Saturday, October 19, 2013


A long, long time friend visited me this week from Pennsylvania whom I have known for around 40 years.  Her name is Janet and she made time to visit with me for a couple days while visiting with her sister and her son who live here below the Mason Dixon line.  I enjoyed her company and endeavored to show her some of Tennessee.
I thought we'd take a little road trip on the first day of her visit.  Of course, the Cherohala Skyway would be on the itinerary.  

We drove over the Foot Hills Parkway to Chilhowee Lake and followed the Dragon's Tail, route 129 until we got to the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest turn-off.

We stopped and helped him across the road.
The air was sweet and there was very little traffic on the Foot Hills Parkway.  In short - the mountains were beautiful.
I like turtles....
We pulled off the Dragon (Rt. 129 S) at the road that goes to the Calderwood Lake power house.  This road passes by the original location of the a community called Calderwood which was raised by Alcoa Company.  All that's left of the town are sidewalks and some old foundations.  There are other blog entries that pertain to the old town and I won't go into history here.

We drove out onto the peninsula where the old ferry boat ramp still existed that took folks across the Little Tennessee River and later Chilhowee Lake to the extravagant lodge called Scona that The Alcoa Company built back in 1934.  
Scona Lodge sat directly across the lake and dead center in the shot below.  The two tall pine trees border the ferry landing across the lake.  The lodge sat directly behind the landing.  By the way - those two pine trees are in reality wooden towers that held the ferry cables.  They are now covered with kudzu and appear as pines.  I did a piece on Scona Lodge on this blog and will not enter into any historical aspects of that fabulous place.

It's hard to believe that a 9 hole golf course covered that entire shoreline that you see below back in the 1950's.  

We continued up 129 until we came to Cheoah Dam and Calderwood Lake.  I was lovin this area.  Janet was very impressed with the beauty of the area.

 Above and below are all views of Calderwood Lake from the shoreline.  (The jewel of North Carolina and Tennessee)
Below is a shot of Calderwood Dam from Route 129 which winds down the spine of the mountain all the way to Robinsville, North Carolina.
The shots that follow were taken from the shoreline of Calderwood Lake.

The waters of Cheoah Lake flow over the Cheoah Dam into Calderwood Lake.  Cheoah Dam is the oldest dam in Tennessee.  Construction on the dam started in 1916 and the dam was completed in 1919.  It is 225 feet high and was the world's highest "overflow" dam.  It also is the oldest dam in the state of Tennessee.
You may remember the movie "The Fugitive."  Cheoah Dam is the dam that Harrison Ford leaped from in that film.
I have to admit that this dam looks rather fragile compared to the newer dams that were built in the more current times.
We continued down Route 129 South until we arrived at the right turn that put us on the road to Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest.
The Joyce Kilmer story is an amazing adventure.  He is the kind of man I would have liked to spend a lot of time with.  His life was ended prematurely and the story can be acquired by searching for him on Wickapedia.  Did you ever have to remember the poem below?  I had to in 4th grade.
Again - I won't dwell on the Joyce Kilmer story as I covered that issue in a previous blog.  We drove until we connected to the Cherohala Skyway and turned right in order to head toward Tellico Plains, Tennessee.  The views were spectacular but, the leaves are not projecting brilliant colors as they should at this time of year.  I know not why.

My God - It's beautiful up here.  Sweet smells, no noise, wind and sun on one's face and a mind that's clear and uncluttered.  That's that the Cherolala does to a person.

No - there are no photographs that can convey the absolute perfection of the wilderness but, the photographs are simply captured images of immediate visions we are subjected to as we wind our way along the road that touches the sky.  Those images compel us to reflect on the hardships of settlers who came before us -  the pioneers who dared to tempt fate and pit their personal intensities against the then, impenetrable wilderness and, carve out lives that would have the result of creating the foundation of a nation - a nation that would later be known as The United States Of America.