Friday found me and the girls high on a mountain slope in Haywood County, NC-near Jonathan Creek. The girl’s class had a field trip to the Appalachian Highlands Science Learning Center and I decided to tag along-boy am I glad I did.
The trip would have been fantastic if all we did was look at the views. I’ve never seen the leaves as pretty as they are this year. Maybe it’s the wet weather we’ve had this summer-whatever it is-the trees have put on their most vibrant attire for us to enjoy.
In addition to the beautiful landscape we got to learn about:
The ph level of the creek, how alkaline it is-and exactly what that means to the health of the water and its inhabitants.
The conductivity of the creek.
The kids even got to help take inventory of the creek-by catching salamanders.
The highlight of the day came as we were hiking down to the creek. On the way our guide, Miss Emily, explained to us the park is having trouble with wild hogs tearing up the landscape and wooly adelgids attacking the Hemlock and Balsam trees. As we moved farther down the trail she told us there was an apple tree coming up on the right and we could help ourselves to an apple.
The girls and I had already spotted a little cabin off in the distance-my mind quickly put 2 and 2 together. I ask Miss Emily-did the folks who lived in the cabin plant the apple trees? She said “yes they did about 1900 or so.” The apples were yummy and we enjoyed them as we continued on toward the cabin.
You know-me I got to thinking about those apple trees and how someone planted them a 100 years ago-and how amazing it was that I was eating an apple from one of those trees. As the trail curved closer to the cabin-I yelled at Chitter “hey we’re walking in history.” She stopped and looked at me like I was crazy for a moment-then she too realized we were. The folks who planted the trees and lived in the cabin-surely walked where we were walking on a daily basis. Neat.
Turns out-the John Love Ferguson cabin is the highest elevation historical cabin in all the smokies. Originally there were 2 small cabins on the site with a dog trot between them. Both were in disrepair-the best wood was salvaged from each-and this single cabin was built.
It wasn’t typical for farmers to build at this elevation-nearby Purchase Knob tops out at 5,086ft. But the Ferguson’s had a spring for water, the apple trees, their main crop of corn, and grassy areas for cattle to graze-so they were able to be self sufficient as most folks were in those days.
I’m such a history buff, that whenever I visit a place where I know folks-laughed, worked, played, cried, breathed-it seems if I’m still and quite I’ll catch a glimpse of them as they head to the spring house or up the trail to gather apples.
I wish I could tell you a story about the misty outline of a person I saw run around the cabin-it’d be perfect for my Spooky October series-but the voices I heard and the faces I saw near the cabin were only in my imagination.