November 26, 2011

Preserving Traditional Ways

Cades Cove is the most heavily visited destination within Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and we did experience the traffic this morning.  It’s a beautiful part of the park and well worth seeing, however.  The area is known for its collection of historic pioneer churches and cabins, as well as its wildlife.  We didn’t see a bear, but there were wild turkeys and deer, whose presence caused major traffic jams.

Cades Cove

Cades Cove Primitive Baptist Church
We stopped at one of the churches and walked through the historic cemetery.  My favorite stop, however, was the visitor center where a sorghum molasses making demonstration was taking place.  Talk about bringing back fond memories of food!  I love sorghum molasses, especially with butter on hot biscuits.  That’s what my grandmother used to serve for breakfast when we visited them in North Carolina.

The demonstration here showed the traditional way of making sorghum molasses.  The sorghum stalks were being crushed in a mill that was being turned by a mule walking around in a circle.  The juice was then extracted and then boiled and evaporated into syrup.  Of course, I had to buy a pint.  I just hope the glass jar never breaks in the RV.  I can’t imagine the mess that would make.

The Mule Powers the Mill

Boiling the Syrup
Touring the Cable Mill historic area around the visitor center provided insight into the way the early settlers of the area lived.  Those who lived in Cades Cove were largely self-sufficient.  It must have been a difficult existence.

Cable Mill, a water-powered grist mill that still grinds corn into cornmeal, is the only building on its original site.  Interesting farm structures represent a typical mountain community and have either been relocated here or reconstructed.  All structures are log, with the exception of the frame house.

Cable Mill

Smokehouse and Gregg-Cable House

Cantilever Barn

Corn Crib and Gear Shed

Two-Pen Barn
The National Park Service is developing a long-range management plan for Cades Cove, and I can’t quite imagine the challenge that this area poses.  Preservation of historic structures which are being defacing with graffiti, traffic control and the reintroduction of native plants are just a few of the issues that must be addressed.

Graffiti Is a Constant Threat

Education Is One Way to Combat Graffiti

Native Plant Demonstration Plot
Our drive back through the park over Newfound Gap Road was almost as pretty as yesterday’s drive.  It was a bit more hazy, but there was less traffic, and the drive was more relaxing.  Tim and I both agreed that the visit to Great Smoky Mountains National Park was definitely worth it

View from Newfound Gap


  1. Your pictures of the Smokies are just beautiful! Terrbile about the graffiti. We had someone spray paint their name up high on the rocks at Nelson.. What are people thinking?? LV

  2. LV, Thanks so much for the compliment. It's such a beautiful park. I'm so sorry to hear about the graffiti at Nelson. Unfortunately, this isn't the first instance of graffiti we've encountered. Sarah