Appalachia Appalachia Through My Eyes

Appalachia Through My Eyes – Swinging On Grapevines


You can see what’s about to happen. She’s thinking it over-deciding if it’ll hold her weight.

Have you ever swung on a grapevine? When I was little we used too.

The best ones we ever found for swinging were between here and Pine Log in the Coleman Gap. There was a good trail. An old road bed led the way, it was easy to follow-even for us kids. The grapevines were on the high side of the road bed allowing us to swing out across the road into the trees beyond.

Days of wonderment: walking to swing, fussing along the way, arguing over some insignificant fact one of us brought up, and listening to each others tales. We always knew the way home would be filled with stories of our daring swings and a fuss over who swung the farthest and who went the highest.


Appalachia Through My Eyes – A series of photographs from my life in Southern Appalachia.


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  • Reply
    Laura @ Laura Williams Musings
    January 5, 2012 at 9:22 am

    Two of my older brothers and I used to swing on grapevines near our house when I was little. We’d swing across the creek one at a time and land on the side of the non-busy one lane road we lived on. One time though my brother swung across, then me, and then the other brother grabbed the vine to swing across and it broke while he was over the creek. Now the creek was barely running at the time so rocks were more in abundance. He landed rear down on that rock and to this day we think he broke his tailbone.

  • Reply
    March 10, 2011 at 12:22 am

    We had one down in the holler behind our house. There was a tall stump to get up on & swing from. It swung out over a bob wire fence but none of us ever landed on it.
    The big boys had one that swung out over a deep ravine & one boy fell off & took a while to come to. I don’t know id any parents knew. We were sort of like wild things out in the woods all day.
    We also rode down the pine trees in the pine thicket & rode them back up.
    Small grapevines were for smoking as were corn silks & something we called rabbit tobacco. They all tasted awful!!
    When Mama & Aunt Gladys were little they sneaked Prince Albert & cigarette papers out to smoke in the cotton house.(These were little shacks where cotton was kept till they had a bale to take to the gin) They stuck their smokes down in the cotton thinking it would go out but of course it set the cotton on fire & they burned up a whole bale & the cotton shed.
    I enjoy Blind Pig so much, Tipper. Hope Pap is doing good. My mother has fallen again & rebroke her arm. Guess I’ll go down there soon & stay for awhile.
    Yall remember us in prayer.

  • Reply
    March 9, 2011 at 11:54 pm

    I’ve seen a many young boys swing over the river on those. I was never brave enough to try it. I was the one floating on the inner tube where my feet couldn’t touch the squishy mud bottom.

  • Reply
    roger hartley
    March 9, 2011 at 10:13 pm

    Wow…can’t believe you posted this. My dad used to cut the bottom of grapevines and then we’d swing out in the woods for hours. My brother and I would get quite high…and sometimes suffer and embarassing fall after the vine gave way its hold on a branch.

  • Reply
    March 9, 2011 at 9:14 pm

    Growing up in Kentucky in the 50’s, summer was full of days in the woods being tested by the older kids. Bu my best grapevine experience was as a grown man in Flordia walking through the woods with with a group of adults most never having even tried grapevine swinging, grabbing a large one from a kid showing off and as I swing out in my demonstration, about midway it releases from the top the tree with a crack and sounds of limbs falling as I hit the ground crawling as fast as I can crawl with that limb noise still coming, unable to crawl fast enough I just barely escaped the impact of the tree top as it hit the ground amid my friends enjoying the results of my showing off my “vine swinging prowess”.

  • Reply
    Fishing Guy
    March 9, 2011 at 8:49 pm

    Tipper: I never went on a grapevine but a rope swing into the river is a lot of fun.

  • Reply
    March 9, 2011 at 8:24 pm

    I loved swinging on those vines, especially the vines that swung out over the water!

  • Reply
    Jennifer in OR
    March 9, 2011 at 7:36 pm

    “Days of wonderment.” What sweet memories!
    Yes, I’ve swung on grapevines–the Chippewa Woods in Port Huron, Michigan.
    That’s quite a vine in the picture, wish I could swing on that!

  • Reply
    janet pressley
    March 9, 2011 at 7:12 pm

    Never swung on any grapevines – but wish I had been able to try a smoke. Wonder how that tasted. I did get the chance to swing on a few ropes in to the cold creeks of Western North Carolina. Good times!!! Nana

  • Reply
    March 9, 2011 at 6:18 pm

    It was alot of fun to swing on vines except when they would break and I’d hit the ground. Remember swinging across a small creek on one. Glad it held. Simple fun with lasting memories.

  • Reply
    March 9, 2011 at 6:03 pm

    My husband demonstrated to our kids how to swing on a grapevine…oh how I wish I had that on video 🙂

  • Reply
    March 9, 2011 at 4:41 pm

    I’ve swung on grapevines…There was one that you could swing across a small creek aka..spring trickle…One day it came loose and everyone scattered!…It’s a wonder we didn’t get killed on that vine..Some of the boys whould hike way up the hill, grab hold and run and leap swinging way over and high to the other side..That’s the way the vine met it’s demise..It finally pulled loose with that much hard swinging. I don’t remember us ever finding another one that strong that we could swing on…
    When we bought our place the boys swung on a few…but they were not big ones like I remember when I was a child…guess too much timber cutting and forest regrowth got to them…..
    thanks Tipper

  • Reply
    March 9, 2011 at 4:19 pm

    We were lucky, we had grapevines on the hillside beside of our house. We swung on them all the time. It was fun, except when you fell off.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    March 9, 2011 at 3:09 pm

    Did a little grapevine swinging but not a lot. There used to be a tree, a big tree, in the field near home we called the swinging tree. The tree was so big we could climb up it and out on a limb and swing up and down on the limb. It would go almost to the ground then back up. I think it was about an eight foot distance that it would go up and down. There is now a housing development in that field….of course!

  • Reply
    Bob Aufdemberge
    March 9, 2011 at 11:38 am

    Ah yes, grapevines. Been there, done that. Swang on ’em, like Tarzan, but could never find enough good ones in a row to go from vine to vine like he did. Drank from ’em, and a wrist-thick one close to the ground works best for this. Smoked ’em, and of course you have to find dry dead ones for this. We used to cut inch-thick ones about 4 or 5 inches long and pretend they were cigars. We even picked the wild grapes, about the size of a pea, for Mom to make jelly with.
    Speaking of odd smoking materials, we kids used to make corncob pipes with a hollowed out sumac branch for a stem and smoke cornsilk in ’em. What with this and the grapevines, it’s a wonder that I wound up as a non-smoker as an adult, but I’m glad that I did.

  • Reply
    March 9, 2011 at 11:12 am

    I didn’t know you could drink from them? I used to swing on them 7 it was so much fun!

  • Reply
    Pat in east TN
    March 9, 2011 at 10:58 am

    My husband used to swing on the vines when he was younger and then back on our farm. There are none big enough in our woods now, but I can see by the look in his eyes that he’d love to try it and then knows he’d better not. HA!

  • Reply
    March 9, 2011 at 10:57 am

    Some of my most fond memories of
    childhood are swinging on huge
    grapevines. They carried us out
    over Twin Falls parallel to each
    other on our property. One had
    more water where our grapevine
    was and it sprayed off and splashed on rocks 20 feet below.
    It never entered our minds that
    the treetops could giveway and
    come crashing down. Sometimes 3
    of us would run down the creek
    and hold on for dear life, but
    what a thrill! Great fun…Ken

  • Reply
    March 9, 2011 at 10:53 am

    I can remember swinging on grape vines when I was growing up. That sure was a lot of fun.
    Whitetail Woods™
    Whitetail Woods Blog / Deer Hunting and Blackpowder Shooting at it’s best.

  • Reply
    March 9, 2011 at 10:04 am

    I played on them quite abit as a child as those grapevines were abundant here in Florida. Miss those good old times.

  • Reply
    March 9, 2011 at 10:01 am

    Sandra-yes! Pap said he used to smoke grapevines too : )
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Music, Giveaways, Mountain Folk
    All at

  • Reply
    March 9, 2011 at 9:27 am

    No wild grapevines here, no vines to swing on of any sort. But plenty to challenge us and cause our mommas to either do a lot of not-thinkin’ or worryin’ and hand-wringin’. I think my mom was more of the don’t-think-about it type. She always seemed rather surprised but not too, when one of us came home scraped up. She was far more irritated with our fussin’ at one another, sumpin we learned not to do in her presence.

  • Reply
    Sherry Whitaker
    March 9, 2011 at 9:14 am

    Oh, this is fun Tipper! I grew up in Oak Ridge, Tn. the ” Secret City.” They built the houses on thickly wooded ridges and as children we thrived in those woods, and we had special places with grapevines and we swung from tree to tree hours on end and caught crawdads and tadpoles in the creek while waiting our turn!

  • Reply
    March 9, 2011 at 8:35 am

    i was born a big scardey cat and have not swung on them, wanted to but to afeared.. but did you know if you cut a small grapevine into a piece the size of a cigarette, and light it you can draw smoke into your mouth? i DID do that even though i was afeared daddy would catch me.

  • Reply
    Nancy @ A Rural Journal
    March 9, 2011 at 8:29 am

    We have wild grapes and vines down by our pond, but I haven’t found any large enough to swing by — or believe me — I would have! 🙂

  • Reply
    March 9, 2011 at 8:20 am

    THAT sounds like fun!

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    March 9, 2011 at 8:10 am

    One of the advantages of being the littlest boy in my class was that I could tell one of my buddies that he was chicken to swing on a grapevine – which he’d, of course, have to disprove.
    After he did the proof test, I figured it was pretty safe for the real chicken – me 😉
    We never did any tree swinging (per Phyllis’ comment) but we did “jump” from tree to tree.
    White pines often grow in tall, tight bunches, and the tops of young ones are very limber. When you shinny up on one side, it’s going to lean in that direction. When it’s gone far enough, you can take hold of another tree. So there really wasn’t any jumping involved – but using that word made it sound a lot more impressive to our young minds.
    We didn’t climb the really tall ones – only the young ones that were 20 to 30 or so feet high (plenty high enough to kill you, of course).
    Over the years since, I’ve looked at many a white pine with the top broken out of it and thought how true is the adage that God looks after fools and cripples, and we (amazingly) weren’t crippled.
    That said, there was a price to be paid at the time – when I’d get home and Mama would see both me and my clothes loaded up with rosin.
    As you might guess, there was wood involved in the payment of that price.

  • Reply
    Debby Brown
    March 9, 2011 at 7:55 am

    oh my yes! Back at my elementary school we had such a vine! It was a new school and they had carved it out of a wooded area. Beside the playground was still wooded, you could not see through it. And there was a huge vine that we all swung on at recess. It went way out, twirling you around as it went, but you had to get yourself turned just right.. and in time, to kick the tree when you came to it, on the opposite side, or… you slammed into it with your back! Required great skill! Well, the school knew about it and we all thought it great fun~! Soon, someone decided it was dangerous and they cut it away. NOW, someone decided the TREES were dangerous and the field of shady cool trees, is just a hot parched open field. Not a single dangerous tree left. sad. So now instead of using imagination and playing beneath the pines, they play in full force sun, I’m glad they are in no danger now, unlike how I was years ago.

  • Reply
    Phyllis Salmons
    March 9, 2011 at 4:12 am

    I remember a grapevine, but not the details of where it was or if I was brave enough to give it a try. Every Sunday afternoon I watched old Tarzan movies and daydreamed of swinging from tree to tree through the woods on my own grape vine network! Alas, it was all a dream (but a what wonderful one)!

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