a bathhouse, coin laundry, three pavilions, a playground, and a salt water swimming-pool with a pool temperature whirlpool. Although the park claims free wifi, the signal is pretty poor. Each site has cable TV with 33 channels

     It advertises paved roads with gravel sites. Our site was level, and it looked like most other sites were as well. A grassy area is located next to each gravel site with a picnic table and fire pit.

     We are 5 miles from downtown Milledgeville.

     The park has six fishing ponds and seven nature trails that are almost 5 miles long.

     Although the park boasts numerous activities, like painting, bingo, jewelry making, glass etching and live music; none were going on the week we were here. I was unsure if that was a result of the china virus, or the park not keeping up with its prior high standards. 

     It appears this was a very nice park at one time. Now looking unkept and run down. Grass not attended to,

streets in disrepair

with numerous pot holes. 

     Nevertheless, there were still many amenities, but because of the heat, they were not in use.

swimming pool,

playground,

pavilions, 

stage,

not today.

     The air conditioned club house was empty.

     Even the dog washes were not in use.

     The only exciting thing going on in this heat, was the tractor falling into one of the ponds.

Georgia State Lunatic, Idiot, and Epileptic Asylum

Day 1738

     In the first decades of the 1800s there was a movement in several states to reform prisons, create public schools, and establish state-run hospitals for the mentally ill. In 1837, the Georgia State Legislature responded to a call from Governor Wilson Lumpkin, by passing a bill calling for the creation of a “State Lunatic, Idiot, and Epileptic Asylum.” Located in Milledgeville, then the state capital, the facility opened in 1842.

     Of course, I couldn’t resist seeking it out.

     The facilities was once the largest mental hospital on Earth. Today, it is slowly rotting away.

     In December 1842, the Georgia State Lunatic, Idiot and Epileptic Asylum opened its doors to patients afflicted with all manner of mental ailments. It was considered a state-of-the-art facility at the time, eschewing ropes and chains in favor of holistic care and work programs designed to help rehabilitate the patients. This model met with great success, particularly under the leadership of Dr. Thomas A. Green, who served at the hospital from 1845 to 1879. 

     However, as frequently happened in such 19th-century mental institutions, things took a dark turn as the years went on. The population of the hospital had ballooned while the capacity of the buildings had stayed the same.

      The site gained national recognition during the 1950s as the largest mental institution in the world, with over 12,000 patients, 6,000 employees, and more than 8,000 acres of land.    

     The gentle practices that the hospital had once pioneered fell by the wayside as staff struggled to cope with the massive population. The patient population grew steadily throughout the twentieth century. The increase in numbers meant a concurrent decrease in the quality of care. By the 1960s, there were over 12,000 patients living at Central State Hospital, with only one medical staffer per 100 individuals. 

    As conditions deteriorated, patients began dying. A 1959 exposé revealed that none of the 48 doctors patrolling the wards were actually psychiatrists. Mothers across the South threatened to send misbehaving children to Milledgeville. It was soon discovered that more than 25,000 patients were buried in unmarked graves throughout the hospital grounds. This was a result of families not being able to afford to bring their loved ones bodies home. 

     The main hospital eventually shut down in 2010. The property is closed to the public and constant security patrols ensure that no one goes close to the buildings. In fact, I was stopped 3 times by security while taking these photographs, saying either I or my parked truck were on private property.

      Today, Central State Hospital serves only 200 patients and has downsized to roughly 2,000 acres of land, adjacent to these abandoned buildings. .

 

 

 

Memory Hill Cemetery, Milledgeville, Georgia

Day 1736

     Today we trudged up Memory Hill to the Cemetery there.

     Milledgeville, founded in 1803, was Georgia’s 4th capital. As part of the planning of Milledgeville in December, 1804, four public squares of 20 acres each were established, with one square (the South square) set aside for public use. In 1809, the Methodist church, with approximately 100 members, was built in the South square, and a church cemetery was established in 1810. Other churches began building in Statehouse square, rather than the South square.

     Eventually the Methodist church moved to Statehouse square also, and the South square became the Milledgeville City Cemetery. In 1945, the Milledgeville City Cemetery obtained the additional name of Memory Hill. The cemetery contains over 7700 identifiable graves with at least 1200 graves with no markers or names.     

     You can be a great man while you walk this earth, but this is all that is left 40 years after your death:

     This is Carl Vinson who died at 98 years old on June 1, 1981. He served in Congress for 50 years as Georgia’s representative. He is credited with being the father of the “two ocean navy” because he urged the creation of the Pacific fleet and developed a 10 year plan to build a strong navy. It is his foresight that help prepare the U.S. for World War II.

     James A. Gibson, born 1880, died 1945, was a Buffalo Soldier who fought in the Indian Wars of 1880 and in the Spanish American War, charging with Teddy Roosevelt on July 2, 1898 up San Juan Hill (it was really San Juan Heights, but that is another story).

      Edwin F. Jemison (the young Confederate soldier whose photograph is among the best-known images associated with the War Between the States):

     Edwin Francis Jemison, a member of the 2d Regiment Louisiana Volunteers, fell in the battle of Malvern Hill, on July 1, 1862, aged seventeen years and seven months.

     He was brave and honorable. In the first call for volunteers to defend our rights his noble and enthusiastic spirit was one of the first to respond; and nobly did he, although but a child in years, he sustained himself in the front rank of the soldier and gentleman until the moment of his death. Bounding forward at the order “Charge!” he was stricken down in the front rank, and without a struggle yielded up his young life.

     These children didn’t die (no date of birth or death), their parents just got frustrated with them. It is said that every night from dusk til dawn they rise up looking for their parents.

     Thomas Haynes Bonner, Died at The Battle of Vicksburg August, 1863.

     It is a shame to think that the remaining 8,895 graves here have their own story to tell, but does anyone remember, or care?

     Look at the time, time to go.

Milledgeville, Georgia

Day 1735

     We are camping this week in Midgetville, Georgia. Sorry, it’s not Midgetville, but Milledgeville, named for John Milledge. Born in 1757 in Savannah, Georgia, he fought in the Revolutionary War and was very active in Georgia politics, including being Governor of Georgia from 1802 to 1806. 

    The first European to set foot here was Hernando de Soto on April 3, 1540, searching, on behalf of Spain, for gold. We know this because it was covered by CNN news. 

     Milledgeville is situated on the Oconee River. The rapid current of the river here made this an attractive location to build a city. The river’s name derives from the Oconee, a Muskogean people of central Georgia. Milledgeville was a planned city (like Washington, D.C.) established in 1803 and was the capital of Georgia for 60 years, from 1807 to 1868. However, after the war the Capital of Georgia was moved from here to Atlanta, a city emerging as the symbol of the New South.

     On January 19, 1861, Georgia convention delegates passed the Ordinance of Secession, and on February 4, 1861, the “Republic of Georgia” joined the Confederate States of America. On November 22, 1864 Union general William T. Sherman and 30,000 Union troops marched into Milledgeville during his March to the Sea. Surprisingly, he did not destroy the city. 

     This allowed us to view houses, like the Sanford-MdComb House, built in 1823.

     The city also had these relics:

     Milledgeville boasts two colleges, Georgia College, not to be confused with Georgia University, and Georgia Military College. 

     Georgia College was chartered in 1889 as Georgia Normal and Industrial College. Obviously the College was not Normal as it had 6 different names over the years:

Georgia Normal and Industrial College (1889–1922)
Georgia State College for Women (1922–1961)
Woman’s College of Georgia (1961–1967)
Georgia College at Milledgeville (1967–1971)
Georgia College (1971–1996) and its current name                         Georgia College and State University.

     The campus comprises 43.2 acres in the center of Milledgeville. The campus contains buildings of red brick and white Corinthian columns, representative of those constructed during the Antebellum period.

     TIDBIT OF INFORMATION: The Antebellum Period was a period in the history of the Southern United States from the conclusion of the American Revolutionary War (1783) until the start of the American Civil War in 1861. The Antebellum South was characterized by large plantations and the rampant use of slavery.

     Georgia Military College (GMC) was established in 1879 “…to educate young men and women from the Middle Georgia area in an environment which fosters the qualities of good citizenship.”

     GMC’s main campus is located in downtown Milledgeville, a couple of blocks from Georgia College. This makes the city pretty crowded with college students. 

     The school was originally called Middle Georgia Military and Agricultural College and was ceded state government lands surrounding the Old Capitol Building, which was the seat of government for the State of Georgia from 1807-1868. The Old Capitol Building is a central feature of the Milledgeville campus and sits on the city’s highest point.

     I tried to tour the The Old Capitol Building for the history of Milledgeville, but it was closed to the public as a result of the china virus. 

     The name of the school changed to Georgia Military College (GMC) in 1900. GMC is one of five military junior colleges that participates in the U.S. Army’s Early Commissioning Program. Students who graduate from GMC’s two-year, military science-oriented curriculum receive an officer’s commission in the U.S. Army. 

   

TECHNICAL STUFF:

Rock Hill, South Carolina to Milledgeville, Georgia: 247.7 miles

6.0 hours

9.6 MPG

Diesel: $2.95

Town of Ebenezer, South Carolina

Day 1733

     We are staying at Ebenezer Park and Campground. It is a very nice State Park, occupying 26 acres located on the shores of Lake Wylie in North Carolina.

     They have a nice circular boardwalk:

there were swings overlooking the Lake

to watch the sunset.

     Ebenezer lies within that area once known as the Indian Land. 144,000 acres set aside for the Catawba Indians by treaty made in 1763.

     Legally the white man could not lease or buy this land, but the pioneers could not be restrained, and, with or without the consent of the Catawba, they occupied the land. Finally in 1840, a new treaty was made whereby the Indians ceded all their land to the State of South Carolina (no pressure there).

     The Town of Ebenezer grew up around Ebenezer Presbyterian Church which had been organized in 1785. The name was changed to Ebenezerville in 1837. It was discontinued in 1866 (even then, they had a cancel culture). The post office here was called Old Point from 1890 to 1911 because there was another Ebenezerville in another state. The town was incorporated as Ebenezer in December, 1893.

     In 1846, when plans were being made for the Charlotte and South Carolina Railroad, if was proposed that the railroad run through Ebenezerville. However, the citizens did not want trains going through their community, so the track was laid a few miles east of the village. This brought about the beginning of Rock Hill (see Day 832).

      Ebenezerville was unincorporated and annexed into the younger and larger city of Rock Hill in 1961. 

     Writing blogs makes me hungry. So, in Rock Hill, I went to Legal Remedy Brewing Co. Supposedly one of the owners is a Malpractice Lawyer, and hence the name. 

     The brewery houses a 17 barrel brewing system,

     plus a full restaurant, with an interesting menu.

and other signs    

      Arrr, you have it.

     Ebenezer Presbyterian Church was founded in 1785 as a centerpiece to the community of Ebenezerville. 

     The original church, a log structure, was located  across the street from where the present church stands.  It is one of the oldest churches in South Carolina.

     The Ebenezer Cemetery has been used as a community burying ground since the beginning of the church in 1785.  The oldest marked grave is that of Stephen McCorkel, who died in 1790.  The rock wall surrounding the cemetery was constructed during the 1850’s. 

The graveyard contained Revolutionary War soldiers

as well as Confederate Civil War soldiers, who’s graves were clearly marked.

     I found no graves of Union Soldiers.

     As I was leaving the graveyard I heard something behind me, turning around I saw this. 

I hurriedly left.

Technical Stuff: Candler, NC to Ebenezer, SC: 134.4 miles

3 hours 45 minutes

10.8 MPG

Diesel: $2.95

Hendersonville, North Carolina

Day 1729

     Hendersonville is the County Seat of Henderson County, located in the southern mountains of western North Carolina, about an hour from our campsite

    Before Revolutionary War soldier William Mills “discovered” the area in the late 1780s it was the hunting grounds for the Cherokee Indians. Mills received one of the first land grants in the western Blue Ridge Mountains and settled the land.

     Henderson County’s first source of revenue was agriculture. Settlers grew corn, wheat, rye, potatoes and cabbage. Not only did William Mills settle the area, he also planted hundreds of apple trees each year, which inspired his neighbors to do the same. Henderson County now leads the state in apple production and is ranked in the top 10 nationally.

     Henderson County was officially created in 1838 and named for Leonard Henderson, chief justice of the State Supreme Court who died in 1833. The town of Hendersonville received its charter in 1847 with a population of several hundred people.

     The Henderson County Heritage Museum is housed in six rooms of the renovated Henderson County Courthouse.

     Because of the China Virus, and this being a government building, we had to knock at the locked door to gain admittance. We were given a private tour of the museum by Barbara Green. She spend her entire life in Hendersonville and gave us her insight to the things we saw.

     As expected, the museum housed a host of ancient items.

     Most of the buildings in this area have the original facade, with plaques describing the original building. Unfortunately, modern business obliterated the view with modernization, such as this restaurant, which used to be a garage.

     The food was excellent.

     However, two items maintained their original integrity. The Mast General Store and the McClintock clock.

     In 1883 Henry Taylor opened a small General Store. In 1897, W.W. Mast purchased a half interest in the store and was named the “Taylor and Mast General Store”. In 1913, Mast purchased the remaining half of Taylor’s interest, and the business became known as the Mast General Store. There are six Mast General Stores in North Carolina. This Hendersonville store opened in August 1995.

     The O.B McClintock Company made large clocks for banks from 1917-1949. On March 11, 1927, this clock was placed into operation by the Citizens National Bank.

     Made of bronze, it features copper hoods as the top and bottom and art glass dial faces. Originally, the clock was driven by a mechanical-electric clock inside the building which sent a 24 volt signal to the outside clock to activate the 4 faces and another signal to set off the Westminster Chimes inside the clock. By 1993, many components were beyond repair and the system was updated with an electric timer system. Twenty years later, in 2013, the clock was completely renovated. The new system will automatically adjust the clock faces for power failures and daylight saving time. While standing here, the clock chimed the half hour.

     We next went to Oakdale Cemetery, just outside Hendersonville to look for the Angel. 

     To best understand this, please read my blog for Day 1376, our stroll through Asheville.

     Author Thomas Wolfe’s first novel was “Look Homeward, Angel”.  In the book, there are constant references to an angel statue carved from Italian marble. This is the angel, Margaret E. Johnson, born 1832 died 1905. Thomas Wolfe’s father, W.O. Wolfe, sold the statue to the Johnson family to mark the family plot in Oakdale Cemetery.

 

Dupont State Forest, North Carolina

Day 1727

     DuPont State Recreational Forest is a 12,500-acre state forest, located in Henderson, Western North Carolina near the South Carolina state line. The State of North Carolina purchased the land for the recreation area in three major phases between 1995-2000. The land purchases began when the DuPont Corporation sold its industrial operation and surrounding land holdings to the State, hence the name of the forest.

     The forest consists of 86 miles of trails and roads leading to a number of water falls, which was the reason of our visit. Each of the falls has it’s name, of which I will not bore you (your welcome).

     The hikes to the various falls was strenuous, and in some cases just plain muddy.

but it was well worth the hike.

     We even encountered some wildlife

          To get to some of the falls, we had to traverse wet rocks

      TIDBIT OF INFORMATION: The movies, The Hunger Games, were filmed entirely in North Carolina. Many scenes from the movie were shot in Dupont State Recreational Forest.

 

Candler, North Carolina

Day 1724

     We are staying at a very nice KOA campground in Candler, North Carolina. Candler is a grease spot on the map. It consists of this campground, a truck stop, and a Dollar General. No town, no streets or buildings, no visitor center or chamber of commerce. Nobody knows where the name came from or when the area was settled. The campground is right on interstate 40, and I mean right on the highway. Because of the heavy truck traffic, guests complain about the noise. Their solution, offer free ear plugs.

     The closet town is Canton. Canton, North Carolina is located in the Smoky Mountains about 20 miles west of Asheville, and 5 miles from our campsite. The Pigeon River flows right through the middle of this small town.

     The first inhabitants of the area to be Canton were the Cherokee Indians. Europeans didn’t arrive here until after the American Revolution, about 1780, after gaining title to the land from the Cherokee (voluntary, of course).

     As some of you know from my previous blogs, I am fascinated on how towns and cities got their name. To find the answer about Canton, N.C. I went to the The Canton Area Historical Museum.

     The original purpose for this building was to house the Canton Library. Constructed in 1954, the library remained there until 1990 when the library was moved to a new location and this building became the home of the Canton Area History Museum.

     I interrupted the clerk who was about to type a document.

     I was informed that Canton was founded in 1889 as “Buford”. Later that same year the name was changed to “Vinson”. The name was changed to “Pigeon Ford” in 1891, because it was at this point the Pigeon River was at it’s lowest, which allowed horses and wagons to cross, or ford the river.

     In this photo, the first railroad bridge, constructed in 1892 can be seen.       

     A wrought iron truss bridge was erected across the Pigeon River, at the site of the above crossing, around July of 1892,

it remained there until demolished in 1962, and replaced with this bridge.

     The recognition plaque bearing the bridge company’s name was saved and is currently on display at the Canton Historical Museum, where I took the below photograph.  

     “The Town of Pigeon River” was not a popular name and did not sit easy with many of the local businessmen and dignitaries, especially the railroad ticket agent, C. S. Mingus, who went by the name Cash.

      Further, the town was being confused by other locations named Pigeon. The town leaders met in 1892 and heated arguments ensued as to a new name. Finally, in frustration, Cash Mingus stormed out of the meeting and walked a couple of blocks to the bridge that crossed the Pigeon River, saw this sign, and declared, that would be the name of the town. 

      In January, 1893 the General Assembly of North Carolina officially change the name of the Town of Pigeon River to the one that persists to this day—the Town of Canton.

     And, now you know the whole story.

     Along the banks of this scenic river lies Evergreen Packaging, a long-standing paper mill that now produces Starbucks cups, among other things.

     The Colonial Theater was built in 1932 and renovated in 1992 and again in 2006 giving the town a multi-use facility with state of the art film, video & sound equipment. It regularly hosts concerts, plays, festivals, weddings, and conferences. It is now dark because of the China Virus. 

Technical Stuff: Salem, Virginia to Candler, North Carolina: 239.9 miles

4 hours 46 minutes

10.1 MPG

Diesel: $ 2.96

Dixie Caverns, Salem, Virginia

Day 1723

     We are spending tonight at Dixie Caverns Campground in Salem, Virginia. On the campground property is Dixie Caverns. We have been to a number of caverns, some commercial, like Mammoth Cave and Luray Caverns, and some private, like Endless Caverns and Dixie. They are all starting to look alike to me, with their own “Grand Cathedral” rooms, their “Pipe Organ” formations, reflecting pools and stalagmites that look like — take your pick — George Washington, an Indian or Stonewall Jackson.

     All the caverns seem to have the same origin : In reference to Dixie Caverns, the story is the caverns were discovered in 1920 by two boys who were searching for a lost hunting dog named Dixie that disappeared into a hole in the ground. The cave was named for this dog (not clear if the dog died or what). Endless Caverns was discovered by two boys chasing a rabbit.  Mark Twain Cave was discovered when a hunter was following his dog who went into the cave. Do you see a pattern here?

     I think most these stories are fabricated for salesmanship. For example, in reference to Dixie Caverns, newspaper clippings from The Roanoke Times’ archives report that the cavern’s location was known by local hunters in the 1860s and that the caverns were explored and mapped by the early 1900’s.

     The current owner of Dixie Caverns is Connie Browning. Her family has owned Dixie Caverns for six decades, being purchased at action in 1956 by her father, Albert Trompeter. Records indicate there were three owners before Trompeter bought the cave.

TIDBIT OF INFORMATION:  Cave vs. Cavern. The natural underground chamber in the hillside or the cliff is known as a cave. On the other hand, caverns are the type of caves which are formed in soluble rocks and have the ability to grow speleothems. The caves only have one chamber or opening, whereas caverns have multiple openings. Therefore, all caverns are caves, but not all caves are caverns.

     The best known attraction of Dixie Cavern is a bell-shaped flowstone formation known as the “Wedding Bell” which, as the name implies, is a large, bell-shaped formation. Many a man has met his doom being married under the bell.

     The Dixie Caverns are unique in that they are up in the mountain which is unusual in that you walk up rather than down. If you are into stair stepping, this is the place. In touring the cavern, we climbed up or went down over 400 stairs. Visitors don’t burrow down in the ground to tour the Caverns, they walk up. The cave rooms are inside a hill, which is entered through an entryway that lead to a 48-step staircase dubbed “Jacob’s Ladder.” The top of the cavern is 80 feet above the entrance.

     The caverns were only formed in the past million years as water dissolved the limestone and created holes and passages that merged into great cave rooms. Many of the formations are calcite, formed by drips of water that evaporate and leave behind tiny particles of calcium carbonate.

ANOTHER TIDBIT OF INFORMATION: Limestone is a soluble rock that fractures and dissolves due to the carbon in rainwater. When the limestone is washed away, large openings are left behind. Stalactites, stalagmites and columns are formed when dripping water leaves traces of calcium carbonate, which over many years will add up and lengthen into calcite formations (which imaginative cavern owners will name “Chief One Feather,” “Liberty Bell,” “Tower of Babel” and so on). It takes more than 100 years of dripping water to form 1 cubic inch of a stalactite.

Look over there! Those sheets hanging from the cave ceiling sure look like bacon! Mmm, bacon.

     The only wildlife in this cave are salamanders:

Technical Stuff: Broadway, Virginia to Salem, Virginia: 129.6 miles

11.0 MPG

2 hours 30 minutes

Diesel: $2.96

White Oak Lavender Farm, Harrisonburg, Virginia

Day 1722

     Broadway is a town in Rockingham County, Virginia. We stopped here because Barbara wanted to visit White Oak Lavender Farm in Harrisonburg, which is a short distance away.

     White Oak Lavender Farm is owned and operated by the Haushalter family in the Shenandoah Valley. The farm has been open to the public since 2008. They grow over 8,000 lavender plants. 

     Lavender gets its name from the Latin word “lavare” (“to wash”).  Through the ages, it has been used for making soaps and cosmetics. The fresh scent and antiseptic properties combine for wonderful, natural cleaning products.  Herbalists have used lavender as a medicinal plant for centuries.  Lavender is reported as a cure for insomnia and back pain.  Anointing with lavender oil was recorded in ancient Greek writings (don’t forget, they are the same people who touted hemlock). 

     Patrons are invited to pick as many plants as they desire. 50 plants costs $8.00

    The farm also boast numerous animal

as well a variety of other plants and flowers, 

Please, don’t eat the daises 

     Evidentially, bees play a big part in establishing different lavender fragrances. The farm cultivated thousands of bees.

     Most of the lavender plants had bees in them

     Of course, there was a bottle tree

     The bottle tree came to the United States during the slave trade. It was believed that bottle trees warded off evil spirits.

     In the drying barn, hundred of lavender plants were hung to dry. They sure smelled sweet.

     I liked the gazebo with the hat passthrough.

     With all the thousands of lavender plants, the farm smelled great.

     Since today is July 4th, the KOA campground at which we are staying had fireworks. They were underwhelming.

     Well, high five to you all

See you later.

Technical Stuff: Abingdon, Md. to Broadway Va. 188.3 miles

8.6 MPG

9 hours 9 minutes

Diesel: $3.11

Plumpton Park Zoo, Maryland

Day 1715

     Plumpton Park Zoo is located in Cecil County, Maryland. This privately own zoo is home to some exotic animals.

     The zoo was started by Edward Plumstead in 1985 on his family estate, initially with deer and a few domestic animals. Now the zoo is home to over 165 animals including giraffes, tigers, bears, deer, wolves, monkey, kangaroos, and llamas, and is run by a professionally trained staff of zookeepers.

     Someone left the gate open

and the peacock roamed freely

     You can get close to the animals and hand feed them

     They even had a horse, recently released from prison.

     The coolest animal there was this Bengal Tiger.

   

     Here this little girl tried to feed him,

     Oh! No. She became his lunch. Oh, well. 

Old Baltimore County

Day 1710

     The first County Seat of Baltimore County was established in 1659 on the Bush River, about 1 mile from our campsite. It barley lasted 40 years, until about 1700 when it was moved to Joppa Maryland. 

      Baltimore Town, as it was then called, was a ferry landing and its tobacco port served the upper bay. It was also a gateway to the wilderness. (It is hard to imagine where we are camped as the gateway to the wilderness). Authorities ordered a courthouse built here in 1674. As populations gradually grew around the Patapsco River, pressure increased to move the County Seat to a more convenient location. Although some renovations were performed on the Baltimore Town Courthouse in the mid-1690s, the area was in rapid decline. 

     By 1712, the County Seat had moved to Joppa Town, but Old Baltimore may have been abandoned as a government center even earlier.

     I hiked down to the site (see above photo), and this is what it looks like today.

Leight Estuary Center, Maryland

Day 1706

     The Anita C. Leight Estuary Center is the research and education facility of the Otter Point Creek component of the Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in Maryland (Whew!). The Estuary Center is dedicated to increasing appreciation and understanding of estuaries (what’s an estuary?) The Center is located where Otter Point Creek meets the Bush River. The Bush River is an Estuary (that part of the mouth or lower course of a river in which the river’s current meets the sea’s tide) of the Chesapeake Bay. 

     Located next to our campground, we visited the small museum there, then hiked the surrounding area. 

     Our hike ultimately led us to a pier with devices measuring the quality of water of Otter Point Creek and the Bush River.

     Since the color of the water was dark brown, I would think it was pretty polluted. Nevertheless, the data is uploaded to the Centralized Data Management Office. The data collected is available at their website: http://cdmo.baruch.sc.edu/dges

     I did not see water quality listed. Maybe because it was so obvious.

Home Alone, Abingdon, Maryland

Day 1480

     We are back in Maryland until January, as the Country is shut down because of the china virus. We will stay here throughout the holidays, and celebrate my father’s 100th birthday.

     Because of the home-owner’s association, we cannot park in our own driveway. So we are at an RV park in Abingdon, Maryland.

     I want to leave the first week in January, drive to Louisiana for warm weather, then go though Death Valley. From there I want to go to California, see my brother, and travel up the Pacific Highway to Oregon and Washington State. (An alternate route would be to go to Hawaii, but they haven’t finished the bridge.)

     That is what I want. Who knows what is going to happen. Worst case scenario, if I don’t get the virus and die, is to cut our 5 year plan down to 4, sell the RV and spend the rest of my days rocking on my front porch. 

Technical Stuff: New Market, Virginia to Abingdon, Md.: 182.6 miles

3 hours 57 minutes

11.1 MPG

Diesel: $2.00

Barbara says: “goodbye!”

Battle of New Market, Virginia

Day 1479

     On May 15, 1864, the historically significant Battle of New Market took place in which 257 teenage cadets of Virginia Military Institute (VMI) were pressed into service by Confederate General John Breckinridge in a successful effort to delay the North’s march on Richmond, Virginia. They were part of a makeshift Confederate army of 4,100 men who forced Union General Franz Sigel and his army out of the Shenandoah Valley. This was the last major Confederate victory of the Civil War. As a result of this defeat, Sigel was relieved of his command and replaced by Maj. Gen. David Hunter, who later burned VMI in retaliation for New Market (can’t take a joke).

     On June 22, 1791, Henry Bushong acquired farmland consisting of  260 acres in Shenandoah County that would be home for several generations of his descendants. In 1825, Henry’s son, Jacob, built this home.

     The Bushongs raised wheat, oats, cattle, hogs, and horses. To service them, the farm contained a blacksmith shop, wheelwright shop, meat house, summer kitchen and wash house. 

     The Battle of New Market raged across their farm lands. We walked the battlefield (The corpses had been previously cleared).

     When Interstate 81 was built, it cut directly through the battlefield. A tunnel was built under the roadway so we could traverse from the west to east side of the farm.

     On this side of the battle field along this line of cedar trees, the 54th Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment engage the confederacy. The regiment lost 174 men in the battle.

     Tidbit of Information: On October 25, 1905, surviving members of the 54th Pennsylvania Infantry gathered here to dedicate this monument to their regiment’s valor. It is one of the few statutes in Virginia memorializing Pennsylvania’s Civil War soldiers. After the ceremony, the men returned home with cedar saplings from Jacob Bushong’s field. Those trees still survive in the Johnstown, Pa. cemetery where many of these veterans are buried.

     On the day of the battle, this was a recently planted wheat field, but with 3 days of hard rain preceding the battle, and thousands of tramping soldiers it was reduced to a muddy bog. In the heat of the battle running soldiers had their shoes sucked off their feet. With bullets flying, the shoes could not be retrieved, and the soldiers continued barefoot for the remainder of the battle. This spot became known as the “Field of Lost Shoes.”

     Unfortunately, another segment of our journey has come to an end. With winter approaching and the china virus closing everything down, we are forced to return to Maryland. 

     Keep a lookout for us.

Endless Caverns, Virginia

Day 1478

     On our way back to Maryland we stayed at Endless Caverns Campground in New Market, Virginia. While most campgrounds have a play area, swings, pools, etc. this campground had caverns.

     The cave was discovered by two boys chasing a rabbit on October 1, 1879. Changing ownership several times, the cave was open to commercial tours in 1920.

     The cave is a consistent 55 degrees.

     One of the formations was like a large chair in which the kids on the tour sat and had their picture taken. Our old bones said we will stand next to it. 

New Market, Virginia

Day 1477

     Life is like ice cream, enjoy it before it melts.

     New Market, Virginia, is located at the foot of the Massanutten Mountains in the Shenandoah Valley. Settlers first discovered the area in 1727. Many of those settlers were Germans of the Mennonite and Lutheran faiths, later joined by Scots and Irish. Originally known as Cross Roads, the town was officially established as New Market on December 14, 1796 by an act of the Virginia General Assembly.

     The Town is basically one long road.

     A walking tour enabled us to see some of the original homes and buildings, like the Henkel House built in 1802, it has been used as a grocery store since 1835.

Neat scale

     A member of the Clinedinst family has lived in this house since it was built in 1882.

     The Calvert House was built in 1770 and is still owned by the Calvert family, whom are decedents of George Calvert, Lord Baltimore, to whom the King of England gave Maryland. (So why is his family living in Virginia?)

     Dr. Solomon Henkel, a physician and druggist, built this house in 1802. 

     It is noteworthy because a metal plate on the door covers damage done by Yankee bayonets and rifle butts when they tried breaking into the house after having hot water thrown on them from an upstairs window during the civil war.

     The original town pump was built in 1811, of which this is a replica. Why didn’t they just use the kitchen sink?

     The Confederacy is still pretty much alive in New Market.

     However, some concession has been made to racism.

Technical Stuff:

Fort Chiswell, Virginia to New Market, Virginia: 185.5 miles

3 hours 49 minutes

11.5 MPG

Fort Chiswell, Virginia

Day 1476

     It was a gorgeous fall day as we arrived at Fort Chiswell RV Park in Fort Chiswell, Virginia.

     In 1758 there actually was a Fort Chiswell here which was an outpost during the French and Indian War. Eventually, the fort was neglected, and now no longer exists. 

     We are stopping here for only 1 night on our way back to Maryland. Since we are not unhooking the truck, we only walked around the campground.

     On our walk, this halloween day, a black cat crossed our path. What does that mean?

     To get here, we found ourselves on a wrong way concurrency, which is where the road contains two routes going in opposite directions, actually driving out US 81, we found ourselves on a double wrong way concurrency, one of the few in the United States. 

Technical Stuff:

Sylva, North Carolina to Fort Chiswell, Virginia: 230. 5 miles

4 hours 29 minutes

9.9 MPG

Diesel: $2.04

Mingo Falls, Cherokee Reservation, North Carolina

Day 1468

     It was a beautiful fall day. Covid was in the air. Time to seek out a waterfall. 

     Mingo Falls, from the Cherokee’s name for Big Bear, cascades 120 feet down the mountain. 

     The falls is on the Cherokee Indian Reservation and located on Mingo Creek before it empties into the Oconaluftee River.

     We took The Pigeon Creek Trail to Mingo Falls. The hike to the waterfall runs alongside a rushing stream. 

     The trail is short, but you must climb 161 steps. At the top of the stairway a short path past rock outcroppings leads to a viewing area at the base of the falls.

     The trail is 0.25 miles long and is moderately difficult, unless you have been sitting around the RV for 9 days, then it is very difficult. I didn’t tell Barbara I was beat, but each time she said she had to rest I said “oh, ok.”

     Tidbit of Information: There are over 250 waterfalls in this part of North Carolina. Mingo Falls is considered one of the most spectacular. To be honest (of which you all know me to be) some of those falls might only be 10-20 feet, and some, like Indian Creek Falls (see Day 1402), I would not classify as a waterfalls, more like a water slide.

     It is quite impressive, though, as I stated before, being in the Smoky Mountains there are hundreds of streams and creeks, including one right behind our RV. 

Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina

Day 1459

     Today’s blog is about our trip on the Blue Ridge Parkway, in The Great Smoky Mountains, to reach the highest point. That means you are going to learn more than you probably want to about this parkway and mountains.

     The Blue Ridge Parkway was the first national parkway to be conceived, designed, and constructed for a leisure-type driving experience. It connects The Shenandoah National Park in Virginia with The Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina.  Running from Skyline Drive, Virginia to Cherokee, North Carolina, it is the longest road planned as a single unit in the United States.

     Begun during the administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the project was originally called the Appalachian Scenic Highway. Work began on September 11, 1935, near Cumberland Knob in North Carolina. On June 30, 1936, Congress formally authorized the project as the Blue Ridge Parkway.

     The Parkway meanders for 469 miles of which we drove 73 miles today. It runs mostly along the spine of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The road is carried across streams, railway ravines and cross roads by 168 bridges, 26 tunnels and six viaducts. Elevation ranges from 649 feet at James River in Virginia to 6,053 feet, the highest point on the parkway, at Richland Balsam in North Carolina, which is here:

     I was able to stand on the tippy top of the mountain.

     The mountains of East Tennessee and Western North Carolina are blanketed with a smoky haze that gives the region an almost magical quality. The Smoky Mountains are home to millions of trees, bushes, and other plants. The atmosphere is filled with finely dispersed droplets of oil, which, in combination with dust particles and water vapor scatter short-wave length rays of light which are predominantly blue in color. The blue light that is scattered from the sky is between you and the mountains causing the mountains to look blue.

     When European settlers arrived in the early 1800s, they took inspiration from the Cherokee language when they named these mountains The Great Smoky Mountains.

     Tidbit of Information: You will notice there is no “e” in Smoky. Now you can call them the Smokey Mountains, as do many of the locals, especially here in North Carolina, but the more prevalent Tennessee spelling is “Smoky” and that was chosen as the official adjective of the park. Perhaps it was a cost saving measure. The elimination of all of those “E’s” over all those years must have saved a small fortune on signage and printing costs. I mean, that could be millions of “E’s” saved over all of the years since the park was dedicated. And when you think about it, it’s not smoke at all. It’s mist, or fog, or ozone and other greenhouse gases being emitted from the foliage. But the Cherokee named the range Shaconage which roughly translates to the place of blue smoke. (Richard Weisser).   

Johnathan Creek, Maggie Valley, North Carolina

Day 1449

     Johnathan Creek is a babbling, frolicking little creek that alternately rushes and meanders along its course through the Great Smoky Mountains. We hiked the part the goes through Maggie Valley, North Carolina. 

It use to be farmland around here.

But time has taken it’s toll:

Some of the older homes are pretty neat.

This modern house was just completed on the creek:

     It has all the modern conveniences you can ask for, including a Jacuzzi and hot tub that looks over the creek.

     Unfortunately, when everything was said and done, they realized they forgot to put in a bathroom. 

No problem, they improvised:

Still Here in North Carolina

Day 1447

     We have been here now since July. The pool was supposed to be finished when we arrived.

     No progress in the last 4 months.

     The campground normally has many activities, but most have been cancelled because of the china virus.

     However, today they did have a New Year celebration.

     I guess they had leftover decorations. There was entertainment.

     Sparsely attended.

     Plus it was chilly.

     He was Ok, but won’t make the circle.

 

 

Savannah Volunteer Fire Department, Sylva, NC

Day 1437

     Watching all the fires on the west coast, and being a firefighter for 28 years, got me wondering about fire protection here in the Smoky Mountains. As it happens, there is a fire station about 1/4 mile from our campground. 

     The Savannah Volunteer Fire Department was organized in June of 1978. Darrell Woodard was one of the founding members. He became Chief in October 1984 and continues to hold that position today. On July 1, 2009 he became the only paid permanent member of the department.

      I spoke with Chief Woodard today who told me that his fire district covers 27 miles and his department currently has 42 members. 

     So far this year they ran 147 calls. Most of the calls are for traffic accidents and medical emergencies. They only have about 3 structure fires a year. 

     The Fire Department gets its name from the The Savannah River drainage basin which extends into the southeastern side of the Appalachian Mountains just inside North Carolina, and runs by the fire station.

     Since we are in the middle of a forest, I asked if his fire department is also responsible for forest fires? His response was “if no structures are threatened by a forest fire, they assist the forest service.”

     Like Fallston, Md, my home fire company, there are no hydrants in his district, however Dillsboro, with the closest fire hydrant, is only 7 miles away, which allows them to refill the water in their equipment.

     In comparing my fire company with his, we found there was no real differences. Same structure, problems, and politics. 

     Tidbit of Information: Benjamin Franklin, at age 30, established Philadelphia’s first fire department. Sometimes called Benjamin Franklin’s Bucket Brigade, Benjamin Franklin was a volunteer firefighter in The Union Fire Company, formed on December 7, 1736 (that’s 40 years before the revolution).

Cullowhee, North Carolina

Day 1434

     This area was first settled around 1838 when the Indians left. Originally named Painter, it was renamed Cullowhee in 1903. Downtown Cullowhee was destroyed in the flood of 1940, and never rebuilt.

     The area is most noted as the location of the Judaculla Rock. Supposedly this stone was carved 1,500 years ago, that would make it year 520. Petroglyphs are images and designs engraved within a rock’s surfaces to symbolize important places, stories or events. If done today it is graffiti, if done a thousand years ago, a Petroglyph.

     The name of the town is derived from the Cherokee phrase joolth-cullah-wee, which translates as “Judaculla’s Place”. Judaculla was the Cherokee legendary giant and master of animals. According to Cherokee legend, Judaculla was a slant-eye giant (that would be considered racist today) who lived high up in the Balsam Mountains. He guarded his hunting grounds from Judaculla’s Judgment Seat, today known as Devil’s Courthouse, a site on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

     As legend has it, once, a party of disrespectful hunters came through his land, Judaculla chased them down the mountain. With a mighty leap, the angry giant landed here on this boulder. Putting his hand down to steady himself, he left his mark on the rock’s surface. The impression of his hand can still be seen at the lower right of the rock.

     I was not impressed with the rock. In fact, if I were not told it was a Petroglyph, I would have just stepped on it, continuing on my hike.

     Maybe the rain and weather of a thousand years has made it less impressive. Here is an illustration of what the rock carvings are supposed to look like:

     What do the carvings mean? Fortunately, the Cherokee left us a message:

Maggie Valley, North Carolina

Day 1431

     Sometime things just don’t work out.

     We visited Cross Creek RV Park, located in Maggie Valley, North Carolina, where some of our RV friends were camping, about 45 minutes from us across a mountain range. (Maggie Valley is 35 miles west of downtown Asheville.)

     The first white settlers moved into this Valley, called Cataloochee Valley, in 1805. Maggie Mae Setzer was born in this valley on December 21, 1890. Her father, Jack Setzer, wanted to establish a post office in the Valley as the nearest one was 5 miles away, over the mountains. In 1900 he petitioned the U.S Postmaster. The Post Office Authorities required a name for the post office, so Jack submitted his daughter’s name. Four years later, on May 10, 1904, Jack received a letter from the US Postmaster General Frank Hitchcock that the post office authorities had granted his petition. The official name of the mountain settlement post office was to be Maggie, NC.

     The Town is mostly closed because of the China Virus. However, we were informed that there was a hiking trail from the campground up the mountain that led to a spectacular waterfalls.

    Our plan was to meet our friends for breakfast, hike the trail to the waterfalls, and then spend the rest of the day and evening playing cards, and games.

     The trail was a well marked gravel stone path. However it was a steep 6% to 9% grade.

     We hike the trail to the top, about 1.5 miles, which took us an hour and a half. This is what we saw:

     No waterfalls. Not even an overlook. Just a circular end. 

     It took us 55 minutes to go back down the trail. I think the return trip was harder on our legs than the trek up. 

     200 yards from the beginning of the trail was this: 

     I hardly call this trickle a waterfalls. 

Webster, North Carolina

Day 1425

     The campground in which we are staying (Fort Tatham RV Parkhas a zip code of Sylva, North Carolina. The city of Sylva, and now the County Seat of Jackson County, NC,  is about 5 miles from our campground (see Day 1348). The closest Town to us, about 4 miles, is Webster.  In April 1853 for one hundred dollars an eighteen acre tract of land bought from Nathan Allen became the site of Webster, Jackson’s county seat. Five years later an act to incorporate the town of Webster was passed by North Carolina’s General Assembly. Webster was for sixty years the county seat.

     Jackson County was named for the Democratic president and North Carolinian, Andrew Jackson, while the County’s government center of Webster was named for the New England Whig, Daniel Webster. Prosperity came to the region. Webster, with its agriculture, mining and small businesses, became an active little town – the nucleus of Jackson County.

     During the construction of the Western North Carolina Railroad, county residents fully expected the railroad to run through Webster. However, the county’s state government representative — said to be fond of his drink — was taken aside at a crucial moment in the voting process and plied with liquor by an individual desiring a route through Sylva, 1 mile away.

     Change came in 1913, when most of the businesses in the Town of Webster were destroyed by fire. That and the fact that the railroad went through Sylva, resulted in the County Seat of Jackson County being moved to Sylva, where the Court House was built. 

     Today, in Webster, there is no downtown area. Individual buildings do remain, such as the Webster Methodist Church built in 1887.

     And Walter E. Moore’s house built in 1886, one of the oldest homes in Webster that escaped the destruction of the 1913 fire. 

     The Webster Rock School was constructed in 1937 from local river rock by the Works Progress Administration in colors of tan and brown. The WPA was a New Deal agency, employing millions of job-seekers (mostly unskilled men) to carry out public works projects, including the construction of public buildings and roads. Do you think we need that today?

Deep Creek, North Carolina

Day 1402

     Went to three rock Concerts:

Indian Creek Falls 

Juney Whank Falls

Toms Branch Falls

     Indian Creek Falls is actually more of a water slide than a true waterfall. It is 45 feet.

     The other 2 falls are each 80 feet.

     We arrived at these falls by way of the Deep Creek Trail, which was one of the first trails constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the newly legislated (June 15, 1934) Great Smoky National Park. This part of the park is just a few miles from Bryson City (see Day 1336).

     Today, the park bearing the name of the Smoky Mountains encompasses more than 800 square miles. Just over half of this landmass lies within the state of North Carolina, with the rest in Tennessee. The park boasts 750 miles of trails, including 71 miles of the Appalachian Trail which runs along the crest of the Smokies.

     The creek’s gentle gradient, plus the fact that while it may be shallow (12-18 inches) it is deep by Smokies standards, making it ideal for floating downstream on a tube.

     As you can see, although North Carolina has a high infection rate of the China Virus, everyone practices social distancing and the wearing of face masks. 

     Part of our hike to the falls took us on a horse trial. Barbara said the horse that left these droppings is 45 minutes ahead of us.

     She determined this by noting the temperature as she squished through her fingers.

     I will leave that thought with you until next time.

Greenway Path, North Carolina

Day 1378

     Concluded walking the Little Tennessee River Greenway. Our last leg, on the Southern End of the Greenway, gave us different views than our previous 2 walks.

     This section had sanctuary for birds.

     In an open area was a frisbee field where Disk Golf was set-up.

     I am not sure I would want to do hole 14

     There was also a field for cattle.

     Because of yesterday’s rain, the river flow was more rapid

     Even the bridges were different, like this open sided covered bridge.

    All along the Greenway are benches facing the River and random picnic tables.

     These ducks are waiting for the ferry.

     All in all, another beautiful day.

Asheville, North Carolina

Day 1376

     Let’s start today’s blog with a trivia question: Why is this woman famous?

     Her name is Elizabeth Blackwell. If you know the answer before I tell you below, let me know in the comment section. Fabulous prizes could be yours. 

     Asheville is best known as the location of George Vanderbilt’s Biltmore Estate and the home of American novelist Thomas Wolfe. The first we have been too a number of times before we started RVing, and the latter I will discuss shortly.

      Samuel Ashe was born March 24, 1725 (that is 50 years before the American Revolution) in Beaufort, Province of North Carolina. He studied law and was named Assistant Attorney for The Crown in the Wilmington district of the North Carolina Colony. He ultimately became involved in the revolutionary movement. After serving in the War, he became active in politics, and in 1795, the General Assembly of North Carolina elected him governor at the age of 70. He served three one-year terms, the maximum constitutional limit, before retiring in 1798. Thereafter he remained active in politics until his death.

     In 1784 a town was established where two old Indian trails crossed. By 1793 the town had grown and was named Morristown. In 1797, Morristown was incorporated and renamed “Asheville” after North Carolina Governor Samuel Ashe. (Of course you know all about Samuel Ashe, because I just told you.)

     We strolled through Asheville utilizing their 2 mile walking self-guided tour. I was not impressed with the city. It was dirty and grungy, and they did not do a good job of preserving their rich history. Most historic sites merely had a plaque that identified it, as the historic buildings themselves had long ago been destroyed.

     All museums and public buildings were closed as a result of the china virus, even the Basilica of St. Lawrence. This building had not been previously closed since it was built in 1909. If a house to God is closed, what is left?

     In 1924, the Jackson Building became North Carolina’s tallest skyscraper. It is 13 stories. 

     North Carolina’s most famous writer is Thomas Clayton Wolfe, born October 3, 1900 in Asheville, North Carolina. He could not have been that famous as I never heard of him, and I minored in English Literature in college. 

     Look Homeward, Angel, his first novel, was published in 1929 and although a commercial success, was not well received by the citizens of Asheville. They recognized the characters were based on them, and they did not appreciate their dirty laundry aired. 

     Thomas’s mother ran a boarding house, called “Old Kentucky Home” where he grew up. It is now a memorial too Wolfe. 

     Usually open for tours, but not now. 

     Another Asheville native is Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell, who began her medical studies here and was the first women to receive a medical degree in the United States. Medicinal herbs decorate the bench honoring Dr. Blackwell. 

Little Tennessee River, NC

Day 1375

     We walked another portion of the Little Tennessee River Greenway. 

     This took us through a butterfly garden.

     The trail crossed the river by bridge 4 times during this walk.

     Of the four bridges, this is the only one from which you could not commit suicide.

     Probably because the water was so murky they did not want you to get sick if you did not die. 

     We stopped by the waterfalls.

     We saw the mower’s convention.

     All and all, a pretty nice day.

Town of Franklin, North Carolina

Day 1367

     The town was named for Jesse Franklin, born March 24, 1760, in Orange County, Virginia, who surveyed and organized the town in 1820. Jesse Franklin served North Carolina as a senator and as its 20th governor. The town of Franklin was not incorporated until 1855.

     The town is located in a valley surrounded by some pretty high mountains. Driving here we had to go up and down 8% grades. As usual, I just kept my eyes closed. 

     Throughout these mountains rivers and streams run. Naturally, some of the restaurants in Franklin are on these waterways.

     Prior to the White Man taking over here, the Cherokee Indians called this area home. The area that is now Franklin was named  “Nikwasi” or “center of activity”. The remains of the Nikwasi Mound are still visible in downtown Franklin, marking the location of Nikwasi’s spiritual center. A Council House used for councils, religious ceremonies, and general meetings was located on top the mound, as well as the ever-burning sacred fire, which the Cherokee had kept burning since the beginning of their culture.

     In 1761 the British, former allies of the Cherokee, destroyed Nikwasi. After the Cherokees rebuilt, the Americans destroyed it in 1776. The Cherokees rebuilt again and lived here until they were forced out in 1819. 

     You are probably wondering how I know all this. Simple, the Cherokee’s left a plaque.

     Tidbit of Information: William Holland Thomas was born February 5, 1805 on Raccoon Creek, two miles east of Mount Prospect, later called Waynesville, North Carolina. He was related to the Calvert family, the founders of the colony of Maryland, through his mother the grandniece of Lord Baltimore. Thomas had the distinction of being the only white man to serve as a Cherokee Chief, and an adopted member of the Cherokee Nation. But, that is a story for another time.

     In 1997, Duke Power acquired property along the Little Tennessee River, which runs through Franklin, to built power lines. After completion of the power system they deeded the property to the Town of Franklin who constructed the Tennessee River Greenway, a 4.7 mile paved trail along the River, part of which we walked today. Thank you Duke. 

     Like all the cities and towns we have come across in this area of North Carolina, there was a statute dedicated to the Confederate soldier who died defending his home in the war of northern aggression. 

 

Bryson City, North Carolina

Day 1366

     Bryson City, North Carolina is located about 70 miles southwest of Asheville, NC.

     The historic courthouse is now the city visitor center, and for a change, was open with a nice exhibit on the area. 

     The Tuckasegee River flows directly through the City.

     Bryson City use to be the Cherokee settlement of Kituwa, which stood here for hundreds of years. 

     Thaddeus Dillard Bryson was born February 13, 1829 in Haywood County, North Carolina. On September 7, 1861 he was Commissioned a Colonel in the 20th North Carolina Infantry of the Confederate Army. After the war, in September 1868, he acquired a large tract of land on the north side of the Tuckasegee River. 17,000 Cherokee Indians had been forced out of the area in 1838, leaving the land open for white man settlement. The town was originally called Charleston. The Postal Service screwed up the mail because it confused this city with Charleston, South Carolina. They are not even close to each other. Nevertheless, in 1889 the name was changed by the citizens, population 25, to Bryson City, to acknowledge the many services rendered to the city by Thaddeus Bryson. 

Nantahala National Forest, North Carolina

Day 1364

     We hiked the Bartram Trail in the Nantahala National Forest to a lookout tower on Wayah Bald said to present a spectacular 360 degree view of the Nantahala, Appalachian, and Great Smoky Mountains. We were not disappointed.  

     Wayah Bald is the highest point on the trail where it crosses the Appalachian Trail (which is blazed white, for those that are interested).

     The trail is named for William Bartram, born April 20, 1739 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, a naturalist, who crossed here in 1776 looking for new plants.

     The drive to Wayah Bald can be a dizzying one if you aren’t used to hairpin turns and switchbacks. From the bottom of the mountain at 2,095 feet above sea level, to Wayah Bald lookout tower at 5,342 feet is a 40 minute 13.2 mile drive over a winding very narrow road. The last 4.5 miles are on a dirt fire service road. A Bald is an area of a mountain top not covered by trees. Wayah Bald was named by the Cherokee Indians who called the area Wa-ya, Cherokee for wolf, which inhabited the area.

     The tower was built in 1937 by the Civilian Conservation Corp to accommodate personnel observing the Nantahala National Forest, keeping watch over the area for wildfires.

   Three miles from the top, we came across the first forest ranger station of the newly formed Nantahala National Forest, built in 1916.

     The forest got it’s name from the Cherokee word meaning “Land of the Noonday Sun.” Because of the dense trees, the sun only hit the ground at high noon (as opposed to low noon?).

     We then went to Bridal Veil Falls, a 45-foot waterfall not too far from the lookout tower. I could not find it.

     Oh, there it is. I was under it the whole time.

Fort Tatham Campground, Sylva, North Carolina

Day 1360

     Well, the china virus has finally effected us. No, we don’t have it. Our plan was to leave North Carolina and proceed to Maine. Maine’s border is closed to anyone traveling through New York State. Not just New York City, but the whole state.

     When we booked our campsite at Moonshine RV Campground, we booked through the July 4th holiday, and planned to move north. By the time we tried booking in Maine, and New York, the campground here had completely booked up through September. We spend two days boon-docking in the middle of the woods, with no facilities (water, electric, sewer), which was fine with me, we can be independent for up to 7 days.

     We found our current campground had openings. It was only 21 miles from Moonshine campground. Actually, we are on another creek (there are dozens of them in the mountains). This is the view from our side window. Tough life, huh?

     Although it is called Fort Tatham Campground, there is, and never was, a Fort Tatham. Sun Resorts like to name their campgrounds “fort”. 

     We are on the other side of the city of Sylva, which we have already talked about (Day 1348still in the mountains.

Technical Stuff: 

From one side of Sylva to the other, North Carolina: 21.0 miles

1 hour 10 minutes

8.6 MPG

Diesel: $2.29

Waynesville, North Carolina

Day 1359

     Waynesville, North Carolina, is located 30 miles southwest of Asheville, N.C.  between the Great Smoky Mountains and the Blue Ridge mountains.

     The town of Waynesville was founded in 1810 by Colonel Robert Love, born May 11, 1760, in Augusta County, Virginia, a Revolutionary War soldier. He donated the land and named the town after his former commander in the war, General “Mad” Anthony Wayne. General Wayne was born January 1, 1745 in Chester County, Pennsylvania, his military exploits and fiery personality quickly earned him promotion to brigadier general and the nickname “Mad Anthony”. Waynesville was incorporated as a town in 1871.

     On May 6, 1865, Union Colonel William C. Bartlett’s 2nd North Carolina Mounted Infantry, the Union Garrison at Waynesville, were attacked by a detachment of rebels from Col. William Holland Thomas’s Legion of Highlanders, who had been summoned by the locals of Waynesville. Thomas’ Legion fired “The Last Shot” of the Civil War here. The following day the Confederate and Union commanders negotiated a surrender. They had been made aware that Generals Robert E. Lee and Joseph E. Johnston had already surrendered and that continued hostilities would prove pointless.

     The claim that Waynesville saw the last shot fired in the Civil War is unsubstantiated, and the Battle of Palmito Ranch is considered as the final battle of the Civil War. It was fought May 12, 1865, on the banks of the Rio Grande east of Brownsville, Texas (see Day 269).

     We explored Waynesville to look for evidence of the last shot theory, but nothing has been preserved from the Civil War. In fact, no mention of that theory is mentioned anywhere (although it might have been in one of their closed museums). 

     So, I set off for the old Strand Theater which is now a coffee and ice cream shop. Sadly, it was closed today. 

     Waynesville today, although the County Seat, is nothing more than antique shops, and tourist traps. 

Lake Junaluska, North Carolina

Day 1351

     Lake Junaluska in the Blue Ridge Mountains was named after Chief Junaluska, a Cherokee leader, born in 1775.

     He fought alongside Andrew Jackson and saved his life at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend on March 27, 1814 (see Day 807). The Chief was alleged to have said upon the removal of the Cherokee Indians from North Carolina by President Jackson: “If I had known at the battle of the Horseshoe Bend what I know now, American history would have been differently written”.

     Tidbit of Information: During the Civil War, The CSS Junaluska of the Confederate States Navy was named for him.

     We hiked the 2 miles around the lake. 

     We got caught in a rain shower and were able to take refuge in a gazebo along the lake. 

     There was plenty of wildlife along the lake.

     Including fish,

     and swans,

     and I don’t know what this is:

     Along the lake were manicured lawns.

     and a rose trail.

     with roses coming into bloom.

Sylva, North Carolina

Day 1348

     We are now, literally, in the middle of the mountains in Western North Carolina, a few miles from the city of Sylva. The campground is just South of the Great Smoky Mountains in the mountain range known as Plott Balsam Mountains.

     Smack-dab in the middle of this photograph is Moonshine Mountain Creek Campground, where we are currently located.

     If you look really, really, really hard, you still can’t see us. Turning 180 degrees is the Great Smoky Mountains.

     Our campsite backs up to Moonshine Mountain Creek, which is part of Jones Creek. Because so many creeks are in this mountainest area, the origins of their names have been lost.

     Going through these mountain with our 22 foot truck and 40 ft Sphinx was a challenge. It really didn’t bother me as I kept my eyes closed most of the time. I had to tune out Barbara’s screaming.

     At the campground, we played various games with some friends. Their campsite had a deck built over the creek, how cool.

    The town of Sylvia developed as a center of local commerce after the coming of the railroad in the 1880s. Incorporated March 9, 1889, Sylva is named for Danish handyman William D. Selvey. I guess some people are just impressive. 

     The Jackson County Courthouse, on Main Street, was built in 1913. The Courthouse served as the county’s courthouse from 1914 until the present Justice Center was built in 1994. The courthouse building is now the county library. The Courthouse can be reached by climbing 107 steps from Main Street.

     Because of the China Virus, access to the library is by appointment only. We convinced them to let us in to look at the structure and was directed to the historical librarian who gave us a verbal tour of the building.

     Like all public buildings in North Carolina this week, we were required to wear “face coverings” (I guess they changed the name to get around people wearing batman masks).

     The literature said there were 107 steps leading up to the library’s front portico from the plaza at street level. Barbara counted only 105. I told her she should go back and recount them. However the historical librarian told us two steps were taken out when the fountain was installed. Barbara was relieved.

     From the top of the Courthouse steps was a neat view of Sylva.

     If the town looks familiar, you probably recognize it from the movie “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” which was filmed here. You remember movie houses, those places where people met and ate popcorn.

Technical Stuff:

McDonald, Tennessee to Sylva, North Carolina: 141.7 miles

3 hours 45 minutes

8.8 MPG

Diesel: $1.86

Tennessee Valley Railroad

Day 1343

     Pardon me boy, is that the Chattanooga choo choo? I am sorry, but this song is racist, it will have to be removed.

     Chattanooga welcomed its first rail line with the arrival of the Western and Atlantic Railroad in 1850. A few years later, in 1858, the East Tennessee, Virginia and Georgia Railroad also arrived in Chattanooga. The city quickly became a railroad hub with industries springing up in the area to take advantage of the new transportation corridors.

     The Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum, was founded by a small group of local residents in 1961 who were intent on trying to save some American history by preserving, restoring, and operating authentic railway equipment from the “Golden Age of Railroading.”

     The museum operates 3 miles of tracks near the original East Tennessee, Virginia & Georgia Railroad right of way.

     We rode locomotive 4501 which ran for Southern Railway throughout East Tennessee during its career. It is a 2-8-2 Mikado-type steam locomotive built in 1911 by Baldwin Locomotive Works in Philadelphia.

     The name “Mikado,” a Japanese word meaning “emperor,” came about because the first engine of this type was sold to the Japanese state railways. “2-8-2” refers to the wheel arrangement: two small pilot wheels in front, eight large drive wheels, and two small trailing wheels in the back to help support a large firebox.

     We rode this train from Grand Junction

to East Chattanooga and back.

     Since there is only 1 track between the two stations, when we got to East Chattanooga the engine and coal car are disconnected from the passenger cars and placed on a turntable which rotate it around so it can go on a parallel tract to take it to the other end of the passenger cars for the return trip.

 

 

 

 


      The last car of the train, in which we were riding to East Chattanooga, now becomes the first car on our return trip. 

Uh-Oh, this fell off, do you think it will effect anything?

     Barbara still goes for those guys in uniform. 

Ocoee Winery, Tennessee

Day 1342

     A long time desire of Steve Hunt to have a winery was realized in March 2006 when he opened “The Ocoee Winery” in Cleveland, Tennessee.

     We spoke with Steve Hunt who told us he does not grow his own grapes, but  purchases locally-grown grapes to make his wine.The wine is made on the premises and sold only in the winery. 

     We went there with friends to taste the wine of this local winery.

     Steve gave us a tour of his bottling plant including a demonstration of this label maker.

     He explained to us how this machine corks his bottles while holding up a finger to show us a missing digit when he did not heed the warning not to put your hand in the corker.

     I bet the person who bought that bottle of wine was surprised. 

Cleveland, Not Ohio, Tennessee

Day 1338

     Cleveland is located in southeast Tennessee roughly 15 miles west of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Established in 1838, the first Europeans to reach the area now occupied by Cleveland were most likely an expedition led by Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto on the night of June 2, 1540 (it appears he was not here during the day).

     Andrew Taylor, born November 2, 1760 in Augusta County, Virginia, came to what is now Cleveland as one of the first settlers. His settlement, known as “Taylor’s Place”, became a favorite stopping place for travelers due largely to the site’s excellent water sources. By legislative act on January 20, 1838, Taylor’s Place was established as the County seat of Bradley County to be named “Cleveland” after Colonel Benjamin Cleveland, a commander at the Battle of Kings Mountain during the American Revolution. 

     Walking through Cleveland we saw some unique houses, such as Casper the Ghost’s house.  I’ll spare you their history, as I can see your eyes are glazing over.

     For over 100 years politicians have given speeches from a bandstand sitting on this spot in front of the Courthouse. Ok Barbara, I will do whatever you say.

     John H. Craigmiles was born in 1823, Cynthia County, Kentucky. He was a prominent businessman who made his fortune selling goods to the Confederate army during the war. On October 18, 1871 his 7 year old daughter, Nina, was riding with her grandfather, Dr. Gideon Thompson, when the buggy in which they were traveling was struck by a train. Dr. Thompson was thrown clear, but Nina died instantly. 

     St. Luke’s Episcopal Church was built by the Craigmiles Family in memory of their daughter, Nina. The Craigmiles were a very prominent family in Cleveland and therefore no expense was spared in the building of the church.

     Saint Luke’s was completed on October 18, 1874 the third anniversary of Nina’s death.

     Cleveland, Tennessee was a divided community at the start of the Civil War, with a majority favoring the North. The Confederates occupied the city to control the railroads from June 1861 until November 25, 1863 when Union forces took the city and held it to the end of the war.

     I took a picture of this Confederate Monument erected by the United Daughters of the Confederacy in 1911 before they tear it down, which seems to be the trend now-a-days.

     I also took this picture of Lee University before they change the name to Floyd University. Actually the university was not named for Robert E. but for Flavius J. Lee. Don’t you love parents who would name their child Flavius. “Oh Flavius, time for dinner.”

     Lee College, now Lee University, was founded by the Church of God as a Bible Training School on January 1, 1918. Named for Flavius J. Lee, second president of the college and church leader. 

   

     Is that Captain Morgan, no, it is Colonel Benjamin Cleveland.

    Colonel Benjamin Cleveland was born in Orange County, Virginia, on May 28, 1738. He was an American pioneer and officer in the North Carolina militia where he fought in the Battle of Kings Mountain (see Day 251). Cleveland Tennessee is named in his honor, but not Cleveland Ohio, which was named after another Cleveland.

     Got to go before the tornado touches down.

McDonald, Tennessee

Day 1337

     McDonald Tennessee is a small community outside Cleveland, Tennessee. Nobody seems to know anything about McDonald. It is thought it was established in 1850, but no one knows why, or for whom it is named. Isn’t that pathetic?

     Some of the places we visit suggest wearing a mask:

 

 

 

 

 

 

     

     They were not amused.

 

Technical Stuff:

Cave City, Kentucky to McDonald, Tennessee: 247.4 miles

5 hours 8 minutes

10.9 MPG

Diesel: $2.10

Mammoth Cave, Kentucky

Day 1335

     Mammoth Cave is the longest cave system in the world with 400 miles of surveyed passages.

     The cave’s name refers to the large width and length of the passages. These passages were formed by the flow of the Green River which also carved out huge rooms. 

     The park was established as a national park on July 1, 1941. The cave has a long and storied history spanning hundreds of years, which you would probably find boring.

     Normally Mammoth Cave has 8 guided tours. Because of the China Virus, they have all been cancelled. Now, most of the Cave is closed to the public because of its narrow passages which would cause people to bunch up. The only thing that is open is a self guided tour of about a mile and a half into the cave limited to the wide passages and rooms.

     Concluding from trash left behind, archeologists have determined the cave was first explored about 4,000 years ago.

     What? A room built inside the cave? Yep, For a while parts of the cave were used to treat tuberculosis patients. It was thought that the air of the cave rendered a cure. They were wrong.

     You do have to watch out, you never know what will come out of these million year old caves.

Cave City, Kentucky

Day 1334

     In October, 1853, 4 businessmen from Louisville, Kentucky, formed a land company and purchased the land Cave City now stands. They envisioned a resort town to accommodate the visitors to nearby Mammoth Cave. Cave City was incorporated in 1866 as their vision became a reality. Aside from tourism, the city’s economy is largely retail focusing on antiques and consignment stores. However that reality is now over as we toured the city to find, as a result of the china virus, every single business closed, with the city looking like a ghost town. 

     So, we looked for other things to do. 

    We went to Munfordville (named after Richard Jones Munford, who donated the land to establish the new county seat in 1816) to view Kentucky’s Stonehenge.

     It is the creation of Munfordville native Chester Fryer. After acquiring over 1,000 acres of land here, Fryer relocated nearly every large rock he could find in order to create his masterpiece. I sure would like to know how he moved and stacked those suckers. 

     We spent the rest of the day hiking the Green River.

     The Green River is a 384-mile-long tributary of the Ohio River. Over thousands of years this river formed Mammoth Cave, located along river miles 188 to 210. 

     In a theory that is too complicated for my pea brain to understand, part of the river flows underground, as the river flows through what is now the cave, it dissolved limestone deposits causing multiple layers in the cave, these started as sinkholes. 

     Looking from the top of part of the mountain I could not see the sinkholes. I hiked down the mountain and found one.

     I wanted to take a photo looking straight down the sinkhole, but as I took the next step after taking the above photo, I began to sink into the riverbed. So, that is the best I can give you. 

     I am not exactly sure how this underground river works, but this diagram is supposed to explain it.

     This is what we saw:

     Nevertheless it was a nice, strenuous hike, particularly climbing back up the mountain.

Technical Stuff:

Columbus, Indiana to Cave City, Kentucky: 151.6 miles

3 hours 2 minutes

11.5 MPG

Diesel: $2.16

Columbus, Indiana

Day 1333

     We are leaving Amish Country and heading for Mammoth Cave in Kentucky.

     As we are leaving the campground, we pass the pasture with the Amish Belgium Work horses. You can tell they are Belgium by their accent.

     We stopped here in Columbus for one night without unhooking the Sphinx from the Truck.

And, therefore, did not explore the town or the area. Sometimes you just want to stop for the night and lay around and do nothing. Since I am laying around doing nothing, I decided to do some calculations. We have now been on the road for 4 years. Including campsite fees, food, diesel, propane, restaurants, admission to museums and events, and hotspot coverage for communications and internet, our costs are $90.34 a day. At home our costs were about $120.00 a day. 

 

Technical Stuff:

Shipshewana, Indiana to Columbus, Indiana: 227.9 miles

4 hours 28 minutes

9.2 MPG

Diesel: $2.16

Fidler Pond, Goshen Indiana

Day 1328

     When Lewis Fidler returned to Goshen Indiana after serving in the Navy during World War II, he opened up a filling station. He made a decent living, but the nearby land proved to be more valuable. He purchased the land intending to sell it to developers, but used it to start a sand and gravel business.

     Then in 1955, Fidler bought a ready-mix concrete company, followed by a concrete block company. Taking the gravel from the ground create a huge pit, which filled with water and today is called Fidler Pond, after being purchased by the city of Goshen for $550,000.  The city turned the land into Fidler Pond Park, opening Labor Day, 2013.

     Today’s hike took us around the pond.

     The pond, at its deepest, is 69 feet.

     This is the same turtle we saw at Goshen Millrace. He must have followed us here.

Amish Dinner, Shipshewana, Indiana

Day 1327

     When we met with Orvan Fry to have the Sphinx inspected by him for repairs and possible updates, he suggest we have the vehicles weighed. We do this once a year or so. There are limits as to what the Sphinx can carry. It is rated for 16,000 pounds. From that we subtract the weight of all the contents, bed, sofa, chairs, etc. All those weights are given us when we purchased the RV. We are also informed of the cargo capacity after those weights are subtracted, which is 3,175 lbs. That would be all the stuff we put in the RV, clothes, food in the fridge, lawn chairs, etc. Don’t forget we also add water and poop (Barbara more than I). Water weighs 8 pounds per gallon. We have three 40 gallon waste tanks, and a 60 gallon fresh water tank.

     We took the truck and Sphinx to a granary where they had a scale for large vehicles. We weighed the truck first, then we weighed the truck hooked up to the Sphinx, but only the truck wheels on the scale. We subtract the stand alone truck weight from this weight which tells us the amount of weight the Sphinx hitch is placing in the bed of the truck. We then weigh the truck and Sphinx together. Subtracting the truck and hitch weight from the total weight of the 2 vehicles tells us the weight on the axles of the Sphinx. Listed on the truck (just like your car) and the Sphinx are the actual weights each vehicle can carry. As it turns out, we are 80 lbs below our maximum weight.

     Barbara now realizes she can buy 80 more pounds of stuff. So off we go to the little shops run by the Amish in Shipshewana.

     Unfortunately, we walk by a candy store where I stocked up on my favorites, now she can only buy 70 lbs. of stuff.

     While Barbara was shopping, I was talking to an Amish guy making fresh caramel popcorn. It turns out he and his wife offer a home cooked Amish dinner for us tourists. So I signed us up.

     John and Elaine have a small farm just outside Shipshewana. We arrived early and walked around. 

     They plant a garden and grow a lot of their own food. Being Amish, they are not hooked up to the electric grid. However, they do have solar panels to supplement their diesel and propane generators. 

     We were joined by 2 other couples for dinner.

     After dinner we sat around and talked. Thereafter Elaine played on a keyboard

and we sang non denominational songs, like Amazing Grace. Then more leisure conversation to wrap up the evening.

All this, an Amish tradition. 

 

Goshen Millrace Canal, Indiana

Day 1325

     The Goshen Hydraulic Canal (The Millrace) was put into service on April 18, 1868, the same day Goshen, Indiana was incorporated as a city.  It was designed to provide water power to the new industries in the area and was progressively used for steam generation, electrical generation, ice production, recreation and much more.

     A Millrace is a body of water used to turn a water wheel.

     We hiked the canal.

     Along the banks you can hear the croaking of frogs. Once in a while, they would greet us on the trail.

     You never knew what is going to pop up out of the canal, a snake,

 a turtle,

     Wildflowers were abundant.

     When you came to a widening of the canal, ducks and geese would gather.

     We came across this family

     At the beginning of the trail, you could take the path we took along the canal, or another path that took you through the woods. Both were about the same length, 5 miles round trip. This made this sign very amusing. At this point the trials crossed. To take this picture I am standing on the woods trial. The cross traffic that does not stop is us. (As you can see, Barbara did stop.)

     Various bridges crossed the canal

     One of the oldest and unique was this stone bridge. Originally built of wood in the 1880’s by the Hawks Furniture Company, it was rebuilt of stone in 1905 when the wooden bridge was destroyed. Its purpose was to carry people and goods between the company’s two building on either side of the canal.

     We had to pause as Barbara herded a gaggle of geese across the trail.

     Is this the source of the canal?

Hiking Through the Amish Countryside, Indiana

Day 1324

     While the Sphinx is being worked on, we toured the Amish towns in the area. We began with a hike on The Little Elkhart River.

     Just off the river were some very nice parks

     Continuing our walk along the river we came upon the Bonneyville Mill.

     Normally we would go through the mill, looking at the millstones and explore the grinding process. Because of the china virus, the mill was closed to visitors. However, the mill master did give us a verbal tour, him inside, and us out.

     We then drove the Heritage Trail which took us through 6 small towns: Elkhart, Goshen, Nappanee, Middlebury, Bristol (is this where the Bristol Stomp came from?), and Wakarusa. This time of year, the main draw of the trail are the six Quilt Gardens.

     Starting last week, and proceeding through September 14, 2020, Gardens are designed and planted in the shape of Quilts.

     We stopped at Enchanted Gardens, where they had a petting zoo

     However, some of the animals were practicing social distancing

     This ostrich wanted to pluck my eye out.

     We talked to Sara who is the chief planter of the Quilt Garden in Wakarusa, Indiana. This bed was planted two weeks ago. 15 volunteers planted 3,000 plants in 4 hours to make this design.

     Well, I see it is time to go:

Shipshewana, Indiana

Day 1319

     Because of the China Virus we spent an extend time in Louisiana, just above New Orleans, where we got caught in the Country Lockdown. Now that the lockdown has been lifted, we find that the reason we would go to our next destination is not available at this time, with all museums and public places still closed. So, we decided, now is a good time to have minor, non-essential maintenance done on the Sphinx.

     The best place to have work done on a Cedar Creek 5th wheel is a small shop in Topeka, Indiana. So off we went (one of the great things of having your house on wheels), through Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Kentucky, and Indiana, 1008 miles, 8 days, where we set up camp in Shipshewana, a few miles from the repair shop. 

    We have been to Shipshewana before (see Day 417). Indiana is where 70% of all RV’s are manufactured. Forest River, the manufacturer of the Cedar Creek 5th Wheel, is located in Elkhart, Indiana, because of the heavy Amish population whom they employ for their highly skilled craftsmanship. 

     The shop we took the Sphinx today, Amish Family RV, is owned by Orvan Fry, who was employed by Forest River, Cedar Creek Division, for 17 years. When he left there, he opened up his own shop and works strictly on Cedar Creek Recreational Vehicles. He is renowned throughout the Country for his workmanship. We had met him at a Forest River Rally in Goshen Indiana a number of years ago (see Day 420).

     While we were at his shop today to outline what we wanted done, he pointed out other items that, if attended to now, would help us avoid other problems in the future. We also decided to have some upgrades made to the Sphinx, since we are already here. 

Technical Stuff:

Elizabethtown, Kentucky to Shipshewana, Indiana: 332.6 miles

6 hours 48 minutes

11.3 MPG

Diesel: $1.94 gallon

Sinking Spring Farm, Kentucky

Day 1318

     I know the suspense is killing you. Where did Thomas Lincoln, his wife, Nancy Hanks, and their 2 year old daughter Sarah Lincoln go when they left Elizabethtown?

     They only moved about 10 miles to a 300 acre farm Thomas bought after being kicked out of his previous farm because of a land title dispute involving the person from whom Lincoln bought the farm and the previous owner. On the new farm, their cabin was a standard dirt floor, one room log cabin, their property was named Sinking Spring Farm because it contained this spring that bubbled from the bottom of a cave. (The water dripping is from the recent rains.)

     On February 12, 1809 Thomas and Nancy had their second child, a son. They named him Abraham. Although Abraham did obtain some modicum of success, his life was cut short on April 15, 1865, when the 56 year old man was shot and killed. 

     The original log cabin of Abraham’s birth has long deteriorated and was dismantled long before anyone knew he would be famous 50 years later. A replica of this log cabin was built and placed in this Memorial Building. 

     Because of the current china virus pandemic, the building was closed, and you could not see inside. 

Elizabethtown, Kentucky

Day 1317

     In 1793, one year after Kentucky became the 15th state of the Union, Colonel Andrew Hynes, born February 28, 1750 in Hagerstown, Maryland, who was an officer during the Revolutionary War and an Indian fighter thereafter, purchased 30 acres of land in the Severn’s Valley Settlement of Kentucky. This settlement, 14 years earlier in 1779, was the first permanent settlement in the area and was called Severns Valley after John Severns who came here with 17 pioneers and their families, mostly from Maryland and Virginia.

     Haynes surveyed and laid off the land into lots and streets and formed Elizabethtown, named in honor of his wife, Elizabeth Warford Hynes. The town was established by the Kentucky Legislature on July 4, 1797 as “the town of Elizabeth”.

     The community became an important stop along the railroad and a strategic point during the Civil War.

      In fact, Confederate General John Hunt Morgan’s Raiders arrived in Elizabethtown on December 27, 1862, appearing on the brow of the hill that is now the City Cemetery. The main objective of the Christmas Raid was to burn two Louisville & Nashville Railroad trestles on Muldraugh Hill north of the town. The Confederates placed artillery on the hill and demanded the surrender of the Union garrison. They refused and Morgan’s artillery opened fire. The bombardment lasted twenty minutes. 3,900 Confederates engaged 652 Federals, 107 rounds were fired upon the buildings of the town killing or wounding 7 of the soldiers who had taken refuge there.

     You’ll never guess what we found on Mulberry Street.

     We found this blue building with a big arrow on it.

     During the Confederate barrage one ball hit the bank building located on this corner, lodging in the wall just under a third-story window.

     In 1887 a fire destroyed the entire block and the cannonball fell with the wall. When the building was rebuilt, the cannonball was placed in the same spot, as near as possible, where it had originally landed. 

      From 1871 to 1873, the Seventh Cavalry and a battalion of the Fourth Infantry, led by General George Armstrong Custer, were assigned to Elizabethtown. They were stationed in the community to suppress the Ku Klux Klan and Carpet Baggers and to break up illegal distilleries which began to flourish in the South after the Civil War. Custer died 3 years later on June 26, 1876 of arrow ventilation. 

     Abraham Lincoln did not live here,

but Thomas Lincoln and Nancy Hanks did from the time of their marriage, June 12 1806, until their removal in 1808. Thomas Lincoln was born on January 6, 1778 in Linville Creek, Virginia. He was descendent from Samuel Lincoln, who in 1637 landed and became part of the English settlement of the  Massachusetts Bay Colony.

     After boundary disputes due to defective titles and Kentucky’s chaotic land laws, complicated by the absence of certified land surveys and the use of subjective or arbitrary landmarks to determine land boundaries. Lincoln, his wife and daughter moved 10 miles down the road to another farm he had bought.

Technical Stuff:

Athens, Alabama to Elizabethtown, Kentucky: 229.8 miles

4 hours 22 minutes

10.9 MPG

Diesel: $1.56

Athens, Alabama

Day 1314

     Athens, Alabama, named after the city in Greece, was incorporated in 1818, one year before the State was admitted to the Union. 

     We went to Athens, but it was closed. Even the Church was refusing sanctuary.

     We hiked along Swan Creek, a Tributary of the Tennessee River.