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  #11  
Old 11-24-2011, 02:14 PM
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BlueRaiderFan BlueRaiderFan is offline
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I can't imagine riding a mule for 40 miles...ouch, makes my backside hurt just thinking about it.
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  #12  
Old 11-24-2011, 09:50 PM
Jim Casada Jim Casada is offline
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BlueRaiderFan--Evidently you didn't get the meaning of "shank's mare." George Monteith didn't ride a mule. He walked the whole distance. "Shank's mare" is a traditional Appalachian term for walking. Sometimes I wrongly assume that everyone here grew up in the Smokies and is familiar with mountain talk. I should know better. Now that you understand it wasn't a mule, you'll probably find the feat even more impressive (although like you, the tought of riding a horse of mule that kind of distance gives me mental images of posterior pain).
Jim Casada
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  #13  
Old 11-25-2011, 10:55 AM
mora521 mora521 is offline
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Jim, is perambulation a traditional mountain folk word also?Just joshin' you.

TVA is capable of the same mean,underhanded activities today but now uses lawyers and eminent domain laws instead of henchmen who run folks off the road.Just ask the folks who lost some of the best bottomland in the state so an outfit called Cooper Communities out of Arkansas could sell land that they stole for 300 dollars an acre for 100,000 dollars for a quarter of an acre.(lakefront lots)
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  #14  
Old 11-25-2011, 12:28 PM
Jim Casada Jim Casada is offline
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mora521--I reckon you got me there. I never heard anyone from the mountains (except me) use perambulation. However, in one of those exquisite pieces of useless knowledge you acquire while pursuing doctoral studies in history, I did read a book entitled A Perambulation of Kent written by a great English walker back in Elizabethan times.
As for TVA shenanigans, my favorite story on the lighter side (and I have nothing but disdain for the policies and implementation of policies pursued by TVA through the decades) comes from a good friend's attendance at afamily reunion at Almond back in the late 1960s or early 1970s (the friend is the guy shown fishing on the cover of my book on the Smokies). An uncle of his was a TVA employee, and the reunion was of folks who had lived at Bushnell, which was flooded by Fontana. My friend got his uncle off to the side and asked him: "Just how much would you pay me not to let this fine crowd know there's a TVA infiltrator in their midst?"
He was joking, of course, but locals had absolutely no use for the TVA and sometimes that disdain carried over to employees (although the person in question here was a truly fine fellow).
Jim Casada
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  #15  
Old 11-26-2011, 01:56 AM
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Good stuff Jim. The history is so important. Do you have a story about the Wonderland Hotel? I think I heard a story about an airplane crash at Elkmont where the campground is now. Maybe Mr. Brewer from the Knoxville newspaper wrote it? Do you know anywhere I can find that? Been awhile since I've read it. Keep it up with the stories. Thanks, ROB
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  #16  
Old 11-28-2011, 09:06 AM
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Mr. Casada,
I also formed that opinion of Kephart after reading more about his background on the U.T. website and some other documents. I only regret that I had already bought several of his books when I learned some of his background, otherwise, I wouldn't have probably even bought them. I know he had strong points but it seems the most important things in life he could have ever left as a legacy, his family and children, he completely failed at, and didn't seem to have a bit of remorse for it either. I cannot respect someone with those credentials, no matter what else he may have lent to the Nat'l Park effort, or to the hobby of camping and woodcraft. He seems to have been a really strange character.
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Old 11-28-2011, 09:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bran View Post
Mr. Casada,
I also formed that opinion of Kephart after reading more about his background on the U.T. website and some other documents. I only regret that I had already bought several of his books when I learned some of his background, otherwise, I wouldn't have probably even bought them. I know he had strong points but it seems the most important things in life he could have ever left as a legacy, his family and children, he completely failed at, and didn't seem to have a bit of remorse for it either. I cannot respect someone with those credentials, no matter what else he may have lent to the Nat'l Park effort, or to the hobby of camping and woodcraft. He seems to have been a really strange character.
Bran, you should pick up a copy of "Smoky Mountain Magic". While fiction, it has a foreward by Kephart's great-grandaughter (I think), who gives an alternative view of his lifestyle, which is apparently the overwhelming view of his remaining family members.

Lots of writers and historians (Frome is a prime example) portray him as a less than morally sound individual, for lack of better words, which, for all I know is very true, but it's always nice to get the other side of the story.
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Old 11-28-2011, 09:24 AM
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I'll take a look at that, thanks! I did read Frome's view of him and some other accounts that I found just browsing the internet but it's interesting that his family would have anything positive to say about him, I guess that's what you're inferring. I think I may even have bought that book already and just have not read it. Seems like I bought several books, then read about his life, lost interest in him and put them on the shelf. I'll look when I get home this evening and see.
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  #19  
Old 11-28-2011, 10:01 AM
Jim Casada Jim Casada is offline
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Grannyknot and Bran--I don't know how to put this but bluntly. Kep's modern-day family members are in denial. Recent research by Janet McCue into Kep's pre-Smokies life is quite revealing in that regard.
Otherwise, there's simply no denying certain basic facts: (1) He left his wife and six children under the age of 18 and pretty clearly never contributed to their needs in any appreciable way after leaving St. Louis. Folks in Bryson City who knew him said that Laura (his wife) often wrote him virtually begging for money, and every time such a letter arrived Kep would go on a week-long drunk. Five different sources, all of whom knew Kephart quite well, told me as much (S. W. Black, a local banker and my next-door neighbor when I was a kid; Buddy Abbott, who served as the chauffeur and general factotum for Jack Coburn; Dr. Kelly Bennett, a local politician and tourism promoter; and Petey and Helen Angel, the grandchildren of the woman who owned the hotel where Kephart lived for hears). Interestingly enough, two of them, Abbott and Doc Kelly, where great admirers of Kep even as they recognized his weaknesses. Doc Kelly served as the primary moving force for the Kephart Memorial Association. Incidentally, Mike Frome, who is a meticulous researcher and skilled writer, interviewed even more folks and reached exactly the same conclusions as I did. My thoughts are summarized in a lengthy Introduction to the Univ. of Tenn. Press reprint of Camping & Woodcraft and in a presentation I made at a sypmposium at UT early this year. The latter is probably available on-line and if not and you are interested, e-mail me and I'll send a copy of my remarks. (2) Staunch friends such as Abbott, Doc Kelly, Coburn, and a few others nothwithstanding, most local folks did not like Kephart. (3)If you want to take that much time, compare the treatment of the "Highlanders" in the original volume of Our Southern Highlanders and the revised edition from the early 1920s. There's no doubt whatsoever that Kephart yielded to sensationalism and stereotyping (probably at the urging of his publishers) in order to sell books. I find that very troubling. (4) Interestingly, today's family never mentions the fact that the mountain people literally saved Kephart's life. He was drunk as a lord when he arrived at Medlin in 1904 and was picked up by Granville Calhoun and his wife. They nursed him back to health through DT's and all sorts of trouble, yet Kep never, to my knowledge (and I'm deeply versed in literature by and about him), acknowledged this.
I'm actually somewhere between mystified and amazed at the perspective of today's Kephart descendants, and I'm particularly troubled by their willingness to distort historical fact. I guess family loyalty has to be a factor, but I would add that they will have absolutely nothing to do with me and other students of the man who try to paint a fair picture--a man of great abilities in some areas and feet of clay in the bargain. One of his grandsons actually told me, back when the Introduction to Camping & Woodcraft was about to come out, that I couldn't say anything about his grandfather's drinking and abandonment of his family. This man was a preacher, so I politely asked him why it was wrong to tell the truth. That ended our exchange, then and there (and of course the material was published).
Obviously this is more than most folks probably care to hear, but I've spent 50 years studying Kephart off and on, and I feel very comfortable in saying that he was an alcoholic (in fact, that's indisputable, and even the family tacitly acknowledges as much) and that he was a miserable husband and father. On the flip side, he did a great deal as a progenitor of the Park and no one was a finer student of woodsmanship. He earned the moniker "Dean of American Campers."
Jim Casada
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  #20  
Old 11-28-2011, 10:13 AM
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Rob there was an airplane crash at Elkmont campground. Jeff Wadley a member of this site detailed it in his book Mayday Mayday about plane crashes of the Smokies. A man named Rooster Williams bought a Curtis Jenny and used to fly out of a small landing strip where the modern day campground is. In 1925 he crashed into a large rock there and was unhurt but the plane was finished. The rock is still there in the campground and I think Jeff's book has a pic of it and a lot more about it.
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