A Little History- Blowing Rock, NC

When I was growing up in NC, one of my two best friends had family in Blowing Rock and she and her cousin, along with myself and others, would go “up the mountain” to “winterize” the cabin in the fall. The cabin was one of several, (I never saw the others), built around a fabulous enormous Victorian masterpiece owned by her grandparents. There were many kids in the family, and as the story goes, the Grand parents got tired of so many running in and out at every family gathering. At that time there was a chestnut blight, (you can read about this here: http://www.chattoogariver.org/index.php?req=chestnut&quart=W2002 and here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Chestnut). I read that this blight hit Western NC between 1920 and 1930. Chestnuts still grow but rarely reach the original height and prominence as the pre-blight stature. The 17 chestnuts that were killed by the blight on the property became the material to build this “branch” of the family a cabin. 

In those days, masons and sawyers came through town once a year or so to build fireplaces and saw lumber. The tiny fireplace in this cabin was shallow- only a foot or so deep. As it turned out, the fire put out a major amount of heat being built this way, as, along with the particular angle of the back wall of the fireplace, it maximized output by pushing the heat into the room instead of up the chimney. The walls were lined with vertical panels tree-width that still had the original bark on most. There was a steep stair that had banisters made from tree branches. Everywhere you looked, forks from the tree branches were used for handles, and latches and cleverly employed where ever possible. 

The tiny cabin was hidden from the rest of the property, because untamed real estate on the side of a mountain tends to become tangled with the tunnels and twisted forts of wild mountain laurel that grows shoulder to head high. On the porch were rusty tin cans with holes punched in the bottom sprouting inpatients, exactly as there had been at my Great Grandmother’s tiny house “off the mountain” down in Five Points. 


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