Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Cabin fever of a different kind

Way back in 2006, I wrote about finding peace in an imaginary cabin in the woods. On vacation with my sister recently, I found peace in and around real cabins, some more than a hundred years old, in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

At the same time I was enjoying the serenity of these remote structures, I was also imagining how hard the original occupants of these cabins must have had to work to live and raise a family in a place like this. It must have been a chore just to keep the lush growth of the forest from reclaiming the space that had been cleared for a cabin.

We went inside several of the cabins, and I felt like a giant in there. The rooms were small, the ceilings low. No doubt they were built that way intentionally to make them easier to heat in cold mountain winters, but I guarantee you there must have been a lot of elbow bumping when the cabins were occupied by families.

Nevertheless, I loved them all. I've probably looked at these photos at least a couple dozen times since I've been home, trying to recapture the feelings I had when I stood in the presence of these rustic structures and imagined the men who built them and the women who made them home.

The John Oliver Cabin in Cades Cove (shot with a zoom lens 
because it stands about a quarter mile from the road). 

The barn at Cades Cove Visitor Center

The Elijah Oliver Place in Cades Cove

Interior of the Elijah Oliver Place

Corn crib in Cades Cove

Cantilever-style Cable Mill Barn, Cades Cove

Tipton Cabin in Cades Cove 
(This cabin, like many structures we saw in the park,
is leveled and supported on stacks of flat stones.)

Carter Shields Cabin in Cades Cove

Old Jim Bales Place on Roaring Fork Nature Trail

Rear view of the Ephraim Bales Place on Roaring Fork Trail


  1. wow! Picturesque and hard to imagine living in those tiny places, much less with a family with several children. No outhouse photos?? I'm disappointed!

  2. Janet, the outhouses apparently didn't survive. Wish I'd thought to search the ground for crescent-moon-shaped cutouts.

  3. thank you for the lovely photos of log cabins.

  4. Patsy, I was thinking about you when I posted these photos. You commented the other day about wishing you could see cabins along the Appalachian Trail, so I thought you'd like these.

  5. Beautiful... very hard to imagine a big family in those. I think people worked so hard, they did little indoors but sleep!

  6. Holly, that's a good point.


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