The Cumberland Mountains of Tennessee are rich in history, as is most of this state. A brochure I picked up on a recent trip to Pigeon Forge, explains the territory far better than I can:
Some of the oldest roads and "traces" have been maintained as historical pathways and highways and are clearly marked. Here are a few, along with a little history and link to more information if you are so inclined: The Great Warrior Path, The Avery Trace, and The old Jacksboro Pike.
The Great Warrior Path: (Info and photo gathered from Daniel Boone Wilderness Trail)
The Avery Trace: (Info and picture gathered from Wikipedia and Fort Southwest Point)
Fort Blount, directly to Bledsoe's Fort in Castalian Springs which is where I live. From here, it continues on to what was Mansker's Fort near today's Goodlettsville, and finally to Fort Nashborough. These forts provided protection and shelter for travelers.
I was very interested to discover that until 1805, a large part of the Cumberlands was officially deemed Cherokee Territory, and the majority of early settlers were Scotish-Irish immigrants. The coming of the Civil War and the arrival in 1878 of the first railroad, which ran from Cincinnati to Chattanooga, drastically changed the demographics. Towns, villages, and farms formed by American and European migration took root.
Although the railroad brought passengers to Tennessee, the trains carried out the rich natural resources (coal and virgin timber). In my book, Ellie's Legacy, which is set in the area of Sparta, TN, part of the storyline centers around the coal mines and the abandoned caves. Today, much of the natural resources are depleted, but this state has become rich in federal parks, forests, and wildlife reserves, along with plenty of recreation of visitors. So, as they say here in TN...."Ya'll come!"
|Collage of Pictures taken at the annual Fort Bledsoe celebration|
Oh...and what would a post be without an opportunity for shameless promotion?
Here's a brief peek at my Tennessee story where Ellie is alone, looking for a place to practice shooting. She's already been threatened by one of the greedy neighbors looking to take over her Pa's Ranch, and she's determined she's going to prove she can do anything as good as the new ranch foreman, Tyler Bishop. Enjoy!
The road didn’t improve as she traveled back into the forest. Ellie maneuvered Chessie through the trees. She strained to see the trail and watched for familiar landmarks. The air wasn’t terribly warm but the humidity was unbearable.
Damp from perspiration, her shirtfront clung to her bosom. She wiped wetness from her brow and surveyed the area. If only she could remember the exact location of the old mine shaft.
The last time she visited, she was only a child. Back then, tents, wagons, mining equipment and men hungry to find a vein of gold ore crowded the area. Instead of gold, they found coal. In comparison to the hustle and bustle of those days, the silence was almost eerie.
When the trees fanned into a clearing, the area looked familiar. Ellie dismounted and led Chessie toward a small outcropping of rocks. She dropped the mare’s reins and left her to graze on what remained of summer’s greenery.
The area, although somewhat overgrown, was just as she remembered. Ellie shielded her eyes and scanned the area. Her lips curved into a smile. There, almost concealed by fallen branches, was the entrance to the old mine. As she pushed debris aside, she grimaced. Stringy cobwebs hung in masses and changed her decision to venture inside. She shivered. Perhaps this wasn’t the best place after all. Something might live here she didn’t care to meet. It was too early for bears to seek places to hibernate, but not for wolves or coyotes. She expected to see glowing eyes peering back from the darkness.
“C’mon Ellie. Stop being such a baby."
Visions of Jeb Bryant’s face played in her mind. “You’ve already encountered one dangerous varmint today,” she muttered. She swatted her way through the sticky mesh and stepped inside.
Just an end note...she does come to her sense and realizes that shooting inside an old abandoned mine isn't such a good idea. *smile*
I hope you've enjoyed your brief foray into Tennessee. As a transplanted Californian, I've already forgotten my previous roots, and I'm proud to say I'm definitely a southerner at heart.