Friday, October 7, 2011

Expedition to "The Smokies"

The "Old Mill" shown in this photograph is often used as the image to be synonymous with the town of Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Part of the reason is that the mill has been around about the same amount of time as the town itself (it is the only structure in Pigeon Forge listed on the National Register of Historic Places). . The Pigeon Forge Mill was once part of a small industrial complex that included the iron forge for which the city was named, since it is located along the North Fork of the Little Pigeon River. After the establishment of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park a few miles to the south in 1934, Pigeon Forge gradually evolved into a tourist boom town, and the mill became a popular stop for passing tourists.

The mill was originally used to grind grain, and still does. Shoppers can go inside the mill and take a tour of the grinding processes, as well as buy a package of the products produced there (upper left photo). A variety of shopping experiences have been added to the area around the mill in recent years. This includes a pottery store, complete with potters working at their wheels (upper right hand photo), as well as a great place to spend your candy "calorie allowance", on delicious homemade treats, that you were able to watch being created. The mill area is also the headquarters for the excellent public transportation system that traverses the area, in the form of colorful, old-fashioned style trolleys (lower photo). For a mere 25 cents, one can ride the trolley for miles and miles along their designated routes!

You may not think something from the Middle East would be seen in the center of the USA, but you would be wrong! In front of The Miracle Theater along the Pigeon Forge main highway, one can take a camel ride!! And when you get inside the theater, you may recognize the very camel that you rode---up on the stage, being a part of a Broadway-style production about the life of Jesus!

In a town that has the word "pigeon" in its name, it is not surprising to see that there are plenty of pigeons flying around, eager to eat out of the hand of any tourist with the patience to stand still for a flock of the birds to descend upon them (top photo). The food also supports a healthy population of ducks that provides hours of entertainment to young and old alike (bottom photos), along the Little Pigeon River.

There is never a bad time to visit The Smokies, but fall is especially popular because of the beauty of the leaves changing color, and the numerous harvest festivals in surrounding communities. For details, you can click on to start planning your trip to this incredibly scenic area.

Autumn is also a wonderful time to explore the numerous hiking trails located throughout the national park. This photo collage shows that you can even complete a section of the famous Appalachian Trail during your visit . Near the location where these photos were taken, is a spot where you can have one foot in North Carolina, and one foot in Tennessee. When you are back home, you can brag to your friends that you walked from Tennessee to North Carolina, while visiting Great Smoky Mountains National Park! Hiking trail maps (as well as loads of other helpful information) are available at .

Located adjacent to the Tennessee entrance of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, is the small town of Gatlinburg. As this photograph shows, the city does a terrific job of displaying seasonal harvest themes throughout the town. Gatlinburg has been greatly influenced by the opening of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. When the park opened in 1934, it was a community of about 600 individuals. But in 1935, an estimated 500,000 visitors had passed through the city. From 1940 to 1950, the cost of land in Gatlinburg increased from $50 to $8,000 per acre. Those trends continue today, and the area must consistently re-adapt to accommodate the growing number of tourists. The town of Gatlinburg has the only snow ski park in Tennessee, making the area a four-season tourist destination.

One of the shops in downtown Gatlinburg caught my eye, because of its name. The phrase "God's Corner" challenged me to examine my life to ask myself if I only give God a "corner" of the"rooms" of my life, or is he located "throughout the house" of my life. It reminded me to actually live the mission statement verse of the healthy living classes I participate in ( ) that says "Seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." Matthew 6:33 . Hope you will use this beautiful fall season to get outside and explore God's amazing creation that is surrounding you. Miles of smiles! Tricia

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