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A large buckeye tree overhangs and supports the swinging gate leading into our property. Thereby, we have the opportunity to…

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The story of the initial meeting between Horace Kephart and Granville Calhoun has as many twists and turns as a…

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The meeting between Granville Calhoun and Horace Kephart (the quintessential highlander and outlander, respectively) is a noteworthy event in this…

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Editor’s note: George Ellison’s column this week is a sort of fable based on one of the seldom-seen (almost mythical)…

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In a letter to the editor of the Smoky Mountain News published several weeks ago, Gwen Franks Breese took exception…

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Regional histories are my favorite literary genre. It’s in them that the nitty-gritty of everyday life is most clearly portrayed.…

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Now is sourwood time. From late June into mid-August sourwood trees will be flowering throughout Western North Carolina, from the…

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On Jan. 12, 1864, a Confederate battery of artillery and about 650 men under the command of Gen. Robert B.…

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Everywhere you go in Western North Carolina there are secluded places reputed to have been used as hideaways by the…

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2014 seems to be a banner year for cowbirds. I saw them in large numbers in southeastern Arizona two weeks…

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Since the year 2000, I have written going on 750 Back Then “columns” for The Smoky Mountain News. I am…

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Judge Felix E. Alley (1873-1957) was a native of Whiteside Cove, near Cashiers and Highlands. During most of his legal…

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“Eagles, as they still do, lived on the creek. One day in the 1890s, an eagle dropped a piglet into…

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For years I’ve been enjoying and sometimes writing about a group of old-time Western North Carolina storytellers I think of…

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John Baker (Little John) Cable Jr. is one of the prominent figures in Horace Kephart’s Our Southern Highlanders (1913; revised…

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When I was a boy growing up in south-central Virginia during the early 1950s, my home was situated near a…

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Let’s talk some sports radio. I began thinking about this piece the afternoon before the Super Bowl. The Panthers were…

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Some musings on the New Year, from one who never cared much for noisy midnight celebrations of any sort, but…

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The walnut family is relatively small, but it contains some of the more interesting and valuable tree species found in…

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“Two or more Families join together in building a hot-house, about 30 feet Diameter, and 15 feet high, in form…

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Some steam and water-powered sawmills were established in the Smokies region during the 1870s and 1880s. But full-fledged industrialized logging…

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Jack Coburn was a regional entrepreneur who had come to the Smokies in the 1890s. Jack liked to laugh, drink,…

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Some of my happiest times here in the Blue Ridge have been those hours spent locating grassy balds, gorges, sinkholes,…

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It’s early October as I write this column. The first frost hasn’t, as yet, arrived. But it won’t be long…

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I’ve never seen a timber wolf, even though they no doubt once roamed — from time to time — across…

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I like visiting those sites here in the Smokies region where there is what I think of as an “overlay;”…

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Horace Kephart left the cabin site on the Little Fork in the fall of 1907, spending considerable time in other…

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A large yellow buckeye tree overhangs and supports the swinging gate that accesses our property. The tree has started to…

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Some years ago, when I first became interested in plant identification, I became curious about liverworts. They are one of…

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We are attracted to water. Mountain paths always wind down to water — springs, branches, creeks and rivers. Water is…

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This time of the year is perhaps the best time to enjoy flowering plants in a home garden. Many of…

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While perusing the shelves in a used bookstore recently, I spotted a title that was irresistible: From the Banks of…

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The yellow jackets are back. They inundated my home office this morning. First they gnawed through the ceiling from a…

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The whistle of the excursion train on the far side of the river shrieked three times. From where I sat…

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We are attracted to water. Mountain paths always wind down to water — springs, branches, creeks and rivers. Water is…

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When I was a very young boy growing up in Virginia, there was a very old man in our neighborhood…

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I had my first introduction to the showy and curious hibiscus flowers when I was a boy. Rose-of-Sharon was a…

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Note: Every July 4th from 1973 through 1990, I used to go in Bennett’s Drug Store here in Bryson City…

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Perhaps you’re looking for a new site to visit this summer?  If so, consider making a visit to Black Rock…

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A plant that always gets me to thinking with my stomach is common elderberry (Sambucus canadensis), which is just now…

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I wrote first by hand and then with a manual typewriter. Starting about 1990, I moved “up” to a Tandy…

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We are attracted to water. Mountain paths always wind down to water. Water is the essence of our very being…

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Leading a field trip isn’t complicated. But there may be more to it than you suppose. It helps if you…

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A book I read about the Suwannee River featured numerous photographs of trees overhanging the waterway festooned with Spanish moss.…

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Although bird identification can be perplexing — baffling at times for even the most accomplished birders — the principles of…

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Last Saturday, I led a bird identification workshop for the Smoky Mountain Field School. We started out in the morning…

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Naturalist Donald Culross Peattie (1898-1964) was born in Chicago. In his autobiography The Road of a Naturalist (1941), Peattie recalled…

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That’s the news. Our common breeding swallows have always been purple martins, barn swallows, and northern rough-winged swallows. To a…

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Elizabeth and I were sitting on the deck Monday evening when a tiny bird made an abbreviated appearance — apparently…

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