An outdoor author who embarked on a modern day pilgrimage to follow in the footsteps of William Bartram, a naturalist and explorer in the region more than two centuries ago, will talk about his journey during a special program at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 14, at the Macon County Library in Franklin.
Jim Kautz, author of Footprints Across the South: Bartram’s Trail Revisited, will give a talk called “What I Learned Following William Bartram Across the South” being sponsored by the North Carolina Bartram Trail Society.
Bartram explored the frontier from North Carolina to Louisiana just prior to the American Revolution, capturing the landscape and its inhabitants with eloquent descriptions.
Kautz set out to retrace that route — over the course of five years, 15,000 miles and seven states — comparing then to now and the historical, environmental and cultural occurrences that had occurred since. He tramped trails, paddled and motored rivers and streams, and interviewed dozens of residents, scientists, and community leaders in revisiting Bartram’s trail.
“Bartram’s writings give us a benchmark,” he says. “I found a few spots that have changed little in 230 years. A modern traveler can easily imagine the Cherokee town of Cowee in quiet pastureland and rows of corn beside the Little Tennessee River…. On the other hand, environmentalists struggle to restore the health of lands and streams that Bartram found lush and thriving.”