Friday, July 31, 2009

Dry Falls - Then and Now

Don't get me started on George Masa (1881-1933). A person could spend years investigating the mysteries surrounding the life and work of the Japanese photographer who came to Asheville a century ago. (Actually, people have.) More on this in a future post.

Dry Falls, 1929 and 2009

But for today, here's an accidental then and now pairing. I visited the newly reopened Dry Falls access area on US 64 in the Cullasaja Gorge this week. After returning home, I happened upon a Masa photo of Dry Falls taken in 1929. Though one of my shots was taken from a higher vantage point, I'm not sure I could have recreated the exact view that Masa had. Given the abundant vegetation of the hillside facing the falls, this is probably as close as we'll get to matching the shot from eighty years ago.

An exhibition of George Masa photgraphs will open at Western Carolina University's Fine Arts Museum on Saturday, August 1, with an opening reception from 2:00 to 4:00. And if you've never seen the Paul Bonesteel documentary, The Mystery of George Masa, you've been missing something really special.

Back to Dry Falls - after a long, long closure, it is open again, with a new and improved parking lot. Also, a catwalk paralleling US 64 provides handicap access for a nice view of the falls (including the scene above). I was worried that they might have "messed up" the trail that leads down to and behind the falls. Certainly, it could have used some work, but if any significant repairs were made to that trail I couldn't tell. Not a problem, though. I'm just happy to get back to one of my favorite waterfalls in these parts.

Here's another Masa image and, appropriately enough, I'm not sure where it was taken. But the play of light is this photograph is striking.

Masa photo of Dry Falls courtesy of the Highlands Historical Society, Inc.


Anonymous said...

I assume you saw the pieces
about Masa and Kephart in the
previous issue of Smoky Mtn.

GULAHIYI said...

I missed that and need to track it down. WNC Magazine had a nice Masa feature in July 2009:

I did attend the opening of the Masa exhibit at WCU and was disappointed with it. If you're already familiar with his work, you will likely enjoy the pieces on display. But if you are looking for an introduction to Masa that provides some meaningful insight into his life and work, the exhibit at WCU is wholly inadequate.

On the other hand, perhaps I was distracted by the World's Loudest Jazz Combo that was rattling the rafters. The music was a bizarre choice for the event. No offense to the musicians...they should have been outdoors, though. Set up as they were in the lobby, it was an acoustic nightmare. I'll try to revisit the museum on a day when I don't have to worry about my ears bleeding.

To end things on a happier note, I'll say the punch was tasty! Two thumbs up for the punch!

My visit to The Bascom in Highlands (for the Patrick Dougherty presentation) was quite pleasant, and I intend to report on that soon.

Anonymous said...

The current Smoky Mtn. Living
issue is Summer so you need to
look at Spring. The whole issue
was about the evolution of GSMNP.

I saw the WNC piece as well. We
live in Florida and can only get
to the mountains a few times a
year so I soak up all I can.

Keep up your good work- both
with pieces about your mountains
and people but also about the

GULAHIYI said...

Thanks, I appreciate that.