Tag Archives: history

2018 – Sightseeing the Smoky Mountains of east Tennessee

We always enjoy returning to the Smoky Mountains. This visit was just for a week, so we had a short but busy stay. A highlight for us was the opportunity to attend the Saturday afternoon sessions of the National Quartet Convention at the LeConte Center in Pigeon Forge. Thanks to some friends who were attending the convention, we got tickets for the Gerald Wolfe Hymn Sing. This was a fun “sing along” event with a full choir and several other southern gospel singers. Then, we attended a concert featuring several male quartets. As you can guess Scott was right in his element and I enjoyed my first NQC.

We spent one day enjoying the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Years ago we spent some time camping at Cades Cove and we haven’t been back there since. It was as pretty as we remembered. We took the scenic loop drive, stopping at three historical spots along the way. Our first stop was at the Primitive Baptist Church. We could see the space where the heating stove sat and the roof vent where the stovepipe vented outside. There is a large cemetery in back and we could see some the names and dates of the people buried there. One thing that stuck me in both cemeteries was the amount of children’s graves; especially those that died on the day of their birth. I was surprised to see several more recent graves there, apparently family plots still being used by families to lay loved ones to rest.

We also stopped at a Methodist Church. The building has an old upright piano. As we arrived a young lady was playing the piano and after she left Scott played his trademark “When the Saints go Marching In.” Several came in as he played and they asked for an encore! Scott said this was his day of fame! It really did sound good in that old church.

We stopped at the visitors’ center to eat our picnic lunch and then walked around the historic farm there. Next month the National Park Service will be using the historic equipment on site to demonstrate how to make sorghum which they have on sale in the store. The house is large with several rooms on the main floor and an upstairs. We also saw an old barn, corn crib, and a working mill where a man was grinding corn into cornmeal. The mill wheel was turned by water from a nearby stream. We loved the drive through the park that follows a beautiful mountain stream that features many impressive rapids. We thoroughly enjoyed our day in the beauty of God’s Creation.

There’s so much to see in this area that it would take months to really do it justice. We enjoyed returning to the Apple Barn for a meal as well as exploring the shops there. We’ll look forward to future visits here.


See individual photos with captions here.

2018 – Sightseeing Wytheville, VA and area

Our stay in the Wytheville, VA area was a brief one but we enjoyed looking around the area. We took a short drive to nearby Austinville, VA. This community has a strong Texas connection because it is the birthplace of Stephen F. Austin, the “Father of Texas.” There’s a small park there: the Stephen F. Austin Memorial Park. Austin led the group of families to Texas forming what is known as the “First 300” and he had a major role in Texas becoming a Republic.

Also near Austinville along I77 is Shot Tower Historical State Park. The park itself is small and tours are made by appointment only. According to records it was the first factory to mass produce shot on American soil. The tower is 75 feet tall with a shaft beneath it adding another 75 feet to the structure. Melted lead was pulled to the top of the tower using block and tackle. It was then poured through giant sieves. As it fell it cooled, forming musket “shot.” A tunnel at the bottom of the shaft connected to the nearby river and water from the river cushioned the newly formed lead balls as they fell into a large pot. The musket balls were retrieved by workmen from the bottom, dried and polished either on site or at a nearby town. It operated from 1807-1839.

This area is lush and green from all the rain this summer. We drove one of the many scenic byways, enjoying the forest and winding roads all the way up to the top of Big Walker Mountain, just north of Wytheville. There we looked around a long time tourist attraction, the BW Country Store. It is full of handcrafted items, tourist stuff, and tasty looking food items like jams, salsas, fudge, ice cream and more. On the weekends, the store hosts music performances. There’s a lookout tower but we chose to not go up this one. Really, tower or not, the views were spectacular: we could see for miles down the valleys on either side of the peak of the mountain. It was a great afternoon drive.


See individual photos with captions here.

2018 – Sightseeing York-Gettysburg-RV Show

We enjoyed going to the county fair in York, PA. This fair is called America’s First Fair, originating in 1765! We drove in paid our parking and walked toward the entrance wondering where we paid our entry fee and realized later that it was Senior Day and we got in free! We went through many of the buildings. It was fun watching the pig and “Hot Dog” (Dachshunds) races. We saw large and small farm animals ranging from big bulls and beautiful horses down to rabbits and guinea pigs and various birds. In one hall they had pregnant pigs, sheep, and cattle as well as mothers with babies born this week. This was a very popular spot for all ages. One building had an impressive model trains display while another had a wide variety of hand crafted items and art work. It was a fun and tiring day.

The next day, after spending the day at the fair, we headed for the “largest RV show in the country” at the Giant Center in Hershey, PA. The arena floor was filled with vendors of all kinds selling mostly RV/camping related items. The food vendors were doing a brisk business. Outside there were many acres of RVs of all makes and models. We enjoyed both the vendors and the RVs. After a day at the fair followed by the RV show we came home ready for some down-time.

I didn’t know how much food industry takes place here in this area. Many of our well known companies produce products here. We toured two of them. The first was nearby Martin’s Potato Chips at Thomasville, PA. This is mainly an east coast company. Their snacks, we were told, have been stocked on Air Force One through the last several presidencies. Our tour guide started us outside where the potatoes are brought in by huge trucks and started on their way through the factory. We then walked along the production line where the potato chips were being fried, salted, dried, inspected, and packed. The guide brought us some chips, still hot, right off the line. They were delicious, the best we’ve ever eaten. There’s a well stocked factory outlet store and, of course, we took advantage of their low prices!

From the Chip factory we drove to the Snyders of Hanover factory where our guide took us to a windowed corridor above the area where the pretzels and other items are made. It was fascinating seeing all the people keeping up with the automated line and how the items were labeled so they could be sorted by both people with scanners and automated equipment. Of course I had to buy some cookies and taste the pumpkin spice pretzels. It was a very interesting, fun, and tasty afternoon.

Our last major sightseeing trip in this area was to Gettysburg, PA. I was surprised to learn that this famous Battle was only three days long (July 1–3, 1863) yet resulted in a huge loss of life in those few days. We did the driving tour of the Battle of Gettysburg locations. We saw many monuments to the men from both the North and South who fought for what they thought was right. Our last stop was the National Cemetery. We walked to the site where Lincoln gave the Gettysburg Address and saw where many men and women from not only the battle of Gettysburg, but also later Wars and conflicts, are buried. Walking that hallowed ground was a humbling and sobering experience for us. It was also amazing to us to actually be at the site of such historical significance.


See individual photos with captions here.