If you give up your life - or any part of it - for the sake of Christ, He always finds ways to give it back to you.

"...I have come that they might have life, and that they have it more abundantly." (John 10:10)

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Ducktown, TN

Welcome to Ducktown, a "quacking good place." The sign is misleading however. The name Ducktown actually has nothing to do with ducks, but everything to do with the Cherokee Indians who were the first to inhabit the area. The settlement was named after their leader, Chief Duck.
Or, as Carol likes to tell the story, people in this town were always feuding, and during one of the more violent feuds, somebody yelled "Duck down!" The population of Ducktown at the 2000 census was 427, comprised of 209 households, more than 25% below the poverty level. One of the highlights of a tour of the town is Kimsey Junior College:
Just kidding...that's their pumping station. Here's the real Kimsey Junior College: "The only architect-designed structure in Tennessee's Copper Basin and a rare rural example of Collegiate Gothic Architecture, Kimsey Junior College, designed by architect Reuben H. Hunt, was built in 1932-33 for a state college, but was never used for its intended purpose, and became a vocational and general school for Ducktown. Though now vacant and beginning to suffer from deterioration, the City of Ducktown has shown an interest in acquiring the property for a community center. It is on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. It was named for Dr.L.E. Kimsey who had practiced medicine in Ducktown for approximately 50 years and was well known throughout that section of the country. When he began his practice, he used to make trips to patients on horseback and afoot."
But seriously, Ducktown and the surrounding area is most famous for its copper, AKA the Copper Basin. Although, the Cherokee used the local copper to make ornaments, full-time copper mining began after a prospector discovered the rich copper ore in nearby Potato Creek while looking for gold in 1843. The Burra Burra Mine was the first of a series of mining operations that occurred throughout the Copper Basin from 1850-1987.
A view of Ducktown from the parking lot of the old Burra Burra Mining Operation.
The mine manager's house.
A couple of the old mining buildings:
The Powder House: where the dynamite was stored.
Picture this: From the edge of the parking lot you look down upon a desert-like area of red earth that extends for miles around. It reminds you of the Dakota Badlands, but this is Tennessee's Copper Basin, and the vista is man-made. The creation of this surreal landscape is due to a combination of timber stripping, erosion, sulphur dioxide fumes, and subterranean blasting.
Cleanup and restoration is still being done. The Forest Service has planted trees to try to restore the land to the way it once looked. Carol's well water still smells and tastes like sulfur. If you visit Carol, bring your own water.
In the foreground of this landscape, far below you, is a chasm filled by a deep green lake. The lake was created when the mine tunnels collapsed, some more than 3,000 feet below the surface.
The lake is said to be 4,100 feet deep.
You can follow this coppery trail to see some of the old equipment.
A diesel engine pulled this train through the mine tunnels.
Where the engineer sat.
Metal plate still affixed to the engine.
End of our trail.
What it looked like in its heyday.
All that's left of that structure.
A tunnel under the tracks.

Smelting pot

Pieces of a burra of a series used at different levels to help keep the workings dry. About 200 gallons of water a minute had to be pumped to the surface from underground.
These pulleys were used to hoist workers up and down into the mine by elevator.
The Hoist House where the big wheels were housed, and Boiler Building.
Fragrant Kudzu blooms
Kudzu vines were introduced to this area to help cover the bare hills. That caused a secondary environmental disaster as it is an invasive species that now covers everything and is killing native trees.
The Museum once housed the mine manager's offices.
The town of Isabella, one of the communities set up by the mining companies for their employees.
Some history about the workers.
The mine telephone.
A simulated mine tunnel you can walk through & get a feel of what it was like.
A photo from the mines.
A poem written when the mine closed in 1987.
The Burra Burra Mine Whistle signaled shift changes for employees and marked the day's progression for nearby communities. I dared Carol to try it.
Never dare Carol to do anything.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Graveyard Fields

There are 5 or 6 short hikes along the Blue Ridge Parkway between Balsam Mountain and Mt. Pisgah where we'd spend the next night...(turned out to be my last night up there this year). I thought you'd like to do them all with me, but...
I've been having a terrible time uploading this particular set of photos, so I've picked just one hike to share, my favorite of the ones I did: Graveyard Fields
The name sounded intriguing, but there is no graveyard here as I surmised. The parking lot was full; I had to park on the grass. It must be a popular hiking place.
Why it's called Graveyard Fields
We only did the trail to Second Falls...that way there's more to do next time.
You start by going down some steep stairs and then through this thicket of trees.
And through a tunnel under their canopy.
Then some more stairs down to the stream.
The man is standing at the top of the waterfall.
We'll take the trail to Upper Falls next time.
Cross over this foot bridge...
Down some more steps...
Oh, no wonder it's so's a swimming hole!
Where youngsters (and adults) like to do back flips into the pool below the falls. I couldn't watch very long, fearing for their safety, but do remember a day when I'd have been right there with them.
Signs of an early autumn?
Oh, now here's something I could do...
Overlooking Graveyard Fields and the hiking trail to the Upper Falls that we'll save for our next visit. I love the Blue Ridge Parkway. Even though my trip here this year is short, there's always a reason to come back this way again.