We love the Smoky Mountains. Wish you were here!

Archive for July, 2012

Dinosaur Train Comes to the Mountains

Michael Kumpf, from Indianapolis, gives daughter Mazie a close-up view of ‘Laura Giganotosaurus’, one of the prehistoric characters in the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad’s special ‘Jim Henson’s Dinosaur Train™’ excursion. After departing Bryson City, the train stops in Whittier at the ‘Nature Trackers Adventure Area’ where the fields and woods are inhabited with the lovable monsters from the popular PBS Kids Television series. Budding archaeologists can identify dinosaur tracks, assist in a dinosaur dig and play miniature golf with dinosaur ‘eggs’.

This year’s Dinosaur Train excursions conclude next weekend with departures on Friday and Saturday. August 4 & 5. For more information, visit GSMR.com.

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Swain County Is Blazing a New Quilt Trail

Swain County has joined the countless communities across the nation with a quilt trail — barns and buildings adorned with painted square quilt patterns. It’s a growing trend that’s become especially popular throughout the southern Appalachians.

The county’s second quilt block was installed this past week, not on a building but on Bryson City’s Island Park. Above, members of the ‘Swain County Quilt Trail’ committee voice their appreciation to Anthony Viscusi and Tee Angel who donated the block. Ms. Angel chose the ‘double wedding ring’ design for the way that it “celebrates the park’s flora year around.”  The next quilt block will be installed on the Bryson City’s train depot courtesy of the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad. For more information, contact the Swain County / Bryson City Chamber of Commerce.

Pictured, left to right: Mike Glover, Anthony Viscusi, Tee Angel, Rota Krape and Ellen Snodgrass.

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Bryson City’s Nostalgic Ice Cream Shop

Mmmm, frozen summer treats from a local Ice Cream parlor.

At Soda Pops, owner and chief soda jerk Paul Crawley still serves the same timeless favorites your grandparents enjoyed — chocolate malts, floats, sundaes, banana splits and sugar cones crowned with freshly-scooped ice cream — choices that are perfectly in keeping with the shop’s nostalgic decor. It’s the  perfect ending to a day of fun in the Smokies.

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The Rockets’ Red Glare, The Bombs Bursting In Air

Each year, Bryson City’s Fourth of July celebration culminates with one of the best fireworks displays in the mountains. With the rockets launched from atop Airport Hill, almost any place in town is a great place to watch the show, including the Everett Street bridge (above).

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Masonic Marker Built With Special Stones from All Over The World

High in the Smokies, just off the Blue Ridge Parkway, is a large stone marker that pays tribute to the world’s Freemasons. It was built in 1938 with with more than 400 unique stones contributed by Masons all across the US and in 41 countries. A catalog (PDF) published at the time lists the origin, significance, and the contributor of each stone.

This year, as they have done for 75 years, York Rite Masons will assemble in the Smokies for an event that always includes an address at the marker.

A plaque reads “The scenic setting of this marker, surrounded on all sides by national park lands, was chosen to signify the universality of the Masons. Their ideals of equality, morality, charity, and a brotherhood of humanity are symbolized in the cement that binds these stones and bricks.”

You’ll find the marker just off the Parkway between Cherokee and Soco Gap. Near milepost 458, turn onto Heintooga Road and drive 3.6 miles to Black Camp Gap. There’s a parking area on your right, and two short trails to the marker. One trail is wheelchair accessible and the other skirts the edge of a small field where Elk love to graze.

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