Day 2: December 11, 2004
A Little Bit of Snow



Today's first shot is from approximately the same place as yesterday's last shot so some of the things behind the lights can be identified. The other pictures show just a tiny bit of the "strip" in Gatlinburg's downtown.

Before I left Lavonia, I learned of the Festival of Christmas Past being held at the Smoky's Sugarlands Visitor Center. In fact, it's the reason I targeted the area for yesterday's stopping point. The many demonstrations included basket weaving and cider pressing and, of course, there was musical entertainment. Wiley Oakley, the "Roamin' Man of the Mountains", is a central figure in the history and development of the area and his son, Harvey, was at the festival with collections of his father's stories. I believe (but am not certain) that it is Harvey's sister beside him. Harvey spent plenty of time in the mountains himself during his 31 years with the National Park Service. Wiley was also known as the "Will Rogers of the South" so I'm really looking forward to reading the two volumes of his stories that I bought from his son.

After escaping from Gatlinburg, I paused at the Little Pigeon River to snap a picture of the snow covered peaks in the distance. US-441, which runs through the park, was closed due to "ice and snow". I also followed the river a short distance into the park.

US-321 took me to Newport, TN, where I barely got in a mile on US-25 before it split into its east and west branches. As planned, I turned onto US-25E toward Morristown.

As I drove along Lake Douglas, I couldn't help but notice what I assumed was exposed lake bottom along the road. I had my assumption verified and learned a bit more with a stop at this bar and former motel. From the friendly patrons, I learned that the lowering was an annual occurrence in preparation for flood control duties in the spring. That is indeed the old highway and those really are silos rising from the mud. When the dam was built in 1942, the silos, each representing a separate farm, were left for the fish. The locals described the road as concrete over a foot thick with "round river gravel about that big". "that big" was a thumb and forefinger, OK style, circle. There was some discussion but the consensus was that the road was about sixteen feet wide. Two slabs about eight feet each.I know that's Walters Bridge but I'm not quite certain what it crosses. The Nolichucky, the French Broad, and the Pigeon Rivers are all candidates. The last picture is from an overview near Bean Station.

I just have to relate one snippet of conversation from the bar. When I entered, one man was telling another about some adventure with a fellow named Earl. I didn't learn much about the adventure except that it involved eating "the biggest breakfast I ever saw" and a stop where "we got a 6-pack each". At the end of the tale, the listener, who was closer to me and easier to hear, said, "Yeah, I was married to Earl's daughter then he ended up marrying my daughter." There s nothing wrong with being your own father-in-law.

Near Tazewell, I spotted an Old US 25 and took a look. Not much to see and even the local horse population seemed to wonder why I was there.

US-25E no longer goes through Virginia but US-58 will take you to the Virginia section of the Cumberland Gap National Historic Park. It will also take you to the town of Cumberland, TN, where the white marker was photographed.

This is the Tennessee side entrance to the tunnel leading to Kentucky and another entrance to that national park. There is a visitor center here. Being a sucker for overlooks, even on heavily overcast days, I drove the four miles to The Pinnacle. From there I could see the town of Cumberland but couldn't spot the marker I had recently stood beside. That four mile drive brought on about an 1100 foot rise in altitude and a six degree drop in temperature. There were snow flakes in the air at the overlook but they weren't very photogenic. Robert V. Droz's Old US 25E offers some excellent information on the area.

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