Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Wilson Creek, Grandfather Mountain

Wilson Creek starts out as a small creek running down the back side of Grandfather Mountain through the tiny town of Mortimer and onto Morganton. The Wilson Creek area is part of the Grandfather District of the Pisgah National Forest. Looking at a map, the area is just south of the Blue Ridge Parkway near Grandfather Mountain and east of NC 181, north of Morganton. Wilson Creek was added to the National Wild and Scenic River System on August 18, 2000. The headwaters are below Calloway Peak and the creek stretches over 23 miles before emptying into John's River.

Wilson Creek has a full and vibrant history. The area was once used as summer hunting grounds for the Cherokee Indians. Shortly after 1750, pioneers settled here and began logging the dense forests. Mortimer, the largest community, was the site of the Ritter Lumber Company sawmill and a small textile mill, which provided jobs for the community’s 800 residents. Substantial logging took place between Wilson and Steel Creeks, and the trees were hauled to the mill via narrow-gauge railroad.

In 1916, a fire burned from Grandfather Mountain to Wilson Creek, and was immediately followed by a flood, which destroyed the logging railroad. In 1925, a second fire swept through, this time from Upper Creek to the south. The railroad, which had been rebuilt, was lost again. When a second flood hit the area in 1940, it washed away both the sawmill and the textile mill. The foundation of the textile mill can still be seen from the road. This was all a great loss for the people of the area but a gain for Wilson Creek and the surrounding forests. Now this area is preserved and offers hiking trails and a great river for white water rafting and kayaking.

As you can see the creek widens up here and lots of kayakers are running the rapids. It is great to drive along the river from the tiny headwaters to the wide open rafting river.


We are joining with My World Tuesday, Watery Wednesday and Outdoor Wednesday this week.  Please stop by our hosts.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Bark Houses of Linville

We lived in Linville for 10 years and enjoyed the history of the area and scenery.  One of the things that make this town so unique is its bark houses.  These bark shingle would last up to 80 years or more. Many of the huge summer estates used this natural material to shingle the exterior of their homes.  The photo above is of the Eseeola Lodge and  Resort. The one below is a summer home.

I will give you a bit of history of the shingles  - Siding made of bark was used historically as exterior sheathing for centuries by Native Americans across North America. They stripped the trees and tied the bark to pole structures and lodges. Air flowed naturally through these dwellings so there was no need for refinement or drying.

The first time a squared bark shingle was used was in 1895 in Linville, NC. Henry Bacon, AIA is most renowned for designing the famous Lincoln Memorial.  He introduced the style and set the standard for future Linville designs. His influence soon reached through other major resort communities in the Appalachian chain including Blowing Rock and Highlands. The shingle was made from the bark of the American Chestnut tree.

Two variables differentiate his method. First, only the bark was used as a shingle. Others before him had used slabs from the first cut of the tree with bark intact to clad dwellings. Second, he squared the bottom edge of the bark mechanically with a hand saw. This created a refinement that is not otherwise noted in previous applications. Bacon created the first true squared bark shingle.

Bark structures of this era were mainly for Summer Holiday. The walls were not insulated and air flowed from inside to outside spaces. Bark shingles could be applied without the strict kiln drying procedures of today because the bark could in essence, dry on the structure. Another difference between past applications and today’s installation is there was often a full shingle lap (behind every shingle was another layer of bark). Therefore, when the shingles shrank and gaps emerged, there was a second layer of bark to maintain the integrity of the structure. Using a full shingle lap required more than double the amount of bark we use today.

With the decline of the chestnut tree the bark of the Yellow Poplar is used to clad local’s homes in the mountains of NC. The bark peeled in large smooth sheets and was sturdy. Some of these private residences sided with Poplar Bark in the 30’s are still standing in good condition and can still be viewed today.

To get the bark today the companies work, alongside crews cutting poplar logs for the furniture industry and other uses. As soon as a tree falls, our small teams of craftsmen use coordination and strength, along with a collection of special antique tools to loosen whole cylinders of bark from the trunk.

The cylinders of bark are flattened and cut by hand into standard shingle length. After damaged or cracked sections are removed, the shingles are carefully stacked, and then placed under pressure to prevent curling.

The kiln dries all the shingles. The heat from this process kills any bugs that may be on the bark. When bugs attack a tree, they are looking for nutrients found in the cambium, or inner bark and sap wood. This inner layer is dead when the bark is peeled from the tree and kiln dried.

Hope you have enjoyed our natural house sidings - we are joining in on Photo Hunt - Natural and Scenic Sunday this week.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Clouds Catching on Peaks

Just a hint of color on the high mountains now but they will be in full color in a few weeks.  These were taken from the Blue Ridge Parkway near Linville and at Linville Ridge Country Club. I love how the clouds scrape the mountain peaks and seem to get caught there. It meant for more rain in the area but the views were spectacular.

In this photo you are looking at the profile of Grandfather Mountain.  Hope you enjoyed the views today.  Please stop by Friday Finding Beauty and Skywatch Friday for more great pics.

I changed my blog background to highlight the fall header pic - are the dots too much or can you read the print without going nuts?  Thanks for your input!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Another Day at the Fair

The State Fair ran all last week in the next town over from us. I posted about our visit with the farm animals last weekend.  This week I will focus on the rides, produce, crafts and tractors.  I had forgotten how bright the colors are at the fair. If you look in the upper part of the pics you will see the lift rides carrying you over the fairgrounds and back. That would have been the only ride I would have taken but the lines were too long and I was ready to call it a day by then.

It was dizzying at first - just so much to take in.  We stuck to the tents and buildings with the produce.  Since my husband is a gardener, we always check out the giant vegetables and fruits.  This is a good size tomato but the 154 pound watermelon and the 756 pound pumpkin were really impressive!

This colorful hand sewn jacket caught me eye - even the buttons have color and texture to them.  And the chicken cake below is stupendous! What creativity!

What is a fair without hand churned ice cream - apple pie ice cream no less!  Mmmm mmm good.

Finally, we enjoyed viewing the antique tractors with their fiery red paint.  Some dated back to the early part of the 20th century. We had so much fun this year and the weather that day was perfect.  Hope to go again next September!

For more radiant red shots please visit Ruby Tuesday and Rednesday!  And don't forget Outdoor Wednesday.

This week is Pet Finder's Adopt a Less Adoptable Pet Week showcasing homeless senior, disabled and otherwise less than adoptable pets in shelters all across the US.  Stop by my other blog to check out some great dogs and cats.

Friday, September 17, 2010

WNC Mountain Fair, Fletcher

Last weekend hubby and I went tot the WNC Mountain State held in Fletcher. He likes to go for the produce, flowers and crafts while I like the animals. We are both too old for the rides!

We got there in time for a sheep exhibition and judging.  These young  boys were very serious about showing their sheep. I got a kick out of the colorful blankets the sheared sheep wore in between their shows.

The llamas were lovely in various shades of browns, blacks and creams. So soft and fluffy. This young girl was busy hosing down her horse outside the barns - it was a sunny breezy day but not really hot.  I guess this is good weather for the animals. Hope it holds all week.

This youngster was worn out already and sound asleep inside one of the barns. The cows were impressive but the size of the Brahmans was just a sight to see.  Usually raised in warm southern climates for beef, these guys are dairy cows here and raised for their cheese! I love their soft eyes and long floppy ears.

We visited all the barns - chickens, turkeys, goats but the pigs were not to be found but these two - their show day was in the middle of the week and more would be coming for that.

I will post another round of fair photos next week covering the produce, crafts and farm equipment - come on back for that.  We are joining in on Scenic Sunday, Friday My Town Shoot Out, and Camera Critters this week so be sure to visit them.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Roger McGuire Green, Asheville

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It was a gorgeous late summer day over this past weekend and we headed off downtown to take in the scenery.  One of our favorite buildings downtown is the Art Deco City Hall building and the adjacent McGuire Green, part of Pack Square Park. Asheville has more Art Deco style buildings than any other Eastern city except for Miami.

This year, downtown Asheville's historic Pack Square has transformed into a beautiful public park with 6.5 acres of public space for visitors to relax and linger. In addition to the Roger McGuire Green in front of City Hall and the County Building, the new park has a large open green space on a slope overlooking the main stage, three water features and original, large-scale art by regional artists. There are many seating areas surrounded by native trees and shrubs.

This water feature (with my shadow on it) starts up at Pack Square and flows downhill to become part of the main fountain.  Kids like to run down in it. At the base of the fountain sits the main stage in front of City Hall.

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The Asheville City Building is a colorful, massive and eclectic Art Deco masterpiece. Douglas D. Ellington, an architect who came to Asheville in the mid-1920s, designed the eight-story building, which was completed in 1928. Ellington stated that the design was "an evolution of the desire that the contours of the building should reflect the mountain background," referring to the amazing scenery that surrounds Asheville and serves as the backdrop of City Hall.

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Ellington chose building materials that presented a "transition in color paralleling the natural clay-pink shades of the local Asheville soil." The unusual octagonal roof is covered with bands of elongated triangular terra cotta red tiles. Between the two levels of the roof are angular pink Georgia marble piers between which are precise vertical rows of ornamental green and gold feather motifs. The interior of the building is designed in a manner typical of 1920s office buildings--the central core contains public elevators and an enclosed staircase while offices lie along the perimeter of each floor. City Hall has changed little since the 1920s and still captivates residents and visitors alike with its bold and colorful style. See photo below of how it looked years ago.

The final part of the fountain is a flat area with holes in the pavement for water to shoot up about 4-5 feet. They shoot sporadically and then come up all at once. Kids love this feature and with our very hot summer, this park and fountain were abuzz with families all season long.

Hope you enjoyed the tour.  For more great posts please visit My World Tuesday, Outdoor Wednesday  and Watery Wednesday.

Please stop my my new blog Wildcat Woods Vintage Treasures and see what great finds are for sale - I hope to use this to raise money for my Rescued feral cats.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Fall at Hickory Nut Gap Farm

Last weekend hubby and I stopped by the local farm for their Fall Days - they invite you to spend the day visiting the animals, picking out a pumpkin or apples, walking the corn maze and shopping in their farm store. They grow and harvest 10 acres of multiple apple varieties, including MacIntosh, Gala, Rome Beauty, Golden Delicious, Red Delicious, Staymen Winesap, and many more. The apples from the farm are grown organically.

Pony rides were available for the kids and they do offer horseback rides at other times of the year and a horse camp for kids in summer. This toddler enjoyed feeding the horse.

It is a lovely spot and minutes from our house. My husband Don, a chef, stops by to buy their grass fed humanely raised beef, pastured pork and chicken products and free range eggs. They have everything from steaks to bacon and organ meats. All the meats are processed at plants that treat the animals with respect and care in their last moments at Animal Welfare approved facilities. ( I am vegetarian but if you do eat meat this is the way to go.)

The chicks were adorable and you could lean over the half door to scoop the tamer ones up in your hand. So sweet.

In the fields pumpkins were flourishing and almost ready to harvest! Just past the pumpkin patch is the entrance to the corn maze. Having been to several in the area, this one is very casual and smaller. It sits on a hill overlooking the valley and mountains around us and is fun to walk.

This farm was settled in 1916 by the McClures, Jim and Elizabeth, making their home in the old inn on the land. Now five generations live and work the farm.  For more info on their products and history visit their web site.

Hope you enjoyed the tour. We are joining Camera Critters and Scenic Sunday so please do visit them.

Many of you know I care for rescued feral cats and have just started a blog selling things to help raise money for their care.  There is a link in the sidebar for Wildcat Woods Vintage Treasures - new items are listed daily.  Stop by and see what is for sale!


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