Friday, November 29, 2013

AN HISTORICAL TRAVESTY

Thomas Gist had been traveling on the Eastern Frontier for over a month now.  He left the land that lies East of the Blue Ridge Mountain chain and followed the Warriors Path that guided travelers through Indian Gap, the one deep cut in the mountains that permitted access to the Eastern Frontier beyond.  The country was wild and dangerous as it was inhabited by Shawnee, Chickasaw and the most feared Cherokee Indian tribes.  Although the Chickasaw tribes were primarily located further North - they have been pushing against the Cherokee and Shawnee for years in order to seize more territory for hunting.  The Cherokees had successfully held the line on their Southern movement and at times pushed them back to their roots in Kane-tuk (Kentucky).  There was no more tribe in existence who fought harder against encroachment into their territory than the Cherokee - feared by all..

Gist crossed the mountains at Indian Gap and followed along the base of the mountain in a Southerly direction.  He struck the Tsiskua-Uweya (bird water) and followed it in a Southerly direction until he came upon a place where it intersected with another creek (Walden Creek).  He had not been this far South on this side of the mountain chain displayed concern as he noticed signs of heavy Indian travel everywhere near this confluence of water.  He thought he heard chopping sounds above the sound of the water in the streams.  He couldn't quite believe what he was hearing.  He followed the sounds and dropped down on his knees , he crawled to the edge of the forest where a small clearing appeared.  His eyes opened wide in disbelief at what he saw.  There, in the clearing alongside the stream was what appeared to be the beginning of a fort. (present day Sevierville City Park.) Three walls were already erected in log cabin fashion, posts laid horizontally on top each other.  A parapet was already constructed along the top of one wall. A man was using a draw knife to level the base of a log which laid across two huge tree stumps. Chopping sounds could be herd emanating from the forest behind him.

Thomas Gist stood up as tall as he could, laid his rifle in the crook of his left arm in order to present a formidable picture of self assurance and walked directly toward the laboring individual working on the log.    As he approached he raised his voice and said, "A friend approaches.  A friend approaches."  Gist noticed that thousands of pigeons took flight from the hardwoods that lined the creeks.  There were so many that the limbs of the trees sagged under their weight.   Although the sun was high in the sky - their passing created the appearance of dusk for the longest time.

The laborer was startled by this intrusion and arose, reaching for the long rifle that stood close by near his work.

"No need for concern friend!  No need, Gist exclaimed.  I happened upon you quite by accident and heard the noise you were making a mile away.  Have you no respect for quiet?  You will if the Cherokee discover you.  Thomas Gist is my name and I scout for the 42nd Foot."

The worker stood, extended his hand and replied, "Samuel Wear, and welcome sir."

Samuel Wear was an entrepreneur of that day and was aware that French traders were vying for possession of the territories that lay South on the frontier.  He had discovered this spot where the creeks joined two years ago and saw the potential for a trading post and fort at this location.  Beaver, otter, deer, bear and elk were plentiful and the English and French were both interested in extending their range over the Blue Ridge ranges.  He would be the first to cash in on this rush for fortune.  The fur trade never panned out and Wear plied his skills to agriculture.  The Cherokees burned his fort down twice and Wear nearly lost his life.  What could he expect by building a fort and trying to settle land that lay directly on the Warrior's Path?  He had heard that pioneer settlers who cleared land on the Southern end of the Blue Ridge were all burned out and the white folks killed in the most savage way. He though of giving up but persevered.   Little did Samuel Wear realize that he would partake in the great revolution that would take place in later years.

The Cherokees were devils and hated the Whites, killing them without mercy where ever they found them.  

Another pioneer appeared in the area and built his own fort.  His name was Robert Shields, a settler.  His fort sat on the banks of Middle Creek where present day Dollywood resides.  Mr. Weir was getting neighbors.

The Cherokees were viscous in their warfare against the Whites and Wear had had enough.  He gathered a contingent of pioneers and settlers in the area and with them, struck out toward the offending Cherokees.  They would teach them a lesson.  Together they moved in a clandestine fashion toward the mountains that lay to the South West known as Chillhowee.  It was there that the Overhill Cherokees resided alongside a river of unknown name other than Scona, which means land across the water.  The year was 1793 when Wear launched 60 angry settlers and scouts against the Overhill village totally destroying it.  The village burnt to the ground and almost half the occupants were killed.  They relished their success and happily returned to their valley, now considered Wear's Valley.  Little did they know of the monster they awakened in their attack on that village.  But, that's another story.  The Overhills would see their village burned and destroyed yet one more time in the distant future.  The second time was an attack by John Sevier.

A treaty between the Whites and Cherokees was signed in 1785 at a place called Dumplin Creek and releaved the tension between the two combatant groups.  The way was now open to other setters who desired land through government grants from the now state of North Carolina.

Settlers came and went over the coming years.  More went than stayed due to the extreme difficulty of eking out a living in this rather savage area.  The Cherokees still created problems for the settlers and many just couldn't deal with the unknown nature of the Indian affair.

A man named Isaac Love appeared on the scene in 1820 and built an iron forge.  His labors provided much needed equipment needed to till the soil, build weapons and provide the iron that would help open up the area in the future.  Shortly after, a general store appeared and a year later yet another. Two churches were built and a genuine community was born.  Settlers still came to take advantage of the free land granted by North Carolina if they would only clear the land and create establishments.  The village needed a name and ideas were bantered about.  Tsiskua-Uweya, bird water - pigeons on the water.  That was important. The iron forge was a catalyst for settlement.  Alright - the community would be called Pigeon Forge.  The first residential property was sold in 1946.

And there you have the long of it.

As you may know I am not fond of Pigeon Forge due to the direction the town has chosen to evolve.  Long lost is the heritage of the place.  Nothing points to it's proud historic past.  Instead the town has been guided on a path much desirous of wealth and has cast out the lustrous memories of the past.  There are no historic places saved in the name of historical pride.  There is very little mention of how the place was created or founded.  A roadside marker may be found here and there along the six lane highway that leads through Pigeon Forge guiding millions of tourists through town to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.  There are no original building saved for posterity.  In their place are tourist attractions that whet the appetite of out of state tourists to stop and spend their money in town.  The tourists jamb the roads to the point of stopping all six lanes of traffic in both directions.  The traffic jambs are common place and expected on a daily basis - all day long.  The people who live in the town can not even use the roads for their own travel that their taxes built.  It's shameful.  Beautiful farm land has been replaced by bumper cars, zip lines and water slides.  I've assembled some slides below to lend a flavor of what to expect in Pigeon Forge.  If it's your bag - go for it.  I think it's a despicable display of greed and a tarnish on the great people who originally settled here.  All those settlers in the beginning lay on their stomachs in their graves because they've all turned over at what they see today.  Enough.  
The pictures are snapshots taken through the windshield of my truck as I can not set foot in that town.  It sickens me.
These signs are along the 6 lane highway coming into Sevierville.  They tease the tourist about what to expect in Pigeon Forge.


Below is an example of the forever job of constructing and repairing the 6 lane highway through town.  I've never seen any completion efforts on this road.  It continues year to year to year.  Not enough money I guess.
By the way - guess what the revenue is for Pigeon Forge on an annual basis.  Foolish question.  How would you even begin to guess.  Here, I'll tell ya.  $809,026,590.  Pigeon Forge thanks you for your stupidity, or, I mean your patronage.  



 Up for a helicopter ride?
Oh, you're coming into Pigeon Forge now.


 This mind reading dog must be something.  Sign after sign.


 Above and below is a giant water slide.  It sits along the 6 lane road to tempt tourists.  Are all you folks that gullible?


 Look at the building below.  Yep - it's built upside down.  A tribute to the past I guess.
 Ah, the Hatfields and McCoys.  It's a name that no one knows about but has heard since childhood.  Requires reading to learn about those family names.  But, it makes a good joke in the restaurant and the Comedy Barn.  It seems that this town makes a joke out of history.  Rural people are portrayed as ignorant back woods dunces on road signs and in the joke houses. Historical figures are presented in humorous stories to gain a laugh from the paying tourists.  Shameful!
 Below is the Titanic.  Yep.  Really!

 Look carefully at the shot below.  You're seeing right.  That's a thousand ton, hunnert foot high, monster gorilla on top that skyscraper.  He's even holding a biplane in one hand.
There he is again.  He's a blast from Pigeon Forges past.  Yep.  Very rustic.

 Disgraceful!

 And yet again!
Across the street are the zip lines and the Whippet Ride where a mechanical sling shot machine launches the unsuspecting tourist 600 feet straight up in the air where he is unceremoniously left to linger for a brief moment and allowed to plunge into the city park to his death.


You get the idea by now.  I can't write anymore.  My fingers refuse to type the descriptive words any longer.  So, my friends and tourists - if this is your idea of visiting Tennessee to enjoy her beauty - have at it.  If you live in Pigeon Forge my heart goes out to you but, you allowed it to happen to you.  Enjoy your decision.  It all proves out a point that a Southerner told me years and years ago.

He said, "you Northerners come down here with all yer money and flaunt it all around us poor, dumb country folk but, when you go back home yer wallet will be a lot lighter than when ya came."

How true, how true...