Saturday, November 10, 2018

Big Stone Gap, Virginia; Cumberland Gap National Park, Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee,;Cumberland Falls State Park, Kentucky; Kendall Corps of Engineer Park on Lake Cumberland, Kentucky

From Claytor Lake we head south on Route 81 and a 
nice overnight stop at Hungry Mother State Park. We have
 stayed here before and it is always a pleasant stay with a
 nice hiking trail past the lake.
The next day we opt for a challenging Route 58
 out of Abingdon, Virginia through the Appalachian 
Mountains to Big Stone Gap in the Jefferson National 
Forest. Great views, even on a murky day. In the middle
 of the picture above, you can see a person at the view point 
which is only accessible from the northern side of the 
divided highway. The smudges are from a dirty windshield!
A reminder that you can click on the pictures and videos to enlarge.

Close to the center of town is the  Jessie Lea RV  Park. Alongside a small river with a walking path, it is a very pleasant ,friendly park.
The owner set up most of the park himself. This fall decorated cart is one example.  He is also into antiques, old motorcycles(like 1920's and 30's, and more.

It may be late fall , but the roses are still going.
Along the Riverwalk , by the campground, this live tree carving was done by the campground owner.
We are still heading south on Route 58 .
If you note the 4 lane highway at the bottom, you have some idea of the rolling hills and mountains in the area.

We commented a number of times that almost every property is built on a hillside.  These houses were on fairly level land.

Southwestern Virginia, in farm and mountain country, yet here and there houses like this one.  Impressive.
Colors were still coming in for the lower elevations. 

Jan and I are still amazed at the roads in this section of Virginia and also into Kentucky.  4 lane divided highways with little to almost no traffic in places. Look above and weep New Englanders!

We are now approaching the Cumberland Gap area.
The bison were once plentiful here , even if less so than the plains areas.

Wilderness Road is the National Historical Park Campground that we very much enjoyed.
Having come from the Shenandoah Blue Ridge Mountain area, through the western Virginia valley and then here to the Appalachian Mountains and the Gap, we can appreciate the views of the European settlers. They first stayed east of the Blue Ridge until land became scarce. A while longer to settle the valley beyond.
Then Daniel Boone blazed a trail through the gap in 1769. Then in 1775 Boone and others blazed a road through the gap opening the Kentucky wilderness and more to settlers.

One of the campground loops offers some great foliage color.
Lady Blue is happy in her dry camping spot.
Senior Pass made it $10 per night.
A number of trails are in the area. Also the Visitor's Center had some wonderful movies about the gap and Daniel Boone. The gap pictured in the photo of a painting above was quite different than the extremely difficult pass through the Rockies that Lewis and Clark found in 1803.  This gap, the only one that was found in the 1700's, was already a bison track to the salt licks beyond. It was also an Indian track for many tribes from the south and north to the bountiful hunting ranges. From 1780 to 1810 200,000 to 300,000 people passed through the gap heading west.

The museum covers a number of topics about the trade routes, the explorers, Daniel Boone, and the conflicts between the Native Americans and the settlers, and also between the Native American tribes.  Some mention is also made of the Civil War troops that occupied the land  ; both North and South.  One thing we noticed from paintings , was how the discovery of coal and other minerals encouraged the stripping of the forests.  The mountains in the area became treeless, stark , and uninviting.

From 1716, this is a chart of the trading prices for European goods. We could understand the 30 buckskin price for a good rifle, but found the market for a calico petticoat at 12 buckskins a little surprising.  

The Wilderness Road and Cumberland Gap are at the intersection of Southwest Virginia, Tennessee, and Kentucky. Even in many small towns there are buildings saved or recreated in the frontier log cabin style  Images for typical Daniel Boone style log cabins . Also enjoy seeing the Kentucky style split rail fences.

We did a hike from the Visitor's Center road up to the gap on the Wilderness Road Trail.  No real views from there, but a nice hike and trail markers like this one for Object Lesson Road.  Early engineers made a road on this section on the trail to demonstrate 1800's road construction that could last and avoid erosion.

Other markers like this one on the boulder seen below.

Sometimes it is nice to stop on a trail and know that you are standing in a spot occupied by so many from previous years.
Easier to imagine some of what they were seeing and thinking at that time.  As hard as it can be in a modern, busy city, you can even do this following the Freedom Trail in  Boston .
Website for Boston Freedom Trail

From the Cumberland Gap, we follow route 25E up to Corbin and south on 25W to Cumberland Falls State park on the Cumberland River.

Smile Jan and Bruce!
These falls are the largest falls east of the Mississippi and south of Niagara Falls.

Once you click on the arrow button to play the video, most computers will allow you to click in the lower right square to enlarge the video to full screen.

Cumberland Falls State park was on Route 90 and so we continue west on Route 90 which follows the Cumberland River. Sharp curves and some steep sections. Once we begin to head north with Route 27 the land begins to level out to the wonderful Kentucky farm land.  Soon we are coming in towards Lake Cumberland.

Here we stay at one of our favorites, Kendall COE Campground.
Right next door is the Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery. Inside are long , long concrete fish tanks filled with fingerling trout.

The water constantly moves and thousands of tiny fish are all over the place.

Outside are more concrete fish tanks covered above by netting--to foil predator birds from easy meals.  These fish are much larger to almost fully grown when they are sucked into large trucks to bring to ponds and lakes and rivers in Kentucky and released. It seems that most fish here are Rainbow Trout.

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