Sunday, July 26, 2009

Hensley Settlement and the Gap Cave

My final blog about my time in Cumberland Gap National Park. Inside the park there is the Hensley Settlement. The Hensley's and Gibbons settled this area in 1903. At its peak, there were 10 families and about 100 people living in this settlement. It was a minimum 5 mile hike downhill and 5 miles back uphill to the nearest town. They lived here through the 1940s, but by the end of the 1950s there was only one family left. Mr. Hensley, the original founder was the last to leave in the 1960s. Most of the buildings have been destroyed due to deteriation and fire, but have been restored or recreated based on writings and interviews with the actual occupants or their heirs. They had no electricity or running water while living in the settlement, but were almost totally self sufficient, trading moonshine for those items they did not grow.

Even after being abandoned for almost 50 years, the apple trees are still producing.

They also had what our guide called high-top blueberries. Some of our group from the afternoon tour said their guide called them huckleberries. Whichever, they tasted good.

It was said you could tell who wore the pants in the family by which was bigger, the house or the barn. Here in the left of the picture was the house, on the right in the middle was the barn. I believe the missus' was the boss in this family.

A shot of one of the family farms. There was a woodsmith and blacksmith building, a spring house, the wood shed, the remains of the original home, the chicken coop and the barn at the back.

I believe the mister wore the pants in this family. The bottom log on the side of the barn is one beech log and is over 45 feet long. There was plenty of space for the animals during the cold winters.
I toured the settlement in the morning and in the afternoon took a tour of one of the caves in the park. This cave is virtually undeveloped compared to some I have visited this year.

Here you can see us with lanterns, the only light in the cave.

A column and standing in the middle of a pool of water.

Even these small, not-so-famous caves have some beautiful formations.

Another shot of that pool of water and all the formations in the area.

It was very moist in the cave. Those little points of light are drops of moisture on the ceiling.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Martins Station

Martin's Station was located just miles from Cumberland Gap. It became a stopping point, supply point and way station for those heading for the gap. It had to be abandoned on and off because of Indian raids, but for many years was the lone outpost before crossing the gap.

We had the opportunity to see a primative blacksmith pour a brass mold. He first made the mold using sand. Then he heated the brass and poured it into the mold.
After letting it cool he took the mold apart.

And here is the brass piece. It will eventually be polished and beat into some plates for a handmade rifle.

Some of us biked over to the station which was about 8 miles each way from the campground. The first part of the path was through the woods.

The fort was not really very large. Most of the buildings were actually located outside the fort.

The bikers.

The bike trail was beautiful. We even biked underneath and old covered bridge.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Cumberland Gap, TN

Arriving a day before most of the other group, there was time to just drive around the area. On a winding road up to the coal mines I spotted this woodpecker.

I believe this is called a pileated woodpecker.

In Middlesboro, KY, the Chamber of Commerce is an old house which has been sided with real coal. Do you think it might be a fire hazard?

In the small town of Cumberland Gap, TN, there is a restaurant which has local music on Friday and Saturday evenings. Friday night had some old time pickers and fiddlers.

This sign sums up the history of the area. Called a road by the sign, I imagine this was more like what the pioneers found when they crossed the Cumberland Gap.

This tunnel was hand carved by Italian immigrants in 1897. The railroad tunnel is still in use today and runs almost 1/4 mile long.

Blackberries were abound and we found lots of ripe ones.

About 10 miles down the road was this house. The town was founded in the late 1790s. I know nothing more about the house, except I thought it was unusual.

Also in Tazewell was this old service station.

I did hike through Cumberland Gap, which was where over 300,000 pioneers followed Daniel Boone to the new west. Daniel Boone opened this trail in 1769, although Dr. Walker Thomas first found the trail in 1950. Until 1996 this was also the route of US Highway 25E, the only route across the Cumberland Mountains. In 1996 they opened the Cumberland Tunnel, a mile long tunnel through the mountains. In 2001 they removed all the asphalt from the old highway and recontoured the land as you see it above. It was hard to imagine only 15 years ago there was a 2 lane highway where I was standing.

Near the gap is this Tri-State Marker. I was standing in the corner of three states, KY, TN and VA.

The clouds over the gap.

A view of the gap from about 1 mile away.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Road trip with a grandson

So now the three older grandkids have all been on a 'road trip' with grandma. This was Adrion's first. Just for a few days and only a short distance, but we had some fun.

One place we visited was "The Wilds", the largest wild animal conservation park in North America. Here we are on the open-air safari truck.

These were a couple of rhinos just grazing off in the fields. There were no fences between us and them. I really felt like I was in the savannah's of Africa as we drove through the park. Many animals are together in an area, although they don't allow the cheetah's or African wild dogs to roam loose. All the animals in the park are endangered to some degree. When we went through the gates from area to area I kept thinking I was in Jurassic Park.

I found a primitive campground in Wayne National Forest. This creek was just down the bank from the camp.

The last big a few years back washed out the wooden steps so now the only way up or down is using the rope.

Once Ohio was known to have the most covered bridges, over 2000, but today PA holds that claim. But we still found one.

We went into Marietta, OH, and visited the Ohio River Museum which has this paddlewheel tug boat.

Above is a picture of it in its heyday pushing a barge.

This is a train bridge over the Muskingum River, which flows into the Ohio River. No longer in operation, this train bridge turned in the middle to allow boat traffic to pass through. Now it is a historic site and they have a pedestrial walkway next to it across the river.

This is the paddlewheel river boat which Adrion and I took a 2 hour scenic cruise on the Ohio River. This is not an old boat, but was built in the 1990s. It is diesel powered steam generator, with no other propulsion or steering than the paddlewheel.

Adrion even got to drive the boat.

This statue was carved by the same man who carved Mt. Rushmore, Gutzon Borglum.

Marietta claims to be the first permanent settlement in the northwest territory in 1788.

We also visited a Minors Memorial in the American Electric Power (AEP) Co. ReCreation Lands. "Big Muskie" as this bucket is called is the largest in the world, being 1 1/2 times as long as a football field and it can carry 325 tons of dirt, the equivalent of a two story house.

Here is a picture of the dragline bucket in action.

Driving through the AEP ReCreation Lands. Over 30,000 acres were reforested back in the 1960s after AEP quit the surface coal mining operations in the area. It is now free for the public to enjoy the 350+ lakes and 380+ campsites, plus many trails and atv areas. You have to get a permit, but it is a one-time, life-time permit.

Visiting kids

Sitting in my son's yard.

Adrion with his new scooter.

Holding the latest grandchild. As you can see he eats good. He almost doubled his weight in six weeks.

Some things haven't gone out of style, slip and slides are still around.

Aaron ended up cutting some trees down in his yard and now has all kinds of limbs to chop up for his fire pit. He's putting Adrion to work cutting up the small limbs.

On the Way to Athens

I got all new tires now on my RV and my car. Yahoo! It's done. Hopefully I won't have to worry about tires for another several years at least. But after getting my tires, I headed north to Athens, OH, to see the kids and grandkids who live there. I took the scenic route north.

I stopped at Blue Licks State Park and Battlefield. Above is the memorial for all those who fought at the last battle of the revolutionary war.

I guess I tend to think of the revolutionary war being fought along the eastern seaboard, not west here in KY.

Once I got to Ohio I was driving along the riverside most of the way.

I also never thought of the Appalachians being in Ohio, but here is proof. I drove the Appalachian highway.