Head of Sequatchie Spring after several days of heavy rain
On August 22, Dr. Nicholas Crawford, retired hydrologist from Western Kentucky University, will visit the Head of Sequatchie to deliver a presentation on the distinctive geological and hydrological features found in the Grassy Cove and Head of Sequatchie areas. A leading authority on the topic, Crawford prepared an influential Ph. D. dissertation on the hydrogeology of this region. Starting his research in 1972, his dissertation was later published in four parts by the Tennessee Division of Geology. Crawford’s talk will explore the subterranean drainage and Karst topography of Grassy Cove and Head of Sequatchie. He will describe his pioneering experiments using dye traces to understand how water passed under the surrounding mountains to form the magnificent Sequatchie Valley and Grassy Cove topography.
Grassy Cove from Brady Mountain looking southeast
Head of Sequatchie is open to the public only for park-sponsored events. This will be a great time to learn more about this unique area of East Tennessee.
Presentation starts at 1:00pm CST
Directions to the Head of Sequatchie
From I-40, take the Peavine Road exit (Exit #322). At the end of the ramp turn south, onto Tenn. Hwy 392/Milo Lembert Parkway.
Continue until you come to a 4 way stop. Go straight. You are now on the bypass around Crossville.
Travel 2.6 miles, until the next red light. Turn left on US Hwy 127 South/Main Street.
Travel 2.6 miles to the Y intersection with TN Highway 68 at the Homestead Tower. Turn right onto Highway 127 south. From the Highway 68 split to the main entrance to Cumberland Mountain State Park is 0.7 miles.
Travel 1.3 miles past the entrance to Cumberland Mountain State Park, and turn left onto Old Hwy 28. A Texaco gas station and an Antique Store are on the left, just before this intersection.
Follow Old Highway 28 for 8 miles to the entrance road to Head of Sequatchie. The road crosses Daddy’s Creek at 3 miles after the turn off US 127, begins a rapid descent into Sequatchie Valley after you have passed a dump station. Watch your speed: the road is narrow and there are two “hairpin” turns. small driveway on the left marked by two mailboxes.
This free event will include local music, local food, and carriage rides into the Head of the Sequatchie Farm. It will also include a variety of children’s activities. The event is sponsored by families from the head of the valley. For updates and more information check this site or call Charlie Orme, after 7pm, at 423-533-2478.
Ranger Anthony Jones giving a talk at Head of Sequatchie
Call of the Wild, an after-dark adventure at the Head of the Sequatchie unit of Cumberland Trail State Scenic Trail was held on Monday night, July 27th, at the historic farm site and archaeological area just off Old Highway 28. Cumberland Trail Park Ranger Anthony Jones began searching out the nocturnal creatures of the Cumberland Plateau, from raccoons to bears, before he was school age. Jones has worked for Tennessee State Parks since 2002, serving at Pickett State Park, South Cumberland Recreation area, and the Cumberland Trail.
The turnout for Call of the Wild was great with 34 people showing up. Call of the Wild was a night hike that led people into the darkness of the Head of Sequatchie farm to look for creatures of the night. However, one night prowler stole the show – the Barred Owls were out in force. After a few attempts of calling in these night creatures, they obliged by putting on a show of vocal calls that rang in the valley well into the night, with one owl actually showing himself to the public for a short moment. It was a huge success and we would love to have you for our next event.
Songs of Appalachia: A series of musical profiles in the Knoxville News Sentinel involving many musicians from along the Cumberland Trail. Several of the featured artists, including Lou Wilson, Clyde Davenport, Luke Brandon, Mike Bryant, Luke Brandon, and Charlie Acuff, have worked with the ongoing Cumberland Trail Music and History Project.
The Friends of the Cumberland Trail State Park are sponsoring four teachers, one each from Morgan, Cumberland, Rhea, and Hamilton counties, to attend an all-day Outdoor Classroom Symposium on May 8, 2009 at Montgomery Bell State Park. The teachers selected by their respective school systems are: Kim Carroll from Central Middle School in Morgan County, Velma Hawn from Glenn L. Martin Elementary School in Cumberland County, Lene’ McCoy from Rhea Central Elementary School in Rhea County, and Anthony Goad from Tyner Middle Academy in Hamilton County. The Symposium is hosted by the Tennessee Environmental Education Association, Tennessee State Parks, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and the Tennessee Department of Education. These four counties were picked because large portions of the Trail go through them. Interest in this type of partnership between the Friends and schools of the Plateau may warrant additional workshops and joint projects in the future which can be closer to the Plateau area.
The Friends of the Cumberland Trail are involved in the Tennessee Coalition of “No Child Left Inside”, which is an effort to get kids outside for education as well as health reasons. Anyone (or schools) interested in this type of educational partnership should contact Del Truitt at email@example.com or (615) 354-3702.
Board Member, Jamie Trotter at the McNabb Mine site (Photo Courtesy of the Chattanooga Free Times Press)
“A Chattanooga woman’s work with a North Georgia company to document and preserve a Marion County coal mining ghost town has won recognition from the Tennessee Historical Commission.
Jaime Trotter, a historian with Alexander Archaeological Consultants of Wildwood, Ga., is among 21 people awarded the commission’s 2009 Certificate of Merit.”
-Pam Sohn, Chattanooga Free Press Times
In May 2009, Friends of the Cumberland Trial board member Jaime Woodcock Trotter won recognition from the Tennessee Historical Commission for her National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) nomination for the mining town of Shake Rag. The abandoned coal mining community was constructed as part of McNabb Mines around 1882 and is located in present-day Prentice Cooper State Forest in Marion County, not far from Chattanooga and the Cumberland Trail. Jaime and a team of three archaeological surveyors painstakingly marked and photographed every visible aboveground feature in a 457-acre area and created hand-drawn maps of the features, which include the remnants of a hotel, commissary, school, miner housing, rail beds, coke ovens, and other associated buildings and structures. Jaime thoroughly researched deeds, historic newspapers, mining and labor records, court cases, and many other documents in order to interpret and explain the significance of the McNabb Mines site. Impressed by the extraordinarily thorough site documentation, a staff member at the Tennessee Historical Commission nominated Jaime for the Certificate of Merit. McNabb Mines was added to the NRHP in 2008 and is visible from River Canyon Road, about 9.2 miles from the turn off US-27. Though a walk through is not advised due to potentially dangerous conditions, some sandstone building remnants, including the former hotel, school, commissary, and coke ovens, are visible from Mullins Cove Road.
We are very proud to have Jamie Trotter on the Board of the Friends of the Cumberland Trail.
Directions to the Head of Sequatchie from Chattanooga:
Take US North to Highway 111, Keep left to take 111 North toward Dunlap, go 17 miles, Turn right onto us 127 north toward pikeville, go 31.6 miles take a right onto Lowe’s gap road, go 0.8 take a left onto old 28 go app there is a sharp curve at .7 stay left, it is app 4.4 miles to the turn into the Hos from when you take a left onto old 28.
Charlie McCarroll is a strong, serious, and powerful fiddler. At age 74, he continues to play expertly in a style only barely more modern. Since the recent reissue of the classic 1928 recordings of the Roane County Ramblers, Charlie is attracting attention for his own mastery of the repertoire of his father, the great Southern Champion fiddler Jimmy McCarroll. Charlie says, “Daddy played a little different than me. He never did learn none of that grass.” Charlie often performs locally with multi-instrumentalist Tony Thomas and has recently earned well-deserved attention on both WBIR’s Heartland Series and WDVX’s Music of the Cumberland Trail. Even today, as younger players instantly download and scrutinize styles and repertoire from far-flung regions, performers, and time periods, Charlie’s vast storehouse of tunes, earned through diligence, in face-to-face interaction, is beginning to thrill and fascinate followers and students of old-time fiddling. Though reserved and modest, Charlie bends to no fiddler, remaining ever ready to put his breakneck, hard-driving facilities to the test.
Listen to Charlie McCarroll perform “Green River March” and “Hometown Blues“:
At age 51, Russ Wilson, of Speedwell, is one the youngest musicians in Tennessee to have learned old-time fiddling from a family member. Tutored during annual visits and on a flow of reel-to-reel teaching tapes, young Russ learned almost note-for-note from his masterful third cousin, Fiddlin’ Bob Rogers, who emigrated to Los Angeles where he become a sought-after square dance musician. With his studied, but graceful, style, Russ quickly emerged as an old-time fiddling force. As a teen, Russ traveled to contests throughout the region, frequently besting the competition and eventually earning a fiddle case full of top-tier ribbons. Though nurtured in firmly traditional practices, Russ cultivates a deep curiosity and well-attuned ear to music-making from an array of performers and regions. Along with fiddling, Russ has also developed a distinguishing style on the dobro and flattop guitar. Whatever the instrument, though, of late, he mostly performs the old way, at home, intimately, surrounded by family members and friends. Along with his mother Lou Wilson-herself a regional ballad singing treasure-Russ often welcomes neighbors and visitors to his Powell Valley home place for refreshing afternoons of fiddling, singing, laughter, and conversation. With this flawless rural setting as his “stage,” Russ rarely fiddles in formal performance venues.
Listen to Russ Wilson perform “Buttermilk“:
Fiddlin’ Bob Douglas‘ of Rhea County, TN was a celebrated musician in the lower end of the Cumberland Trail corridor for over eight decades. He began his musical career as the guitar accompanist for his father, fiddler Tom Douglas, and the two played for local square dances throughout the Sequatchie Valley region and along the Cumberland Plateau. After watching his father, Douglas taught himself to play fiddle and landed a job on the first radio station in Chattanooga.
Douglas won several important fiddle contests, beating out professional players such as Clayton McMichen and Bert Layne, of the well-known old time band, Gid Tanner and the Skillet Lickers, at the All-Southern Convention in Chattanooga. When Douglas became a band leader, he hired the two young brothers from Sand Mountain, TN, Ira and Charlie Loudermilk, who became better known as the Louvin Brothers.
Unlike other early country musicians on local radio, Bob Douglas chose to remain a semi-professional in the Chattanooga area rather than tour and turn professional. He kept his factory job, but played continuously for regional dance, radio programs, and social performances. In 1975 he was invited to participate in a National Fiddle Contest sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. Douglas won the contest along with his long time partner, guitarist Ray “Georgia Boy” Brown, of Dunlap, Tennessee.
In 2000, Douglas became the first 100-year-old fiddler to play on the Grand Ole Opry. He died at age 101 in 2001.
Listen to Bob Douglas perform “Cotton-Eyed Joe“:
Fiddlin” Bob Rogers
Fiddlin’ Bob Rogers, born in 1907, stood for decades as the premier fiddler from the Powell Valley in Claiborne County, Tennessee. Born into a musical family, Bob, or “Og” as he was known to friends and family, grew up immersed in an environment rich with old-time fiddle music. After learning his first tune, “Maggie,” from his mother, Bob worked as a young man to craft his own beautiful and powerful fiddling style. At his peak, Bob’s refreshing sound reflected a preference for arpeggiation and melodic integrity, relying less, as such, on the droning technique common in much traditional playing. Active in East Tennessee’s music scene until the late 1940s, Bob moved to California in his thirties to work as a welder. Once on the West coast, he also started his own highly successful square dance band and played at various venues, including, most notably, the Crystal Ballroom in Hollywood, CA five nights a week. In 1958, Bob and his band recorded several commercial square dance 78rpms. The records sold so well that venues stopped hiring Bob’s band, relying instead on his popular recordings. Over time, Bob, frustrated with these circumstances, rid himself of any of his own recordings; luckily, though, his second cousin, Lou Wilson, did keep copies dubbed onto several cassette tapes. These survive with her to this day. Bob also made many instructional tapes for his cousin Russ Wilson, the only member of the family to be a direct “student” of this master teacher.
After Bob retired from welding, he spent several weeks each summer visiting and jamming with his friends and relatives back in Speedwell. During these summer shindigs he passed on many of his fiddle licks and tune repertoire–around 700 tunes–to his kinfolks. By the mid-1970s, Bob’s health kept him from traveling to Tennessee. He passed away in the early 1980s. Bob Rogers’s fiddling legacy lives on, though, in the playing of his cousin Russ Wilson and in the lineage of fiddlers in California that were lucky enough to experience his rare encyclopedic knowledge of traditional music.