Wednesday, January 17, 2007


Things have been hectic at Smoky Mountain Harley Davidson, where I work and I have been lax in planning out strategy for adventures this Spring and Summer. Selling motorcycles is a pretty full time job and doesn't leave much "whoopy have fun" time. But I make it a point to see that Douglas gets out for a few hours every opportunity I have. We went to the ruins again today because its a huge area and Douglas can roam over terrain that is hilly and flat all in the same outing. The ruin area is a great place to find photo opportunities too. I finally learned how to take a time delay photo with my new camera. A lot of things crossed my mind today; many unrelated. Things like I haven't been home to Pennsylvania to visit the few relations I have, in two years. I have friends I miss a lot also. I want to organize a boating, fishing trip to a lake in Georgia called West Point Lake and I would like to plan it for a time when a good friend from PA, Al, is down here. And Janet deserves some time also. She works very hard to run her business and to keep a 40 acre birding sanctuary going; not to mention two young boys. I have to keep going on my outings to the forests, streams and lakes to gather photographic images of all that takes place there. And then there's Red. I MISS RIDING THAT MOTORCYCLE! We will be putting Red on the blog a lot more this year. And then there's that other thing I have been thinking about. I have been pondering on starting a small wood shop. I always liked working with wood. I used to be a finish carpenter in the old days and I can turn out some pretty creative articles. I have been amazed at the prices folks are getting for antique tables. I have inspected a couple pieces and I saw strength in the construction, and design in the surface but I saw no creativity and precision in the piece fitment or assembly. The product I speak of was a coffee table made of barn wood with round fence post legs. The barn wood was the overpowering attraction. The tables were neat but not as well constructed as I would like to see; at least for the price of $400.00 anyway. Anyhow, I would need to procure a table saw, router, edger and planer to do the job right. I am obsessed with the term quality and nothing is acceptable to me but the best quality. Therefore, the woodworking tools would have to be expensive, unless I could find pre-owned tools. Cheap tools usually are not accurate. Quality usually goes with price. That means it might be awhile before I can pull the woodshop "trick" off. I could probably build three to four table creations a week if I set my mind to it. That certainly would support the wonder lust habit I have. Its something to think about. It's been a mild winter and I think this summer will be warm and dry. The blog will contain lots of photography, camping, motorcycling, animal stories, hiking and fishing tales and boating adventures for sure. For those of you who have never met my whole family; they are below. Be safe and please be kind to all animals.
Of course, here's the star of the show. Man, he's a fine dog. He's a champion in my eyes and my friend.
Can't forget about Sea Foam; the almost starved to death girl who wondered in one day. She's fine and beautiful now and healthy.
Happy makes the blogs once in a while. More so than Homer. She's been a good pal. Only thing is that she likes to steal things off my computer desk; like the mouse pad.
I didn't want Homer to feel left out of things so here he is, all bright eyed. Homer's not a boater or a motorcyclist so he doesn't make the blog's very often. But he's part of the family.

Thursday, January 11, 2007


Actually, this blog entry is more about Douglas. I can't help it. I loaded up Douglas and Happy, a little mix whatchamacallit, and drove to Chillhowie Dam. We were heading for Abrams Creek. It can be reached by roads but I prefer going by lake. Once launched, we head upstream until we come to the overpass on 129 South. I then turn the boat toward the bridge and drive through the supports and continue up this water spur. The water has good depth and there is no danger of the prop touching rock. We soon come to a "Y". To the right lies Panther Creek. I have tried to boat up this pretty creek but soon ran out of water deep enough to continue in my boat. We now go left. This is called Abrams Creek. The waterway is deep and remains so as we drive through a beautiful gorge. The river banks go straight up on both sides and are heavily forested. Rhododendron is plentiful as well as green Brier and huge round boulder. As we continue at full slow, the bottom becomes visable. Enormous round boulders make up the bottom of this water bed. The banks now close in and ahead lies the mouth of a stream that dissappears into the mountain. This is what we came for. We will hike this stream. I pulled the boat over to the left side of the river and beached it against a tree. We dissembarked and were on our way. It was soon obvious we should have beached on the opposite side as this side was strewn with boulders and heavy with rhododeendron bushes. And hilly. Did I say hilly? Douglas instantly took off running with Happy at his heals but douglas soon outdistanced the smaller pup. I saw Douglas again through a clear area on the mountain side running full out. His long golden body stretched out full and his powerful legs thrusting him forward. I was amazed! This was a near verticle cliff I was watching him run on and he negotiated it as if it were level. I could see his shoulder blades push up on his back at each thrust with his front legs. As I watched him fly I imagined I could hear his great lungs gathering air and the tremendous exhale he must accomplish before the next huge intake of air. If wind could be seen, it would be Douglas today and the wind would be golden in color. But above all, he is having fun. And that is what today is all about. Him!
The water of Abrams Creek is crystal clear. I mean clear! The cold water rolls over and around smooth rock and one would think it is well oxyginated. Great news for trout! Rocks that appear to be twelve inches under the surface are really four feet under. One must be careful especially if wading.
This view is only a short hike, climb, struggle from where my boat is beached at the stream's mouth. It is a tease. The stream is beautiful. The right side is the side we should be hiking as it is less inclined to go verticle. But then, Douglas and I usually choose the more difficult endeavors on our outings.
Its great to watch the water rolling around the smooth rocks. It seeks the path of least resistance and in doing so creates music that is harmonious with all that is natural. A billion stream sounds creating satisfying music to match any modern orchestra. Very gratifying indeed.
I know this look. He is impoloring me to hurry along so we can get to the next curve in the trail. What trail? Thats whats taking me so long. There is no trail. But at least he waits up for me.
Like two mountain climbers they wait for me. I am slow and methodical as I lumber up the side of the hill clinging from branch to branch and carefully planting my feet on the slippery rocks and soil. They rocket to anyplace they desire in an instant.
Abrams Creek is a fast moving creek with long slow pools. I can almost see the trout laying beside the rocks that are visible on the bottom.
They finally slow down from hard play and hiking for a rest in the cool (cold) water of Abrams Creek
This picture does not do him justice. Douglas has the ability to climb nearly vertical at top speed. He knows no fear it seems. His footing is so certain! He never slips. He has blasted along perilous drop offs at top speed as sure footed as a mountain goat.
I warned you this was more about Douglas than Abrams Creek. Here he is in his element. And he is very fast in water.
Douglas has just retrieved this stick I threw in the creek and he is tossing it up in the air and catching it. He is adorable!
Nothing like a stick for these two hero's to tug on. Its neat to see that Douglas lets Happy win, to an extent, just to keep her interested in the game
This is Douglas blasting back toward me from the stream. Happy is not far behind and will soon overtake him.
Douglas is quick but Happy is lightning on four feet.
Douglas and Happy in the middle of one of their happy laps. These two have become best friends. An unlikely pair but they have become almost inseparable.
The boat is still there and we're out of here

Sunday, January 7, 2007


The blogger technology seems to have corrected itself and I have been able to upload the pictures of the original house where now only ruins exhist. What a grand place this must have been. See below the story about this homestead. I could not upload the pictures that were in the article so I took photos of the house from my computer screen with my camera set to macro. The resulting jpeg files did successfully upload. The old ruins now take on a new meaning to me.


I have been mesmerized by an old ruins that I like to visit often. If you look down through the blog site, pictures can be found indicating what is left of the place. I have tried and tried to find the history surrounding the site and events and have never had anything to go on but hear say. Today, while walking with the Golden Dog near the site, I met a lady who had the scoop. I will not name her as I do not have her permission to place her name here. But she enlightened me as to the circumstances surrounding the "Ruins". I could not upload the pictures of the original house and structures as the blogger engine is not operating properly tonight for some reason. I will upload two pictures when this modern technology settles down. There are photos of the ruins down further in this blog that I have previously taken. Foundations, bricks, fences and what is left of out buildings are below in previous blogs. I will post the original pictures of the house as it stood shortly. I promise. Below is the story. It is interesting. It has mystery and it, above all, is true. Enjoy......................... Amanda Tells Story of Tuskega On November 14, 1984, Tuskega, the home of Thomas Howard Callaway's (Joseph Woodson, Thomas Jr., Thomas, Joseph Callaway) descendants was burned to the ground. It's destruction left many people, including my family in shock.Last year my Mother saw an article in a magazine asking children to tell a story about their family's history. Knowing my family's feelings about Tuskega, I wanted to write our history in the Callaway home.In our house, we have many family pictures and each picture holds a story. My favorite picture is the old Callaway home, Tuskega, which is in Vonore, Tennessee. The history of the Callaways in Tennessee is very interesting and one of my famorite tales is about how a certain Callaway (we're not sure which one!) got some land from a Cherokee Indian chief. The story is called "Indian have dream" and this is how it is told:A certain Indian chief owned a big island which Callaway had been eyeing for a long time. The Indian refused to sell. One day Callaway bought a new pony, blanket, and rifle which caught the red man's eye. The Indian came to Callaway and said, "Paleface, Indian have dream last night." "What did you dream?" asked Callaway. "Indian dream that Paleface give Indian pony, blanket, and rifle." "What Indian dream White Man must do," Callaway told the chief and gave him the pony, blanket, and rifle. A short time later, Callaway went to the Indian's island and told him he also had a dream. "What you dream?" asked the chief. "White Man dream that Indian give him island," Callaway told the Indian. The chief scratched his head and replied, "What Paleface dream Indian will do. But Paleface and Indian dream no more!" (This story had been passed down many generations and every generation has enjoyed it!)Now the story of the Callaway home, Tuskega, begins around 1859 when Charles McClung McGhee selected the old Cherokee Indian town homesite of Tuskegee to build his home. (Tuskegee was a famous Indian village where Sequoyah, inventor of the Cherokee's Alphabet, was born!) There are many interesting stories about this village and about a secret Indian tunnel that ran near the house and down to the river. Indians used this tunnel as a runner to escape from attacks on the town. Our family has always heard stories about this secret tunnel and to this day it is still a mystery as to where that tunnel is!To build the house, Charles McGhee hired an architect from Louisiana and McGhee's slaves molded the bricks for Tuskega from clay found right on the property. (You should see these bricks - they are different because they are square with a hole in the middle!) McGhee used most of the wood for the house from the trees found on the land and everything was taken "off the land" except for the marble for the fireplaces. Because of the start of the Civil War, McGhee left for the city and never finished building the home. His slaves, however, did stay at Tuskega and continued to work for the next owners.During the Civil War, both the Confederate and Union troops stayed in Tuskega! There are several stories passed down in the family about a secret trap door at the house that the slaves hid in when hostile troops came. Many times this door was used to hide people as well as food and valuables. There were also bullet holes in the house as well as a cannon ball found in one of the fireplaces! My Great, Great Aunt Polly even told us about a blood stain that remained on the front porch where a soldier died! (They buried him out in the front somewhere, but his bones have yet to be uncovered.)After the war in 1870, McGhee sold all the land and the unfinished house to my Great, Great, Great, Great, Great Grandfather Thomas Howard Callaway (whew that's a lot of Greats!) He was then the President of the East Tennessee, Virginia, and Georgia Railroad. My five times Great Grandfather Callaway and his wife, Susan Jane Lea, felt Tuskega would be the house of their dreams. But sadly, Thomas Howard died before he was able to move to Tuskega. Maggie Lea Carson, Susan Lea's daughter, wrote "That her Mother felt she could carry out all of the plans for life which Thomas and she had made together." So, in December of 1873, the family left for Tuskega. Thomas Howard and Susan Lea had 11 children and Maggie Lea, who was 11, (just like me!) wrote down the story of the arrival at Tuskega so that future generations would remember the beginning of the Callaway's at Tuskega. In Maggie's story called "The Arrival" Susan Callaway and her children rode a riverboat down the Little Tennessee River in weather that was so cold there was ice on the river. The Captain of the riverboat (Captain Red) was concerned about Mrs. Callaway and her children arriving at Tuskega in such bad weather, but he realized she was determined to start a new way of life for her family. Maggie Lea's story tells how their servants were waiting for them and the excitement they felt to spend their first Christmas in their new home. Susan Lea's youngest son, Frank, had been very sick on the journey and sadly died at Tuskega in January. My Great, Great Aunt Alice Carson has always said that Susan Lea was a true Pioneer Woman because she stayed on at Tuskega even after the death of their youngest son.When the family settled in, Susan Callaway and her oldest son, Joseph, hired a builder to help repair the damage done during the Civil War and to finally complete Tuskega. When the work was done Tuskega was described by newspapers as "a beautiful gothic mansion." "The house has 13 rooms, two great halls, marble mantels, and a curved stairway suspended from a wall." From the pictures we have I think Tuskega is the prettiest house I've ever seen in all my 11 years!All of the Callaways tell of a "mysterious disappearance" at Tuskega. In those days a tailor came to the house to make clothes for the family. One tailor came and he just suddenly disappeared overnight and no one ever saw him again! My Mother says her family pretended his ghost was around but I never saw it!For 84 years the Callaways lived at Tuskega. My family says that Susan Lea Callaway passed on her love of family and home to each generation because everyone always returned to Tuskega to be together and to meet new family members.Before Susan Lea died in 1900, she was able to see one of the most memorable weddings at Tuskega between her daughter Annie and Humphrey Gray Hutchinson. Mr. Hutchinson was a very well known Doctor from Virginia and Atlanta and we have a whole book that is written about him! This book tells about his life and his love for Annie Callaway. It also talks about their married life at Tuskega and how they continued to make the Callaway home a well known place to visit.Annie Hutchinson and Maggie Lea had inherited Tuskega from their mother and when Annie died she left the Callaway home to Maggie Lea's family. My Great Great Aunt Alice Carson, Maggie Lea's daughter-in-law, was the last Callaway to live at Tuskega and her recorded interviews about the history of the family should be read and enjoyed by everyone!When my Mother was little, she remembers the family making trips out to Tuskega to visit her Great Aunt Alice Carson. The whole family loved those visits and especially the fun they had exploring "the old home".In the 1970s, Tuskega became condemned by TVA's Tellico Dam project. Because she felt that her Grandmother, Elizabeth Callaway, would want to save the Callaway home, my Mother started writing to TVA to find out what would happen to Tuskega. In January, 1981, she said that she "found a person whose love and work on the house's preservation she would forever be grateful for". This person is Mr. Jesse C. Mills, then TVA's Chief Librarian. Mr. Mills told my Mother that Tuskega had become "a living thing" and that the house "is the epitome of so much history and so much life; it must go on telling it's story through the years".For three years, Mr. Mills and my Mother wrote to one another gathering Tuskega's history. She and several Callaway descendants exchanged as much information as they could to help Mr. Mills' research. Mrs. Ann Morris, Maggie Lea's granddaughter, exchanged many old letters and pictures with my Mother and they both were excited about trying to save the home. Mr. Mills also met with other Callaway descendants at Tuskega to listen to all the many family stories. (It was Mr. Mills who taped my Great, Great Aunt Alice Carson's memories of Tuskega.)Finally, on August 3, 1984, the State of Tennessee and TVA agreed to the restoration of Tuskega!! Everyone in our family was so excited! All the hard work had at last been rewarded and I had fun just looking at all the newspaper articles about the famous Callaway home!The next date of November 14, 1984, was a very sad one. The phone rang and my Grandmother Johnson told my Mother that Tuskega was gone . . . that someone had burned the house to the ground . . .My Mother never again brought out all the papers she had worked so hard on until last year (1990), when she saw the article in the magazine. We decided it was time for Tuskega's history to be told, and Mr. Mills said, "go on telling its story through the years". Afterward - July 1991 This past summer when we returned to the ruins of Tuskega, we wondered how many more stories or memories there were which should be written down before they are lost. As we walked around we thought about all the people who had loved this house! What happened to the children who were born here and had grown up at Tuskega? What memories could each of them pass on?My story of Tuskega is only from my Mother's line. How many other Callaways can add to Tuskega's history? Yes, we know the beautiful house is gone . . . but its many stories and memories will stay within our hearts forever. Another article: Thomas Howard Callaway, who moved to Bradley County in 1838, was a leader in the development in East Tennessee. Samuel Callaway, grandfather of Thomas, (Editor's Note - I believe this is an error. Thomas' grandfather was actually Thomas Callaway, Jr.) came to explore the area for Henderson and Company in 1764 with Daniel Boone. Thomas Howard married Susan Jane Lea of Bradley County and they had eleven children. Thomas Howard Callaway, in his first position as a deputy surveyor under John B. Tipton, developed a relationship with Cherokee Chief, John Ross. He was instrumental in organizing and serving as first president of Ocoee Bank of Cleveland which later moved to Knoxville. Callaway headed the East Tennessee and Virginia Railroad and the East Tennessee and Georgia Railroad and was the first president of East Tennessee, Virginia and Georgia Railroad, later part of Southern Railways. Some of the lands owned by Thomas Callaway included McNair Farm near Conasauga, extensive acreage in the Copper Basin (one mine carried the Callaway name), the 4,000 acre McGhee farm on the Little Tennessee River and Jolly's island at the mouth of the Hiwassee river. Two historic houses still in existence today, the Linden Avenue Callaway (Raht) Home and Ocoee Street R. A. Hanger home were built and occupied by Callaway.

THE RUINS - Coach Trail and Foundation

This is what is left of the main house.

Monday, January 1, 2007


I thought I'd start this blog entry with a shot of this handsome fellow. We are fostering him and his sisters and brothers for Great Dog Rescue. They soon will be with permanent homes. We got them from an animal shelter where their futures were scheduled to be short. Great Dog Rescue provides a fantastic service to these homeless and cast out animals. If the opportunity presents itself; help this organization in any way possible. Little guys and gals like this need you. Remember--------its not their fault. None of it..........
The little white girl with the brown head is named "Happy". This is her first experience on a boat. She did quite well. She is one smart cookie. Douglas enjoys her company on land. But he is a loner on the boat. He has always been that way. Happy is not well equipped for water travel. She has no webbed feet and her coat is very short. She spent most of the ride today underneath the dash of the boat where the cool wind could not reach her. But she is a trooper. She listens to my commands and reacts. I am really amazed at her obediance. She is constantly on me, over me and around me. For some reason she has bonded very tightly to me and will not allow me to be out of her sight. Happy, like Douglas, is a rescue dog with a future that wasn't very bright----------until Great Dog Rescue came along. I am seriously thinking of adding her to my family. She is slowly applying those paw prints to----------my heart. Oh Boy!
Happy tries to mimmic Douglas while on the boat. She is his shadow. But there is only space at the bow for one mariner. And Douglas has earned the right to be on point from way back when. Sorry happy. You will have to work you way up through the ranks.
Like a secretive little old man, the Heron struts about slowly and cautiously. He doesn't disturb a thing. Even the water is undisturbed when he puts his feet in. He is a marvel to watch at work. What patience. And what accuracy when he uses his bill. He is taken for granted and passed by without more than a glance. A shame. A marvelous bird!
As the boat cruised down Tellico Lake this morning I caught a glimps of something odd looking about those trees. Look at the nests in the tops. I believe, but not certain, that these are Great Blue Heron nests. A rookerie, I believe its called. I'm not a bird specialist by any means. Thats Janet's forte. But I believe I'm right. They took over the entire island.
This is a closer look at the nesting site.
Puppies do play rough. Douglas is a smart dog and a gentle dog. The puppies worry him constantly but he has learned patience. The little white whatchacollet dog on the right is "Happy" , a Great Dog Rescue pup who is staying with Douglas and I.
Nothing like a little rough housing to end the day .


If you look carefully in this photo you will see my get away machine parked on the shoreline of Tellico Lake. Today I have come to reconoiter an old ruin that I visited over a year ago. It is a fabulous property that has been abandoned and left to ruin. There are a couple stories about the demise of the house. I have been told that it was dismantled and rebuilt in some city somewhere over toward Nashville. And another story states that hippies lived there years ago and burned it down. I will get the right story. I can't let it go. This place deserves to have its history accurately known. One thing for sure; its old and it has been owned more than once as construction material and practices bear out. I shall visit the park rangers at Ft Loudoun State Park for information. If that doesn't answer my questions; I'll ask the locals. But I will report my findings here on this blog. What a place to let one's imagination run rampant! What an atmosphere to just hang out and practice the art of slothing. Sloth doesn't come easy to someone who is used to being on the move constantly. It takes practice.
This lane leads from the lake strait through a gate to the estate. It truly is a road to nowhere as it goes strait into the water. If anything it is a road that leads to mystery.
Janet called me and said she was bringing her kids out here to the ruins for a picnic. They walked the mile in to the ruins from the road. I drove across the lake in the boat to where the old road runs into the lake from the estate. Here we see Douglas, the golden dog, two hound pups that Janet rescued and two boys who are hers. They really are hers. They have papers to prove it. The handsome one on the left is Devon and the future president of the US on the right is Rowan.
This is an entrance to the property from the long lane that runs in front. I love the fact that there is no concrete present. It reeinforces my idea that horses and wagons were on the scene in the early years of this estate.
This must have been a great fence. There are bits and pieces of it surrounding the property. It was constructed quickly and cheaply. The wood is odd in size and construction appears to be inaccurate at best. This was a utility fence made of what was available. But it was a long one.
These two pieces of stonework provide a walkway from the house out into the area you see in front where the trees are. It must have been like walking back in time. What a way to wake up each morning!


You probably know that I am a nut for old fences. Old fences were often designed on the spur of the moment with no common thread to recommended style or process. Many were made out of the necessity of the moment and thrown up hastily and haphazardly. This fence has style. It touts double upright posts with the boards sandwiched between. Very sturdy indeed. An artist could not create this natural beauty. Nature is trying to devour the fence. Her mosses and microbes are slowly disintegrating the wood. The texture is coarse with varied shades of green applied to hide the image of the fense. Eventually the fence will dissappear in a cover of grasses, thorns and moss and will rot away eliminating all traces. A tragic loss of artwork.
There are several entrances that lead to the main house. There is no concrete so I can only assume that these were used by carriages and horses. At least my imagination sees it that way. This must have been a magnificent property. There is a broken black top lane at the bottom of this runway that leads strait into the lake. Obviously more recent owners had that paved. But who were the original folks who lived here?
What a magnificent place this must have been. It is huge. There were four fire places inside and a building with a fireplace outside. Also marble slabs are at the face of each fireplace. They are broken but still look very usable. There is an old out house that is crumbling and three out buildings falling to ruin. One can only imagine what went on here in those times.