Saturday, July 28, 2007

Odds & Sods

Recent pictures from my fellow contributors inspired me to dig into the archives and post some of my own pics from our beloved region. I might have posted some of these before, but I did include a pic, albeit distant, our yours truly.

National Advertisement

The Escapes section of the New York Times highlights regions of the country, primary close to the eastern coast, where one can find rest, relaxation and unique experiences. The July 27 edition features many of the places that this blog has highlighted over the past 14 months.

Friday, July 27, 2007

If I couldn't talk I'd bust

"Yes, I am working on a part time job as cook, but you don't need to ask what I'm doing the rest of the time. What don't I do? I get up early and sometimes wash out clothes or clean house. You'd be surprised at the dirt these roomers bring in; they never think of wiping their feet on the mat. My mammy gets dinner ready for the girls when they come home from the mill, but she won't wash up the dishes. She leaves them for me to wash when I come home. And then the family expect me to get supper. Sometimes I find my mammy and my youngest sister--they always sleep together and are just like twins--layin' on the bed waitin' for me to git 'em somethin' to eat. After supper me and another sister go out and work the garden until dark. So you see I don't have time to git lonesome.
photo by Doris Ulmann
"I hardly get time to go to church either. My family was Lutherans in the old days, but there ain't no Lutheran church here and we are all mixed up; we go to different churches--when we go at all. One of my sisters bought a good second-hand auto and we sometimes spend Sunday visiting our relations in the country. They always have plenty to eat, and I like a change of vittles sometimes. And it's good for sore eyes to see somebody else wash the dishes.

"One church we don't go to is the one down there by the mill. They have lively times down there, they tell me. When I go to church, I want it to be like a real church, and when I go to the movies I want somethin' else. I'd go to church oftener if I had the right kind of clothes; but when I have a nice dress I may not have a good hat or decent shoes, and when I have a good hat and shoes maybe I haven't a nice dress. I don't care very much about clothes, but I like to look as decent as anybody else. So I go to church when I feel like it and when I have respectable clothes; and it's nobody's business but my own."

Miss Ophelia Mull
Brevard, N.C.
Interviewed June 26, 1939
American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940

Originally blogged at Appalachian History

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

A View from the Buffalo

Buffalo Mountain, that it. This past Sunday the air in Southwest Virginia was crisp and dry, even by Autumn standards much less mid-July. It made for a perfect day to hike up a mountain. Once owned by Robert E. Lee and his brother Charles, Buffalo Mountain (located in Floyd County, Virginia) is now a 1140 acre nature preserve maintained by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation. A straight-up one-mile trail leads through the thick forest to a rocky summit of 3,971 above sea level, providing 360 degree views. On this day, I was able to see Pilot Mountain in North Carolina to the south, the Peaks of Otter to the northeast, Big Walker Mountain to the north and the Grayson Highlands (possibly Mt. Rogers and Whitetop) to the west.

From Buffalo Mountain, the Blue Ridge Parkway is just a short drive away so I decided to get a few more miles under my feet and hiked the Rock Castle Gorge Trail. Here is view from Rocky Knob of the valley 1800 feet below.

Lighten Up, Mr. Biden

During last night's YouTube Democratic Presidential Candidate debate, a couple of witty hillbillies identifying themselves as the "Red State Update" from Murfeesboro, Tennessee, asked a tongue in cheek question of the candidates about Al Gore's continuing unseen presence as a Democratic contender in the 2008 presidential race. Referencing the mainstream media's continuing interest in "Ole Al Gore", the two men, identifying themselves as Jackie Broyles and Dunlap asked the candidates, "What we want to know is, does that hurt ya'll's feelins'?"

Seeming to not understand or care about the intelligent satire implicit in the question, candidate Joe Biden seized on the opportunity to take up for the good citizens of Tennessee by responding, "I think the people of Tennessee just had their feelings hurt." While I didn't grow up in Tennessee, I grew up fifty miles from the Virginia/Tennessee border and I for one didn't have my feelings hurt one little bit. While I cringe at dumb Hee-Haw portrayals of Hillbillies, these guys are obviously smart and witheringly funny and while Mr. Biden might not realize it, these men are using humor to show the rest of the thinking world that hillbillies too have brains in their heads. It's irony, Mr. Biden, so please don't take up for us by putting down these creative gentlemen. While some of the well heeled country club types in Nashville might get riled up a bit by the portrayal, I'd like to think that most Tennesseans were rightfully proud of these fellows and their well portrayed parody.

A clip of the question can be accessed via YouTube at: and the Red State Update site is here.

I visited the site this morning and had a good chuckle. I hope we can laugh at ourselves without needing Mr. Biden to come to our defense. But thanks anyway, Joe.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Art Show + Live Music = Saving Lives

Because Mr. Smith... er, Dr. Smith... had to make an unscheduled trip to Blacksburg, VA, he didn't have time to post this today. So, I'm doing it in his stead.

This Friday, July 27th, we're having an art show/live music kickass jonx awesome fest (a phrase taken directly from Dr. Smith's personal lexicon) to help raise some money for charity.

The event will be held at the Mellow Mushroom here in Knoxville (the one on the strip), and we'll be selling a ton of original art for practically nothing. We're talking $25-$100 for some really great art - all made by Dr. Smith, myself, and a few other highly-talented individuals. As with previous events we've organized, this one is to benefit The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Live music will be provided by the one-and-only Kiss Your Ghost - and it's guaranteed to rock your damn pants off. From what I hear, there may also be another band or two contributing to the event, but that's just hearsay. Come for the Kiss Your Ghost; anything else is bonus.

A lot of people have worked really hard to put this together on very short notice (particularly Eric). We need your help and support, so if you can make it out, PLEASE by all means come down.

Where else can you buy some fine modern art, listen to pants-kicking rock music, and help save lives all at the same time? Nowhere. That's where.


Be there. And thanks!

The Victor Cover

While Matte Black from Black Cash and the Bad Trips yodeled up to a glorious cover of the song “Country Boy” by The Man in Black one of my friends leaned over to me and said “This is your type of world.” My simple and proud answer was “Yes. Yes sir it is.” In that room where the shadows of people walked into each other by blending into the overwhelming black dressed suits, shoes, rolled up sleeves and smiling bad ass people the energy could be just simple described by the roar at the end of each song. I realized while standing in the crowd the importance of the culture, the grit and grim of what it means to hear the words, to feel the juice in your blood, and to flat foot it all away. Sometimes when you know something too much you forget what it looks like.
Eighty years ago in 1927 “Victor Talking Machine Company talent scout Ralph Peer brought an electric recording machine to the city of Bristol, Tennessee. For 10 days, in what would come to be known as the Bristol sessions, in a makeshift studio with state-of-the-art equipment, Peer recorded 76 songs from 19 different groups.” (link)
Many of us know the importance of the Carter Family, Jimmie Rodgers, Ernest Stoneman, and many others but for those 10 days Mr. Peer chronicled an age of a subculture not yet tapped. It was that country boy celebration, wild and reserved, that I saw in the hazy eyes of both band and audience and on a Sunday evening the worship service celebration was still goin on. As it says in the Cash song, “When it's quittin' time, and your work is through- There's alot of life in you”

More info I just came across

The Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum Marks the 80th Anniversary of the Historic Bristol Sessions with the new exhibit check out this link

Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum
222 Fifth Avenue South
Nashville, Tennessee 37203

"Country Boy"

Country boy, ain't got no shoes
Country boy, ain't got no blues
Well, you work all day while you're waitin' to play In the sun and the sand, with a face that's tan
But at the end of the day, when your work is done
You ain't got nothin' but fun

Country boy, you got a shaggy dog
Country boy, up a hollow log
Well, he comes in a run, when you pick up your gun
And with a shell or two, and your dog and you
When you get your rabbit, you'll skin his hide
He's gonna be good fried

Country boy, you got alot to lose
Country boy, how I wish I was in your shoes

Country boy, ain't got no ills
Country boy, don't owe no bills
You get a wiggly worm and then you watch him squirm
While you put him on a hook and you drop him in a brook
If everything's gonna turn out right, you're gonna fry fish tonight

Country boy, got alot to lose
Country boy, how I wish I was in your shoes

Country boy, you got work to do
Country boy, in the morning dew
You gotta plant the seed, you gotta cut the weeds
There's many a row you know you gotta hoe
When it's quittin' time, and your work is through
There's alot of life in you

Country boy, you lucky thing
Country boy, I wish I was you, and you were me

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Music of Coal: Mining Songs from the Appalachian Coalfields

Here's some news on a new two-disc CD recently released by the Lonesome Pine Office on Youth. The whole project is a pretty neat idea--a musical history of one of Appalachia's enduring icons, coal mining, with proceeds benefiting a good cause: youth development in the area.

Check them out and order a copy. It's a limited production-only about 5,000 copies-so they're likely to go fast!!

Lonesome Pine Office on Youth

The story in The Coalfield Progress

Friday, July 20, 2007

Tobacco Ax to Grind

A few months back I posted a picture of a farm tool and asked folks if they could tell me what the object was. I indeed knew what the object was but wanted to have some fun with our readers. A few folks correctly identified it as a tobacco knife which is used in the production of burley tobacco.

The knife was a recent gift from my uncle George Bob by way of my dad. I had never seen one in all my time helping in my grandparent's tobacco fields.

The items pictured here are tools that I was more familiar with. I found these lurking in the general purpose barn on grandma and grandpa's farm. The tobacco barn complete with the “stripping room” where four generations of Ralstins had stripped and hand tied tobacco is now just a grassy field. These tools and a pile of tobacco stakes are all that remain of a family occupation that spanned over two counties and 200 years.

  1. Beaters – These crude homemade mallets were used to drive the tobacco stakes or sticks into the ground after a number of tobacco stalks had been threaded onto the sticks.

  1. Tobacco spear – This conical piece of metal with the pointed tip was used to split the pithy tobacco stalk and allow the the stalk to be threaded onto the stake. Typically 5 to 6 stalk were loaded on to each stake.

  1. Tobacco stake or stick – this long square or rectangular cross-sectioned stick is make of hardwood with with sharpened ends. Burley tobacco stalks are cut from the ground and split lengthwise with the spear or knife so that they could be threaded or "speared" onto these stakes. The stakes are then pounded into the ground using the beaters. After the tobacco has been staked in the field for the required number of days the stakes, still carrying the whole tobacco stalks, are gathered and hung in the tobacco barn to cure.

  1. Tobacco ax – This ax looks to be a store bought item. The tobacco ax is used to cut the tobacco stalk from the ground. In some area these tools are called tobacco knives but in our area a tobacco knife is a completely different tool.

  1. Tobacco ax – This ax is homemade and looks to be fairly new.

  1. Tobacco ax – This ax appears to have a commercial handle but it is possible that the ax blade has been replaced.

Burley tobacco production was ubiquitous in Appalachia and is much older than coal or almost any other industry typically associated with the region. It seems appropriate that our most controversial “legal” crop is Appalachia's only or at least most lucrative cash crop.

Mondale Escapes!

I was raised on lots of foods that are really, really bad for you but taste really, really good. We grew our own vegetables in the garden and we kept chickens, rabbits, goats, pigs, and anything else that we could get our hands on. Now all of that stuff isn’t necessarily “bad” for you. However, the way it is prepared can be. You see, in our minds, the only way that foods taste good is if you fry them. We fried practically everything. Fried chicken, rabbit, taters, tomatoes, okra (which we pronounce Oak-ree) sausage, bacon, ham, pork chops, and the list goes on and on and…well, you understand. In order to fry our foods, we made our own homemade lard (see the attached picture of my dad making lard), or we bought Crisco or Cloverleaf brand lard at the store. That’s one reason that, as an adult, I have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and am overweight, but… this post isn’t about my health problems, it’s about Mondale.

My very favorite food in life is, without a doubt, sausage. I love it, love it, love it. There is nothing better than waking up to the smell of fresh sausage frying in the pan. Add that, along with the aroma of JFG coffee and buttermilk biscuits, and you have stolen my enlarged, grease-filled heart. We used to make our own sausage. We would raise pigs (or Hogs if you prefer) and around Christmas time, when they were all fat and sassy and the temperature was nice and cold, Dad would get out the old .22 and assassinate the pig. Then, we would commence to butchering. I would go into details of hog butchering. However, this post isn’t about that, it’s about Mondale.

My dad always had a knack for finding just the perfect name for any animal that we had. For example, we once had 3 beagles in which he promptly named Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, in honor of the 3 children of Israel who survived being thrown into the fiery furnace because they would not bow down to King Nebuchadnezzar or worship the golden idols. A few other names Dad bestowed upon our animals were Bob, Limb, Stranger, Sooner, and General Lee, but… this post isn’t about all of those guys either, it’s about Mondale. Yeah…I’m getting to it. Just hang on.

One year, Dad bought a new pig. It was a distinguished looking animal; it wasn’t the cute, pinkish-looking pig like Wilbur from Charlotte’s Web. No, this pig was black. Now, don’t ask me why but dad took one look at that pig and decided to name it Mondale after the former US Vice President, Walter Mondale. Whether Dad meant it as a compliment or an insult, I don’t know, but that is what he named it. That pig seemed to like the name. Any time that I was around him and called out “Mondale”, he seemed to perk up and listen.

Instead of keeping Mondale in the usual pigpen up on the hill on my papaw’s land, we decided to keep it out back in a pen that we had constructed beside the chicken house. If you know anything about pigs, then you know that they like to root. A pig will root itself right out of a pen in a hurry unless you take preventive measures against it. The very first thing to do is to “ring” its nose. No, this isn’t for high-fashion pig status; it’s to keep them from using their noses for rooting. For some reason, we had not gotten around to ringing old Mondale’s nose yet.

I remember this day just like it was yesterday. It was a Saturday morning, I was sitting on the couch watching cartoons, when I heard dad in the kitchen talking to mom. “The daggum pig is gone!” “Gone? How could that be?” “Ah, I guess he rooted his way under the fence.” “I wonder where he’s went?” “There ain’t no telling. He probably went up into the woods.” “Well, I guess we better go look for him.” I walked into the kitchen, “Mondale has escaped?” “Yep, let’s go see if we can find him.” So, the whole family set out to find Mondale.

We were all over the backyard and in the woods behind our house searching and calling out “Mondale, here boy, Mondale!” Not a grunt or a squeal was ever heard. We asked the neighbors if they had seen Mondale. Not a hide nor hair was seen by anyone. It’s as if Mondale had vanished into thin air. We never did find that pig and we had to go without homemade sausage that year. Perhaps it was old Mondale’s way of trying to help us eat healthier, who knows.

So, if you are ever out in rural Knox County, TN and you happen upon a distinguished looking, black pig, it could very well be old Mondale. Tell him that Tug says hi and that I am still upset from having to do without homemade sausage back in ’78!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

A walk at Cherokee Dam

An early morning walk along the lake at Cherokee Dam on the Jefferson-Grainger County (Tennessee) border yielded these photos.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Lived alone, suffered alone, died alone

July 22 will mark the 84th anniversary of Nick Grindstaff’s demise. His gravestone reads: “Lived alone, suffered alone, died alone,” but in the 1870’s he was one of Johnson County, TN’s most colorful residents. Grindstaff was born on December 26, 1851. By the time he was three years old both his mother, Mary Heaton Grindstaff, and his father, Isaac Grindstaff, had died. Nick and his three orphaned siblings lived with relatives until Nick was 21 years old, at which time the parents’ farm was divided equally among the children. Nick built a house on his portion and began to farm the land. After five years of farming Nick sold his farm and decided to go west.

He was an adventurer, and like so many young men of that era, smelled his fortune in California gold. While there he met, fell in love with, and married a young woman. The woman died.

Lake Watauga, TNOn his way back to Johnson County, legend says Grindstaff was coaxed into the rear of a saloon by a “lovely lady,” whose partner in crime robbed him of his fortune. In another version of this story, he was not robbed, but drank all his money away when his wife out west died; when he became destitute he moved back to Johnson County. In either case, he returned to Tennessee and bought land on top of Iron Mountain, were he lived for 40 years as a hermit with only his dog Panter, a steer and a pet rattlesnake (said to have been killed by a man named Sam Lowe) for company.

On July 21, 1923 Baxter McEwen went by to check on Nick. He found him dead on the bunk in his hut. His faithful dog had been keeping watch over his master's dead body for the previous three or four days. The dog had to be tied before men could carry out Nick's body. Nick was buried, with 200 in attendance, on the mountain peak where he had lived. The house was eventually dismantled for the wood and tin, but the imprint is still on the ground surrounding the gravesite.

Two years later locals erected a chimney-shaped monument made out of mountain granite, which even included some of Nick’s pots and pans in the construction. The citizen who kept the general store down in Shady Valley, Tennessee, where Grindstaff would buy his meal and bacon twice a year, wrote the words. Somebody had to. Nick Grindstaff was a special man, with a story no one ever quite knew.

Today the Appalachian Trail passes by the area. The Appalachian Trail Conference maintains the monument that marks Nick's burial site.


Originally blogged at Appalachian History

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

What's on tap?

"mmmmm-beeeeeeeeeeeer" - Homer, Simpson

Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy" - Benjamin Franklin

America's brewing landscape began to change in the late 1970s. The traditions and styles brought over by immigrants from all over the world were disappearing. Only light lager appeared on shelves and in bars and imported beer was not a significant player in the marketplace. Highly effective marketing campaigns had changed America's beer preference to light-adjunct lager. Low calorie light lager beers soon began driving and shaping the growth and nature of the American beer industry, even to present day. By the end of the decade the beer industry had consolidated to only 44 brewing companies. Industry experts predicted that soon there would only be 5 brewing companies in the United States.

At the same time as American brewing landscape was shrinking in taste and size a grassroots homebrewing culture emerged. The homebrewing hobby began to thrive because the ONLY way a person in the United States could experience the beer traditions and styles of other countries was to make the beer themselves. These homebrewing roots gave birth to what we now call the "Craft Brewing" industry.

The 1980s was truly the decade of the microbrewing pioneers. In a time when industry experts flat out refused to recognize their existence as anything serious, the pioneering companies emerged with their passion and a vision, serving their local communities a taste of full flavored beer and old world European traditions; all with what was to become a uniquely American character. Through extraordinarily difficult market conditions, the microbreweries and brewpubs of the 1980s struggled to establish the foundation for what was to become the proliferation of craft beer in America.

Momentum began to pick up for the microbrewing phenomenon in the early to mid 1990s with annual volume growth increasing from 35% in 1991 increasing each year to a high of 51% in 1995. In 1996 growth began to slow at 26% and in 1997 1,302 micro-, pub- and regional craft-breweries increased their volume by 5%. The proliferation of microbreweries, beer types and brands swept major beer markets and beer enthusiastic regions of the United States. By 1998 American craft beer was available in just about everywhere, though growth has stabilized ever since at a rate of between 1 and 3% each year.

By the year 2000 there were 1,392 breweries in the United States. The three largest brewing companies had consolidated the major part of the American beer market, accounting for 96 percent of the beer produced in the United States. In 2001 1,458 "Craft" breweries produced 6.23 million barrels (there are 31 U.S. gallons in a U.S. barrel) or about 3% of the beer consumed in the United States. The development of a positive beer culture has also influenced the doubling in five years of the American imported beer market to 21.8 million barrels in 2001.

To date there are 1,428 active breweries within the United States. Roughly 2.5%, thirty-six to be exact, of those breweries are located in the Middle and Southern Appalachians. Most of these breweries are operated in conjunction with a restaurant, (due to state tax laws requiring food sales where alcohol is served) commonly referred to as "brew-pubs", and most do not sell their product for consumption outside of the brewery. This last stipulation makes me want to find a good teetotaling friend to taxi me from brewery to brewery throughout our region. I suggest that you do the same and make your way to these fine places...

Dahlonega Brewing Company

North Carolina

Asheville Pizza & Brewing
Green Man Brewing Company
Highland Brewing Company
French Broad Brewing Company

Black Mountain
Pisgah Brewing Company

Glen Alpine
Catawba Valley Brewing Company

Olde Hickory Brewery

Heinzelmannchen Brewery

Foothills Brewing

South Carolina

Blue Ridge Brewing
Thomas Creek Brewery

Hops Grill & Brewery
RJ Rockers Brewing Company

Big River Grille & Brewing Works
Gordon Biersch Brewing Company

Gatlinburg & Pigeon Forge
Smoky Mountain Brewing Company

Depot Street Brewing

Calhouns Microbrewry
Downtown Grill & Brewery
New Knoxville Brewing Company


AMF Keglers Lanes and Brewery (Brew-pub & bowling alley. best. invention. ever.)
Blue Ridge Brewing Company
South Street Brewery
Starr Hill Brewery

Blacksnake Meadery
(Since I live here, I would like to point out that this is the only one in Southwestern Virginia)

Coors Brewing Company - Shenandoah Facility (cool, or should I say frost brewed, history linked)


Queen City Brewing

Piccadilly Brewpub & Restaurant

West Virginia
Blackwater Brewing Company

Mountaineer Brewing Company

Bent Willy's Brewing
West Virginia Brewing Company

North End Tavern & Brewery

Mountain State Brewery

...and even though it is technically out of the region we tend to focus on, this brewery beat those South of the Mason-Dixon line for the name, Appalachian Brewing Company (no doubt pronounced "Apple-A-shun"), located in Harrisburg, PA. I've sampled this group's frothy beverage and it is a worthy brew to us in "Apple-at-cha".

Another brew deserving of mention from the far North, named after Vermont's portion of the Appalachian Trail, is the Long Trail Ale. It's yummy to your tummy on a hot summer day in Bennington, VT.

All of the above breweries were found on the Brewer's Association's Directory. If your company or your favorite breweries in Appalachia were overlooked by my list, it's time to register with the Brewer's Association.

Monday, July 16, 2007

An Appalachian Summer Festival

Half the events have already happened but there is still time. Also Old Crow is playing on July 20 but sold out, sorry. Boone is turning out to be a mecca for the arts with this and the sculpture show along with many many other things going on during the year.
I just wish I could get a job teaching there. :) hint hint

Check out this wonderful program of events
An Appalachian Summer Festival

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Tossing the caber

If you missed the Gatlinburg (TN) Scottish Festival & Games back in May, or can’t wait till November for the Scottish Clans of the South to gather in Hendersonville, NC, don’t panic. The Grandfather Mountain Highland Games in Linville, NC is the largest assembly of Scottish clan society members in the world, and it’s coming up July 12-15.

Scottish-Americans, Scotch-Irish Americans, Scots and would-be Scots converge each year on two rock-strewn pastures, known as MacRae Meadows, in the shadow of the tallest peak in the Blue Ridge chain, the 5,964-ft. Grandfather Mountain.
Dancing, running, throwing large poles and bragging about one's Scottish ancestry-it's all part of a day's work at highland games.

The centuries old Scottish tradition of staging competitions at cattle fairs continued when Scottish immigrants came to North Carolina in the 18th century. The newcomers felt at home in the North Carolina mountains, and descendants of these pioneers continued to speak Gaelic into the early 20th century.

Scottish heavy athletics events include Clachneart (16 lb. stone throw), 22 lb. hammer throw, 28 & 56 lb weight throw, 56 lb toss for height, caber toss, tossing the sheaf (16 lb.) and Highland wrestling.

The caber toss is a contest in which brawny men flip 21-foot (6.4-meter) wooden poles weighing hundreds of pounds end over end. If you imagine that the brawny man is standing in the center of a clock face looking toward the number 12, the objective of the caber toss is to make the pole land so that it's pointing exactly at high noon.

Putting the pole squarely on the imaginary 12 is extremely difficult, however. Sometimes years pass before a contestant nails a caber toss with a perfect landing. More likely, a contestant who can get his caber to point to 11 or 1 on the imaginary clock will win. The first recorded caber toss competition was in 1574.

Originally blogged at Appalachian History

The Saturday Bulletin

It is with great pleasure that I introduce my fellow Savants to the work Jerry Tracy. Jerry is a Knoxville native and one of the most singularly-funny people I've met in this lifetime.

For years, he's produced clipart comics for close friends and acquaintances, and we decided it was time that everyone got a chance to laugh at them. So I built him a website, and he's filling it with comics. Now all we need are people to read them.

Please take a few minutes to enjoy The Saturday Bulletin.

If you like it - or even if you hate it - head over to the forum and leave a message. The site's in total infancy, so please spread the word.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Summertime in Cades Cove

As it is one of the most scenic and fascinating places in Southern Appalachia, photos and stories of Cades Cove are likely to be one of the more-recurring topics that this blog will explore in its lifetime. It's a worthy subject, and one that has already been addressed. Nothing wrong that. I'll make my first contribution here. These are a few photographs from a recent excursion into the Cove. To view them all, go here.

A lonely trail winds back into the woods just above the John Oliver Cabin.

The chimney of the John Oliver Cabin.

A pass-through style barn that sits behind the Becky Cable House.

The John P. Cable Grist Mill.

Monarch butterflies on the Cable Farm.

Cades Cove Primitive Baptist Church. This is one of the more interesting spots on the 11-mile auto tour, as many of Cades Cove's most-prominent residents are laid to rest in the cemetery here.

An area of mostly pine forest near the entrance to Cades Cove.

A doe grazes just beside the road on the auto loop. One of the most exciting features of a visit to Cades Cove is the opportunity to view wildlife up-close. Deer especially are acclimated to the human presence in the Cove, allowing for up-close shots like this one. I also came within about 15 yards of two trotting black bears near the Abrams Falls trail head.

Another one of Cades Cove's stunning vistas.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

You scream, I scream, we all scream for...

Get the ice cream maker out! It’s summer, and there’s nothing so fine as freshly made rock salt ice cream. Just make sure you gather every kid in the neighborhood to take a turn cranking the dang thing.

White Mountain Ice Cream FreezerIn 1843 Nancy Johnson developed the first hand-crank ice cream maker (her basic design of the freezer is still used today), and received Patent No. 3254 for it. Much of the confusion (and lack of credit) to Ms. Johnson comes from the fact that she sold her rights to William Young for just $200 (still a pretty good sum in those days.) He at least had the courtesy to call the machine the “Johnson Patent Ice-Cream Freezer.”

Johnson’s invention simplified the process of making ice cream, marking a revolution in the history of the dessert. From this time on, anyone could make the very best quality ice cream at home (especially since rock salt, which came to be commonly called "ice cream salt" until the early 20th century, had became a cheap commodity).

The inner can was placed in the outer bucket, and ice and salt were placed between the inner can and outer bucket. The salt lowered the freezing point of the ice, and contact with the inner bucket made a thin layer of milk freeze on the inside of the inner can. The rotating paddle, turned by a crank, scraped off the frozen milk, and let a new layer freeze.

Meantime, by 1919 the ice cream industry was churning out (NOT by hand!) 150 million gallons a year, so if you really didn’t want to wait the time it took to hand-crank your own, you could probably scoot down to the general store for a cup or a cone.

However you take your ice cream, can Ice Cream Socials be far away?


Originally blogged at Appalachian History