Jenny Lynn Keller
Look what I found? Yep, another old barn. But you have to do a little wandering around the North Carolina side of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to find it tucked away in a gem of a place, the Cataloochee Valley. Built by the Palmer family around 1902, this barn features a unique item compared to others in Southern Appalachia—a 30-foot timber ramp leading to the second story. While a dirt ramp is common for older barns in Pennsylvania, I’ve never seen one in the South. So why does this barn have a ramp?
One reason might’ve been the sizable amount of land farmed by the Palmer family and the abundance of crops needing storage. The barn stands three stories tall. Another reason could be related to one of my grandmother’s favorite sayings, “if the Lord’s willing and the creek don’t rise.” You guessed it, a wide stream meanders about twenty yards to the right of this picture, and on my sunny autumn visit it flowed at a moderate clip. But the Smokies’ average annual rainfall varies from 55 inches in the valleys to over 85 inches on some peaks, and the Palmer farm is surrounded by 5,000+ foot mountains. Hmm, I reckon it’s fair to say that creek overflowed many times over the years. Most likely it’s running wild and free right now considering the boatloads of rain we’ve had the past few weeks. Did the Palmers want their crops and livestock flooded or stuck in mud? Nope, so the ramp provided quick and easy movement to a secure location. Thank goodness, we have a way to higher ground in our lives too, and Psalm 40:1-2 describes it. “I relied completely on the Lord, and he turned toward me and heard my cry for help. He lifted me out of the watery pit, out of the slimy mud. He placed my feet on a rock and gave me secure footing.”
Did your grandmother or older relative have a favorite saying not heard much anymore? I’m writing a book and would love to include it in the story.