Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Out With the Old (Naughty Developers)

Shortly after the $100,000,000 Village of Penland development collapsed back in the spring of 2007, I started posting stories on the fiasco in Mitchell County. It didn’t take long to recognize that many of the players in the VOP scandal were also involved in the Grandfather Vistas development in Caldwell County. Of course, several have gone on to plead guilty to federal charges in connection with their fraudulent activities in Mitchell County.

In the summer of 2007, I filed a boots-on-the-ground report from Grandfather Vistas, which was almost as undeveloped and eerily quiet as Penland…when the luxury second-home market was still (barely) alive elsewhere. I understood that litigation had been filed over Grandfather Vistas - between the Peerless partners who were also behind the Penland development – and some South Carolinians marketing the GV project, namely Lee Farthing and Steve Rayburn.

I knew that the banks were out on a limb, having financed overpriced lots at Grandfather Vistas, though not to the extent they had at Village of Penland. It struck me as odd that we would hear about criminal wrongdoing at Village of Penland, but not at Grandfather Vistas. I guessed that the banks had written off VOP as a lost cause (for which they DID eat tens of millions of dollars in bad loans) but held out some hope that the Grandfather Vistas project might be salvageable. Indeed, First Charter Bank was quick to release a statement in July 2007 that while they were taking a beating at Penland, everything was okey-dokey at Grandfather. http://www.bizjournals.com/charlotte/stories/2007/07/23/story12.html

I had my doubts. Whatever the truth of the matter might be, Grandfather Vistas was under the radar for the past year or more.

But GV has popped up again.

I opened my inbox today to find a link to a story on the Courthouse News Service website, a news aggregator aimed at lawyers. The following was posted on there:

Infinity Real Estate Partners and others cheated 70 people of $22 million in "Grandfather Vistas at Blowing Rock," a development that was fraudulently appraised and never developed, the investors claim in Mecklenburg County Court, Charlotte, N.C.

Here are the defendants in the Infinity Real Estate case: Infinity Partners LLC; Infinity Real Estate Partners LLC; Prudential Source One; Source One Communities LLC; Peerless Real Estate Services Inc.; Blue River Ridge at Blowing Rock LLC; Grandfather Vistas LLC; Anthony Porter; Frank Amelung; J. Kevin Foster; Neil O'Rourke; William Murdock Jr.; Brian Kiser; Jeff Collins; Constitution Law Assoc. nka Nexsen Pruet PLLC; A. Greg Anderson; Anderson & Assoc.; First Charter Bank of NC nka Fifth Third Bank NA; Wachovia Corp.; Suntrust Banks Inc.; Lee Farthing; Steve Rayburn; C. Ashley Campbell; Philip Walton; James Rothrock; and Rothrock Engineering.
http://www.courthousenews.com/2008/12/30/New_Complaints.htm

As a footnote, I should mention that Donald Trump was toying with the idea of partnering with Infinity on a mega-development in downtown Charlotte...but that was early 2007, and I have no idea whether that materialized or not.

I’ve reposted several Grandfather Vistas items, and the easiest way to access them is to click the "Grandfather Vistas" label at the end of this post.

Closer to home, I have no idea who "turnerkaleeb" might be or why he runs the Stated Income Loan blog, but give him an article from the Smoky Mountain News and some shoddy translation software and you get the following, which I post for its literary merit rather than any new revelations about Domenic Rabuffo’s Little Italy on Big Ridge. But it is the first time I’ve heard of a "defective sporting house" up on the mountain, "prompting the bank to up its arouse now":

Thirteen characteristic owners accused of falsifying their incomes to capture domicile construction loans in the doubtful Big Ridge increase outside Cashiers at sea an appeal in Jackson County Superior Court on Friday. Each of the holdings owners lied about their takings to get a $1.5 million construction accommodation from SunTrust bank, according to court records. By inflating their incomes on their advance applications, it constituted a fault on their mortgages, entitling SunTrust to proceed with foreclosures, Superior Court Judge James Downs ruled.

The bank was also responsible that extension on the construction of the homes was not emotional along adequately and even alluded that the attribute owners were using the ready money from their construction loans for other things. Some houses are not even underway yet.

While the riches owners have kept up with the payments on their loans to date, the bank expressed upset they could destruction behind in the future. If so, the bank would have to foreclose on an defective sporting house good less than what it loaned out, prompting the bank to up its arouse now. Jay Pavey, a Sylva attorney representing the 13 quirk owners, said he does not identify if the suitcase will be appealed again to the North Carolina Court of Appeals.

New York City attorney Gavin Scotti also represented the quality owners. His claim hinged on the happening that the bank gave his clients non-income verification loans. Non-income verification loans make allowance someone to apply a credit without having to show test of income.

Scotti said it is "deceptive" for the bank to over the borrowers’ non-income verification loans and then limitation their incomes. Moreover, he said the bank was powerless to substantiate that the borrowers did not cook the profit they said they made. He said the bank was unmistakably unqualified to warrant how much they made.

Scotti also said the borrowers may have other sources of income, such as assets, that they did not divulge. And the borrowers were making all the rate payments on the loans, he said. The bank countered that even though the loans were non-income verification loans, it still had a repay to demonstrate the incomes.

"The borrower has to be sincere on the application, and they were not," Cary Mudge, foible president of SunTrust’s Special Assets Division testified. "I feel they committed fraud." Several months after the loans were issued Mudge sent a line to the 13 borrowers in November 2007 asking them to prove their incomes because the discrepancies were found, but none of them responded.

Attorney for SunTrust Robert Imperial of Raleigh told the court it is "ludicrous" for the bank to resume funding the loans when the chattels owners don’t calculate enough gain to stipend them off. "I consider it’s ease for the court to end this charade," Imperial said. Mudge testified that the funds were to be occupied for construction purposes only, and attorney Imperial went as far as to rephrase that some of the affluence from the loans went into the borrowers’ pockets. Scotti said there is no criterion of that.

In some cases the borrowers had a cooperative bank report with Rabuffo. Imperial said that none of the homes have been completed and some not even started. Who’s in charge? Rabuffo appears to be distancing himself from the project, and some are saying he is no longer knotty in the maturity at all.

According to Pavey, Rabuffo is the "project manager" for the development. Ray Olivier, who says he is overseeing the fling as president of D&R Mountain Contractors of Glenville, says Rabuffo is not the developer. "He’s (Rabuffo) doing nothing on it anymore," Olivier said. "He cast-off to be an advisor. He’s got nothing to do with the enterprise at this point." Pavey said the developer is Rob Hampton and Rabuffo’s ex-wife Mae Rabuffo. Olivier said the at the rear he heard was that Hampton is a pupil at the University of Florida. Rabuffo declined comment.

Another lawsuit

In another court state tied up to the development, Rabuffo is being sued by Mack Industries of Ohio for without to discharge for the construction of a wastewater curing plant. The lawsuit charges that Mack Industries entered a pucker with Blue Ridge Properties and MOD Engineering "for the provide of erection materials and services for the repair of property."

The lawsuit states that Rabuffo is the unique shareholder of Blue Ridge and MOD and that the understanding was breached when pay wasn’t made. The lawsuit states that the defendants be beholden to the plaintiffs $308,827.

The borrowers

• Greg and Melissa Schuetz of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.: They stated in their allowance relevance that they had a monthly gain of $25,000 a month with Greg Schuetz’s pain as a proper organize with Chapman Corp. Chapman wouldn’t ally how much Schuetz made, but a emolument assay on Salary.com indicated that non-military engineers in the Fort Lauderdale zone put together between $51,000 and $77,000 a year. They be indebted to SunTrust $593,953.

• Jeffrey Sykes of Dunedin, Fla.: Sykes said he made $29,000 a month on his loan application, but the bank discovered that he made $8,500 a month.

The bank contacted Sykes who said he pink that concern and was currently employed with Sterling Payment Technologies making $5,750 a month. He owes SunTrust $557,576.

http://statedincomeloan.blogspot.com/http://statedincomeloan.blogspot.com/

He-Balsam and She-Balsam


He-Balsam (red spruce) on left, She-Balsam (Fraser fir) on right.

How can you tell a he-balsam from a she-balsam?

Several months ago I related a yarn spun by Wiley Oakley, the Roamin’ Man of the Mountains. Oakley had spoofed some unsuspecting visitors by convincing them that potatoes grew from the roots of the balsam tree, but he was quick to qualify that statement:

Only the she-balsams growed potatoes. Us mountain people call the spruce 'he-balsam,' and the mountain balsam we call 'she-balsam.'

I’ve heard of he-balsams and she-balsams for many years, although fewer and fewer people use those terms to describe the conifers growing on our tallest mountains. In Our Southern Highlanders, Horace Kephart expanded on the confusing botanical nomenclature of the Southern Appalachians:

What the mountaineers call hemlock is the shrub leucothoe. The hemlock tree is named spruce-pine, while spruce is he-balsam, balsam itself is she-balsam, laurel is ivy, and rhododendron is laurel. In some places pine needles are called twinkles.

Twinkles? That’s one I’d never heard.


He-Balsam (red spruce)



She-Balsam (Fraser fir)

Back to he and she, though. To put it as simply as possible, the red spruce is the he-balsam, while the Fraser fir is the she-balsam. Donald Culross Peattie, in A Natural History of Trees of Eastern and Central North America, explained the origin of the names:

The mountain people recognize the intimate association of the Spruce and Fir by calling them respectively the He-Balsam and the She –Balsam. Observing that the Fir has swollen blisters of resin under the bark, they fancifully compared them to breasts filled with milk; hence the She-Balsam. And supposing that a mate must be found for the She-Balsam and noting that its companion tree had no resin blisters, they named it the He-Balsam.

Near the highest point of the Blue Ridge Parkway, you’ll find the trail to the summit of Richland Balsam Mountain. A trail guide offers another distinction between he and she:

The term "Balsam" is commonly applied to Fraser Fir and Red Spruce by Southern Highlanders. The spruce, with its rough bark and prickly needles like a man's beard, is sometimes called "He-Balsam", while the smooth barked fir with its shiny flat needles is called "She-Balsam."

It is easy to overlook the differences, but after a little time spent becoming familiar with these trees, their respective identities become more recognizable. Peattie provides a method other than appearance to distinguish the trees:

To tell the "He" from "She," when you find yourself among these two companion trees, crush the needles in your finges and discover the two distinct odors - the orange-rind aroma of the Spruce, and the balsam-pillow smell of the Fir.


He-Balsam (red spruce)



She-Balsam (Fraser fir)


Another clue for differentiating the trees is to look for their cones. On the spruce, or he-balsam, the cones hang down from the limbs, while on the fir, or she-balsam, the cones rise from the limbs.

In Southern Wild Flowers and Trees, Alice Lounsberry makes the point that the designations of "he" and "she" have nothing to do with the reproductive systems of the trees:

It is a strange conceit of the mountaineers in the Alleghanies to call this tree the " He Balsam," a name indiscriminately applied by them to both the black spruce and the red spruce, P. rubens, which grows in southern Virginia. And thinking perhaps that it should have a mate of their choosing they call the beautiful silver fir, the " She Balsam.'' The spruces bear, however, on the same tree both staminate and pistillate flowers, a fact perhaps not appreciated when these vernacular names were bestowed.

Lounsberry commented on the uses of each tree:

Long ago, also, the Indians taught the Europeans to boil the young twigs [of the red spruce or he-balsam] with honey and use the extract in a brew which produces spruce beer….

The clear and thin liquid, balsam, as it is called, which exudes from the blisters on the trunk and tips of the branches [of the Fraser fir or she-balsam], is regarded as useful by the natives to cure cuts and sores…


She-Balsam (Fraser fir)


In Heart of the Alleghanies, Zeigler and Grosscup described a walk through a spruce-fir forest:

We now reached the edge of the great forests of the balsam firs,—forests which mantle nearly every peak above 6,000 feet in altitude in North Carolina. The balsam is one of the most beautiful of evergreens. When transplanted, as it is occasionally, to the valleys of this region, it forms an ornamental tree of marked appearance, with its dark green, almost black, foliage, its straight, tapering trunk and symmetrical body. In the rich dark soil in some of the lofty mountain gaps it attains to a height of 150 feet, and in certain localities growing so thickly together as to render it almost impossible for the hunters to follow the bear through its forests. It is of two sorts, differing in many particulars, and termed the black and white or male and female balsams.

Every grove is composed of both black and white balsams, and no single tree is widely separated from its opposite sex. The black balsam has a rougher bark, more ragged limbs, and darker foliage than the white. The latter is more ornamental, with its straight-shooting branches and smooth trunk; it bears blisters containing an aromatic resinous substance of peculiar medicinal properties. A high price is paid for this balsam of firs, but it seems that the price is not in proportion to the amount of time and labor necessary to be expended in puncturing the blisters for their contents, for very little of it is procured by the mountaineers. It covers every high pinnacle of the Balsam mountains. On some slopes however, extending only a few hundred yards down from the top before blending, and disappearing into the deciduous forests; but on other slopes, like those descending to the west prongs of the Pigeon, it reaches downward for miles from the summit of the mountains, forming the wildest of wooded landscapes.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Wild Geese and Snowy Peaks

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
-From
Wild Geese, by Mary Oliver



It was cold and cloudy the other evening while I was walking across campus. I heard something faint and distant. Was it the call of geese in flight? Or was it the rhythmic complaint of an HVAC compressor needing maintenance?

For a moment, I wasn’t sure. So I stopped to listen and to watch. Gradually, the sound got louder, and I saw emerging from the clouds a double-vee of wild geese. There must have been two dozen in the formation. I was spellbound...while a busy world continued with its business all around me.

Sometimes, the absurdity of what passes for "normal life" is just too much. Waiting in line at the dollar store today, I saw a display for…get this…Hannah Montana Hand Sanitizer. That’s almost as funny as the Barack Obama Commemorative Plate they’re hawking on the tele:

His confident smile and kind eyes are an inspiration to us all.

I'll buy that, but my favorite part of the commercial is when the announcer assures us:

YES YOU CAN…own a piece of history.

Priceless!



By the way, if you’re looking for a gift idea this Christmas you could do worse than logging on to http://www.victoryplate.com/

Beats the hell out of Hannah Montana Hand Sanitizer!

Anyhow, before I got distracted, I was trying to say how easy it is to get distracted.

Take, for instance, this shot of Main Street. Aesthetically, it’s not much, but I do think it illustrates the challenge of finding our place in the family of things. It's easy to muddle along in the mainstream and fail to see the treasures right in front of us.


Even if normal life doesn't leave much room for them, even if they're easy to ignore in this busy, busy world...

...here's to wild geese and snowy peaks.

Beats the hell out of Hannah Montana Hand Sanitizer!


The love of wilderness is more than a hunger for what is always beyond reach; it is also an expression of loyalty to the earth, the earth which bore us and sustains us, the only home we shall ever know, the only paradise we ever need — if only we had the eyes to see.
-Edward Abbey

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Legends of the Falls, I

"Once upon a time there was a lovely Cherokee maiden…."



Wait a minute!

These Cherokee maiden stories annoy me. I think it’s because, when you scratch the surface, you’re more likely to find racist misogyny instead of any historical basis for the stories. But what else would you expect from the old white guys who concocted these legends?

It would be easy to fill a book with examples of this genre, though. Robert Frank (Jarrett House) Jarrett’s lovely Cherokee maiden, Occoneechee, has made a notable appearance on this blog, and so have the lovely strawberry-picking maidens admired by William Bartram. Just last week we had a virtual visit to the final resting place of the lovely Cherokee maiden, Trahlyta. Princess Cornblossom drew a passing mention here. We have yet to check in on the lovely Cherokee maidens Jocassee and Connestee. And the tourist attraction, Blowing Rock, is known for the legend of another lovely Indian maiden (either Creek or Chickasaw) who fell in love with a Cherokee brave.





One writer, commenting on the archetype, called these Indian maidens "exoticized embodiments of Nature."

NOW, we’re getting somewhere!

Here's the deal: the old white guys created legends where these lovely Indian maidens, these stand-ins for Nature, are pure, beautiful, loyal, and obedient to their male counterparts. In spite of all the admirable qualities, though, these lovely Indian maidens, these stand-ins for Nature, usually wind up dead.



NOW, these Cherokee maiden stories are beginning to get interesting…not so much because of what the legends reveal about the characters involved, but what these legends reveal about the people who invented them. Nature can be beautiful and life-giving. But that’s not enough to save Nature from a sacrificial death.

OK. That’s about as far as I intend to ride THAT horse. Plenty of scholars and activists have written solid critiques of the "Indian Maiden Stereotype." It’s not pretty. Not pretty at all.



Anyhow, what got me thinking about this was a visit to Issaqueena Falls, north of Walhalla, South Carolina. When you arrive at the trailhead for Issaqueena, you’re greeted with an exhibit that explains the legend of the lovely Indian maiden, Issaqueena:

Local stories about this site involve variations from the poem, "Cateechee of Keowee," a story of love and adversity penned by J.W. Daniels, A.M., in 1898. The following is a summary of Rev. Daniels' poem, which thrust Issaqueena into immortality. This beautiful waterfall is named for a Creek maiden called Issaqueena. There are many legends about Issaqueena. The most popular story tells how as a girl Issaqueena was captured by the Cherokee and given the name Cateechee. As a young woman she met and fell in love with a white trader named Allan Francis.

One day she overheard a plan by the Cherokee to attack the settlements on the frontier. To warn her lover, she found a swift pony and rode 96 miles to his trading fort. As she traveled, Issaqueena named the landmarks she crossed on her way -- Six mile Mountain, twelve Mile River, Eighteen Mile Creek, and others on her way to her final destination at Fort Ninety-Six.

Fearing retribution from the Cherokees, Issaqueena remained with Allan, eventually marrying him. In time, she, Allan, and their newborn baby moved back to Stumphouse Mountain where they built their home.


One day, the Cherokee Chief, angered with the white settlers, sent his warriors to capture Issaqueena. Issaqueena saw them coming and ran toward the waterfall to escape capture. Knowing that the Cherokee believed evil spirits lived in waterfalls, she pretended to leap to her death. She hid on the ledge below the top of the waterfall where she remained until it was safe to rejoin her family. Her dramatic escape began the legend of Issaqueena Falls.



Ho-hum. Yet another legend of a lovely Indian maiden and a waterfall? But a story by Buzz Williams, posted on the Chattooga Conservancy website really caught my attention. In Trailing Issaqueena, Williams traces the long and twisted evolution of the Issaqueena legend and some of the actual events that figured into the tale. It’s a great article, so I won’t attempt to rehash it here and fail to do it justice:
http://www.chattoogariver.org/index.php?req=issaqueena&quart=Sp2007



I could not find a copy of Mr. Daniels’ poem, "Cateechee of Keowee.” However, I did locate a similar work published in 1896.

Cateechee, the Indian Maiden
From Palmetto Lyrics, by Francis Muench.

FROM the Broad to Oconee through the Cherokees' lands,
Rang the blast of the trumpeter-shell,
For these were their Chieftain Kuruga's commands:
"At the tide of the New Moon assemble your bands
From hamlet and mountain and dell,

And fall on the farms of the cursed pale face,
Upon Cambridge, their outmost frontier,
And sweep,—with the hurricane's blast through the space
With the rush of the flame mid a forest ablaze—
Every trace that they ever dwelt here!"

Cateechee, Kuruga's fair daughter, scarce heard
Of the murd'rous design of her clan,
When deeply her heart in her bosom was stirred;
Yet mustering her courage nor breathing a word
She resolved upon thwarting their plan.

For dwells not at Cambridge, Frank Allan, her friend,
Her teacher at school and her guide?
And on him should the tomahawk's vengeance descend?
No, no! 't is her duty his life to defend,
No matter what fortune betide!

So leaving her wigwam with the daylight's first ray
And turned to the rise of the sun,
O'er mountain and valley she traveled her way,
Till she reached the Saluda at noon of the day,
And she followed its southerly run.

Nigh foot-sore she entered a grotto's dim nave
When the Day-Star stood low in the West,
And she tarried o'er night in the hospitable cave,
And gratefully prizing the shelter it gave
She named it by "Traveler's Rest."

With the limpid Saluda again for her guide,
Unwearied the next day she strode.
Till she sighted the village at even's dim tide
And the well-known cot by the rivulet's side,
Where her teacher, Frank Allan, abode.

"Ah, thou here, Cateechee, so wan and so worn?"
Spake Allan, amazed at her sight.
"Thy footsoles a-bleeding from bramble and thorn,
Thy tresses dishevelled, thy vestiments torn,—
Oh, tell me the cause of thy plight!"—

"Full Ninety-Six Miles, as an eagle will soar,
I traveled to spread the alarm:
Ere stands yet the Moon in the heavens once more,
My brethren's dread war-whoop will ring at thy door:
Flee quick then to save thee from harm!"—

"Oh thanks for thy warning, thy timely report
That ransoms from peril our lives!
But to flee from the foe is a coward's resort,
Yet fear not, 't is time yet to build us a fort,
Ere the host of thy brethren arrives!"

And they builded a fort in the shape of a star
On the brow of a towering hill,
With bastions that bristled with engines of war,
And ramparts that loomed o'er the landscape afar
And baffled the enemy's skill.

"But"—questioned the toilers when the work was complete
And they rested their shovels and picks—
"What name shall be given this shelt'ring retreat?"
"None other,"—spoke Allan—"none other so meet,
So fit as the name 'Ninety-Six.' "

"For Ninety-Six Miles, as an eagle will soar,
This maiden conveyed the report,
That soon will the Indian beleaguer our door,
And seeming it is that the suff'rings she bore
Shall live in the name of the Fort!"

'T’is to marriage that every good story will tend;
No exception is ours to the rule:
And so, when the Indian blockade was at end,
Cateechee was married to Allan, her friend,
And whilom her teacher at school.



Saturday, December 27, 2008

Closer Than They Appear

Open this river, and along its banks in its fertile valleys rich fields of waving grain and snowy cotton will be seen where now the primeval forest rears itself, and among the hills and mountains which overlook its waters, will be heard the busy hum of machinery, the smoke of hundreds of furnaces will float upon the air, the banners of civilization; and upon its broad bosom will be borne the commerce of a mighty nation.
-Colonel W. B. Gaw, promoting the commercial potential of the Tennessee, 1869




I’ve studied the map and it’s given me a new outlook on how three different places fit together.



In "Mercury in Mountain Fish" (Smoky Mountain News, 9/10/08), Becky Johnson reported that walleye in Fontana and Santeetlah Lakes had tested positive for unsafe levels of mercury. TVA coal plants are the prime culprit for mercury contamination of the lakes in far western North Carolina.


Fontana Dam


One of those coal plants is between Kingston and Harriman, Tennessee. From Fontana Dam, it’s exactly 52 miles to the plant and the flood zone from a spill of coal ash residue on Monday. When coal is burned, mercury is among the substances released in the atmosphere and eventually reaching lakes such as Fontana and Santeetlah. The ash from burn coal is of concern for concentrated levels of lead, mercury and other contaminants. Oddly enough, the area near the Kingston plant is known for its waterfowl habitat. I have noted that a great deal of research has been done on toxins in coal ash and the possible impacts on birds inhabiting ash ponds. I’ll leave it to someone else to assess the results of that research.



Kingston Fossil (Steam) Plant


The third location on the map is 54 miles northeast of the TVA coal-burning plant, and only 74 miles from Fontana Dam. In Claiborne County, TN, near the Kentucky state line, is a huge surface mine. I’ve discovered that mountaintop removal mining is not practiced in Tennessee, but the distinction is more legal and semantic than anything else. Call it "steep slope mining" but it’s similar to the flattening of mountains in Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginia.



Claiborne County Mine


I would suppose that some of the coal from the mine in Claiborne County made its way to the Kingston Plant, and from there to us. All those issues and places are a lot closer than it seems as first glance.


View Larger Map

If mercury IS raining down on us, ever so gradually, who knows what the long-term health effects could be? Methylation is a complex process where mercury can convert to a more toxic form after it moves from the atmosphere to surface water. Higher acidity levels tend to enhance the mobility of mercury through the environment. The immune and neurological systems are especially vulnerable to the destructive effects of mercury. Chronic exposure to low levels of mercury has been linked, in one way or another, to the following diseases:

Acrodynia
Alzheimer’s
Anterior lateral sclerosis (ALS)
Asthma
Arthritis
Autism
Candida
Cardiovascular disease
Chronic fatigue syndrome
Crohn’s disease
Depression
Developmental defects
Diabetes
Eczema
Emphysema
Fibromyalgia
Hormonal dysfunction
Intestinal dysfunction
Immune system disorders
Kidney disease
Learning disorders
Liver disorders
Lupus
Metabolic encephalopathy
Multiple sclerosis (MS)
Reproductive disorders
Parkinson’s disease
Senile dementia
Thyroid disease






"Mercury in Mountain Fish" (Smoky Mountain News, 9/10/08)
http://www.smokymountainnews.com/issues/09_08/09_10_08/out_fr_mercury.html

TVA document on emissions from Kingston Fossil Plant
http://www.tva.gov/environment/air/kingston.htm

Birding at Kingston
http://www.tnbirds.org/birdfinding/KingstonSteamPlant.htm

Claiborne County Mine
http://www.mountainjusticesummer.org/facts/MJSnewsletter10.pdf

Mountaintop Mining Factsheet
http://www.unitedmountaindefense.org/facts.php

Background on Senator Patrick's Leahy's legislation to reduce mercury pollution
http://leahy.senate.gov/issues/environment/mercury/index.html

The Banners of Civilization



In April 1869, DeBow's Review published a speech that Colonel W. B. Gaw had delivered to the Chattanooga Convention, in which he promoted the economic potential of the Tennessee River valley, including its tributaries in Western North Carolina.

The river flows through a region that is remarkable for the conformation of its surface to the wants and necessities of man. There are here no Alps, no Jura, interposing defiant barriers between provinces, their tops clad in perpetual snow, their sides crumbling beneath thundering avalanches, the valleys around them exposed to frequent innundations; here are no Andes with their fiery and smoking summits; no mountains groaning in the agony of earthquakes and hills reeling about like drunken men, but in this, the Appalachian region, nature is in calm repose; her rocks, so far as we can see, are the same from generation, to generation, and from the St. Lawrence to the Tennessee, twenty millions of people lay themselves down at night in calm confidence and perfect security.

Here is a variety of mountain, and valley, of hill and dale, and intermingling of the one with the other, which is most favorable to the prosperity of commerce and agriculture, and most conducive to the health and perfect development of the human race. …

The history of trade and commerce teaches us that those nations are most flourishing, and independent, whose exports are greater than their imports, who not only raise their bread and meat; but convert their raw material into productions to be consumed by others. The sooner, then, we accept as a truth that the opening of the navigation of the Tennessee river lies at the basis of the success of all our manufacturing enterprises, the sooner we shall be prepared to take up the march of progress.

The country now drained by the Tennessee has now arrived at such a stage in the development of its resources that cheap water communication for its products is an imperative commercial necessity. The iron and the coal of the Tennessee Valley are the best in the United States. This is strong language, but the pioneer of the iron manufacture in East Tennessee (General John T. Wilder, of the Roane County Iron Works, late Major General in the United States army,) who is now, from raw ore and the raw coal, making fifteen tons daily of the finest pig iron, will confirm my statement, and will tell you that the annual exportation of coal and iron alone from the mines of Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama, will, with free river transportation, be reckoned by hundreds of thousands of tons.


The iron ore of Greene County, Tennessee, is now exported to England for the manufacture of steel. Let the river be opened and a stronger case of "carrying coals to New Castle" than this will be shown. Then pig iron made on the banks of the Tennessee can and will be furnished to the manufacturers of Cincinnati at cheaper rates and of better quality than they can procure it from Pittsburg, and can be laid down at the door of the Pittsburg maker himself for a little more than his raw materials alone now cost him.

Such being the case, the shrewd men who have founded the vast mining and manufacturing interests of the North will come, as they are even now coming, to take these rich treasures -not from the bowels of the earth as they have been compelled to do at home, but from its very surface, where they now lie, as they have lain for ages, only waiting the hour and the man. They will take the coal and the ore and the limestone which everywhere are found in close juxtaposition, and shape the iron into every form which the necessities of mankind have demanded or the ingenuity of man has devised.


Open this river, and along its banks in its fertile valleys rich fields of waving grain and snowy cotton will be seen where now the primeval forest rears itself, and among the hills and mountains which overlook its waters, will be heard the busy hum of machinery, the smoke of hundred of furnaces will float upon the air, the banners of civilization; and upon its broad bosom will be borne the commerce of a mighty nation. Let the grand obstacles at Muscle Shoals be removed and the growth of this great valley in material wealth and prosperity will gladden the heart of every patriot throughout the land. When these shoals are no longer an impediment to commerce, it will be seen that through this river the agricultural products of the great West must at length find their main outlet to the markets of the world.

Then the other improvements of which the river is susceptible, will one by one be consummated, until the vast commerce that now vainly seeks an outlet through the ice-bound lakes of the North, and the frozen canals of New York, or shrinks appalled from the terrors of the Florida Pass finds a safe and commodious transit to the markets of the world along the Tennessee (never obstructed by the least pellicle of ice) to its source, and thence by canals to the waters of the Chesapeake Bay. Then indeed will this noble river be recognized as nature intended it, the great highway of the American nation, second only to the Mississippi.
Photographs include the Kingston Steam Plant and the aftermath of this week's coal ash sludge flood from a retaining pond at the plant.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Illustrating the Mountains, II

Yet the sweet converse of an innocent mind,
Those words are images of thoughts refin'd,
Is my soul's a pleasure; and sure it must be
Almost the highest bliss of human-kind,
When to thy haunts two kindred spirits flee.

-John Keats, Sonnet to Solitude



I’ve been looking for the story to be told about visual images of the Southern Appalachians in the late nineteenth century. I’m not sure I’ve found the story, but I’ve found a starting point for it.

The story begins far from the Southern Appalachians. The scene is Asher Brown Durand’s Kindred Spirits, painted in 1849. The painting was commissioned as a tribute to the artist Thomas Cole, who had died from pneumonia in 1848. In the painting, Cole is pictured along with his friend, the poet William Cullen Bryant.

During his career, Cole's work included naturalistic American and European views, Gothic fantasies, religious allegories, and classicized pastorals. His body of writing consisted of detailed journals, poems, and an influential essay on American scenery. Asher Durand and Frederic Church were two of the artists whose careers Cole had fostered.

Among William Cullen Bryant’s many writings was perhaps the most beloved and quoted poem in nineteenth century America, Thanatopsis.

In Kindred Spirits, Bryant and Cole stand together on a rocky crag overlooking wild scenery of the Catskill Mountains in New York. In describing the scene, one reviewer said:

Not only are the two men meant to be seen as kindred spirits representing the brotherly-like love in the new nation, but the two men are meant as well to be seen as kindred spirits with the natural world spreading out around them like an amphitheater.

Kindred Spirits helped define the Hudson River School of painting. In 2005, it sold at auction for more than $35 million, a record price for an American painting.

William Cullen Bryant went on to edit a massive two-volume set, Picturesque America; or, the Land We Live In. Published in 1874, it was a groundbreaking work containing descriptions of scenic places and superb engravings based on the work of noted artists. The books created enduring and influential popular images of the some of the nation’s most famous scenic spots.

Amazon has early editions of Picturesque America, but be prepared to pay somewhere around $1,500 for it. In his preface, Bryant claimed that the scenery of Europe had become too familiar a subject for landscape painters, in contrast with the inexhaustible abundance of America:

Art sighs to carry her conquests into new realms. On our continent, and within the limits of our Republic, she finds them—primitive forests, in which the huge trunks of a past generation of trees lie mouldering in the shade of their aged descendants; mountains and valleys, gorges and rivers, and tracts of sea-coast, which the foot of the artist has never trod; and glens murmuring with water-falls which his ear has never heard. Thousands of charming nooks are waiting to yield their beauty to the pencil of the first comer.

The book includes illustrations by the English-born artist Harry Fenn, and they are among his best work.



One example is an engraving of Chimney Rock in the Hickory Nut Gorge southeast of Asheville. Shown here are the hand-colored and black-and-white versions of Fenn’s illustration.



Picturesque America shaped the mental images that readers associated with places like Hickory Nut Gorge. The illustrations also inspired subsequent artists. Frederick Ferdinand Schafer almost certainly based his Chimney Rock painting [below] on the Fenn engraving.



Their connections to the Southern Appalachians, if any, were marginal. But the careers of Cole, Durand and Bryant did have an impact on the popular perceptions of the American landscape as presented in the written word and visual art. One commentator concluded:

[They] were crucial in the formation of 19th-century American artistic taste and attitudes toward the natural world... All three viewed the unspoiled American landscape as a great moral teacher.

I was going to close with a few lines from Thanatopsis, the meditation on death that William Cullen Bryant wrote at age 19. But why edit a masterpiece? Here’s the entire poem:

Thanatopsis
William Cullen Bryant (1794-1878)

To him who in the love of Nature holds
Communion with her visible forms, she speaks
A various language; for his gayer hours
She has a voice of gladness, and a smile
And eloquence of beauty, and she glides
Into his darker musings, with a mild
And healing sympathy, that steals away
Their sharpness, ere he is aware. When thoughts
Of the last bitter hour come like a blight
Over thy spirit, and sad images
Of the stern agony, and shroud, and pall,
And breathless darkness, and the narrow house,
Make thee to shudder and grow sick at heart;--
Go forth, under the open sky, and list
To Nature's teachings, while from all around--
Earth and her waters, and the depths of air--
Comes a still voice--Yet a few days, and thee
The all-beholding sun shall see no more
In all his course; nor yet in the cold ground,
Where thy pale form was laid with many tears,
Nor in the embrace of ocean, shall exist
Thy image. Earth, that nourish'd thee, shall claim
Thy growth, to be resolved to earth again,
And, lost each human trace, surrendering up
Thine individual being, shalt thou go
To mix for ever with the elements,
To be a brother to the insensible rock,
And to the sluggish clod, which the rude swain
Turns with his share, and treads upon. The oak
Shall send his roots abroad, and pierce thy mould.

Yet not to thine eternal resting-place
Shalt thou retire alone, nor couldst thou wish
Couch more magnificent. Thou shalt lie down
With patriarchs of the infant world--with kings,
The powerful of the earth--the wise, the good,
Fair forms, and hoary seers of ages past,
All in one mighty sepulchre. The hills
Rock-ribb'd and ancient as the sun,--the vales
Stretching in pensive quietness between;
The venerable woods; rivers that move
In majesty, and the complaining brooks
That make the meadows green; and, pour'd round all,
Old Ocean's grey and melancholy waste,--
Are but the solemn decorations all
Of the great tomb of man. The golden sun,
The planets, all the infinite host of heaven,
Are shining on the sad abodes of death,
Through the still lapse of ages. All that tread
The globe are but a handful to the tribes
That slumber in its bosom.--Take the wings
Of morning, pierce the Barcan wilderness,
Or lose thyself in the continuous woods
Where rolls the Oregon and hears no sound
Save his own dashings--yet the dead are there:
And millions in those solitudes, since first
The flight of years began, have laid them down
In their last sleep--the dead reign there alone.
So shalt thou rest: and what if thou withdraw
In silence from the living, and no friend
Take note of thy departure? All that breathe
Will share thy destiny. The gay will laugh
When thou art gone, the solemn brood of care
Plod on, and each one as before will chase
His favourite phantom; yet all these shall leave
Their mirth and their employments, and shall come
And make their bed with thee. As the long train
Of ages glides away, the sons of men,
The youth in life's green spring, and he who goes
In the full strength of years, matron and maid,
The speechless babe, and the gray-headed man--
Shall one by one be gathered to thy side
By those who in their turn shall follow them.

So live, that when thy summons comes to join
The innumerable caravan which moves
To that mysterious realm where each shall take
His chamber in the silent halls of death,
Thou go not, like the quarry-slave at night,
Scourged by his dungeon; but, sustain'd and soothed
By an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave,
Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch
About him, and lies down to pleasant dreams.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Ronald Reagan, Jean-Paul Sartre and the Tennessee Valley Authority



If a victory is told in detail, one can no longer distinguish it from a defeat.
-Jean-Paul Sartre

One such [big government program] considered above criticism, sacred as motherhood, is TVA. This program started as a flood control project; the Tennessee Valley was periodically ravaged by destructive floods. The Army Engineers set out to solve this problem. They said that it was possible that once in 500 years there could be a total capacity flood that would inundate some 600,000 acres. Well, the engineers fixed that. They made a permanent lake which inundated a million acres. This solved the problem of floods, but the annual interest on the TVA debt is five times as great as the annual flood damage they sought to correct. Of course, you will point out that TVA gets electric power from the impounded waters, and this is true, but today 85 percent of TVA's electricity is generated in coal burning steam plants. Now perhaps you'll charge that I'm overlooking the navigable waterway that was created, providing cheap barge traffic, but the bulk of the freight barged on that waterway is coal being shipped to the TVA steam plants, and the cost of maintaining that channel each year would pay for shipping all of the coal by rail, and there would be money left over.
-Ronald Reagan, 1964

When the rich wage war, it's the poor who die.
-Jean-Paul Sartre


I’ve been wanting to write about the oldest and most successful land trust in the United States, the Celo Community in Yancey County. I find it ironic that Celo’s founder, Arthur Morgan, was the first chairman of the Tennessee Valley Authority. But anytime the TVA is involved, you’ll find plenty of irony and paradox. The Celo story will have to wait.

During the early 1960s, Ronald Reagan adroitly exposed the contradictions of the Tennessee Valley Authority, and he paid a price it. A long time spokesman for General Electric, Reagan earned the scorn of GE (a major supplier of turbines to TVA) due to his continuing criticism of the agency as a symptomatic problematic symptom of big government. In 1962, GE fired Reagan over his conservative rhetoric and that same year he officially changed his voter registration to the Republican Party.

A New Deal program created in 1933, the Tennessee Valley Authority was designed to provide flood control, electricity generation and economic development for the hard-hit Tennessee Valley region. While promising modernization and a better way of life for millions, TVA’s impact was tragic and destructive for many communities and individuals. Just ask the people who lived along the Little Tennessee River in Graham and Swain Counties. Homes, farms, schools, churches and stores were wiped out for Fontana Lake.



Jonathan Daniels, who traveled the South just before the commencement of the Fontana project, touted one side of the TVA paradox:

Nobody can see the South and its possibilities who does not see the Tennessee River and the meaning round it of the Tennessee Valley Authority. It is, as everybody knows, devoted to the use of the river, the planning of the river, the valley, and its resources for power, flood control, national defense, and soil improvement through both its technics and its phosphates. Actually, I think, its principal interest is people; and under David Lilienthal (he does not carry the full command but he has it), it is the single most stirring and hopeful agency in the South.

It is still not Eden: the river runs with its development by the signs of stupid land boom at Muscle Shoals, by tough little towns which wanted the government to give them cheap power to go with their cheap wages, by Scottsboro where the boys were tried, by Dayton, Tennessee, where the South's laws against evolution were reduced to dramatic and judicial farce. Not far east of it the worst soil erosion in the South has made a red desert of mountain tops. But along such a river a design for Southern living in terms of Southern possibility does grow. A traveler could not hope to see the signs of the present direction of the South without seeing that plan in its place.

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, where the highest mountains, the finest remaining forests in the East are already saved for the future, lies properly on the road beyond TVA. The two contemplate both earth and men together, the dark mountain cabins by the steep cornfields, water and wash, man and mountain, a less steep pull, a more lasting America.

Even while Daniels was looking forward to the brighter tomorrows ushered in by the TVA, the government was accumulating photographs of homes and communities destined to disappear.






Bushnell Hotel



The town of Judson




Churches in Judson



By 1943, the TVA had created a brand new town to accommodate the thousands of workers needed to build Fontana Dam. The following photos show pre-fabricated houses brought to Fontana from a factory in Michigan.





The dormitories and pre-fabs of Fontana Village were supplemented with a beauty parlor and a barber shop; a basketball court and a softball field; a post office, library, grocery, and soda stand; a dentist’s office and a small hospital; a movie theater; a school with a dozen teachers and 300 students; even a tiny jail. Over 90 percent of the town’s inhabitants were men.

The French existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre made a brief stop at Fontana in 1945, along with a group of other foreign journalists observing the American war effort. Sartre was amazed by the city that had sprung up overnight in the wilderness. Knoxville writer Jack Neely gave an account of Sartre’s visit:

Sartre wrote an essay called "American Cities," in which he described the transitory, distinctly un-European quality of New World communities. In his fertile mind, the prefabricated village TVA had built to house the workers at Fontana became the symbolic American city.


"The striking thing," he wrote in Le Figaro, "is the lightness, the fragility of these buildings. The village has no weight, it seems barely to rest upon the soil; it has not managed to leave a human imprint on the reddish earth and the dark forest; it is a temporary thing."

"In America, just as any citizen can theoretically become President, so each Fontana can become Detroit or Minneapolis; all that is needed is a bit of luck. . . . Detroit and Minneapolis, Knoxville and Memphis, were born temporary and have stayed that way."

Then one last metaphysical flourish: "They have never reached an internal temperature of solidification."

It’s been more than 60 years since Daniels and Sartre beheld the handiwork of the Tennessee Valley Authority. I wonder what they would say if they could come back today for a return visit. The contradictions of the TVA are as pronounced as ever, evidenced by this week’s flood of toxic coal-ash sludge at the Kingston Steam Plant. It was a tragedy for Perry James and all those who lost their homes this week, reminiscent of the tragedy suffered by the residents of Bushnell, Judson, Proctor and the other communities along the Little Tennessee.

Seeing how history works, I just hope that TVA’s massive dams and towering smokestacks don’t obscure the human costs of the agency’s good intentions. I doubt Sartre had the TVA in mind when he crafted that line, "If a victory is told in detail, one can no longer distinguish it from a defeat." The paradox continues.



(Samuel M. Simpkins/The Tennessean)


# # #

Images and explanation of Kingston Coal-ash Sludge Disaster
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0OkI1gIgThw



From United Mountain Defense
http://unitedmountaindefense.org/

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Welcome to Walhalla, South Carolina





Sharing a few signs I found amusing got me into deep trouble with the dour people of Marion, North Carolina.



And even though I got a laugh from some things I saw in Walhalla, there’s a big difference. I like Walhalla. In fact, Oconee County is one of my favorite places to wander and explore, especially this time of year. And nothing refreshes quite like a mouse popcicle [sic]. Which is something you can find on your way into Walhalla.


Is that cool or what?


Admission to Oconee Reptiles is only three bucks, and if you’re into mouse popcicles…or live snakes…I’ll bet it’s worth the money.




After I rolled past a few Confederate monuments, I parked in downtown Walhalla and went for a walk. It’s too bad that Wright’s Variety Store ("for all your Confederate, Rebel & Redneck Christmas presents") was closed, but window shopping was fun. Still, I wish I could have tried on a pair of those Confederate Lycra Hot Pants, or picked up some rebellious bumper stickers.






And I would have asked the proprietors of Wright’s why they sell Confederate Doormats.


To me, the idea of wiping your dirty boots on the Rebel Flag every time you get home is disrespectful and unpatriotic.



I mean, who would purchase (and use) Rebel Flag Doormats?


Yankees?

But that's Wright's Variety Store for you. Something for everyone!




I did have an opportunity to spend some money in Walhalla. At $1.43 a gallon for regular gas, it’s the place to fill your tank, that’s for sure.
And if you’re hungry, Walhalla, SC – like Marion, NC – has a Bantam Chef. I did NOT find out how their BLT’s compared with those from the Bantam Chef in Marion, but I suspect they’re much better.
Everything’s better in Walhalla!
Tucked in behind the Bantam Chef is the Oconee Heritage Center, and it is not to be missed. Actually, I mentioned this place recently and had been looking forward to a visit. Here’s what I wrote back in October:
In June 2002, some Atlantans travelling the Chattooga River made a remarkable discovery. An odd-shaped log protruding from the riverbank was, in fact, a 32-foot long dugout canoe constructed in the Cherokee style, but with metal tools. Carbon dating of the yellow pine canoe suggests it was crafted around 1760. The ancient canoe is on display at the Oconee Heritage Center in Walhalla, South Carolina. Now that I’ve learned about the old canoe, it’s gone straight to the top of my list of things to see in Walhalla.
As an extra treat, they have a similar canoe recovered from the Keowee River just this past summer.
It’s a really fun, and free, museum where I plan to spend some more time soon.
For another jewel in the Walhalla crown, I highly recommend the Oconee County Public Library.
It’s an impressive, if not beautiful, building. The staff is friendly and helpful. And it’s open on Sundays.
Just a short drive from Walhalla, heading back toward Cashiers, is the Falls on Yellow Branch


…also, Stumphouse Tunnel and Issaqueena Falls:


Way back in 1880, Rebecca Harding Davis wrote about her travels through the southern mountains in a series of articles published in Harper’s. Sometime soon, I want to share her impressions of Highlands, NC, but for now, I’ll call on Ms. Davis for an account of her next stop after Highlands. She came down from the mountain and was just as impressed with Walhalla as I was.

And that was even BEFORE you could buy mouse popcicles there. If only she could see Walhalla today.

WOW!

The last word is yours, Rebecca. Take it:

From Highlands they followed the mountain road down to Walhalla, about thirtv miles distant. This is a settlement of Germans, who have built their new home among the flat South Carolinian fields in imitation of some well-remembered Prussian village left behind them long ago. 'I'he queer, gabled, white houses are half hid by roses and hollyhocks. An exquisite neatness and comfort pervades the whole place.
Along the centre of the immensely wide shaded streets are placed the town wells, weighing stands, and platform for public meetings. The old women sat on their porches knitting tranquilly in the hot glare of the sun, and pretty blue-eyed girls peeped coquettishly out of the vine-covered windows at Farjuice and his load of battered adventurers, who found the thrift, cleanliness, and homely beauty thus suddenly opened to their eyes a violent contrast to all the grandeur, the dirt, and appalling laziness which they had left behind them in the mountains.
They remained in this village a couple of days, to shake off the dust and fatigue of travelling. Farjuice went on eight miles farther to Seneca City, to see, for the first and probably the last time in his life, a train go thundering past. He planted himself by the side of the track, his legs firmly apart, and when the Northern Express rushed toward him, clutched his wide-brimmed hat with both trembling hands.
When it was gone, he nodded gravely. "Ah’ thank Gord ah’ don't belong to these flats," he said; and mounting his wagon, drove straight back to his native wilds.
Our travellers, when they had rested, procured horses, and rode back into Rabun County, in Georgia - a region of steep cliffs, striking valleys, and tumultuous water-falls. Along the Chattooga River lay many farms of a few acres, worked as often bv black owners as white. Indeed, all through the mountainous region of the South may be found the comfortable little cabins and "own patches" of the freedman, which show that, like all other human beings, he puts more intelligence and energy into his work when it is for himself than for others. His one ambition is to own ground, simply because that was heretofore the strongest mark of difference between himself and the white men about him.
The cotton fields of the plantations were red now with their blood-colored blossoms, and the tender shoots of the young rice tinged the bottom-lands with pale green.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Night of the Panther



I enjoy a good panther story and I found another one in Wayne Kernodle's Harper's Magazine article from 1960. In "Last of the Rugged Individualists" Kernodle feigns cautious discretion when he speaks of a mountain community:

Perhaps it is best not to locate the place too precisely, because there is more than one Pin Hook Gap and more McCalls than the particular family I know.



Hmm, let me guess, seeing as how I only know of one Pin Hook Gap...

Kernodle follows up with two paragraphs leaving no doubt about which Pin Hook Gap and, in turn, which McCalls he has in mind, before concluding coyly:

Pin Hook Gap is, roughly, in between the cities of Asheville, North Carolina, and Knoxville, Tennessee.

It is, of course, Jackson County’s Pin Hook Gap just off Highway 215 south of the Beech Gap on the Blue Ridge Parkway. That point established, I would be remiss if I failed to include the subtitle of the Harper’s article:

A favorite American folk hero - the Southern Mountaineer - is even saltier (and more dangerous) in fact than in legend but he is now sentenced to extinction. A farewell portrait by the chief anthropologist of William and Mary College.

Kernodle introduces us to the community:

The total population of Pin Hook is five McCalls plus an assortment of bears, panthers, rattlesnakes, and wild pigs.

Young John McCall, who is seventy-three years old, and his brother Charlie, who is seventy, live in a tight little cabin nestled into a cove under Devil's Courthouse. One brother and his wife live about two hundred yards away, and another hrother lives by himself in a shack about a half-mile back in the thicket….




Hang on, there’s a story of a mighty struggle with a panther at the end of this! But Wayne Kernodle can set the scene:

Both men were tall-more than six feet-and thin, but they were not skinny. Their blue eyes were clear and sharp and their hearing was acute. They were confident men but not arrogant, cunning but not slick. They manifested a serenity unmatched by anything I have seen in the urban world. We talked about their life, which included some mining for precious stones, mica, and minerals.

With some prompting, Charlie told us about a long and ferocious struggle with a panther the winter before.

"This painter used that aire place up thar," he said, pointing out a promontory which jutted out from the balsam thickets about two thousand feet above the cabin. "He was driv by hungry and cold - hit ud been asnowin' fur a week a more. One night we heerd bangin' on the roof. We’uns tuk the rifles and got outside. He come aflyin' off the roof at us. We shot at him and he tuk off. But he come back later and was tearin' and clawin' at the windows and doors and all over the top of the house. Finally he tore a hole in the roof and come pilin' in. We fit him with arn bars and sticks and finally driv him outa the front door. John hit him in the hint leg and he'uns scremt and wailed like a dyin' hog. We haint saw him since. He had tore up the place baddest."

After several other stories about the McCalls, Kernodle reflects on impending change:

For "progress" is on its way to Pin Hook Gap. Thirty miles away from the McCall cabin you come out onto a good dirt road and to a little community in the valley. The people at the country store were talking about the engineers who had been making surveys for paving the road and connecting it with the Blue Ridge Parkway at Wagon Road Gap and thence to Routes 19 and 23. This will connect with Highway 441, which is known as the "Over the Smokies Highway," the most scenic route between Brevard, Waynesville, Newfound Gap, Gatlinburg, and Knoxville.

They were excited about the future and the new life it meant for them. And if you know something about the stringencies of their life, you can't blame them for looking forward to more money and the chance to buy the city things that ease the hardships. I just hope the engineers leave enough balsam, "rhododaniel," white spruce, and briar thickets between the road and the McCalls to drown out the whir of those great instruments of change, the automobiles, as they wind around Pin Hook on their way to the scenic beauties which await them at the parking lots of Tennessee Bald.

It is evident that this way of life is already doomed. Twenty-one years ago [1939], when I made my first intimate contact with the people of this region, the individualistic spirit was the first thing you noticed about the people you met. They were not special people like the McCalls that you had to go out of your way to find. They were most everybody who lived there and they simply did what was to them right and natural.