|Mountain History - Cherokee, Mountain Homestead, Mingus Mill and Cataloochie|
In Cherokee visit the Museum of the Cherokee Indian (recently renovated), Qualla Arts & Crafts (real Indian handicrafts), Oconaluftee Village (especially enjoyable for children, open May 15th thru Oct 25th). Continue North on US 441 to the Southern Entrance to The Great Smoky Mountains National Park passing the Western end of The Blue Ridge Parkway. Next to the Visitors Center is The Mountain Farm Museum, a 20 minute self-guided tour, and continuing North approximately two miles is Mingus Mill, an operating grist mill manned by members of the Historical Society on Holidays and summer weekends. After picking up your bag of fresh ground corn return South to The Blue Ridge Parkway and head East. Take the first exit off the Parkway (US 19) and go East through Maggie Valley, and turn left (North) on US 276 to visit Cataloochie, a picturesque cove with some surviving houses, a school, barn and church, from what was the biggest settlement in the Smokies at the turn of the century. Turn off US 276 onto Cove Creek Road (difficult to find, no signs to the Park, small street sign by a Historical Marker less than a mile South of the intersection of US 276 & I 40). Continue on Cove Creek Road, it winds up the mountain and turns into a one and a half lane gravel road. You will swear we are getting you lost, but continue on, for it is well worth it. As you enter The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the road turns into a two lane blacktop, and there is a lookout with beautiful long range views over The Smokies and the Cataloochie Valley. In addition to the old structures - one of which is a mini-museum - in the valley, there are beautiful trails along the streams, and it is not unusual to see deer foraging in the clearings and meadows. There are also serious hiking trails through old growth forests higher up. Don't forget to take plenty of water, and if you haven't eaten yet picnic "fixins," for there is nothing commercial in Cataloochie!