Monday, July 24, 2017

Mayberry, RFD

Mount Airy, North Carolina, is best known as the home of actor Andy Griffith. Mount Airy served as the inspiration for the iconic TV shows, Mayberry RFD and The Andy Griffith Show. Each year, on the last weekend of September, the town holds the annual "Mayberry Days" celebration. The event is frequently attended by surviving members and family of the TV shows. It is estimated the celebration draws more than 50,000 visitors to the town. For a tour of the town, you can ride in the vintage 1962 squad car.

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If you need your Studebaker repaired, I know the place.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Oconee State Park

Oconee State Park is located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of upstate South Carolina. The 1165 acre park was created in the 1930's by the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corp.) Today, many of the parks buildings are listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

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Park office & store. The statue is dedicated to the men of the CCC.

Plaque on statue dedicated to the CCC.

Oconee State Park offers numerous activities for family fun. Some of the activities include swimming, boating, fishing, miniature golf, and if you like hiking, Oconee State Park has numerous trails. (More about the trails in another post)

If you are into square dancing, it can be seen at the "barn"
every Friday night.

This is more my speed.
The lake had to be drained for emergency repairs. The repairs
are complete and the lake is being re-filled.

A CCC era building. This used to be the bathhouse for the lake.
Now, it is used for the lifeguards and other park activities.

Our campsite, site 118.

Taccoa Georgia

While at Oconee State Park, we made a trip into Taccoa Georgia. Karen had a meeting with several people on her Plexus team there. One of the many things to do while in Taccoa is to visit Taccoa Falls. Located on the campus of Taccoa Falls College, the 186 foot vertical drop waterfall is a beautiful site. This beauty also has tragedy associated with it. In the early morning hours of November 1977, the Kelly Barnes Lake, a forty acre lake located above the falls, earthen dam broke after five days of heavy rains. The rush of water killed 39 people and injured many more. Most were asleep at the time.

Taccoa also has a rich military history. During World War II, Taccoa was a training ground. The men of Easy Company (Band of Brothers) trained here.

The monument (left) is dedicated to the 39 souls lost when the Kelly Barnes Lake dam broke.
The 39 who perished are listed on the monument.

Taccoa Falls.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

The Colorful Upstate

Lake Jocassee

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Taking advantage of an extra long weekend, we packed up the camper and headed back to Devils Fork State Park. We really enjoyed our previous visit and wanted to see more of the area near the park. Our timing could not have been better as we arrived during the peak of the fall colors.

One of our favorite activities was hiking to several of the waterfalls along the Foothills Trail. (More about the Foothills Trail at a later date) Below are several photographs from the long weekend.

Lick Log Falls. Yes, that is the real name.

Pig Pen Falls

Hiking a section of the Foothills Trail
toward King Creek Falls.
Karen and I at King Creek Falls.
King Creek Falls.

Bad Creek lake in the distance just over the South Carolina border.

A colorful mountain near Cashiers, North Carolina.

Looking into a large valley near Highlands, North Carolina.

Sassafras Mountain is the highest point in South Carolina at 3553 feet above sea level. The dividing line between North Carolina and South Carolina, established in 1815, runs along the peak of Sassafras Mountain. Currently, there is only a plaque located on the peak noting the elevation. There are plans to build a observation deck on the peak. When that might happen, who knows.

The view from Sassafras Mountain looking into South Carolina.

More colorful views from the road.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Devils Fork State Park and the Waterfalls

Located in the northwest corner of South Carolina, on the shore of beautiful Lake
Jocassee, is Devils Fork State Park. The 622 acre park was created in 1990 and offers activities like hiking, camping, canoeing, and great fishing. The park has many small waterfalls that feed into Lake Jocassee. For us, we used the park as a base to explore many of the area sites.

(I apologize for the quality of the photographs. All photographs are taken with a cell phone)
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A VERY popular place on weekends
Lake Jocassee is a 300 foot deep clear water lake. Visibility to depths of 30 feet are common. The lake was created by the state of South Carolina and Duke Power Co. in 1973. Prior to the formation of the lake, several scenes in the movie Deliverance were filmed here. The site of the filming is now under 130 feet of water. Many man made structures like foundations, roads and signs can still be seen along the lake bottom. The lake is popular for fishermen who seek smallmouth bass, largemouth and other species.

During our stay, we used the park as a base to explore the surrounding area. One of our objectives was to check out some of the area waterfalls.

Relaxing at our campsite after a day of hiking to waterfalls.

Stumphouse Mountain Tunnel

Construction of the Stumphouse Tunnel began in 1852 as part of the planned railroad to
connect Charleston to Knoxville and the Ohio Valley. Stumphouse Tunnel is one of three planned tunnels. After spending over a million dollars on the tunnels, in 1859, South Carolina refused to spend any more and construction ended.  

In 1951, Clemson University bought the tunnel and used it to cure the south's first blue cheese. The tunnel's environment was perfect as the interior temperature remains a constant 50 degrees and 85% humidity. In 1970, the environment was duplicated on the university campus and the cheese making process was moved. Today, the tunnel is still owned by Clemson University and is managed by the city of Walhalla.

Issaqueena Falls

According to legend, Issaqueena Falls are named for an Indian maiden who rode horseback to Fort Ninety Six, in Ninety Six SC, to warned white settlers of an impending Indian attack. Having been discovered, she was chased by the Indians and appeared to jump over the falls but survived by actually hiding behind the falls. Others say she hid behind a stump, thus giving name to the area as Stumphouse. Unfortunately, there is only a limited view of the falls from the top.

Oconee Station Historic Site

Oconee Station was established in 1792 as a military establishment on the South Carolina frontier to protect settlers from Indians. The station, or small fort, was ordered by the state of South Carolina in response to several attacks on settlers by Creek Indians. The garrison of about thirty men built the below pictured block house and several other structures. The other buildings did not survive. The troops were removed in 1799 as they were no longer needed. 

The site also has the William Richards House. Richards was an Irish immigrant who came to the area in 1795 to establish a trading post. In 1805, he built the below pictured home. Richards business was profitable as he was able to build his home of brick when most homes of the time were log. With the frontier moving ever westward, the economic and military importance of Oconee Station lessened. 

The Oconee Station is now owned and maintained by the South Carolina State Parks. 

 Left, the William Richards house. Right, the stone block-house built in 1792

Station Cove Falls

Located in the Sumter National Forest and across from Oconee Station, is the Station Cove Falls. The 60 foot falls are a .75 mile easy hike on a trail that bring you to the base of the falls. Wade in the cool waters or pack a lunch for a relaxing afternoon.

Upper and Lower Whitewater Falls

The Whitewater Falls consist of an upper and lower falls. The two falls are the highest falls in eastern North America. The upper falls make a dramatic 400 foot drop to the river below. The upper falls are one of the most visited falls in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Located just across the border in North Carolina, the upper falls are a easy walk on a paved trail. A set of steps lead to a viewing area for a great view of the mid section of the falls. The bottom of the falls is not accessible.

Upper Whitewater Falls

The lower falls are located about a half mile below the upper falls in South Carolina. To view the lower falls, a 2.5 mile hike along a moderate trail is required. The trail will take you to a observation deck where you can view the 200 foot waterfall. By the time the Whitewater River reaches Lake Jocassee it will have dropped over 700 feet in a little more than a half mile. 

 The swift moving river between the two falls (left) and the lower falls (right)

Dry Falls

Dry Falls is located just outside of Highlands, North Carolina. The 65 foot falls, on the Cullasaja River, have also been called High Falls, Pitcher Falls and Cullasaja Falls. The name, Dry Falls, comes from the fact that you can walk behind the water flow and remain mostly dry. There is a parking area with a paved path that leads to an observation deck. For those so inclined, you can continue the path that allows you to walk behind the falls.


Karen enjoying the coolness of the falling water from behind the falls


Sunday, August 14, 2016

The Great Smoky Mountains

Beating the Heat

For the last several years, in late July or early August, we have made a trip into the Maggie Valley area. We refer to this as our "Annual Beat the Heat" trip. Even if it is only for a short while, it is so nice to get away from the baking heat and humidity of home.

Even if it is only for a short time, it feels so much better.

Area Food

Any good travel destination must have good food and this one is no exception. For breakfast, there is no better than Joey's Pancake House! Joeys has been a local landmark since 1966 and is a favorite for both locals and tourist. If you visit, you have to try their signature pancakes and hashbrown casserole. In nearby Waynesville, Clyde's Restaurant, was voted in the top 10 best burgers in North Carolina. 

Anytime we are in the area, Butts on the Creek is a must stop. Their smoked brisket and fried corn are some of our favorites. For the best atmosphere, eat on the covered screened porch overlooking the flowing Jonathon Creek.

Mountain Farm Museum

Along the Oconaluftee River sits a large valley. The valley, was originally the site of a large Cherokee village. The village was destroyed in 1776 by General Griffith Rutherford during the American Revolutionary war. The first known white settler was John Jacob Mingus in the 1790's. The Mingus family remained in the area until the formation of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in the 1930's. 

Original Visitor Center built by the CCC.

After the establishment of the National Park, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) set up a camp to construct roads and trails in the area. The CCC also constructed the Oconaluftee Visitor Center. During the 1950's several log structures were moved to the area to form the Mountain Farm Museum. The museum was established to provide an exhibition of early pioneer life. Because many of the structures were not moved intact from their original location, they could not be included in the National Register of Historic Places.

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 The John Davis cabin, circa 1900.
The cabin was originally located on Indian Creek near Bryson City.


Enlow barn, circa 1880.The barn is the only structure original to the property.

19th. century fence.


Contemplating becoming pig farmers - NOT!

 In 1937, one of the CCC projects was the restoration of the Mingus Mill. During restoration, one of the original construction workers, Aden Carver, assisted with the restoration. He was in his 90's at the time.

 Mingus Mill

The Mingus Mill was constructed in 1886 for John Mingus and his son, John Jacob Mingus. The mill took three months to construct at a cost of $600. Unlike most gristmills of the time, the Mingus mill did not rely on the large water wheel to generate power, instead used a metal turbine. 

Water routed from water upstream to power the mill.

If you take a short walk up-stream from the mill, you will see the low dam that funnels creek water into the millrace. The millrace directs water toward the mill's turbine. The millrace channel is a four foot wide wooden channel lined with rot-resistant hemlock. As the ground level drops, the flume eventually stands about 22 feet above the ground where it meets the mill. The constant flow of water creates enough force to produce 11 horsepower, a great accomplishment for the time. This water pressure turns the turbine that turns the millstone that grinds the corn.

The Mingus mill was the largest in the Smoky Mountains and served about 200 families. Many of these families would travel from as far away as 15 miles to have corn ground into flour or meal. (15 miles may not sound that great by today's standards, but consider transportation was by foot, horseback or by wagon.) For a grain toll, the mill would normally keep 1/8 (about 1 gallon per bushel) of what was brought to the mill. The mill could then sell the flour or meal for a profit. The Mingus family rarely charged widows a grain toll.

The mill remained in operation until 1937 when the property was purchased by the National Park Service. 

Cataloochee Valley

Anytime we are near the area, we make the trip over the mountains into the Cataloochee Valley. The valley is one of the best places for a chance at seeing a variety of area wildlife including deer, wild turkey, bear and our favorite, the elk. 

The view is always spectacular, especially in the fall.

The Cataloochee Valley is part of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. When the park was formed in the 1930's, most of the family homes were left as they stood. Some of these homes belonged to the first settlers in the area. These early homes are still maintained by the National Park Service.


The butterfly whisperer

The Cataloochee Valley


A mom with her newborn nearby

A couple of newborn calves. If you look close, you can see the spots.

This group was on the Blue Ridge Parkway overlooking Maggie Valley.