Great Smoky Mountains National Park

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These points of interest appear in the order of the trip you will take around the Loop Road
01 Sparks Lane 02 John Oliver Place 03 Primitive Baptist Church 04 Methodist Church 05 Hyatt Lane 06 Missionary Baptist Church  07 Rich Mountain Road 08 Cooper Road Trail 09 Elijah Oliver Place 10 Abrams Falls 11 Cable Mill Area 12 Henry Whitehead Place 13 Nature Trail  14 Dan Lawson Place 15 Tipton Place 16 Carter Shields Cabin.

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Elijah Oliver Place

 
 

Buildings speak to us clearly if we will listen. They reflect the needs, skills and wealth of the owner, and the dictates of the environment. Today our homes are compact with most of our needs filled under one roof (stove, refrigerator, freezer, pantry, living quarters and garage). We can build of almost any material, in any style, and engineer out the local environment. The life of the farmer was more scattered out, with whole buildings given over to one function. The smokehouse and corn crib stood between him and hunger. The springhouse cooled his food. The kitchen was often a separate building, while the barn sheltered his livestock from the winds of winter.

The location of the buildings is significant. The house faces west, its southern shoulder against the prevailing winds and summer heat. Nearby, the garden sprawled on a warm south slope convenient to the house. The smokehouse huddles close to the kitchen, secure from animal and human intruders. The springhouse looks down on everything else, insuring a clean water supply; while the barn stands below all other buildings.

Although they all look alike, there are notable differences in workmanship and use of wood material among these structures. Several show the same hasty selection of logs, with very little hewing and many knots and limb stubs remaining. Another shows much more care in the choice and use of materials, with corner notching of a more durable type and better executed. Yet another is made of split logs, each half going into an opposite wall, reducing the number of trees needed to build it. Do you think that they were all built at the same time by the same man?

There are other things to look for -- points of function and beauty. Peg holes in the logs on the porch tell that a weaver lived here. Smoke from thousands of fires still clings to the kitchen walls. The creamy smoothness of the mud chinking sets off the rough texture of the logs -- run your fingertips across both. In the chimney, bees have made a home in someone else's home. The spring -- in winter the water's so cold it'll crack your teeth. Pause, and feel this place with your whole being.

Everything around you here speaks of an organic society, one living in and off of things that could be found or grown at home. The human settler that lived among these logs was almost as much a child of the forest as the other beasts. They pressed close to the breast of the earth and danced with the seasons far more than we. Like the beaver and the paper hornet, he built shelter from native woods. He and the bear robbed bee trees and berry bushes. He took live prey, as did other predators. These buildings merely refined man's life here. Rugged as it was, the pioneer at least understood the how's and whys of his existence. If a dough bowl split, he knew the cause lay in the seasoning of the wood, not in the miscalculation of some unknown plastics technician in a far away land. 

 
     
 
 
 

Submitted Photographs
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  Photo by Bruce Lemanski  
 
     
     
     
     

Photo by Bruce Lemanski