Sunday, September 9, 2012


I was working on the lower end of the mud hole today and there was nothing of interest to photograph.  The only wildlife I noticed was three great blue herons, a grebe, four crows and a flock of geese that flew over so high it was useless to concern myself with photographing them.  I was on the water at 6 AM, however, and the morning proved the only saving grace.  The scenes were beautiful and the darkness hid the mud huts (houses) that surround the water.

It looks like summer left with the all day and night rain on Saturday.  It was time to pull the fleece out for the morning run.  A chill was in the air and fog blotted out the rising sun.  The really nice thing about the short time before daylight was that I couldn't see any buildings.  There was nothing but the night and the sky.

The plastic surgery operation performed on Douglas Lake in the spring is going haywire and soon the failure of the operation will be widely apparent.  Already what should be under water is sticking up through the surface.  The true face of the mud hole is starting to show as well as its despicable habit of tearing boats apart.  For now the only saving grace is the beauty of the early mornings and the extreme upper reaches of the lake where the eagles an wading birds reside.

The fog lingered on even after the sun was was high in the sky.  The soft light of early morning shown through.  The shot below is an example of what I mean by soft light.  The scene is rock and mud.  Sorry.  Soft light is the most perfect, vibrant light on the planet.  It appears to be a soft bronze in color.  Lovely.

Shade was on the deck today.  I wasn't planning on bringing her but she insisted.  I'm glad she did.  I needed her company on this boring end of the lake.  There were a few fishermen here and I interviewed all of them so, the morning wasn't a total loss.
I beached the boat to eat a peanut butter sandwich and discovered I left them home on the kitchen table.  Oh well - its that kind of morning.
 The tree below is alive and appears well.  It spends half its life above water and the other half with the roots and trunk submerged below water.  All the soil has long ago washed away from the roots and yet it clings to life somehow.  Douglas Lake tortures its natural citizens.

I walked up the hillside to sit on a log and take my break.  I wasn't surprised to see the mark of uncaring humans.  This situation is not uncommon on these lakes that are over inhabited by humans.  Only humans like to lay claim to a piece of ground by asserting their ownership with personal upgrades.  They leave the junk on site that they perceive as necessary to camp with in hopes that others who wander upon their turf see the personal junk and will leave the spot alone.   The end result is litter that will never disappear.  And, those damned Inca temple, camp fire pyramids are driving me totally nuts!  They are the mark of a lake pilgrim - a dunce - an uncaring stupid fool.  Damn, I hate those things!  They are a "forever" mark on the land indicating an idiot camped there.

I got out of there before I caught some city disease or something.
 A house foundation that was flooded when Douglas Dam was filled.
This whole idea of imminent domain is insidious.  This land was taken from folks who have ties to it that go back for, in some cases, centuries.  Imagine that for a moment.  An entire history of families living in this valley suddenly uprooted in the name of hydroelectric power by a government entity named Tennessee Valley Authority.  I'll have to do a story on TVA someday.  That would be an interesting read.  But, the Little Tennessee River now has eight dams blocking its waters.  Once fertile soils providing agricultural richness are now flooded with dammed up water contained in reservoirs.  It seems the ragged edge of the wielded government knife of years past has been dulled over by the coming of new generations but, to most of the folks in these parts who remember the land grab - the occasion is as three dimensional as ever in their memories.  I saw a picture of the Tennessee Valley once and it has routed in my mind forever.  I wish I were an artist so that I might recreate that view.

I was in Greenback late last week and met an interesting guy who had bought the old train station in town.  I used to live in Greenback.  Population 127, or something like that.  We were talking about the Chilhowee Lake area in the old days and he said he remembered the day that Tellico Lake was first flooded.  He said, "My son, 7 years old, and I went fishing the evening before and we walked out on the old bridge and sat our stuff on the fourth pier over the water.  We fished for a few hours and I glanced down the Little Tennessee and the valley it flowed through."

I told my son, "Take a long look down this valley son and remember it.  This is the last time you will "ever" see it like this.  Tomorrow it will be gone forever."

He said that he went down to the river early next morning and watched the water slowly rise and the shape of the valley he knew since childhood change into an unrecognizable, wide expanse of water.

The promise of social betterment due to the hydroelectric operations was a huge factor in the creation of the dams, so they say.  But, the folks who lost their land were a happy lot.  Financial wealth was absent but, they felt wealthy just the same.  As a matter of fact, as a newcomer to this area, the most wealth I see belongs to real estate companies and TVA.

I will be talking to this gentleman again next week.  I am going back to Greenback to interview two ladies who grew up at Scona Lodge about the same time that Anne, the girl in my story of Scona, was there.  Both are sisters and their father worked with Anne's father at the lodge property.  I can't wait.  The Scona Lodge story will have a part two it seems.  These ladies say they have many pictures of Scona Lodge that I may have.  I'll take my lap top and scanner and hopefully come away with a treasure trove of old photographs.  We'll see.  I have printed a few pictures on the entry for the Scona story that were taken on site in the old days.  Look below:  What you will see is one of three aerial views of Scona Lodge.  It is a teaser. I hope to have more for you soon.  Isn't it an amazing place.  These particular photos have never been viewed by the public.  Built in 1934 and later bulldozed into oblivion, now covered in thick kudzu.  Type in Scona Lodge in the search engine to read the story so far.