After visiting the Mountain Farm museum, we headed of to the Cataloochee Valley in North Carolina. It is a beautiful valley located about an 1.5 hours from the Smoky Mountain visitor center.
It isn't an easy drive to get there but it is so worth it. The valley is nestled between some very rugged mountains. Some of the peaks reach 6,000 feet! This valley was one of the most prosperous settlements that existed in the Smoky Mountains during the early 1900's. The families made a living by farming, apple growing and some families cashed in with the growing number of tourist. They would stock the streams and board fishermen that came to fish in the gorgeous streams of the mountains. At one time about 1200 people lived in this tranquil valley.
In the valley, there is a collection of historic homes. There are farm houses, barns, churches, and even an old one room schoolhouse.
An old farm house. The detail in this house was amazing.
A barn across the creek.
The creek that runs in front of the house. I can picture children frolicking in this sweet spot on hot days in the summer. I know my children enjoyed playing in it.
A visit to the one room schoolhouse. It was a large schoolhouse. It was divided into two rooms. School was very important to the residents of Cataloochee.
Elk were reintroduced to the park in 2001. Elk once roamed throughout the park, sadly the last elk was killed off in the late 1800's. For years, the mountains were void of this magnificent creature.
This year we only saw one elk as we were leaving the park. Two years ago when we went, we saw 4 elk. We actually stepped out the back door of an old farm house and came face to face with a big elk. It is illegal to get within 150 feet of the elk willfully. Thankfully, we had a ranger there with us. He told us to stand and watch quietly. He said as long as you do not approach or charge the elk they will not charge you. They are HUGE! I wouldn't want one of them to feel threatened and charge.
They are amazing animals to see in person.
We spent a wonderful afternoon touring the historic buildings, eating our picnic lunch, and spending time as a family. Slowing down during our vacation makes me think that they were luckier than us back then. They were not distracted by TV, video games, cell phones, computers, long commutes to work, endless amounts of running around to sport practices, music lessons, co-ops, etc.
They were able to work at home together and grow as a family. They were able to focus on what was more important.
A small waterfall we passed on the way home from Cataloochee.