From my local paper: “Gateway communities across the country see about $76 million per day in total sales from visitor spending that is lost during a government shutdown. Visitors spend about $44,000,000 a year in the communities around Cumberland Gap NHP.”
Tag Archives: Cumberland Gap
In case you haven’t heard, Jurassic Park 4 will be here in 2015 instead of 2014. I hate having to wait another year, but oh well.
Hey, speaking of Hollywood, my mom didn’t know World War Z is a zombie movie until yesterday. I asked her if she assumed, based on the trailers, that it was a movie about Brad Pitt running from crowds of normal people.
Okay, on to business.
- A woman who claims to have a photograph of Lincoln on his deathbed is suing the Surratt House Museum for $100,000 because of a statement on the museum’s website about the photo’s authenticity.
- BBC America listed ten connections between Lincoln and Britain, but they left out the most obvious one: Lincoln’s ancestors came from England.
- If you want to take in the anniversary festivities at Gettysburg but can’t make the trip, C-SPAN3 has got you covered. They’ll be airing the festivities in both live and taped form during the anniversary weekend, and July 4th will feature 24 hours of non-stop Gettysburg programming. For those of you in the Gettysburg area, the C-SPAN bus will be in town starting June 25th, and the Lincoln Diner will even have C-SPAN coffee mugs for the occasion. (That’s the one across the street from the train station, right? I’ve eaten there a couple of times. Neat place.)
- Sorry about the short notice on this one, but Dr. Earl Hess will discuss the Battle of Campbell Station at the Farragut Folklife Museum on June 23rd (that’s tomorrow) at 2:00.
- Finally, Cumberland Gap National Historical Park has obtained an original Civil War document.
This isn’t really a major news item, but it hits pretty close to home for me. Somebody apparently tried to steal the state historical marker for Harrow School in Cumberland Gap. Rev. A.A. Myers founded the school as one of the Appalachian missionary efforts that sprang up throughout the region in the late nineteenth century. Harrow eventually expanded to become Lincoln Memorial University.
While looking up some information on Cumberland Gap I ran across something that all you heritage tourists and genealogists out there might enjoy. It’s a firsthand account of one man’s long-distance bike ride through the Gap and along Boone’s Wilderness Road, following the same route his ancestors took all the way to Indiana.
Hey, all you inconsiderate dolts who are defacing the cannons at Cumberland Gap National Historical Park. Peek-a-boo! You’re being videotaped.
Those artillery pieces aren’t replicas. They’re genuine relics from Chickamauga and Chattanooga, and if you’re old enough to go pee-pee by yourself, you should have enough sense not to write, carve, or play on them.
While we’re on the subject of the Civil War at CGNHP, here’s an image I’ve had on my computer for a while that I don’t think I’ve posted on the blog before. This is Cumberland Gap as seen from the Kentucky side when the Union held the pass. The print itself is in the Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum, within sight of these very mountains.
The Pinnacle is at the top left, Tri-State Peak at top center, and the road into Yellow Creek Valley is in the foreground. Check out the fortifications on top of the ridge and on the slopes.
If you drive along U.S. Route 58 in Lee County, VA you might notice a distinctive geologic feature a few miles east of the entrance to Wilderness Road State Park and just inside the eastern boundary of Cumberland Gap National Historical Park. Atop the ridge of Cumberland Mountain sit the “White Rocks,” a sandstone formation containing light-colored quartzite that shines when the sun hits it.
In the late 1700′s the rocks were an important landmark for the hundreds of thousands of settlers traveling on the Wilderness Road below. The sight of this outcrop let migrants know that they were about a day’s march away from Cumberland Gap, which offered a passage through the mountain wall into Kentucky. (Today you can drive from White Rocks to the Gap’s opening in fifteen minutes.)
I doubt any of those frontier migrants felt like climbing to the top of the ridge to see what the valley looked like from the rocks; they had more important things on their minds. Today, though, if you want to check out the view from White Rocks, there’s a three-mile trail that will take you there. That’s three miles one way, mind you, and it’s mostly uphill. Not exactly easy, but you can take in some nice scenery once you get there.
Sort of a bird’s-eye view of Daniel Boone country. Actually, I guess it is a bird’s-eye view, since you’re eye-level with the birds.
If you’re going to hike to White Rocks, make sure you see Sand Cave, too. It’s about a mile from the White Rocks overlook, and on the other side of the ridge. I’d never been there before last week, but as soon as I saw it, it immediately became one of my favorite places in Cumberland Gap National Historical Park.
The cave gets its name from the fine sand that covers the floor. There’s a small waterfall near the cave’s entrance. My pictures don’t really do it justice; with the waterfall-fed stream running through the trees and the cave’s ceiling towering overhead, it’s like stumbling across the Garden of Eden. It’s not a deep cave, but the semi-circular roof towering overhead and the wide entrance make it pretty spectacular. The sand inside is so thick that it’s like walking on a beach, with your feet sliding and churning all over the place.
…over at the Times blog about early Civil War battles in Appalachia. Check it out.
There’s a move afoot to draw increased attention to the trace Daniel Boone carved out of the wilderness and into Kentucky. You can still drive much of the route on paved highways, but these days a lot of folks take I-75 instead. It’s faster, but not nearly as interesting. As Charles Kuralt said, “Interstate highways allow you to drive coast to coast, without seeing anything.”
So, as I was saying, I was driving around in Cumberland Gap National Historical Park the other day when I spotted a wayside marker I’d never seen before.
I’ve driven by this spot several times, so I think this sign is a recent addition, but maybe I just need to be paying closer attention. Anyway, this marker is worth a closer look, because it scratches an itch that I noted earlier this year.
Back in March I was griping about our tendency to get so caught up in the dramatic and exceptional events that happened in historic areas that we ignore what happened in between them. The Gap is notable mainly for those people who were (often quite literally) just passing through. Its story is one of long hunters, pioneers, Civil War garrisons, and industrialists who came and went. The people who lived in the area had their own history—a long and interesting one—but it’s a history that’s invisible to many observers. Their story forms a hazy and indistinct background to the procession of pioneers, soldiers, and boosters that passed by on their way to whatever it is they were after.
In some cases, the local story vanishes altogether. CGNHP isn’t a battlefield or a building; it’s acres and acres of beautiful green space. A lot of visitors come for the views and the hiking trails instead of the history. It’s so easy to find the “wilderness” along this famous segment of the Wilderness Road that you can forget about the people who once lived nearby. Who were these folks, and how did they live?
These are the questions I was asking back in March, and they’re exactly the questions the NPS answers in this wayside exhibit. It affixes an actual, flesh-and-blood past to the rural Appalachian communities that so many Americans misunderstand or ignore. Here’s a close-up of the text:
I have a long break between classes this semester, so I’ve developed the habit of making short little excursions into Cumberland Gap National Historical Park after grabbing lunch. CGNHP is the largest historical park in the NPS system, with 24,000 acres and eighty-five miles of trails, so you can easily spend months or even years poking around in its nooks and crannies and still not manage to take it all in.
I was driving around near the Sugar Run trailhead today and passed by some interpretive signage I’d never noticed before. When I stepped out of the car and walked over to have a look, I encountered this.
That’s dog poo, and it’s sitting right in the middle of the sidewalk, which is a most inconvenient resting place for fresh fecal matter. Dogs are permitted in CGNHP, of course, provided they’re on a leash, and I certainly don’t begrudge them the occasional bowel movement. It happens to the best of us. But consider the location of this particular specimen.
The sidewalk runs alongside a grassy strip, which in turn borders one of the wooded areas that are quite plentiful within the bounds of CGNHP. It would seem to be a simple matter, if one’s dog was in the process of assuming a posture conducive to defecation, to persuade the animal to take two or three steps off the sidewalk and relieve him or herself in the grass. Failing that, one might dispose of the excrement in one of the many conveniently located trash receptacles provided by the NPS.
Indeed, one such receptacle was readily available, as documented in the photograph below.
The small lump in the foreground is the offending bit of canine waste; the brown metal object behind it is for trash disposal. About ten feet separate the one from the other. Note also that the dog crap is almost directly in the center of the sidewalk.
Don’t mind us, you inconsiderate puke. Make yourself right at home.