I love it when I bet the chance to see some of the countryside. And I’ve talked here before about travelling a’foot and stage coach trips and all such as that. Still, I am continually amazed by the terrain of our Cumberland Plateau – really all of the Appalachian Mountains.
We certainly recall that the rugged mountains were the primary reason our people were so isolated for about 200 years before World War II. I guess that same rugged beauty is partly why so many people are drawn back to our mountains these days. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park averages 3 MILLION visitors per year. Can you even imagine that many people? Now try to imagine what the first long hunters who crossed the Smokies from the civilized East Coast would think if you told them one day their tracks would be crossed by that many people! A little closer to home, The Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area sees over 600,000 visitors annually and I have a hard enough time imagining THAT many people.
So I did have a chance to drive through Woodbury, Manchester and Murfreesboro this week and I always notice the old home sites along the way. Those areas so significant settlement long before the Plateau and they were settlers who made a more lasting impression on the land. Farms cleared and tilled two centuries ago can still be seen – some of them have rolls of hay or neat rows of sapling trees on them today while others are sub-divided and sprouting big, modern houses. There are still of beautiful examples of homes – they look big to me and I can’t help but wonder if they were built to be fine or just to house the large families that were so prevalent in the 1800’s. And there are small homes too that are obviously from a by-gone era with their multiple chimneys reminding us that a cook stove was necessary in the back of the house and another fireplace or stove in a sitting room. Sometimes the brick have a different look – and the old brick are usually painted and I wonder why. Often those homes seem to be in strange places – I notice them on a hill way back from the road and I realize that road moved since the house was built. Sometimes the houses will have stairs down to the roadway because new roads had to be cut deep into the rolling hills so families added stairs to get down to the road – after all they were still walking out of their homes more often then driving out in an automobile.
I guess you can imagine that I prefer the secondary roads to our fast-paced interstates. Really I relish the leisure to choose those routes because the usually do take longer. Yet the extra time is always well spent and I either learn something new or at least come away with questions that drive my research!
Do you love our character-rich countryside? Well I’d love to hear from you about that. Please click the comments below and tell me where you like to drive on country roads and what you’ve noticed.
And if you always find yourself running 70 on the big roads, leave a little early, and check out the joy of a country road.