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Full text of "When smoke gets in your eyes / John Robert Spielman"

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The Eastern part of the United States is 
srenerally considered as a thickly populated area, 
with "barely space to turn around, yet within five 
hundred miles of the Nation's Capitol is one of 
the most impenetrable forests in the United States. 
This tract of land is now known as The Great Smoky 
Knuntains National Park and it is the newest in the 
National Park System. In 19P3 public spitited ciV 
izens of the states of ijorth Carolina and Tennessee 
started a drive to have this vast tract made into 
a National Park. In 1926 pongress authorized the 
creation of this park, which, when completed will 
be fifty -four miles long, and from fifteen to 
nineteen miles wide, containing 436,000 acres* 
The park itself contains only a small portion of 
the rugged mountain beauty lying between Knoxville, 
Tennessee and Ashville, North Carolina. In recent 
years a parkway has been partially completed, ex- 
tending from the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia 

to the Smoky Mountain Park, a distance of 430 
miles, along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains, 
through some of the most primitive mountain com- 
munities . 

To the South lies the beautiful Hantahala 
Gorge, TTbile not a part of the park, it contains 
a beauty of its own. At first sight it seems im- 
possible that the little streak of white thousands 
of fe<=>t almost beneath one in a chasm barely wide 
enough for a stream, is the road that you will be 
driving on within the next fifteen minutes. This 
road winds for fifteen miles through the gorge, 
first between sheer rock walls and then up over 
some high crest . 

At the eastern entrance to the park is the 
63,000 acre Qualla Indian Reservation. This is 
the home of 3,200 Cherokee Indians. .Except for 
their color and features there is little about 
them to indicate their race. Very seldom is native 
costume in evidence and once drawn into conversa- 
tion, the younger Indians can talk enougb for any- 

one. As a whole the people are very shy. If you 
drive into one of these back roads and an Indian 
family is working around a home, they will not be 
there when you return in half an hour. Many of the 
older generation do not speak English, and in spite 
of the fine settlement school, where all kinds of 
trades are taught the houses are slovenly kept. 
Early in October the Indians hold their harvest 
festival when they display their products of agri- 
culture and crafts, some of which are really amaz- 
ing. Fost of the Indians are still experts with 
the bow and arrow and blow gun. An Indian with bow 
and arrow is not an uncommon sight. Rome of the 
Indians obtain a college education, but it seems 
that most of them return to the ways of their fore- 
fathers . 

The park area contains nothing but primeval 
forests penetrated by roads and numerous trails. 
From the In ctt an Reservation a continuous grade 
of seventeen miles takes one to TTewfound Gap ■ at 
the backbone of the ridge and the Tennessee -Worth 

Carolina state line. This road is a real feat of 
engineering. It ascends nearly one mile in seven- 
teen, and yet in spite of the steepness, the mod* 
em car ascends with ease. The view during the 
ascent is magnif icent I In late June when the az- 
aleas and rhododendren are in bloom, the peaks 
look like a rumpled carpet set ablaze in spots 
by carelessly dropped matches. It is the usual 
thing to begin the ascent on a beautiful, sunny 
day, run through a cloud-burst half the way up, 
and finally reach Uewfound Gap above the clouds. 

From Newfound Gap to Clingman's Dome runs 
the highest paved road east of the Rockies. Most 
of it is more than a mile above sea level. First 
on one side of the range and then on the other, 
one sees more of Korth Carolina, Tennessee, and 
Georgia than could be seen in months. When 
Cllngman's Dome is reached on a clear day, the 
immediate reaction on stepping out of the car 
is to fall flat on the ground. The gray and 
white clouds hang so close overhead that they 

seem ready to fall and crush the earth. Watching 
them for awhile makes one dizzy . As they rise 
and fall axound one, the whole world seems un- 
steady. Descending the western slope is just as 
marvelous as the ascent* Finally, Gatlinburg , 
Tennessee is reached, the western entrance to the 
park . 

The people inhabiting the park area are still 
~arly American pioneers. Their homes are log, or 
frame cabins with a corn patch against the almost 
vertical mountain side. These patches furnish the 
mountaineers' staple food, corn bread, and their 
enjoyment, powerful, white "corn-llkkerS The corn 
is ground in water power "tub" mills holding a ttb 
of grain at a time. These people have retained songs 
that have been traced back directly to the time of 
Chaucer. They have given the mountains their queer 
names such as "Charlie's Bunicn" and "Camel Humpl. 
"Bote Fountain 11 obtained its name from a meeting 
called to decide which ridge *. road should follow. 
A mountaineer broke the tie vote by exclaiming