Monday, December 31, 2012


Remember this place?  Scona Lodge on Chilhowee - now, long gone.

I've been wanting to visit the old Scona Lodge grave site all last Summer.  Its a journey over there and its a gasoline thing.  The motorcycle is an inexpensive cinch but, the truck, boat, gear and Shade is a rather costly affair.  I went this morning.

The lake looked rough when I got there.  Chilhowee Lake always seems to channel the wind down between the high mountains that run parallel to the water with the result of a rough surface.  Summertime finds the water smooth as silk but Winter is an unpredictable time for that lake.  There is one other lake that exhibits the same characteristics and that lake is Calderwood.

You can see how rough the water is.  If you look closely at the mountains you'll see what the tornadoes did three years ago.  Some of the forests appear to have been clear-cut.

I must have a thousand photographs of Chilhowee and Scona Lodge but, I am ever drawn back here.  It is an especially scenic place and with a little imagination one can move out of the present back to a much earlier time.

I crossed the lake to the right hand shoreline.  I always like to approach Scona from that side of the water.  I looked to my left where the old, original town of Calderwood used to live and saw a picture perfect snow covered mountain in the background.  What a wonderful place that must have been to live, surrounded by nothing but "wild", at least back then it was.  Its a wild area even today but, not nearly what it must have been like in 1930.  That old mountain has seen a lot of change in the valley over the decades.  Ha, decades -- Centuries!
"Dad, are we there yet?  I gotta go - I gotta go."
"We'll be there is a sec sweetheart."

I have a habit of searching every boulder and tall tree with my eyes as I slowly pass.  It was a surprise to see - well - look below:
He's a fine looking immature bald eagle.  It seems I'm turning into the eagle guy for East Tennessee these days.  This eagle left the tree and he was magnificent in flight.  I am blown away at how they can squirrel their way through the thick branches without hitting them.  Its amazing!  Anyway - he was beautiful.

The Scona Lodge shoreline was just ahead.  The day was dark with drizzle and the place looked cold and foreboding.  The happiness and joy of yesteryear has somehow been replaced with a cover of thick vegetation with the result of the creation of a cold dark place - a shadow world  separated from the mainland by a moat.  

  Its hard to believe that the shoreline you are looking at was once a golf course.  Refer back to the picture at the lead in to this entry.  This shoreline and the shoreline in that lead picture are the same.

Above is the old ferry landing where the cars and guests were unloaded as they arrived from the mainland.  Kudzu has taken it all now.  Notice the tallest kudzu covered structures, one on each side of this landing.  For years I thought they were kudzu covered pine trees.  They are cable towers for the ferry.  Amazing.  I've explained this all before but its so interesting I can't put it down.  Besides, maybe some new reader will come by on the blog and wonder what all this mess is about.

We drove past the ferry landing to the old boat launch area where I always beach the boat.  Once on land we will walk across the concrete parking area that served the lodge.  It seems so sad that it is all gone.

If I stand in front of the nose of the boat, face the mountain and look up at the highest ridge I can see a notch.  Behind this notch is what's left of the old mountain man cabin that has its own history story.  There are shots of that place on the blog.  A search will find it if anyone is interested.
The photo below is what one sees after stepping on shore.  It is the old Scona parking lot.
After crossing the parking lot, I turned around and took a shot toward the boat from whence I came.
Shade took off down the trail that used to be an old service road for Scona Lodge.  Well, she had to stop I guess.   It was a long ride up the lake.
We crossed the little stream that used to have a foot bridge across it in the old days.  I'm not going to get into detail about how it used to be.  All that has been explained in the "Story of Scona Lodge" else-ware on this blog.

Look above at the hand laid stone in the bank of the little brook.  Its held the sides up for decades and decades.  The tiny brook is charming.
This path leads to the old patio steps.
The cap stones had been stolen from the right side of the stair rails the last time I visited here.  I see the inconsiderate, thieving, filth have stolen the stones from the opposite side also.  It seems to be a human trait to just take what one wants.  Nothing is sacred, accept the dollar. 
These steps lead onto a tile covered patio.

If I were standing at the top of the stairs in 1950 and turned around I would be able to see the staff's house just across the service path.  We took a little hike up the mountain for the view.

 That is a straight down drop-off.  Careful Shade!
 This dog takes risks.  She has no fear.

 Simply breath taking views!

"Come on you little nut.  Lets get off this mountain before we fall off.  I'll go first and you follow."
I wanted to check the old spring house.  It was ready to fall down last year and I wanted to see what condition it was in now.

If Beelzebub ever had a woodshed this old slate spring house would be it.   Its the most sinister building I've ever seen.  There's an aura of evil about it.  I don't think I'd seek shelter in this place if I got caught in the worse sleet, rain, snow, and wind storm of the century.

It may have been a beautiful, charming, rustic spring house in the old days but I swear, its a crypt that houses lost souls today.  At night the Haints can probably be seen as gray shadows swirling slowly about the old place and  howlings of their despair fill the air.  Whew!

Every time I visit this old structure, my hand always drops to feel the heavy bulge that hangs on my belt just for reassurance.  I don't know if guns kill Haints but, I'll make a hell of a lot of noise tryin. 

The drizzle turned to rain and its starting to get cold.  I decided to cut across the golf course.  Right!  The golf course.
Above:  Yep;  that's the golf course.  All nine holes looks like this.  I always get upset when I walk through here.  Why on earth did this all have to be totally destroyed?  Its not mine to say one way or the other but, generations of folks could have visited here and stared at this marvelous place in amazement.  I walked toward the spot where the old lodge stood.

Seems I've found an old walkway.  I dusted the leaves off and scraped the dirt away on a spot to reveal pavement.  It passes close to where the end of the Cherokee room was located.
 Its a narrow walk path that leads to the lake one way and back to the old service road by the mountain the other.  Always discover something when I come over here.

Scona sat in the mess above.  Kudzu has claimed her grave.  I can't get through.  We altered the course over toward the old landing.

We can't even get to the ferry landing.  Even Shade is stopped dead.  Oh well.  The rain is coming down fairly steady and we better get out of here.  Its New Year's eve.  Hard to believe.  I wouldn't want to be any other place for New Year's than here.  This land over here holds more meaning to me since I know how things were in the old days.  Its an important place.  Its history and history is important.  History is a treasure that few care about.  Its a shame what we've become as a society.  Time to get out of here.
 Gas canisters for grills.  I hate em.  These damn things are the number one litter item at camp sites.   Seems no one can carry the cylinders out with them when they're empty.  What's wrong with people?  Can someone explain it to me?  The junk and garbage, especially here, is criminal.  The last time I was here I tossed all the garbage in the lake.  Look now.  They brought it back.  Is that why humans come to the wilderness - to screw it all up?  Why can't they stay in their towns and cities where they belong?
I turned and looked back one last time.
I feel a sense of disgust at the fools who pilfered the cap stones from the patio stairs.  I sense that Scona has been violated, even in death.  There is no respect or appreciation for the past.  There is no more money to be made from Scona.  She is nothing more than a single heart beat in history.