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Millstone Marks Horace Kephart’s Favorite Smoky Mountain Refuge

Shortly after Horace Kephart’s death in 1931, the newly-formed Horace Kephart Troop, Boy Scouts of America, placed a millstone marker on the site of the writer’s last permanent campsite in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park above Bryson City. The plaque reads —

On this spot Horace Kephart – Dean of American Campers and one of the Principal Founders of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park – pitched his last permanent camp.

In his book, Mountain Passages: Natural and Cultural History of Western North Carolina and the Great Smoky Mountains, Bryson City author George Ellison wrote “… Kephart found refuge from summer visitors seeking him out by camping at the old Bryson Place, now a designated camping area in the national park, situated about 10 miles north of Bryson City alongside Deep Creek. He would sometimes go there for an entire summer, hauling in by wagon or on horseback the supplies and equipment he required, which included a small folding desk and writing materials.”

The marker’s location is generally described as “Campsite 57, at Bryson Place”, yet many hikers have tried unsuccessfully to locate the marker. But with a GPS it can be found at 35° 31.197′ N, 83° 25.182′.

On the Historical Marker Database website, W. Frank March of Sevierville, TN added the following assistance — “The memorial is located approximately 322′ SW (bearing 220 degrees) from the Martins Gap Trail sign. From the trail sign, go back down the trail toward Deep Creek campground approximately 150′, then go off the trail at an angle, to the right. The marker is below the trail, on the right.”

Horace Kephart is buried in the Bryson City Cemetery.

Photo by Sharon McCarthy, Smoky Scout

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