The Great Smoky Mountain Railway
An Appalachian Adventure
October 22 - 27, 2006
This Elderhostel travel adventure was held at the Ramada Lake Chatuge
motel at Hiawassee, Georgia. The week was perfect for an Elderhostel
held in Georgia. The Appalachian mountains were in full fall colors.
On the drive down to Georgia on Route 81 is was mile after mile
of beautiful fall hues. I took two days to drive the 900 plus miles.
Sunny skies and fall colors made the drive most pleasant.
While driving to along, I passed a sign pointing toward
Jonesborough, Tennessee. I had plenty of time before my scheduled arrival at the Hiawassee,
so off I went to Jonesborough. As you can see the town was decked out for fall celebrations.
Jonesborough is the Washington County seat. Above is the Court House.
Jonesborough is a community like Owego, with many small shops offering
everything from antiques to more modern items found in their hardware store.
It is also the home of the International Story Telling Center.
The association has a very attractive headquarters building in downtown Jonesborough.
The drive through the Tennessee and Georgia countryside was beautiful.
This photo was taken at a highway overlook in Georgia.
A high flying Old Glory greeted me at the Hiawassee Ramada Inn.
It felt good to be at the site of my Elderhostel after two long days of driving.
Our first evening of the week was taken up with dinner
and the usual program orientation meeting.
On Monday morning, we were on the bus early for a drive to Murphy, North Carolina.
Where we visited the local history museum. There was a very topical collection
of the history of the Murphy area. The director Wanda Stalcup was a very
knowledgeable local historian. She shared her personal family history along
with many jokes that represented the local area humor. Note that the museum
shares the building with the local police department.
The afternoon program was a visit to the local "Folk School".
It is a neat school to visit. I found out that the school has a varied
curriculum focusing on many art forms. I want to return to the
school to take a course in making Kaleidoscopes.
Some of the building that houses the various studios and workshops of the school.
The courses offered were typically for either a weekend or week long period.
Tuesday started off sunny but was quite cool morning.
We were on the bus for a trip to the Museum of the Cherokee Indian.
This photo was taken at a highway overlook above the valley where
the Little Tennessee River flows.
The entrance to the Cherokee Museum located at Cherokee, North Carolina.
The museum had terrific displays and information about the
Cherokee Indians and there struggles.
A large totem in front of the museum.
This museum exhibit represents the Emmesaries of Peace in 1762.
There were several very well displayed murals and dioramas of the
history of the Cherokee Indians in the museum.
After our visit to the Cherokee Museum, we went to a picnic area in the nearby
Great Smoky Mountains National Park for our bag lunch.
Above is the visitors center at the national park.
When the park was created in the 1920's and 1930's largely from private lands,
many buildings of varied construction stood there. In the 1930 the
National Park Service decided to save mostly the log buildings. Today there is a
replica of a working farm at the visitors center. Above is a photo of the farm house.
The corn patch at the farm.
Standing in front of one of the storage buildings on the farm.
A beautiful sunset brought our day of touring and study to a close!
On Wednesday morning, we were bussed to one of the crossings of the
Appalachian Trail for a morning hike. We were on the trail for a couple of hours.
It was a neat experience.
Here is proof that I was on the trail!
The afternoon was free time for our group.
I did some local exploring before our evening
program about "Railroads in the Smokies".
Thursday morning, started early for our group. It was on the bus by 6:45 am
for our trip to Bryson City, North Carolina where we would board the
Great Smoky Mountains Railroad for our train ride of the week.
Our excursion was to take us from Bryson City along the Tuckasegee River,
across the Fontana Lake Trestle and into the Nantahala River gorge.
The train was waiting patiently for our departure. All A Board!
Our train was made up of 2 locomotives and 9 passenger cars.
The trip would take 4 1/2 Hours and a 44 mile round trip.
We had a bag lunch stop at the Nantahala Outdoor Center.
Fontana Lake provided many great picture opportunities.
These are summer house boats. The lake is drawn down to
provide for winter water run off.
Note the high water marks on these bridge abutments.
The lake is much higher in the summer.
A beautiful fall day to go fishing on Fontana Lake.
Winding our way to Nantahala Outdoor Center.
A small waterfall on the bank of the Nantahala River.
River rapids near the outdoor center.
This is part of the 2003 Olympics Kayak course near the outdoor center.
The Nantahala River is a very popular spot to do white water rafting.
Rounding a tight curve heading back to Bryson City. The fall colors were
wonderful and it has been a great Elderhostel Program week. I have made new friends
and enjoyed the scenery in this section of the USA.