Tennessee Mountain Stories

Plans for Emma: The Place


One of the greatest compliments my writing can receive is for someone to tell me that the feel like they’ve visited the mountain in my stories.  A friend who is a stranger to the mountain said she felt like she was from that place after reading Replacing Ann.  Another reader who lived here until the 1940’s could well recall the places the characters visited. 

This is such high praise because you will remember that one of my motivations for writing is to share this precious place with others.

So I’ve shared really four different communities with you in Plans for Emma

Flat rock on England Farm.jpg

Emma and her family live in Roslin.  Today Roslin has faded into obscurity as the school system first combined Roslin with Banner Springs to have a single elementary school that was called Banner Roslin.  Now even the school is closed, further consolidated into South Fentress Elementary.  Roslin had its own post office until 1961 – and character Preston Langford has to visit that landmark regularly. 

The Flat Woods were a large tract of timber in the Roslin and Banner Springs community.  At the turn of the twentieth century, little communities often sprang up around these logging operations.   Many times there was a railroad spur built to carry the products out and this transportation was utilized by all the surrounding area.  We’ve talked here before about how Isoline, Tennessee with its depot and post office made a critical contribution to the neighborhood.  The logging camps were largely self-sufficient and you get a little glimpse of such a place in the book as Preston Langford lives and works there.

Sunbright Train Depot.jpg

No railroad spur arrived in The Flat Woods so Preston was often tasked with the dangerous task of hauling hewn cross ties out to the railhead in Sunbright.  We’re all so civilized these days that it’s hard to imagine the wild-west nature of some of these little towns.  I attempt to describe how the neighboring communities perceived the bustling rail-towns and how one wholesome country boy reacts to it.

Finally, we’ll visit Martha Washington the community so close to my own heart.  Without a railroad, country store or post office it’s not a town.  The roads were muddy wagon tracks and there was no booming timber or mining operation.  Yet Preston and Emma find there a warm people and a welcoming community that’s easy to call home.

I’m always fascinated with the movement of roads through history so even if you are familiar with these communities today you may not recognize the paths.  Still, I hope you will be fascinated as the characters move from one community to the next.