Thursday, August 20, 2009

Spruce Pine, NC

From Hillsville I traveled down the Blue Ridge Parkway to Spruce Pine, NC, leaving VA behind. Stopping on the way I visited Moses H. Cone Historic Site. Moses and his brother were German Jewish immigrants. They became famous for their textile ventures and became the largest producer of denim in the world in their time. For entertaining their family and friends they built this beautiful home on several thousand acres. The idea was to keep it as a natural getaway. Moses planted over 100,000 apple trees, while his wife planted rhododendrons. They developed 22 miles of carriage roads on their property. Those old carriage roads are now hiking trails and the home is a visitor center.

Looking off the front porch of the Moses H. Cone home.

Looking at the front of the home. The upstairs is closed except for tours on the weekends. We were there on a weekday.

While in the area we visited Linville Falls. These are the upper falls. Only about 2 hours or less from Asheville this is a popular place for day trips and picnics.

I guess I'm just like a kid and can't seem to keep clean, but the rest of the story about this is later.

Looking down on the lower falls.

Not far from the falls is the Linn Cove Viaduct and visitor center. From the visitor center you can hike underneath one end of the viaduct. Here is Max picking blackberries along the way.

Standing underneath the viaduct. Above is the 2 lane viaduct, the last part of the Blue Ridge Parkway to be built.

Looking across at the viaduct.

Now for the rest of the story....I eventually did get up to the limb where Max was sitting, but not before sliding down the hill first.

If you have never been on the Blue Ridge Parkway, it is a 454 mile National Highway running along the Blue Ridge Mountains. It is full of beautiful hills, valleys and curves.

The town of Spruce Pine is aptly named. All around the area are Christmas Tree farms. I have never seen more hills and fields full of Blue Spruce trees.

This was my view for miles along some of the highways. Miles and miles of Christmas trees.

The gap near Spruce Pine was originally used by the animals, such as deer and buffalo, as they migrated to different feeding grounds. Following the buffalo trails came the Indians. Next the pioneers followed the trail through the gap as they came west. But the most famous use of the gap, known as Gillespie's Gap, was on September 29, 1780, as hundreds of Patriot militiamen came through the gap on their way to King's Mountain, which is said to have been a decisive battle in the Revolutionary War.

Still a producing orchard, we stopped, but their crop of summer apples was destroyed. It does look like their crop of fall apples should be good though.

I grew up with the song "Hang Down Your Head Tom Dooley, Hang Down Your Head and Cry.....", never knowing it was based on a real man and real story.

Knowing I would be close to the Appalachian Trail, I set a goal to hike at least a small distance on it before leaving the mountains. My first chance was rained out. But here I was again. It was raining on and off that day, but I did get a short hike on the trail. Someday I still want to go back and hike a larger portion.

Since we didn't even find the trail until the afternoon, we only hiked about 1 mi in and back out.

We drove to the top of Roan Mountain after the hike and found this sign next to the closed visitor center.

I would love to be back here in June when the Rhododendrons bloom.

Those are all Rhododendron trees, some over six feet high.

At the end of the trail was this viewing platform. All you can see behind us is sky.

The Hotel of the Clouds. Around the early 1900s this was "the place" for the rich and famous to come play. Built on top of Roan Mountain it was an all day carriage ride the 12 miles from the train depot.

Now, this is all that is left.

1 comment:

Barbara and Ron said...

Very interesting. You know I count on you to tell us what we're missing.