We love the Smoky Mountains. Wish you were here!

Archive for June, 2011

That’s no Soda Jerk. She’s a Friend of the Library.

Above, Christine Obert, a visitor from Denver, Colorado, pays Teresa Maynard for her purchase. But she’s not buying a root beer float or a cherry coke or a chocolate malt. She’s buying a book at Bryson City’s Friends of the Library used book store at 32 Everett Street.

With proceeds going to Bryson City’s Marianna Back Library, three blocks south, the all-volunteer Friends of the Library sell previously-owned books, magazines, and DVDs as well as photography and art by local artisans. The bookstore is open 10-5 Monday thru Thursday and 11-6 Friday & Saturday.

The antique marble soda fountain remains from an earlier time when the store was part of the old Bennett’s Drug Store. The fountain has a marble topped counter from Italy with six stools; the lighted back bar with stained glass murals and marble columns is also from Italy. Bennett’s Drug Store was founded in 1905 by A.M. Bennett, who was both a physician and pharmacist. Three generations of the Bennett family served Swain County as pharmacists.

The bookstore is only half of the former drug store. The other half is now Calby’s Antiques, next door. When you drop in, ask to see the photos of the original Bennett’s Drug Store.

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In the Smokies, you CAN lead a horse to water

While their horses enjoy the cool water, these riders drink in the beauty of Fontana Lake and the surrounding Smoky Mountains. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park has more than 800 miles of trails, and most are open to horseback riding. Water features — streams, cascades, waterfalls — are plentiful, including the massive Fontana Lake with its more than 240 miles of shoreline.

You’ll find more information about trails, Fontana Lake and horseback riding in the Smokies at the Bryson City area online travel guide.

Photo courtesy of James Clark, Deep Creek Boarding Stables

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If it’s Saturday night in the Smokies, there WILL be music

Throughout the Summer, Bryson City offers many options for lovers of traditional mountain music. On Saturday evenings through October, you can take in the free 6:30 pm “Music in the Mountains” concerts at the train depot. And throughout July and August, the Stecoah Valley Cultural Arts Center presents “An Appalachian Evening”, the annual Summer concert series, now in its 12th season.

In the ’40s and  ’50s, Stecoah’s historic stage (above) was graced by such top bluegrass performers as Flatt and Scruggs, Bill Monroe, and The Carter Family. This year’s 10-concert series begins on June 28 with the internationally-known Kruger Brothers. Other groups include Balsam Range, Dismembered Tennesseans and the Jeff Little Trio.

The Bryson City area offers even more music and entertainment options. It’s all in this area performance schedule.

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The Appalachian Trail – No Ordinary Walk in the Park

This week’s Postcard from the Smokies begins our fourth year of publishing these weekly highlights of living and playing in the Smokies. If you’re a relatively new reader, we invite you to  browse through earlier postcards here.

Chip Penlan, a hiker from Memphis, stops to admire the view from the heights of the Appalachian Trail. In March, he and fellow hiker Tyler Stanley trekked over 50 miles from Deep Gap, at the GA-NC state line, to the Nantahala Outdoor Center. While some dedicated “thru hikers” attempt to cover all 2181 miles of the AT in the same year, Chip and Tyler are like most, chipping away at the trail in more manageable segments over time.

AT Sign Stretching from Springer Mountain in North Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine, the trail passes through 14 states. North Carolina has 88 miles of AT not counting the more than 200 miles that follows along the Tennessee border. The trail runs for more than 71 miles through Great Smoky Mountains National Park, entering from the south at Fontana Dam and exiting in the north at Davenport Gap. The highest point anywhere along the trail is at Clingmans Dome (6625 ft.). The trail also passes by other notable landmarks in the Smoky Mountains such as Charlies Bunion, Rocky Top and the historic stone fire tower atop Mt. Cammerer.

Most people usually take seven days to hike the Smoky Mountains section. But it can be broken into two 3 to 4-day segments at the Newfound Gap or Clingmans Dome midpoint.

The AT is maintained by thirty different trail clubs and multiple partnerships. And it’s managed by the National Park Service and the nonprofit Appalachian Trail Conservancy. The majority of the trail is in wilderness, although some portions do cross towns, roads and rivers.

Photo by Tyler Stanley

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