We love the Smoky Mountains. Wish you were here!

Archive for January, 2009

Mother Nature Reclaims Bryson City’s Old Lands Creek Reservoir


In the mid-1980s, when Bryson City abandoned its Lands Creek reservoir and turned to Deep Creek for the town’s water supply, many questioned the future of the 750-acre Lands Creek tract. Bordering the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Lands Creek property was understandably attractive to private developers.

In 2006, rather than opening up the land to development, Bryson City established a conservation easement that protects the land and makes it available for recreational activities like camping, hiking, fishing and hunting.

Today, only the concrete dam remains, and mother nature is well on her way to reclaiming Lands Creek. Photo by Faye Bumgarner

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Native American Hoop Dancer Preserves Cherokee Traditions


Former World Champion Hoop Dancer Eddie Swimmer performs at the annual Swain County Heritage Festival in Bryson City, NC. Held each year on the Memorial Day weekend, the festival celebrates the rich Appalachian heritage of the Great Smoky Mountains, including the area’s original inhabitants, the Cherokee Nation.

Eddie uses between 36 and 42 hoops in his dance (see video), creating different arrangements of the hoops to make symbols including the eagle, turtle and butterfly. “Past generations felt it was necessary to drop the culture and heritage in order to move forward and make a living,” says Swimmer. “Now, generations want it all back. We are proud and want to bring the tradition back. Teaching people outside the culture is one way I can do that.” Read more about Eddie Swimmer on his website.

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The Deal’s Gap Dragon — An Adventure on Asphalt


The Dragon — the curvy stretch of US Highway 129 connecting North Carolina and Tennessee at Deal’s Gap — elicits contrasting responses from visitors to the Smoky Mountains. “Flatlanders”, unaccustomed to serpentine roads, have been known to turn several shades of green after negotiating the road’s 318 continuous curves in just eleven miles. But motorcyclists love it, and consider it one of the best motorcycling and sports car roads in the world.

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A Literary Tour of Bryson City’s Hillside Cemetery

Thomas Wolfe angel

While the author never said, many scholars believe that the statue described in Thomas Wolfe’s “Look Homeward Angel” is the gravestone of Fanny Everett Clancy in the Bryson City hillside cemetery (above). Others believe Wolfe’s “angel” was a composite of two statues, the one in Bryson City and another in Hendersonville, NC. Both were imported from Carrara, Italy and sold at the Asheville tombstone shop owned by Thomas Wolfe’s father in the early 1900s. The Hendersonville angel has the smile and the foot of the angel described in the novel, while the Bryson City angel holds the lily that Wolfe described.

While at the Bryson City cemetery, also look for the large boulder marking the grave of Horace Kephart (1862-1931). The plaque reads “Scholar, Author, Outoorsman. He loved his neighbors and pictured them in “Our Southern Highlanders”. His vision helped to create The Great Smoky Mountains National Park.” Kephart also penned “Camping and Woodcraft” based on a series articles he wrote for Field and Stream.


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