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.


4 comments:

Diana said...

Fascinating area -- thanks for the tour.

Barbara and Ron said...

That looks like a great unknown cave.

Anonymous said...

hey was this the same cave with white sand in it ?

firesign58 said...

On our August 2008 tour we saw Cumberland Park on the way from NJ to TN. I bought our son a coonskin hat (not real coonskin; acrylic made to look like it). Thanks for the pics and great memories. I took some pretty good shots from the back of the bike - look ma, no hands! I'm filming! (at 60 mph)