Appalachia Logging



Dorie woman of the mountains

“Fred and I were at Three Forks for three months before we were told to move to Eldorado. The skidder he worked on was being sent to a new job between Cades Cove and Townsend. The Eldorado acreage was one of the larger holdings of the Little River Lumber Company, out of the mountains we normally worked. It was so far removed that Eldorado is not part of the national park now.

We were not happy there. The people seemed different. There were fewer than five women on the job, and the men were rougher in language and living. I was a nervous wreck from keeping a constant watch on Wilma, who was beginning to crawl and be into everything. My ever move seemed to be watched by the timber cutting crews working close to the cabin.

Fred’s hunting dog, Jake, wasn’t happy either. There was no time for hunting, and somebody was always telling him to get out of the way. The final straw was when Fred scolded him for eating food a neighbor had put out for his pigs. Old Jake couldn’t take it anymore. He left and went back home to Three Forks. He showed up at Ma and Pa’s, lean and hungry. Ma wrote that he had come home.

I was homesick, too, I knew exactly how Jake must have felt. Fred agreed that Wilma and I would be happier back with the family. He spent the last three months in Eldorado by himself.

Eldorado was named by a mountain man who had journeyed to the far West in search of gold. After not finding any there, he became convinced there was gold in the Smokies. He came back and created his own western town-Eldorado. It had a different feeling than the other places we lived. Maybe he did bring part of the Old West with him.

The kind of gold he was looking for couldn’t be found in our mountains. Most of life’s true gold is missed by people who look down for shiny, yellow pieces of metal instead of up at the golden beauty of a mountain sunset, the golden wildflowers, and the simple gold that forms on the churn dasher as cream turns into golden mounds of butter.”

Excerpt from Dorie: Woman of the Mountains pg 118 (1912-1917)


I had never heard of the area Dorie writes of called Eldorado before I read her book, I Still don’t really know anything about it. Interesting that the man who started the settlement wanted to make it his own western gold mining town.

Dorie’s thoughts about life’s true gold rang true for me as I drove to work this morning. The golden yellow tones of the leaves were absolutely stunning and Brasstown had a light fog that gave a magical sparkle to all of October’s goodness.



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  • Reply
    January 19, 2016 at 3:15 pm

    Steve-thank you for the comment and the fascinating information about Eldorado. Your project sounds very interesting : )

  • Reply
    Steve Oliphant
    January 19, 2016 at 2:19 pm

    Tipper, this is a great post, I know where both Eldorados are in the Smokies. The first is near Bull Sink Cave on the RIch Mountain Road at the headwaters of Hesse Creek founded by Robert McCampbell and Dr. John Calvin Post in the 1840’s, it was also a early lumber camp operated by the Sparks brothers. The other Eldorado is further down Hesse Creek at Bark Camp Run and was the site of a Little River Lumber Company camp with railroad service in the 1910’s. I am writing a piece on it now. Both Post and McCampbell discovered the gold and copper on Eagle Creek with the help of their Native America guides. Those mines later became the Fontana Copper mine that operated until 1943.

  • Reply
    Rev. Rose Marie "RB" Redmond
    October 23, 2015 at 8:47 pm

    Eldorado, NC is hard to find for sure. I did find it, however, in Montgomery County in the Uwharrie National Forest, where Highway 109 meets State Road 1302 between Blaine and Troy, NC. The Uwharrie Trails General Store is at that intersection now, and there are a few homes, cabins and other small businesses still there. Don’t know if they’re from old times or much newer, but I bet that area is gorgeous come Autumn, after the leaves turn color.
    One of our brother’s favorite places in the world is Morrow Mountain which is about a half hour southeast of Eldorado. We try to go there yearly once the leaves begin to turn.
    God bless.

  • Reply
    Mel Hawkins
    October 23, 2015 at 2:00 am

    I agree with the sentiments about the lure of gold & easy money. “They ain’t no sitch thang as easy money”, I was always told.
    Must be true, for I cannot think of any area in the Southern Appalachians where mineral/timber extraction made any more than a few folks long-term prosperous. And later generations often were left to deal as best they could with the consequences of these activities.
    Copper Hill/Basin TN comes to mind, as does my home of Lumpkin Co. GA where there has been several “gold rushes” in the past 200 years, yet it was other factors that led to what relative prosperity we enjoy now.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    October 22, 2015 at 4:51 pm

    Two excerpts from your excerpt from Dorie’s story are telling.
    1.”I was a nervous wreck from keeping a constant watch on Wilma, who was beginning to crawl”
    2.”Fred agreed that Wilma and I would be happier back with the family.”
    If Wilma was beginning to crawl then this episode would have been in late 1915 or early 1916. Dorie would have been 16 years old. That is if Wilma was awful slow learning to crawl.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    October 22, 2015 at 4:15 pm

    One of the richest deposits of gold ever located in the continental United States was discovered in the South Mountain section of Rutherford and Burke counties of North Carolina in 1828, setting off the first great gold rush in the nation’s history. The discovery was made, according to tradition, when a traveler with some knowledge of minerals stayed overnight at a country inn at Brindletown, in Burke County near the Rutherford County line. As he freshened up the next morning in a little creek at the rear of the inn, he noticed a small nugget of gold in the stream. By panning water in the creek, he soon determined that more gold – lots of it – could be found in the surrounding hillsides.
    My daughter and her husband have some property very near there. I might have to try to get out there one day. The old timers might have missed a nugget or two.

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    October 22, 2015 at 1:54 pm

    I thought Eldorado was a John Wayne
    movie. All I know is I’m thankful
    I live in the beautiful Mountains.

  • Reply
    Eva Nell Mull Wike, PhD
    October 22, 2015 at 1:03 pm

    Good to know that the highest points on RICH MOUNTAIN ‘may’ be where the GOLD will be found. The highest house on Rich Mountain is where we ‘hang out’ sometimes on special days. The most difficult thing is to STOP looking at the view which goes on into Georgia!
    Eva Nell

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    October 22, 2015 at 10:01 am

    Page 2. Checked the GNIS and a query for ‘Eldorado’ returned “Dry Valley” which is the valley where Tuckaleechee Caverns are located, across Little Mt. South of Townsend. I was puzzled at first until I saw that a variant name was ‘Eldorado Valley’. There was also a citation to the source of that variant name.
    Burns, Inez. ‘Settlement and Early History of the Coves of Blount County, Tennessee.’ East Tennessee Historical Society Publications, no. 24, 1952, p.44-67. p47
    The logging camp could probably not have been very far out of the valley bottom because it is between 200 and 300 feet higher than Townsend and the railroad grade would not have been very steep,probably 2-3% if possible.
    Probably more than anybody wanted to know. My excuse is I’m a ‘map guy’.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    October 22, 2015 at 9:08 am

    It seems the name Eldorado did not survive. At least I cannot find it searching topographic maps. I did find an online reference in “The Great Smokies: Natural Habitat to National Park” by David S. Pierce published by UT Press. He says it was ‘on Rich Mountain above Cades Cove’. Rich Mountain crest is the Park boundary. It is north of Cades Cove between the Cove and Tuckaleechee.
    The Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) of the US Geological Survey may have lat/long co-ordinates but just not show it on topo maps.

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    October 22, 2015 at 7:33 am

    Dorie’s story posted today rings with such deep emotions and a sense of homesickness and introspection. How many of us, even in our own “Eldorado,” a place far removed from what is familiar, good and significant to us, have not felt the pangs of wanting again to see the “real gold” of life as we have known and experienced it? A beautiful posting today–even to your own “finding gold” on your way to work, Tipper! Which all goes to say, I think, that it is up to us to find our gold in what is solid, good and worthwhile. But even the lumbermen, who worked in that “strange and different” camp called Eldorado, were working there to better their families and take care of some of the necessities of life and living. We learn to endure; we learn to take the tarnish from the gold and get down to what really shines.

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    October 22, 2015 at 7:20 am

    Life’s true gold rang out for me, too. The shiny gold will never bring peace and sometimes, it brings just the opposite.

  • Reply
    J D
    October 22, 2015 at 6:50 am

    Our treasure is not buried. Feeling so blessed to be sharing the golden years with this man that loves the mountains as much or more than I.

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