Welcome to Cades Cove!

Welcome to Cades Cove!

As we spent today (3/23/15) driving around Cades Cove, I was overwhelmed with the beauty of nature. Every turn offered some new delight that made us exclaim, “Look at that!” I was reminded of a principle I’ve heard often and hadn’t thought of recently–that Beauty demands to be shared. While all of us enjoy things that bring us delight, there’s another joy entirely when we are able to share them with another person–or a number of people via social media. And so, while a picture cannot possibly do justice to the real life experience, I’m inviting you along to share some of the beauty and stories we experienced today.

We saw amazing scenery along our drive out to the Cove, but I just wanted to arrive at the scenery I knew was coming. No sooner had we gotten into the park, we saw our first deer. I love deer, so this is a special joy for me. But, there are so many joys here.

John and Lucretia Oliver's cabin

John and Lucretia Oliver’s cabin

Our first stop was the cabin of John and Lucretia Oliver. He bought land in the 1820’s and built a 1 1/2 story cabin on it. This cabin stayed in his family for over 100 years until the park was established. One thing that was neat to notice about the cabin is that the notches where the logs fit together were carved at a downward angle (about 45 degrees.) I’ve always seen cabins with square notches, but John made them angled to run water away from the house–a great piece of ingenuity. One sad fact I learned by visiting the National Park website was that John W. Oliver (a namesake descendant of the builder) was one of the residents who fought the National Parks buying up land. He apparently went to court several times before losing his family property.

Another deep disappointment of the area was captured by the “Bob was here” sign outside. It referenced the fact that so many irreplaceable pieces of history have been spoiled because someone felt the need to carve or write his or her name. In fact, almost every cabin on the property had graffiti on almost every inch of visible surface–it’s truly heartbreaking. As 17th century British clergyman Thomas Fuller observed (and my mom quotes), “Fools names like fool’s faces are often seen in public places.” Please resist the urge to graffiti historic places! If you want to sign your name to remember a trip, do it in a guest book!

The Primitive Baptist Church in shadows

The Primitive Baptist Church in shadows

From the Oliver cabin, we headed to two different churches, The Primitive Baptist Church and The Methodist Church. These buildings not only have an amazing beauty (despite the graffiti), but also a great heritage as well. The Primitive Baptist and the Methodist Churches were both built around the 1820’s. The Baptist Church was closed during the Civil War due to their support of the Union and their fear of their Confederate neighbors. The Methodists were not as numerous as the Baptists, and, although they did not close, were bitterly divided over the issue of the Civil War as well. Though I reenact with a Civil War group which represents a Tennessee regiment, I had not realized they were so divided. This issue of this truly being a “brother against brother” war would come up on other occasions as well. In the present, however, I loved the way the light played with the shadows on this church.

In the middle of the Cades Cove loop is the Visitor Center. Instead of just being a traditional Visitor Center, we were greeted by a number of incredible historic buildings. In addition to the barns, houses, and other out buildings, there were great places to hike, streams to ford, and beautiful photography to be taken. We spent a wonderful time just simply taking time to pursue beauty–definitely a worthwhile task.

Mom's picture--beauty shared

Mom’s picture–beauty shared

Since the title of this entry is that beauty demands to be shared, I want to share one of my mom’s amazing pictures from the Visitor Center (which she went through great contortions to get.)

This whole idea of the separation between people in the cove was brought home to me with our visit to the mill. Here, we found not only beautiful scenery, but also a rare treasure in the form of 91 year old Cliff–the current miller. Cliff began running the mill at 89. He had moved to Tennessee from Florida to retire–exactly the opposite of most. I asked him why he decided to become the miller here, and he explained he had been sitting on his front porch when the park service came by and asked him if he’d like to run it. He informed them that he had no mill experience. They replied that they’d teach him. And he’s never looked back. He said one of his favorite things is all the different people he gets to meet. His favorite story was about Rebecca Cable. She wanted to marry a young man, and her dad said no. She told him that since he wanted grandchildren, she’d never marry to spite him. And she didn’t. (His son, however, did marry and have children, so he got his grandchildren after all.)The Cable family owned a great deal of the park, so many of the buildings were sold by her.

Cable Mill (Cliff's)

Cable Mill (Cliff’s)

Cliff also shared that the mill was a good way of reconciliation after the Civil War. He reminded me that half of the area went for the North and half for the South. Both during and after the war, the mill employed many men from the area. When you have to work in close quarters, you make up your differences. This is why Cliff considers the mill a place of great healing.

We ended our tour by visiting a few other cabins. While each had a slightly different appearance and their own story, I was particularly interested in the Carter Shields Cabin. Carter had been wounded at the Battle of Shiloh–a battle in which the 154th Tennessee Sr. Co. K (with whom I reenact) also fought. It was a horribly bloody battle, and Carter was one of the lucky ones–he was crippled for life, but alive. His story was a happy one though–he married and moved to Kansas, then returned almost 40 years after the war to buy property here. However, he only stayed for eleven years before moving on.

As we drove out of the park, we were able to make our way to a number of the beautiful sites we had seen on the way in. One favorite was the Sinks and Upper Meigs Falls.

Sink at Meigs Falls

Sink at Meigs Falls

This site had beautiful views, hiking trails, and rocks to climb on. Finally, it was time to head home. Because there is so much more beauty to be shared, I’ll leave you with a few of my favorite shots from the day. Enjoy! Until tomorrow!

Mountain Beauty

Mountain Beauty

I Love Deer!

I Love Deer!

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