Owen Link McConnell liked the Unicoi and Snowbird mountains so much, he wrote a book about them. And not just any book, but a reference guide for the region.
Unicoi Unity: A Natural History of the Unicoi and Snowbird Mountains and Their Plants, Fungi, and Animals, is a comprehensive natural history book about this particular line of mountains that straddle the North Carolina-Tennessee state line immediately south of the Great Smoky Mountains.
The book integrates McConnell’s experiential knowledge of the Unicois (gleaned over 49 years) with research findings from numerous scientific studies and includes 167 of his color photographs. The Unicoi and Snowbird mountains harbor some of the most pristine places in the Southeast, including the never-cut Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest, four wilderness areas within two national forests and the popular Cherohala Skyway scenic byway, which winds 42 miles along high mountain ridges through the heart of the Unicois. McConnell earned a minor in zoology and a B.S. and Ph.D. in psychology at Duke University. He served on the clinical psychology faculty of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for 30 years and was also director of Psychological Services at the Children’s Psychiatric Institute at Butner.
His exploration of the Unicoi Mountains began in 1964 when he began camping there during summer vacations with his wife, Pat, and two young sons. The couple purchased land in 1971 in the Unicois on West Buffalo Creek; and, after retiring in 1990, McConnell built a cabin there. For more than 50 years he has kept records of plants, mushrooms and animals that he and others have found in the Unicois. The book is published by AuthorHouse.