We love the Smoky Mountains. Wish you were here!

Archive for September, 2009

Move Over Tom Hanks, I’m in Charge Here!


It’s a long-standing tradition — children ride the Polar Express train in their pajamas. But not Nate Hundley. When he rode the train last year, he was the only child dressed as a conductor. According to his mom, Nate had so much fun that he now begs his parents to quit their jobs and move to Bryson City.

The Polar Express train ride returns to the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad for the fifth year on November 6 and continues through December 23. Schedules and information (PDF).

Photo by Kelly Hundley

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Bryson City’s Iconic Landmark From a Slightly Different Perspective


Smoky Mountain Times reporter Aaron Morgan captured this image of yellow flowers, the Chamber of Commerce fountain and the Old Swain County Courthouse reflected in the Chamber window. The photo was taken around 9 p.m. in late May this year. Aaron used a tripod and flash at 18mm, f/14, 30 seconds, ISO 100.

An exhibit of Aaron’s photography will be on display at the Marianna Black Library in Bryson City through the end of this month.

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100 Years Ago, Getting Syrup for Your Pancakes Was No Easy Task


There was no running to the corner market for a bottle of Mrs. Butterworth. You had to grow and harvest the sugar cane, grind the stalks in a horse-powered cane mill, and boil the pulp in a wood-fired cooker …all before pouring the syrup over your pancakes.

gsm75_verticalThis 19th century sorghum syrup-making process will be the centerpiece of the Mountain Life Festival on September 19 at the Mountain Farm Museum, on the banks of the Oconaluftee river near Cherokee. For more than 35 years, the Great Smoky Mountain National Park’s Fall Festival has provided visitors with a glimpse into the past as they make soap, apple cider, sorghum molasses, hominy, traditional toys, music and more. The syrup making demonstration is provided by students, staff, and volunteers from Swain County High School through a cooperative agreement with Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Great Smoky Mountains Association.

As part of the GSMNP’s 75th Anniversary, this year’s festival will include a special showcase of Appalachian folkways. Tools, farm implements and historic photographs from the Park’s archives and artifact collection will be on display to help pay tribute to the former residents who lived where the Park now stands.  Music will be provided by Marshall Crowe and the Bluegrass Singers.

The purpose of the Mountain Life Festival is to share with park visitors some of the traditional fall activities that were an important part of rural life in the southern mountains. The spirit of cooperation that existed among families and neighbors is reflected in this event. You can view a preview in this video from the sponsoring Great Smoky Mountains Association.

Mountain Life Festival (free)
Saturday, September 19
10 am – 4 pm
Mountain Farm Museum
Great Smoky Mountains National Park Oconaluftee Visitors Center
Cherokee, NC

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Indian Creek Was The Legendary Angler Mark Cathey’s Home


Mark Cathey (1871-1944) once ‘owned’ Indian Creek. It was where he lived — a short distance above these falls — and it was where he mastered the art of fly fishing. Cathey was a colorful character who would modestly admit “I have been accused of being the best fisherman in the Smokies.”

Today, most visitors to the Deep Creek area of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park take the short one-mile walk to admire Indian Creek’s beautiful falls. But after learning more about legendary angler, you may want to continue your walk northward through what was once “Cathey’s Place”.

Bryson City naturalist George Ellison related two classic Mark Cathey stories in his Smoky Mountain News “Mountain Views” column in 2001. Ellison wrote, ‘He earned his living as a lumber-herder, trapper, and hunting or fishing guide. When the splash dams on the creeks in the Smokies were released, lumber-herders ran along the banks to clear jams. Some few, like Cathey, had the agility and courage to ride the logs down the creek, ducking branches and risking sure death in the event of a miscue.” Read entire article.

In his new book Fly Fishing in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Jim Casada writes about Indian Creek and it’s most famous resident. When fishing Indian Creek, Casada writes, “…you can take quiet comfort in knowing that you are wading and casting in the footsteps of Uncle Mark Cathey.” Download a PDF excerpt from Jim Casada’s new book and read chapter 23 “Indian Creek”.

Download a PDF map of Deep Creek’s trails and waterfalls.

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