Wednesday, February 28, 2007

An Appalachian Ghost Town

Part of Toby Hollow Farm; Chuckey, Tenn.

This post from back in September has prompted me since to notice all of the half-standing derelict old dwellings that are scattered throughout the hills of Appalachia. When I first read the post, I was reminded of a spot in the woods behind my grandparent's farm that we used to refer to as "The Ghost Town," a small group of five old buildings that sits at the base of a flood-prone hollow, tightly squeezed between two long, steep ridges.

When I first learned of the Ghost Town, it was talked about in grave tones, but never seen. We were a young group of cousins, and our uncles had better things to do than lead a hyperactive gaggle of boys through the woods to a place where they would most likely contract tetanus or encounter the venom of an ornery copperhead. I'm sure it was much more fun for them to tell us sensational stories and watch us writhe in our desperation to see it. An aunt once told the tale of how she had the creepy experience of finding countless curing hams suspended from the old buildings and nearby tree branches. Of course, with its name and elusive privilege to actually see it, the Ghost Town fascinated us to no end.

Finally sometime when I was a young teenager, a few of us walked back and found the Ghost Town, in all of its anti-climactic nothingness. There were no ghosts, weird noises, occult symbols or dead swine hanging from trees. It was just a few old rotting buildings in the woods, but somehow it was still pretty cool.

Earlier this week I hiked back to again find our old Ghost Town. I had been told that those woods, as a matter of land maintenance, had recently had its large timber harvested. It would have taken no longer than an hour with heavy equipment to knock down and dispose of the ramshackle old buildings. Yet as I made my way along the curved damp meadow floor of the hollow there it was, neatly camouflaged in the gray winter woods, as if it wanted not to be found. I'm glad they didn't level the Ghost Town. It has no use other than in one guy's romantic notions of his Appalachian home. But that's enough to be glad it's there, I suppose.

To view the rest of the day's photos, go here.


CSL said...

Great shots, and I especially like the leaning outbuilding that looks like agood wind could knock it over. I could spend all day walking around a place like this. (And I laughed out loud when I read that the ghost town was spken of in "grave tones.")

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