Editor’s note: This Back Then column by George Ellison first appeared in the Feb. 15, 2012, edition of The Smoky Mountain…
(Editor’s Note: Readers should be cautioned that several of the descriptions of scalping and related practices presented in this column…
Note: This is the second of a two-part series about Christian Priber, an utopian socialist whose beliefs — including free…
Christianus Gottlieb Priber was born in Zittau, Germany, where he was the son of a beerhouse owner. In October 1722,…
Everyone knows what a blue jay looks and sounds like in a general sort of way. Their incandescent blue plumage…
People sometimes wonder if the prehistoric Cherokees used any sort of poisons on their blowgun darts. These darts (slivers of…
The books have once again piled up in stacks up to three feet high in many corners of the house.…
High-elevation overlooks are one of our finest natural resources. These vantage points allow us to rise above our everyday humdrum…
Late summer has slid into early autumn. The end of summer officially arrived with the autumnal equinox of Sept. 23,…
In the June 14, 2004, issue of The New Yorker magazine, there was an essay titled “Blocked! Why Do Writers…
Steam and water-powered sawmills were established here in the Smokies region during the 1870s and 1880s. But full-fledged industrialized logging…
[Before moving on to the primary subject of this column (yard gardens), I’d like to share some impressions with you…
For the ancient Cherokees and other southeastern Indian tribes, the greatest causes of illness were the spirits of vengeful animals.…
Trying to answer that question, the first source I resorted to was, of course, the Oxford English Dictionary. Therein I…
Those who read this column regularly are aware of my interest in the early descriptive literature of Western North Carolina.…
How many naturalized plants do you recognize from your vehicle this time of year as you drive around taking care…
I bless my lucky stars that I’m a columnist assigned the pleasant task of writing about this region’s natural and…
Systems of mature trees and shrubs are covered with blemishes that signal age: cankers, seams, burls, butt scars, sterile conks,…
On one level, the natural history of a region consists of its terrain, habitats, plants, animals and how they interrelate.…
All this spring, golden birch catkins were dangling throughout the woodlands of the Smokies region. These are the male, pollen-carrying…
In the natural world here in the Blue Ridge, there are certain visual images that rivet the attention of human…
One never tires of discovering special places here in the southern mountains. Through the years, such places readily become old…
I have files in my computer containing articles I’ve forgotten that I wrote until, by chance, I run across them…
“The line runs down the meander of the ridge to where Bossy dropped her first calf.”  “The line runs to where…
The worldwide annual production of “high conductivity copper” had by 1899 risen to 470,000 tons, of which 300,000 tons were…
The setting for Horace Kephart’s posthumous novel Smoky Mountain Magic (2009) is the Cherokee Indian Reservation, Bryson City and Deep…
Editor’s note: This article was first published in The Smoky Mountain News in December 2003. Tuckaseigee, Oconaluftee, Heintooga, Wayah, Cullasaja,…
Essays and columns are difficult to categorize. Dividing them into the formal and informal is about all anyone can agree…
The first frost serves as a given year’s most distinctive dividing line. It’s hard to pinpoint just when winter becomes…
Like an old man’s face, mature hardwood tree trunks are covered with blemishes that signal age: cankers, seams, burls, butt…
Our elementary school primers were populated by robins pulling worms out of holes. They appeared on television screens on Saturday…
Before the settlement named Charleston became the village named Bryson City in 1889, it was a tract of land known…
Old-time mountaineers often picked their home and church sites according to the location and purity of springs. They were connoisseurs…
A large buckeye tree overhangs and supports the swinging gate leading into and out of our pasture. Since we are…
“Hay fever: An acute allergic condition of the mucous membranes of the upper respiratory tract and the eyes, characterized by…
Two well known sites in Swain County were named for Col. Thaddeus Dillard Bryson, a significant figure in Western North…
Lungwort is the leaf-like lichen common on tree trunks several feet or more above ground level. It resembles liverwort but…
“Seeds of this common weed do indeed contain an hallucinogenic component, but, as is so often the case, the same chemical…
“How many thousand-thousand of untold white ash trees are the respected companions of our doorways, kindliest trees in the clearing…
Certain place names in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park have become iconic: Gregory Bald, Thunderhead, Chimney Tops, Jump-off, Mt.…
Like poisonous serpents, some plants developed toxic properties in order to protect themselves against predators. Besides insects, the major plant…
This past weekend marked the occasion of the 32nd annual Great Smokies Birding Expedition. Fred Alsop, the ornithologist at East…
Forty years ago this coming July 5, my wife, Elizabeth, and I and our three children moved into a small…
“Marvel for a moment at the fern fiddlehead. It stands like a watch spring coiled and ready to unwind ……
The cove we live in has been alive with birds for several weeks now. As alive with birds as it’s…
In the early 1700s British astronomer and mathematician Edmund Hillary, of comet fame, called [the spiral formed by a fern’s…
Last summer while I was walking along the creek below our home, small splotches of red and white at the…
Hog Holler, Hog Branch, Hog Camp Branch, Hog Cane Branch, Hog-eye Branch, Hogback Gap, Hogback Holler, Hogback Knob, Hogback Ridge,…
There seems to be an upsurge of interest in ironwood in Western North Carolina of late. It’s curious how reader…
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