Saturday, February 20, 2016

A Week in Cherokee County

A couple of weeks ago, the youngest kids and I hit the road with Daddy for another work trip.  Sadly, we had to leave Evan behind with his Papa so he wouldn't miss too much school.  Boo!  I am so thankful for another long break in March to spend with my biggest boy, and we are looking forward to a really fun trip all together then.  For now, I was thankful to spend this little week trip with my littlest men, Brody and Mattox.  With Brody starting the Big K soon, I was happy to have some extra special time with him.  We had taken Evan on several trips to the mountains before Brody came along, and I really wanted Brody to get to see some of those places.  Daddy was teaching another training course for professional loggers all week in the small mountain town of Brasstown which is located on the edge of southwestern North Carolina just north of the Georgia state line.  Many of his loggers were actually from Georgia.  Brasstown is so small that we had to stay in the nearby larger town of Murphy, NC.  Murphy is located about an hour west of Asheville, and we enjoyed the beautiful drive through the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests on Hwy. 74 to get there.  I wanted to stop and take pictures because the highway meanders alongside a beautiful river that is great for whitewater rafting in warmer months, but with the snow falling, we didn't want to delay our drive since it was already an almost 8 hour drive.   There are a lot of campgrounds and mountain cabins along this route so maybe one day we will vacation here.  I only went on one canoeing/whitewater rafting trip when I was a kid, but I remember loving it.  Unfortunately, my mother had no such fond memories of the trip as she was terrified of the water, and when our canoe tipped over, she injured her leg and suffered a very severe staff infection that lasted for weeks and threatened her life.  Thus, we never repeated the experience.  Of course, there were no such excursions planned for us this trip since it was in the dead of winter, and all such places are closed up until the warmer months.  I wouldn't have taken my youngest men on such a trip anyway so we will have to wait a few years to try that experience again.  For now, Brody enjoyed getting to see the mountains again and getting to see some more snow.  It was a very chilly week with temperatures hovering in the twenties and snow showers falling most of the day.  Despite the chilly temperatures, we tried to venture out a little to explore this little mountain community with a rich history.

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Murphy, NC is the county seat of Cherokee County.  As you can infer from the name, the county has a rich history as a home to the Cherokee Indian with the reservation nearby.  The Cherokee people were abundant in this area until the U.S. government forced them to leave their homes and relocated them out west to present day Oklahoma in the famous journey known as the Trail of Tears.  Murphy still holds onto its rich Native American history, and the Cherokee maintain a vibrant part of this area with their nearby Reservation and Casinos bringing many tourists to the area. The town of Murphy is like something from a Norman Rockwell painting with a quaint and charming downtown.  While we were visiting, it was mostly covered in snow.  When we went to dinner at night with Eddie, the snow showers increased substantially, and the church above looked so beautiful in the fresh fallen snow.  

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Brody loved another opportunity to play in the snow, but Mattox was not as content this time.  To be fair, it was a lot colder this time. 

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Brody was so excited when we arrived, and he got to see the snow coming down.  We enjoyed going to eat dinner with some of the members of Daddy's Association.  The next morning, these boys just had to get out to experience the snow.  It never accumulated more than a couple of inches because the snow would all melt on the ground by late afternoon even though the snow continued falling.  It would accumulate again over night so there was another fresh ground cover in the morning. 

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I had to take selfies to include myself in a couple of pictures. 
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Brody enjoyed making some pretty perfect snow angels and hitting me with handfuls of snow. 

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We ventured out to see the historic L&N Depot.  From the website:  "The L&N Depot (circa 1887) - Was the meeting place of the Southern (originally the Carolina Railroad) and the Louisville & Nashville (originally the Georgia Railroad). What remains is the freight area. The grand station was torn down shortly after the railroad pulled up the tracks in 1974.
Both railroads met at the river and were unable to cross it due to a group of Murphy businessmen and New York investors who chartered a railroad called the Hiawassee Railroad Company and set up a blockade to keep the L&N and Southern railroads from meeting. Passengers and freight had to be ferried across the river to the depot.
Georgia Railroad went to court to condemn the property and finally put its tracks across the river to the present depot site 12 years later. Murphy now boasts the smallest railroad in the country with a short spur of tracks, a boxcar, and a caboose. The last train to leave out of Murphy was a trip to Andrews over the July 4 weekend of 1992. There are currently plans to restore the train cars and start running lighter weight trains through the Andrews Murphy Valley once again."

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Brody loved getting to pretend to drive the caboose.  Hey, if it has a steering wheel, he can drive it.  Ha!  Oh and am I the only one who misses trains having bright red cabooses?  I mean, I never see them in use anymore.  It used to be so exciting to see the caboose at the end of the train while sitting at a railroad crossing.  

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My little minion enjoyed a walk on the tracks.  It was definitely the shortest track ever.  It ended at that white fence behind him with the river below. 

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My little train lover.

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To warm up, Brody and I hoped we could visit the Cherokee County Historical Museum in downtown Murphy.  We were happy to add another painted bear to our collection of pictures from last summer in New Bern.  We just hoped the museum would be open.  I went up to the door that was below the stairs and rang the bell marked for handicap entrance since the door was locked and the lights were off.  I was just turning to leave thinking it was closed when the kind lady who runs the museum opened the door to us.  We really enjoyed getting to explore this little museum filled with treasures from "the old days" in the area.  If you ever visit the area, you must stop in and say a friendly hello to the nice caretaker, Ms. Stalcup.  I purchased her book "How I Saw Cherokee County" because it is such a sweet little book of memories, pictures, recipes, and her personal account of the area.  It is like a little printed blog of her life, and I had to appreciate that.  I really want my blog to be like that for my kids, and I am thinking of starting to write some of my own personal memoirs from my childhood for my kids as well.  I have wanted to do so since reading Eddie's Grandmother Mattie's memoirs she left for us. 

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There was a little one room log cabin in the museum like what the Cherokee Indian residents would have lived in
at the time of their removal. 

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I love all of the handmade crafts and works of art that Native Americans are so famous for producing.  Beautiful wood carvings, furniture, baskets, quilts, and beaded necklaces and feathered headdresses. 

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There was a little handmade replica of Fort Butler that was the base used by the government and army to stage the removal of the Cherokee.  I thought the quote from an army captain showed that the job was not a pleasant one for the soldiers. 

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A map of the old Cherokee Territory in this part of North Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee, some Indian artifacts, including arrowheads, a bow and arrows, and some knifes made from bone and bear jaws.  I thought the white handled bear jaw one with the teeth still attached was particularly creepy.  Brody posing with the wood carved Native American statue that was carved in memory of the victims on the Trail of Tears.  .  

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Brody particularly loved the little train section of the museum dedicated to the railroad history of the area.  I took a picture of the drawing of the original depot to go along with the pictures of the refurbished one. 

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There was lots of other history in the museum, like this impressive old doll collection, some heirloom baby gowns and shoes, and some Confederate and North Carolina paper money.  I can't remember ever seeing any printed Confederate money, and I didn't even know North Carolina ever printed its own money.   Just shows you can always learn new things. 

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I loved seeing my almost kindergartner sitting in the little school desks.  He is so ready to start school and loves learning.  I loved the old phone collection and especially the old telephone booth.  The picture in the top middle was of a little children's play kitchen set, and I showed it to Brody saying children have always loved pretending to cook like he does.  

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I cannot even pretend to do justice to the gun collection since that is my husband's area of expertise.  There were also old military uniforms and medals from World War I and II all the way up to the most recent Iraqi conflicts. 

I am so glad we got to take in this little piece of history in our state, but our trip didn't end there.  We had a few more sights to see during our trip.

3 comments:

  1. I saw some of your Facebook posts and was interested in finding out the details about this trip. Now I know!

    I felt cold just looking at the pictures, but I'm glad that you were able to get out there and make the most of your time. The museum sounds very interesting and I'm glad you persevered beyond the dark windows and locked doors.

    And you're right. You never do see a red caboose anymore. Where did they go? Is it a conspiracy? Were they too much money? What's going on?

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  2. I can't wait to read more about this trip. I'm glad you got to have a little getaway with your two littles, although it must have been hard to leave Evan behind.

    I just love how much you share about your trips because, as you know, I love to travel and you whet my appetite to go to each place you visit.

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