With hours being cut back at Dollywood, we were able to get out and do some “tourist” things. We actually took one day to go out to the park and play instead of working. We went to the “Wings over America” show. Eagle Mountain at Dollywood is a sanctuary for Bald Eagles, sanctioned by the government. The birds on display and used in the show are rescued and cannot be released back into the wild due to injuries that will not let them survive. This is a wonderful show that lets the audience enjoy the birds and be educated about them, such as the Golden Eagle and the Bald Eagle. One of the birds in the display is a little Barn Owl named Valentine that Millie has taken special interest in and she always stops to say hello when she passes his cage. Some days he even talks to her!
We have included in the Photo Gallery a few pictures of the games in the area where we have been working. The Tornado Alley and Ring A Bottle were both games that Millie worked. The Tornado Alley is being manned by Lou and the Ring A Bottle is being manned by Haley, two of the great team members we were privileged to work with. The Three Point Basketball game is manned by Kendra.
We rode the train at Dollywood. The “Klondike Katie” steam engine was actually used in Alaska on the White Pass and Yukon Railroad in the early 1900’s. We took a trip on that railway during our trip to Alaska in 2003.
Dollywood has many beautiful decorated areas for the Harvest Festival. The Cornucopia and Pumpkin Tree were particularly striking.
The Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was our next outing. Our first stop was made to admire the view of the mountains from a pull off. Some color was beginning to show in the trees, but peak will be later in the month of October or early in November.
The first farm we visited was the old Jim Bales place. The house here has been moved from another location and was not original to the site, but the barn and corncrib are. The interior of the tiny house shows how many people find it necessary to deface historical buildings in the park. It is a shame to think that that some folks think that the rest of us are interested in seeing their name on our national treasures.
The Ephraim Bales farm occupied about 70 acres of rocky soil. About 30 acres were used for agriculture. Ephraim and Minerva lived in this tiny house with 9 children. The house was never any larger and the doors and window (yes, I said window) were tiny, but allowed heat to be conserved. The dog trot was enclosed to allow for sleeping. Other buildings on the property included the barn and corn crib. There are a number of Black Walnut trees on the property and the nuts were falling. We had to dodge them and hope that we didn’t get hit on the head.
One day we headed over Newfound Gap to Cherokee, NC. US441 crosses the park. Newfound Gap is on the TN-NC state line. In the picture taken from the overlook, the tiny silver ribbon of the highway heads toward Cherokee from the gap. President Franklin D. Roosevelt attended the dedication of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in 1940 which took place at New Found Gap. The stone platform used for the ceremony is here with a plaque commemorating the occasion. President Roosevelt is the only sitting U. S. President to visit the park.
We arrived in Cherokee and stopped at the Visitors Center to view the beautiful bear on display there. Cherokee has many of this bears decorated by local artists on display around the town. We thought this one was particularly pretty.
After a quick lunch, we toured the demonstration village owned by the Cherokee Tribe. We had visited here many years ago when here with our kids. We were pleased with the improvements made over the years, both in the displays and people who were presenting the life of traditional Cherokees. Pictures of the craftspeople and their demonstrations are in the photo album.
The Cherokee was one of the “civilized” tribes. They built log homes, had great respect for the land, which they farmed; had a written language and published a newspaper. They were removed from their homes and relocated to Oklahoma via “The Trail of Tears” by the government in the 1838. Some members hid in the mountains and remained in the area. These are now the ancestors of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee.
After leaving the village, we visited the Museum of the Cherokee Indian. As with the village, we had been here before. The museum is now state of the art and the displays are informative. At the front desk we were greeted by Elder Jerry Wolf who was the model for the beautiful sculpture on display. A magnificent carving is on display on the grounds of the museum.
The Oconaluftee Visitor Center and Mountain Farm Life Museum are at the NC entrance to the National Park. The farm buildings are not original to the site but have been gathered from the area and put together here to represent life in the mountains.
The Mingus Mill was built in 1886. Farmers from the area would bring their corn and wheat here to be ground for flour to make bread. Products from the mill can still be purchased here. In previous visits we have purchased grits, cornmeal and buckwheat flour ground at this mill.
A short road from Newfound Gap will take you to Clingmans Dome. At 6,643’ it is the highest point in the park and third highest mountain east of the Mississippi. A strenuous ˝ mile walk uphill from the parking area takes you to an observation tower where you can have views of the area.
As you will notice from the pictures we took, there are many dead trees in the area. These are the magnificent Frasier Furs that are under attack from an imported insect (balsam wooly adelgid) that is killing trees in the Appalachian highlands. So far there is no preventative for this, although testing is underway to try to save the trees that are left. Trees in higher elevations are also under attack by polluted air and acid rain. We were sad to see how much this area has changed since our first visit in the 1960’s. It is very obvious the damage is occurring very quickly.
One morning we attended to Blackwood Brothers breakfast show at the Black Bear Theater. The breakfast was good and filling and the show featuring the Blackwood Brothers Quartet was excellent.
We will be finishing up our work at Dollywood the end of the month, but will spend a couple of weeks longer here in Pigeon Forge so that we can enjoy some of the Holiday shows and decorations before heading out.
See you next month!
(Lots of new photos in the gallery, take a look. We couldn't link to all of them.)