Kephart Prong Trail has a unique story

I like visiting those sites here in the Smokies region where there is what I think of as an “overlay.” That is, places where both natural and human history commingle. At such places, one encounters the confluence of all or several of the major strands in the region’s natural and cultural fabric: wild areas, plants, and animals; early Cherokee and pioneer settlement influences; and the impacts of the modern era, initiated here primarily with the coming of the railroad in the late 19th century. At such places the alert observer can experience what the French have defined as “frisson” — a moment of excitement and insight that arises when various forces coalesce.

Gift of the Mountains: Rooted in the Mountains connects Cherokee past and global future

It was an hour and a half after sunrise, and the day’s first rays had not yet touched Judaculla Rock, hidden away in a hollow near Caney Fork in Jackson County. 

“I would encourage you to come back at different times,” T.J. Holland, cultural resources supervisor for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, told the group assembled around him. “It’s one of these fascinating things — time of the year, time of day, weather all affects how this looks, and I’ve not been here twice that I’ve not seen something different.”

Fontana Regional reflects on 75 years

What started as a traveling bookmobile 75 years ago has now evolved into a regional system of six library branches. Together they are striving to provide a broad range of services to their communities while defending their relevance in a changing society. 

“I think we need libraries for a lot of reasons,” said Karen Wallace, who serves as the librarian at the Franklin library and also as the director of Fontana Regional Library System. “We always try to respond to the needs in the communities. Where is the lifelong learning coming from if not from a public source like the library?”

To the moon and back: Astronaut discusses the Space Age’s past and future at WCU

There are a few moments in history that every American alive at the time remembers in crisp detail. The assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The first moon landing. The terrorist attacks of September 11. 

All three bore significance during astronaut Charlie Duke’s visit to Western Carolina University last week, on the 18th anniversary of the twin towers’ collapse. Two years before his death in November 1963, Kennedy changed the course of American history when he pledged during a May 1961 speech that the United States would put a man on the moon by the end of the decade. NASA met that challenge with just over four months to spare when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first people to set foot on the lunar surface, on July 20, 1969. 

Ancient Cherokees found protection from the cold

Editor’s note: This article first appeared in a September 2002 edition of The Smoky Mountain News.

It’s only late summer but I’m already thinking about winter. We have heated and cooked with wood for quarter of a century now, so having a supply of kindling and firewood on hand has always been a priority. 

The untold story: Smokies seeks to showcase history of African-Americans in the park

Many plotlines weave through the story of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, but if the park were a book, some of those plotlines be written in bold, with others buried in small type. 

“We probably go overboard in telling the story of the white Appalachian settlers to this area,” said Susan Sachs, the park’s acting chief of resource education. “We do a better job of telling the stories of the Cherokee, but there’s still a lot of room for improvement. But then when it comes to the African-American story, we know that we are failing there.”

Book has important lessons, links to bygone era

In Ancient Rome, the Senate awarded a general who had won a great victory with a triumph, a parade that included the loot, captives, and slaves won for Rome. During this celebration a slave stood in the chariot behind the victorious general, holding a gold crown above his head and whispering throughout the event, “Remember, thou too are mortal.”

Through Spain, frame by frame: Camino de Santiago offers a long-distance walk steeped in history

The more you know about the Camino de Santiago, the harder it is to define. 

The simple explanation is that it’s a walking path that travels through Spain. But in reality that description is a mix of truth and fiction. 

If these stones could talk: Friends work to restore Bryson City Cemetery

It’s quiet and peaceful on the hillside of Bryson City Cemetery. Overlooking the hustle and bustle of downtown, all you can hear are birds chirping and the freshly cut grass crunching underneath your feet, but if those old stones could talk they’d have some stories to tell. 

A stirring story of America’s push west

Sometimes we open a book, slip into its pages, and find ourselves the recipients of three wonderful gifts: information and enlightenment, lively prose, and a great story.

The Pioneers: The Heroic Story of the Settlers Who Brought the American Ideal West (Simon & Schuster, 2019, 330 pages) grants all three gifts to its readers.

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