Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A GLIMPS OF THE TOWN OF CALDERWOOD

Chilhowee Lake in the pouring rain

Calderwood Dam was completed on the Little Tennessee River in 1930 adding another source of hydroelectric power to the monopoly of power dams owned by the Alcoa Company.  The dam was named in honor of a gentleman named Glidden Calderwood who was instrumental in the design and actual building of the giant horseshoe shaped dam that spanned two mountain slopes at a place called The Narrows on the Little Tennessee River.
The village of Calderwood was created in 1912 as an operational headquarters for Alcoa's hydroelectric operations in the Tennessee Valley.  Calderwood later housed workers and engineers who actually built the dam.  Upon the completion of the dam;  Calderwood continued on to become a thriving little community until hard financial times occurred in the late fifties and early sixties.  The occupants drifted or moved away to form a new Calderwood community in an area closer to the pulse of the industrial action in that part of the country.  Old Calderwood was totally destroyed by the Alcoa Company in the late sixties.  The only buildings that were saved was the Quonset hut movie theater, Methodist Church with associated cemetary and the old one room, brick school house.  There is a Baptist Church sitting in ruin and disrepair at the site.  It's interesting to note that the original power house used by Alcoa when the dam was built is still in use today as the power house for the dam..  The above is a simple, quick overview of the history of the town of Calderwood.  I bring the topic of Calderwood up because it is an important piece of the Scona Lodge puzzle.  Calderwood is part of the Scona Lodge history and I shall attempt to marry the two entities in some logical fashion to indicate their relationships with each other in a future blog entry.  If you are new to the blog and wish to learn about Scona Lodge;  type Scona Lodge into the search bar at the top of the blog home page.
Chilhowee Lake

The rain was falling hard as I drove along the edge of Chilhowee Lake and grew in intensity the closer I got to Calderwood Dam.  Heavy fog blanketed the mountains and a wind was driving the rain into the windshield of the truck with force.  Occasionally, a strong gust would strike the truck and I would jerk the steering wheel in reply to the force.  The road started the long familiar climb up the mountain.  The gate was open that lead down the mountain side to the power house for Calderwood Dam.  The sign beside the gate read "Gate Locked at 3PM Daily."  Evidently this was a precaution established after the 911 tragedy.  I was here to photograph two concrete structures located above Calderwood Dam on the mountainside opposite the powerhouse.  I was informed that I could see them from the powerhouse and that they resembled two concrete bunkers with square holes in the front of them.  That's all I needed to be told to send me off on a new adventure in exploration.  However, the fog disallowed any observation of the mountain side.  This would be a good opportunity to take a look at what might be left of the old, original Calderwood town site.  The rain fell harder.
The views on these lakes are nothing short of grandiose


Rain beat against the side windows of the truck very hard and any good photography was impossible as  I didn't want to get the cameras wet by winding down the window.  There were two paved, very narrow roads that lead off into the forest.  I presumed these to be streets that long ago saw buildings on each side of them.
I would follow the street that went up the hill.
Note the sidewalk in the shot above.  Seeing this sidewalk put validity into what I was doing here today.  I was here to see where the pretty, little community of Calderwood was located in relationship to Scona Lodge that sat directly across the river.
Steps lead up a little hill from the street to--where?  I immediately thought of all the footsteps that have used those steps, assisting folks up and down, helping them reach their destinations.  Folks stopped at the top of these steps to say hello and pass time together before going on about their daily lives.
Another well preserved, lonely looking sidewalk leads away and up the hill to nowhere.  It is all that's left of the concrete chain that linked the homes and families together so long ago.  Maybe it ran down to the ferry landing where folks could cross the river to Scona Lodge.  This sidewalk surely connected people together in a way that creates neighbors and friends.  Once this walkway felt the weight of the inhabitants and friends of a tiny community that gave so much to the Tennessee Valley and increased the wealth of the already wealthy Alcoa Company.  It seems so sad that it is nothing more than cold, gray concrete that simply leads up a hill into the woods and becomes lost in history.
This is a true antique
The road took me across a hillside to the Methodist Church.  This building is protected as a valid historic Tennessee landmark.  It appears now as it did long ago.  Even the little cemetery has been spared the bulldozer.

 I wish the rain would stop so I could get out of the truck.  The property around the church is very well kept.  I don't think the church is still in use today.  The cemetery, however, still receives the honors of attention befitting it.



What a pretty little church!  It's the type of church where everybody knows everybody and your best friend sits next to you--------on both sides, and front and back.




And directly across the lake sat Scona Lodge, the place I call an untold fairy tale.  Scona has been torn apart and destroyed, buried beneath the same earth she so nobly graced with her beauty; her soul committed to wander on the mountain that protected her from the elements for so many years.  Her existence has been a well kept secret for her entire life with not even recognition, anywhere, for ever being born. She has been forsaken and destined to remain part of the unknown history to East Tennessee;  that is until now.
Present day Scona Lodge site

Look carefully at the shot above and you will see the ferry landing for the lodge situated between two kudzu covered trees.  It's difficult to believe there was once a golf course, skeet and trap shooting ranges, numerous cabins and buildings, butler and maid housing, a hand made trout pond and a fabulous, exclusive, outrageously expensive getaway lodge located right in the middle of that patch of kudzu on the river bank.  That story will soon be told.
There is the mountain a little girl once climbed to bury a pickle jar containing mementos from the past.  Anne;  if you're reading this;  that's your mountain.  It's part of your legacy.  Thank you for your trust in me.
TO BE CONTINUED