Archive for September, 2008
Today, handmade brooms and corn-shuck dolls are collectable crafts. But a century ago, in the Smoky Mountains of remote Appalachia, they were just two staples of everyday life – necessities for house-cleaning and entertaining the children.
Fortunately, such heritage crafts have not been lost over time. David Higgins, a Whittier broom maker, grows his own broom corn from heritage seeds. And he gives the corn silks to Annie Lee Bryson to use as hair on her handcrafted corn silk dolls. Above, David and Annie demonstrated their crafts at the 2008 Mountain Life Festival at the Mountain Farm Museum in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. In Bryson City, their brooms and dolls are available at The Cottage Craftsman.
Founded by Clark Whittier in 1885, the town of Whittier, North Carolina once flourished as a lumber center before succumbing to the Great Depression. No longer incorporated, the quiet little community on the banks of the Tuckaseigee river is mostly residential.
If you’d like a glimpse of the original Whittier, stop by Gloria Nolan’s “Stuff’ & Such” consignment shop across from the Whittier Post Office. Working from old photos, Gloria has created a scale model of Whittier as it was in 1895. Above, Whittier resident Ann Hill studies the model, imagining her Smoky Mountains community the way it used to be.
Fall visitors to the Smokies often try to plan their visit around the “peak season” for autumn color. Yet no one except Mother Nature knows when the “peak” will occur …and she’s not talking.
Fall arrives first at the higher elevations, suggesting early-to-mid October drives along the Blue Ridge Parkway (above), Cherohala Skyway, and US 441 across Newfound Gap. Yet at the lower elevations around Bryson City, the best color usually arrives mid-to-late October …sometimes as late as early November.
Truth is, if you visit the Smokies just about any time in October, you’re certain to find Fall foliage. Just look high and low.
Photo by J.R. vanLienden, Masterpiece Portraits
Mountain music is very much a part of the Smoky Mountains experience, and it’s yours to enjoy every Saturday night through October at the Bryson City train depot. “Music in the Mountains”, the town’s free Bluegrass concert, features regional talent including the popular group Reel Tyme (above). The two-hour show begins at 6:30, courtesy of the Swain County Tourism Development Authority.