Friday, March 29, 2013

The Great Smokey Mountain National Park

In April our thoughts always gravitate to the Smokey Mountains.  Spring usually arrives here long before we see any sign of it in Maine.  In spite of the cooler temperatures this year, the daffodils and forsythia are in bloom and the spring beauties are starting to pop out along many of the trails. Although the river water is below optimum temperature for trout fishing, Marlin has spent a couple of days giving it a good try anyway.

As usual, I have hiked the trails nearest the best fishing streams and took way too many pictures of the same places I have photographed in the past.  It's kind of like walking on the beach.  I tell myself not to look down because I already have way to many shells, but somehow I end up with pockets full anyway.

Heading up Jake's Creek Trail with Marlin, we again walked through the ghost town that was once the Knoxville's Appalachian Club's summer community of Elkmont.   After the Little River Lumber Company stripped all the timber from this area, they sold lots and encouraged tourism.  At its height there were 70 vacation homes along this old railroad bed.  I believe, the original plan by the Park authority  was to let nature take the buildings back at its own rate.  However at some point the area was put on the National Register of Historic Places.  The current plan is to stabilize some of the structures but I am not sure if that includes restoration.  The clubhouse has been restored and is now used for past owner reunions.

 As you can see from the snow covered ground, it was too cold to fish that day.

Some of the daffodils in bloom along the road.

Along the edge of the trail, I noticed a path leading down to the river.  It looked inviting so we agreed to take a short detour.  When we got to the water, we noticed that the path continued on the other side of the stream and there was a cabin perched higher on the hill.  We were delighted to find documents inside describing the history of the building, the past owners, and information about the artist, Mayna Trainor Avent. 

The cabin is now on the National Register of Historic Places and is maintained by the Park service. Although originally built in 1850, by a Sam and Minnie Cook, many alterations have been made over the years.  In 1918 Cook's daughter and son-in-law sold the cabin and 18 acres to Mayna and Frank Avent.  Mayna is a nationally recognized artist with several pieces at the Smithsonian's  National Portrait Gallery.  Mayna used the cabin as a studio between 1918 and 1940.

Writing in the visitor log.  Unfortunately the pen was out of ink (or maybe frozen).

Documents from when the cabin was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  (On the left)

Back of the cabin with the kitchen wing.

View of the approach path from the east windows.

On our way back I got a good look at the support structure for the bridge!  If you click once on the picture you can get a closer look at that log holding up the middle of the span.

Front of the Avent cabin.

Back on the trail we met two hikers who were looking for the path to the cabin.  They told us about a book "History Hikes of the Smokey Mountains", which describes many of the remaining structures in the Park, along with much of the background of each building.

Before departing they took our picture in front of this rock waterfall.  I think I'd like one of these in my back yard!

On our way back to the campground, we stopped at the Visitor's Center and purchased the book.  Seems there are many more cabins tucked away on hiking trails that we can investigate. 

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