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Archive for the 'Attractions' Category

And You Thought Museums Were Stuffy Collections of Old Relics

The Mountain Farm Museum is indeed a collection of 19th century relics, but there’s nothing stuffy about this open air museum. Its location — in a lush green valley on the banks of the Oconaluftee River — is literally in the shadow of the Great Smoky Mountains. In summer, the Museum is a working farm, with crops such as squash, corn and tomatoes cultivated in the garden and live farm animals grazing in the fields.

Just as it was a century ago, fall is a busy time on the farm as the summer’s crops are preserved for the winter. And on Saturday, September 20, you can see it all, with live demonstrations of soap making, hearth cooking, hominy, apple butter and cider, plus a working cane mill and wood-fired cooker used for the making of sorghum syrup. The event is the annual Mountain Life Festival, a one day event from 10 am – 4 pm.

The Davis House
— All the historic log structures in the Mountain Farm Museum were gathered from throughout the Smoky Mountains when the museum was constructed in the 1950s. The main farmhouse (above) was originally built by John E. Davis and his two oldest sons in the Indian Creek – Thomas Divide area north of Bryson City. The log house was built from chestnut wood before the chestnut blight decimated the American Chestnut in our forests during the 1930s and early 1940s.

The Mountain Farm Museum is located adjacent to the Oconaluftee Visitor Center on US 441 north of Cherokee and just inside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The Museum is open daily from sunrise to sunset, year around.

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Friday Nights in Bryson City – The Only Game in Town

Swain County High School football stadium, Bryson City, NC

If Bryson City appears deserted on some Friday nights in the Fall, it’s because almost everyone’s attending “the game” at Swain County High School. Having won seven state football championships over the years, the Maroon Devils enjoy a loyal and passionate hometown following. The passion peaked in the late ’80s when the team won three consecutive state championships led by former University of Tennessee and NFL quarterback and current U.S. Rep. Heath Shuler. The team’s most recent state title was in 2004.

Want to see what all the fuss is about? Attend one of the Maroon Devils’ remaining home games. Kickoff is at 7:30 pm. Tickets are $5. The stadium is on Fontana Road, just north of town.

August 22 — Swain County 6 – Polk County 14 (above photo)
September 5 — Asheville School
September 12 — Franklin
September 26 — Robbinsville (homecoming)
October 10 — Hayesville
October 31 — Rosman

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Clingmans Dome — On Top of Old Smoky

At 6643 feet, Clingmans Dome is the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Located in the northernmost part of Swain County along the North Carolina–Tennessee border, the temperatures at Clingmans Dome are often 10 to 20 degrees cooler than Bryson City’s. On a clear day, take the (steep) half-mile walk from the parking lot to the observation tower, and you’ll be rewarded with a stunning 360-degree view of the Smokies and beyond. The seven-mile road from US 441 to Clingmans Dome is open Aprll thru November. Photo by J.R. vanLienden, Masterpiece Portraits.

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The Many Ways to Enjoy The Nantahala River

Nantahala kayakers and the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad\'s scenic excursion

The Nantahala is one of the most scenic and popular rivers in the North Carolina Smokies. Best-known for whitewater rafting, the river is also popular for kayaking, trout fishing and the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad’s scenic excursion which runs alongside the Nantahala’s eight-mile whitewater rafting venue. Photo by Jennifer Wilson.

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“Cherokee Friends”, The Reservation’s Official Greeters


Kim Wildcat is one of the “Cherokee Friends” who greet visitors to the Cherokee Indian Reservation each summer. Authentically dressed like her 18th century ancestors, Kim and her fellow goodwill ambassadors offer directions, advice and a bit of history to visitors, often speaking in the native Cherokee language.

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Axe Murders in Bryson City, NC Theatre

Cast of \

Did Lizzie Borden kill her father and stepmother with an axe? Judge for yourself when the Smoky Mountain Community Theater presents the play “Lizzie Borden of Fall River”  July 25-28.

Upcoming performances this year include Neil Simon’s “I Oughta Be In Pictures” in October, and a holiday play “Three Wise Men and a Baby” in December. The Bryson City theatre group was organized in 1981 and moved into the town’s old Gem Theatre building in 1989.

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The Mountains Are Alive With The Sound of Music

Adam Masters and Roger Howell at Stecoah\'s 2008 Mountain Music Championship.

The Smokies are where mountain music was born and our homegrown music is very much alive today. On Saturday evenings throughout the Summer, you can hear area artists perform at the Bryson City train depot. On Thursday evenings, there’s music on the lawn at the Bryson City library. Also on Saturdays, there’s the Stecoah Valley Cultural Arts Center’s summer concert series, An Appalachian Evening. Above, Adam Masters (left) and Roger Howell perform at Stecoah’s 2008 Mountain Music Championship.

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Fourth of July Fireworks Over Bryson City

4th of July Fireworks over the old courthouse in Bryson City, NC

For years, Bryson City’s Fourth of July fireworks show has been one of the best in the Western North Carolina mountains, the culmination of “Freedom Fest“, the town’s old fashioned Independence Day celebration. The day begins with a 5K race, includes music, food and crafts before ending with the fireworks. Above, the dome of Bryson City’s century-old courthouse building is silhouetted against last year’s pyrotechnics.

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Once Upon a Time, Bryson City Generated Its Own Power

The Bryson City dam on the Oconaluftee River at Ela

Located on the Oconaluftee River in Ela, about five miles east of town, the Bryson City hydroelectric plant was constructed for the town in 1924-25.

It was purchased from the Town of Bryson City by Nantahala Power and Light (now Duke Energy) in 1942. The sale was approved by the town board and then by the majority of the registered voters. The town had been trying to sell the hydro plant since the late 1930s. It includes a multiple-arch type concrete dam, originally known as Oconaluftee Dam, and a power house with two turbines and generators. The 36 feet high and 341 feet long dam still generates electricity for the Duke Energy system.

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Giant Bears on the Streets of Cherokee, NC

Bears on the Streets of Cherokee

On a recent visit to the Smokies, Susan Murphy spent the morning photographing daughters Alana (left) and Mary Caitlin with each of the sixteen colorfully painted bears that now grace Cherokee’s streets and plazas. Each bear was created by a local tribal artist as part of a public art program sponsored by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.

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