• Jenny Lynn Keller

Hidden Jewel


Do you want to visit a peaceful place where time appears to have stopped many years ago? Then take a trip to Cataloochee, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park’s little known and least visited jewel hidden just across North Carolina’s western border. Getting to Cataloochee can be an adventure. But the rewards are three narrow valleys surrounded by mountains higher than 5,000 feet and many well-preserved historical structures scattered along breath-taking vistas and seldom-used hiking trails. Yes, Cataloochee is the extraordinary place I described in last week’s teaser post.


Despite its isolation, Cataloochee was the largest community existing within the boundaries of the national park formed in the early 1930s. The result is an outstanding and diverse collection of Southern Appalachian log cabins, barns, and farmhouses from the late 1800s and early 1900s. One of the best examples is the Caldwell Place, built in 1903 and containing many features considered fancy for that day and location (aka the middle of nowhere). Large orchards once dotted Cataloochee’s now vacant fields, and apples were the main cash crop. The most frequent guests to these fields today are elk, reintroduced into the park in 2001 and quickly becoming the area’s star attraction.


With so many orchards in Cataloochee back then, I suspect apple pie was a staple dessert for its residents. They saw and tasted the land’s goodness in each bite of mouth-watering sweetness. But no dessert comes close to the sweetness of God’s love. Psalm 34:8 says, “Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see—how good God is. Blessed are you who run to him.” May we all be so blessed in our lives.


Wishing you and your family a wonderful Thanksgiving. What are your favorite desserts for this holiday?

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