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About the Valley

Welcome to the February 2008 issue of About the Valley. I am devoting this issue to the story of the Walker Sisters who lived in their home in the Great Smoky National Park until the mid 1960s when the last sister passed away. Plan to visit their home when you are in the Great Smoky Mountains.


THE WALKER SISTERS CABIN

The kitchen portion of the cabin was first built in 1859 by Wiley King, who had purchased the Little Greenbrier land a few years earlier. His youngest daughter, Margaret Jane, married John Walker of Wears Valley in 1866. They lived in the cabin and raised their growing family, which over the years included three sons and seven daughters. Walker added to the original cabin with a larger structure.

The cabin eventually passed down to five of Walker’s daughters (Margaret Jane, Polly, Louisa, Hettie, and Martha) who had never married. These women lived by themselves and were famous for their skills and self-sufficiency—they had to be farmers, seamstresses, cooks, herb doctors, and much more. They lived in their house without electricity and plumbing until the last sister died in 1964.

In the 1930s, a commission of the government was responsible for buying land for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which was officially established in 1934. They could not persuade the Walker Sisters to sell their homestead. In an effort to prevent bad publicity, they allowed the sisters to remain on their land.

The sisters finally sold the farm in 1941 to the government in exchange for a lifetime lease. Legend has it that President Franklin Roosevelt visited the sisters and convinced them to sell but there is no official record of that visit. In 1953, the two remaining sisters asked the park superintendent to help them with the farm and the park complied.

You can visit this home, which has been preserved and is an accurate picture of how mountain folks really lived. The cabin still has traces of newspapers on the walls that were used to keep out the wind. There is still a springhouse over the creek where the sisters kept refrigerated foods and a corn crib. You can explore the cabin, springhouse, and corn crib, plus bits of stone walls that were part of this homesite.

To visit the Walker Sisters cabin, you take the 2-mile round trip walk beginning in the parking lot of the Little Greenbrier Schoolhouse in the Metcalf Bottoms area. This is an easy trail. The trailhead to this hike is located by taking Lyon Springs Road in Wears Valley toward Metcalf Bottoms. You will see the Little Greenbriar Gap Trail trailhead to the left.

There are some wonderful pictures of the Walker Sisters cabin located at http://smokyphotos.com/photos_73.htm. If you want to read more about the Walker Sisters, there is great book: The Walker Sisters: Spirited Women of the Smokies by Bonnie Trentham Myers with Linda Myers Boyer.

 

MISS OLIVIA’S HOMEMADE TOMATO SOUP

1 rounded tablespoon bacon drippings

1/2 stick butter

3/4 cup finely minced celery

3/4 cup finely minced onion

1 very small carrot grated, optional

(May substitute 1/2 teaspoon sugar)

2 (28-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes

2 to 3 cups chicken broth, store-bought or homemade

1 rounded tablespoon Paul Prudhommes Poultry Magic (You may substitute your favorite seasoned salt)

In a Dutch oven, melt bacon drippings and butter. Add onions and celery. Cook until tender. Add tomatoes and about two cups of the broth. Bring to boil. Lower heat and add seasonings. Simmer 30 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings if desired. May add more broth for desired thickness. THIS IS GREAT SERVED WITH A GRILLED CHEESE SANDWICH.

IF YOU ARE PLANNING A TRIP TO THE SMOKY MOUNTAINS, PLEASE CONSIDER STAYING AT OUR CABIN. THE COMFORT AND CONVENIENCE OF A CHESTNUT RIDGE CABIN MAKE YOUR VACATION MORE FUN! CHECK AVAILABILITY AND RESERVE YOUR DATES EARLY -- MANY RESERVATIONS ARE MADE WEEKS AHEAD.

If you are interested in owning a vacation home or rental home in the beautiful Smoky Mountains, we are offering Pine Cone Lodge for sale. For purchase information, contact Timbercreek Realty & Cabin Rentals, 3121 Wears Valley Road, Sevierville, TN 37862, 1-800-837-7022, or visit www.timbercreekcabins.com. For a brochure describing Pine Cone Lodge, e-mail us at chestnut_ridge_cabins@comcast.net for more information.



Thanks for subscribing to About the Valley. We look forward to bringing you more news next month. As always, if you have any questions or comments or want to share your favorite place to visit in the Smoky Mountains, e-mail us at chestnut_ridge_cabins@comcast.net.

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