Smoky Mountain grist mills. Mountain streams and rivers provided water power for early grist mills. The fast-moving creeks of the Great Smoky Mountains proved perfect sites for grist mills which were often the gathering place for early pioneers who traveled miles over winding mountain roads and trails to get corn and wheat ground by the great mill stones. Corn was possibly the settler’s most important crop and one of its greatest virtues was that it could by crushed into coarse meal. Corn could be planted on uncleared land and an acre, which provided up to 20 times the yield as an acre of wheat, was a source of food for both the family and farm animals. Corn had a variety of other uses for early residents. Men and women enjoyed smoking ground shuck in corncob pipes; corn shuck was used to stuff mattresses and to make children’s dolls. It was also found in outhouses (we will leave that to your imagination.)
You can still purchase buhr (stone) ground cornmeal today at several of the active grist mills that remain in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
John P. Cable Mill in Cades Cove is perhaps one of the most popular and picturesque mills in the Smoky’s. Cable built his mill in the early 1870s along Mill Creek and dug a connecting channel to Forge Creek to insure against times of drought. A low dam directs water from the upper end of a millrace and several water gates allow the regulation of flow. The last water gate is operated by a long lever located inside the mill. The water from the millrace meets the flume and is channeled through a chunk rack which acts as a giant wooden comb preventing debris from entering the 235 foot flume that slopes slightly downward before veering towards the mill and the eleven-foot high overshot waterwheel rising vertically alongside. Water from the flume fills the wheel’s 40-plus buckets- turning the huge wheel and driving a shaft that propels the millstones inside.
Cable considered milling a part time job and his mill had specific hours and days but unexpected arrivals could ring a large bell, located adjacent to the business, to summon Cable from his nearby fields.
Cable’s Mill is located about midway on the road in Cade’s Cove. In addition to the mill, the site also features a vintage farmhouse, barns and outbuildings. During the season, volunteer millers are often on hand to demonstrate the art of grinding grain. The finished products are sold in the park store also located on the property.
Mingus Mill, on its original site, is a scant half mile north of the Oconaluftee Visitor Center in Cherokee on U.S. 441. Built in 1886, the mill uses a water powered turbine instead of a water wheel to activate the machinery in the building. Water flows down a millrace to the mill where a working cast iron turbine turns the heavy millstone. An onsite miller demonstrates the process of grinding kernels into cornmeal which is offered for sale, along with other mill items. The grounds are open daily. The miller’s hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m. mid-March through mid-December. It is also open Thanksgiving weekend.
Alfred Reagan House and Tub Mill, circa 1900, is one of the best places to imagine just how isolated life in the Smoky’s was for early settlers. Densely forested high ridges surround the narrow valley which is home to the Roaring Fork River- the mill’s source of power. Beyond the sound of rushing water are silence, solitude, and many say a profound sense of loneliness. Nearby, almost perpendicular, overgrown fields where corn was once planted, bear witness to the labor intensive business of farming in these rugged mountains. Reagan’s tub mill, one of the most common types of mills in these mountains, utilized wooden channels to carry water to a primitive horizontal wooden turbine wheel which turned and provided direct drive power to the mill’s stones. A small tub mill could produce about a bushel of cornmeal a day.
Fourth Annual Color Me Mutt 5K is scheduled for Saturday, April 27, 2019. Nascar Speed Park in Sevierville, Tennessee will host the event again this year! Participants will have their chance to show their true colors and help raise funds for Wilderwood Service Dogs and the PARC Foundations’s mission to strengthen families though out Sevier County organizations.
The 5K Color Run will kick off at 8 a.m. followed by the one mile color fun run/walk and the crowd favorite pet parade. The 5K color run is a timed event with awards given to the overall male and female runners along with medals for the three male and female finishers in the following age groups: 10 & under, 11 – 17, 18 -24, 25 -29, 30 – 34, 35 – 39, 40 – 44, 45 – 49, 50 -54, 55 -59 and over 60. Dog participation is not required but it sure does make it more fun!
Ruby throated Hummingbirds due to appear in East Tennessee. April in East Tennessee marks the time to get out hummingbird feeders and fill them in anticipation of the arrival of Ruby Throated Hummingbirds. While there are many species of hummingbirds, east of the Mississippi typically only gets the Ruby Throated. The male arrives roughly 10 days ahead of the female. He searches out feeders and fills up on nectar in order to replenish the energy he needs for his journey.
If your yard is conducive to nesting, the male will hang around and wait for the female. But, if your yard is not a nesting yard, he continues his journey north until he finds an ideal habitat. Hummingbirds prefer wooded areas that are near water or have water features.
Ruby Throated hummingbirds are primarily insect eaters, either picking them off vegetation or capturing them in the air. Secondarily, they enjoy natural nectar they can feed on from nectar producing plants, like cardinal flower and salvia. This is one of the reasons why we don’t see a lot of activity at feeders during May, June and early July. If your yard is lucky enough to be chosen for a nesting site, the hummingbird will only use your feeder for supplemental feeding during these months.
Once again in August East Tennessee experiences an influx of hummingbirds that are heading south to gather around the border of the Gulf of Mexico.
We recommend making your own Hummingbird nectar with a 4-1 ratio of water to sugar. You will need to clean your feeder and change your nectar 2 times per week, or 3 times if
temperatures are in the 90’s. Do not use pre-made nectar with red dye which is a chemical and not natural to the bird. Use feeders that do not leak and are designed to keep ants, bees and wasps out. When I am asked where the best place is to put a feeder I always answer by saying to put it where you want to see the bird. They are attracted to red and can be drawn all the way up to your porch or window. Our Wild Birds Unlimited branded feeders have all the right features along with easy to clean and a Life Time Guarantee.
Liz Cutrone is the owner of Wild Birds Unlimited in Knoxville, TN. She is a Certified Bird Specialist specializing in attracting and feeding backyard birds. Wildbirds Unlimited is located at 7240 Kingston Pike, Knoxville, TN 37919.
Smoky Mountain Mars Probe Launch Successful. The recent Clingmans Dome Mars probe launch heralded a new era of cooperation between the National Park Service, NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration), and Space Ex corporation. This daring mission was the first in national park history and was met with mixed reaction from the public. National security concerns prohibited the public from viewing the launch leaving space enthusiasts with many unanswered questions. The probe was the first mission for the Space Ex dragon module. The module will be the latest vehicle to house astronauts on future missions to the Moon and Mars.
“Our new Dragon module has proven to be a complete success so far,” said Space Ex founder Eon Musk. “New technology allows the launch vehicle to land autonomously saving the space program billions of dollars while raising interest in America’s National Parks.“