Sunday, September 25, 2011


The Hensley and Gibbons families settled an isolated plateau near the Cumberland Gap and lived independently there for five decades. The settlement they built has been reconstructed and, if you are very fortunate, Ranger Sharon and volunteer Ancil will walk the grounds and tell you the stories.  We were lucky to be the only sign ups for the Sunday morning  tour which begins with 30 minute ride on Kentucky back roads and UP the gated one lane Shillalah Creek road.  There is too much to tell here –- several tours would not exhaust Sharon’s stories, but here are some pictures with a few notes in the captions.

There was no sawmill on the top of Brush Mountain, so all the buildings were log, mostly chestnut,  chinked with clay then battened with these short split boards.


The homes and most outbuildings were built in the folds of the land; the wind rages over the top of the mountain here.


Fences were split rail as above or pickets.


Chicken house (with outside nesting boxes) and wood shed (elevated to allow wood to dry)


Our day wasn’t over yet because the Pine Mountain Resort State Park has a Sunday Buffet that is justly famous.  The park sits astride the next ridge northward from the Cumberland Gap which would itself have been a formidable barrier if not for the Narrows.  The dinning room windows give a view of the steep, rugged folds of the land and the Thomas Walker overlook gives a view of the sinuous passage cut through by the Cumberland River.  The overlook is a half mile hike, but here in eastern Kentucky that is measured VERTICALLY. Trust me, old bodies rebel at such after salad, green beans, mashed potatoes, fried apples, mac/cheese, carrots, roast beef, fried catfish, ham, chicken/dumplings, fried chicken and banana pudding, berry cobbler, three kinds of cake, macaroons and your choice of several kinds of pies only served on Sundays to native Kentuckians.   We dragged ourselves home and showered while the dulcimer students and instructors jammed in the campground.


This is all that remains of the State Record Elk after we strapped into it at the buffet.

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