Roan Mountain

We went for a ride recently to enjoy the fall colors. Roan Mountain, Tennessee is a lovely area. The North Carolina state line is just up the road and Boone NC is very close. There’s a nice State Park and old farmstead that has been preserved. In June they have a huge Mountain Laurel Festival. Roan Mountain is absolutely covered with it and when it’s in bloom its so gorgeous. Peg Leg Iron Ore Mine is right behind the visitor center, Just a short hike into the woods. We didn’t hike back there this time.

Visiting this area over 100 years ago, you would have found these mountains to be logged and pastured. During the later half of the 1800’s a new industry found its way to East Tennessee and Western North Carolina.

An iron ore mine was operated here by the Crab Orchard Mining Company with a spur from the East Tennessee and Western North Carolina railroad coming into carry the raw ore to Cranberry, NC for refining.

Below where the mill sits was a trip hammer forge operated with a 500 lb. hammer which was connected to a water wheel. The hammer was lifted up a few feet, tripped, then fell on the ore.

Across the river a smelter sat which melted ore by using charcoal from American Chestnut trees. Ingots were made by pouring the hot ore into molds dug in the sand. A two story commissary sat where the mill now sits. Dry goods and supplies were sold to the miners with sleeping quarters located on the 2nd floor. (signage at the mill)

The Miller Farmstead is the home of the Dave Miller family. The farmstead was settled in 1870 and originally had a log cabin. The farmhouse standing there now was built in 1908 and is now preserved as a reminder of the way folks used to live in these mountains. The farmhouse is open Memorial Day to Labor Day, and weekends in October. In 2015, the farmstead was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Three generations farmed this land from 1870-1960’s. The farm was totally self sufficient, no electricity or running water. Its a wonderful spot to get a sense of the Appalachian lifestyle from days gone by. I would have loved to have spent more time there and hiked around, but Bossman has back and knee issues and with Donald we couldn’t do much walking.

Three generations of Millers carved a home and a living out of this rocky mountain soil. Mountain farmers were compelled to be tough, strong, practical, and innovative. They were bound to one another by the bonds of family, hard work and faith. … This farmstead is preserved as a testament to the grit and courage possessed by the people who farmed the ridges and valleys of the southern Appalachians. (signage on site)

We didn’t get to go inside the house, it wasn’t open but I did find this video someone who did posted on Youtube!

We stopped at a local BBQ joint and had dinner. It was a nice day out and I’m looking forward to going back when the Mountain Laurel is blooming! It’s a lovely place to camp. Here’s a couple interesting pics of other things we saw on the drive. Click on them to enlarge.

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