Archive for February, 2009
When artist and photographer Charles Heath first opened his Bryson City Gallery, he did not realize that his grandfather had once worked in the same building. Then he learned that the Depot Street structure had once been occupied by Slayden Flakes Distributors, the wholesale grocery company where his grandfather Charley Browning was employed.
Charles’ family has long been a part of Bryson City and Swain County, North Carolina. His great-grandfather Samuel R. Patterson (1928 photo below) served the county as Register of Deeds and later as Swain County Sheriff in the 30s and 40s. That’s his badge, below.
February arrived in the North Carolina Smokies on a blast of frigid arctic air. With temperatures remaining below freezing for several days, the creeks, ponds and rivers all turned to ice …including the Tuckaseigee, shown here where US 19 crosses the river just east of Bryson City. Photo by Jennifer Wilson.
Each Winter, when the Tennessee Valley Authority lowers the lake level by more than fifty feet, Fontana Lake reveals some of its fascinating history, like the old Highway 288 bridge pictured above. In the Summer, at full pool, the lake’s shoreline reaches the tree line at the top of the photo.
Highway 288 once connected Bryson City with the communities of Fontana, Bushnell, Forney and Judson along the Tuckaseigee River. But with the creation of the 10,230-acre reservoir in 1944, both the communities and Highway 288 were completely inundated, with only portions resurfacing during TVA’s annual Winter drawdown.
The bridge spans Lands Creek, which flows out of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park just west of Bryson City.
Several people have asked about visiting this bridge.
The best time to see it without a boat is in the winter, when the lake level is low enough to walk along the shoreline (by late Spring it should be under water). Here’s how to get there…
From the Dollar General store in downtown Bryson City, drive west on Bryson Walk. After you pass the Lumber Mill, look for Old Hwy 288 which peels off to the left and continues along the Tuckaseigee River. Continue on 288 until it ends at the municipal boat ramp. From there, walk north along the shoreline about a mile to the Lands Creek Bridge.
You can also see it from the pull-off on Buckner Branch Road, across the lake (where I took the photo).
— Charles Snodgrass
Here’s an adventurous way to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park — join Jerry Span and the Fontana Hiking Club for their “75 Hikes on the 75th” series of hikes.
Participants have the option of joining any number of the hikes throughout the year (schedule). And the more ambitious hikers who complete the entire program will enjoy the added benefit of becoming members of the 900 Miler Club, an elite group of folks who’ve hiked all the trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Some of the backcountry trails are a bit more challenging than others. Above, hikers Graham Averill (front) and Jeremiah LeRoy (back) negotiate a log crossing on the Cold Spring Gap Trail north of Fontana Lake in western Swain County. Photo by Jerry Span.