Monday, November 14, 2011

SEARCHING THE SCONA LODGE SITE

click photos to enlarge

Beautiful Scona Lodge was built at the base of this mountain;  the site is covered in Kudzu.   I suspect the Kudzu was planted on top of Scona to guarantee the total ruination and discovery of the site.
As you may know by now;  the story of Scona Lodge and it's eventual total destruction, has become a sort of obsession with me.  To throw fuel on the fire;  I have been in contact with a lady who grew up at Scona Lodge.  She left at a young age and has not been back since.  It is because of her input that I can search out some of the hidden secrets surrounding the Scona site.   Building placement is interesting to me.  I went over to the site today to try and find the three houses that sat beside the trout pond.  They weren't ordinary houses.  Each was entirely constructed with a unique wood.  One house was totally made of cedar.  Another house was made of pine and the third was walnut or chestnut, I'm not certain.  The destruction of the Scona site was total.  Not a block, brick or piece of wood lies on the ground.  I know now why Scona Lodge was destroyed and by whom.  I'll save the details for the history of the place, when I write it.

Chilhowee shoreline near Scona Lodge
 The boat ride to Scona was very enjoyable.  The sky was overcast and the water was relatively smooth.  I couldn't get over how warm it was.  This would prove to be a beautiful day and an interesting one.
The picture below is of an old Scona Lodge boat launch.  I used to think it was the old original ferry.  My contact person for Scona corrected my thinking.

Below is another shot of the launch:  The wall of rocks that protrudes out into the water is used as a water break.  The water behind the boulders and next to the beach would remain calm when the lake water was wind driven waves.
We would not visit the old patio as we usually do.  Today I wanted to find the place where the three special houses sat.  They were located to the left of the trout pond if you face the mountain, or the pond.  A old service road, then new, was designed in front of the houses and skirted a skeet and trap range.  A bridge was built to cross over the spillway of the trout pond.  These are just a couple things to do on today's agenda.
You can see the open notch almost center of the picture above.  There was a bridge across that notch, spillway, of the trout pond.  The bridge and soil that covered the skeleton you see above has long ago washed away.
There was a clear section of beach where the Gheenoe could be beached in safety.  The rest of the shoreline was covered in rock.
I wanted to be on the left side of the trout pond where the old Scona service road was, and that was the reason for selecting this landing site on the East side of the trout pond.  I was sorry I made this decision as you'll soon see.  I would rather have beached at the boat launch site and hiked around the pond to the other side than to have dealt with the mess I got Shade and I into.
We immediately set off down the old service road, now a trail, and soon ran into an old adversary.  Kudzu.
Kudzu is a plant that sends out tendrils of vine, some thick and woody and, others thin and wiry, that twist around anything in it's path.  It will completely envelope a forty foot tall tree in a couple seasons.   Walking through Kudzu is totally impossible.  It's far worse, if you can imagine, than trying to walk through Mountain laurel or Rhododendron.   We went a short way and decided that the closest clear ground was up.  So, up we climbed.  The climb was very steep and treacherous as our feet kept fouling in the Kudzu vines.
This stuff is a mess.  Who is responsible for bringing this menace into this country.  Gotta be a politician..
It's pretty bad when even a powerful dog can't penetrate the stuff.  We go straight up from here.
We're going pretty far out of our way to avoid the thickest growth of this horror.
The boat is way, way down there.  You can just see it left of center.  Whew;  what a climb!

What a View!
The open forest is just above us now.  We will have to walk across the top of this mountain and descend when we get to the slope that drops down onto the trout pond and the old service road.  What are we doing way up here?
Enlarge the picture above and the boat launch area with the boulders sticking out from the shoreline, forming a water break can be seen.
We made it across the mountain top and climbed down to the service road bordering the trout pond.  We would now be able to scout out the probable placement of the three houses.


The old service road that went in front of the houses


The service road was asphalt for the three houses

 I searched for signs of the houses.  I looked for changes in the earth that might give a hint where the houses were placed.  Then I saw the tip off.  Drain Pipes.  There was a drainage system coming from across the road that drained an area large enough for the three houses.  The twelve inch pipe ran under the service road and emptied into the forested area on the other side.  I had found the house sites.
Two rows of pipe existed.  They ran, one pipe between the first and second house and another between the second and third house.  The houses sat against a hillside facing the service road.  Not a stick, brick or block was to be seen, so complete was the demolition. 
Lastly;  a section of large piping that channeled a small brook away from the houses also emptied into the forest on the other side of the service road.  Below:
There was a skeet and trap range across the road from the houses.  It is now grown up in saplings and brush.  There is no doubt as to it's location.  The ground has been leveled for the range.
I found only part of what I came here today to find.  Anne, the girl from Scona, said she used to walk down the trail to a certain "hollar" to get eggs from a family with chickens.  They also provided fighting cocks for Scona Lodge.  I was on the trail anyway so, off we went to try to locate this homestead.
The trail widens resembling a forest service road or maybe a logging road.  I'm not seeing signs of logging over here.  Just an observation
This is a very good trail and the forest is beautiful.  I bet I could smoke this trail if I put my mind to it.  I may bring Falcor down here and do a serious hike on this old service road.
I sat down for a brief rest.  Shade, bless her heart, stayed with me.  An instant later an extremely loud shriek was heard from far up the mountain.  Shade reacted to it immediately.
She ran down the trail constantly looking up the mountain side trying to get a fix on it.  I stood up and also tried to catch a glimpse of the something--anything.  Shade was really agitated.
Then, she stopped in her tracks and just stared up the hillside.  I'm guessing a Bobcat made the sound.
It was a very loud shriek, much louder and deeper in sound than a wildcat though.  If Cougars were still in Tennessee I'd guess Cougar.  But, we all know that Cougars are extinct in Tennessee.  Nope;  couldn't possibly be a Cougar.  Must be a BobCat--a very large Bobcat with a chest cold.  It was just one of those things that make an outing interesting.  Wonder what Haints sound like?

We rounded a bend, and the "hollar" was there.
In a short space of time we came upon the remnants of a cabin.  Great Scott!;  How could anyone survive way back here?  I really believe I found the homestead, or what's left of it, where Anne used to buy the eggs for Scona Lodge.
I wonder what became of these folks?  Maybe they moved on when Scona was demolished.  Humm;  moved on to where?
Shade and I would soon need to leave as our drive back home is a long one.  I decided to attack the Kudzu head on and drive straight for the boat along the shore.

Sign of wild pigs
 We came to the paved area in front of the boat launch area and headed right along the shore through tall grass that would very soon turn to Kudzu.
I sure didn't want to climb that mountain again through all the Kudzu.  Eventually I got on hands and knees to crawl through the Kudzu jungle.
Can't do it.  Can't get through.  I would struggle to the left and the lake to try stepping on rocks on the shoreline.  Maybe we could get all the way to the boat that way.
It was working.  All I had to do was pick one rock at a time and go slow.  I'd be at the Gheenoe in a jiffy.

"Shade, there's no time for lolling around.  Come on!"
 Five minutes later, after getting Shade moving, I notice her black form in the Gheenoe already.  How'd she do that so fast?
After a long drink of cold water, we were off across the lake to the truck.  Scona holds a lot more secrets but, they'll wait.  There is one more task I need to accomplish here at Scona.  We'll get into that at a later date.  Shade and I thank you for coming along today.  There were actually three of us on today's adventure.  Douglas was along in my heart.