Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Bandy Creek, Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, TN

Bandy Creek is the name of the campground. Really nice with paved pads, electric and water hook-ups. Strong internet signal and a few TV stations. And your Golden Age/Access Pass is valid here. Getting spoiled, I am.
Bandy Creek is also the name of a creek that runs through the area. The story is that there was a homestead in the early 1800's that was abandoned. Locals shortened the word abandoned to "banded" and through the years the term became Bandy. Thus, the creek near this homestead was Bandy Creek.
There are other historic homesteads here that survived until purchased through Eminent Domain in the 1970s when the area came under the National Park System. The Oscar Blevins Loop Trail will take us by one farm that is being preserved by the Park.This view is from a short trail near the Visitor Center and  horse stables. People can rent a stable for their horses and ride the many horse trails available.
The Oscar Blevins Trail begins along a small creek, a tributary to Bandy Creek. On the right is a rock shelf (sedimentary sandstone) which has been eroded due to water and weathering.
The round depressions or pockets are caused by differential erosion, a process where less corrosive material, in this case iron deposits, are left behind because they are more resistant to weathering than the sandstone surrounding it.
Water erosion cut away the rockshelter under this small waterfall.
Large trees have grown and cling to the sides of the cliff.
A rare and threatened plant grows from this solution pocket..."Lucy Braun's Snakeroot." 
There are several rockshelters that have formed along these rock walls that were important to prehistoric people who once roamed the area. They served as seasonal camps as well as permanent dwellings.
The rockshelters were protected from strong winds and cold and had a a stream nearby, providing fresh water. Evidence has been found at this rockshelter of prehistoric nomads, hunters and gatherers, living between 8000 and 6000 BC, and again between 2000 and 1000 BC.
This is called Muleshoe Rockshelter because muleshoes were found here. In historical times, farmers used shelters such as this as barns. Some rockshelters were also used to make "moonshine." The fresh water seeps, shelter and especially their remote and secluded location made them ideal for such activities.
Mud daubers nests on the side of the rockshelter.
Wildflowers growing in the moist soil next to the rock.
Lucy Braun's Snakeroot can only be found on the shaded ledges and floors of sandstone rockshelters. It blooms in August and September. 
Our trail crosses over Bandy Creek.
And intersects with an old roadway. The road was once highly traveled and lead to numerous farms that existed in the area.
The fence was the boundary for Billy Blevin's place. I wasn't able to learn how Billy and Oscar Blevin were related, but I'm sure they were.
What remains of Billy Blevin's old farmstead is a pile of rubble. The site has not yet been studied by archaeologists.
Mostly you can see the stone foundations of the house, and pieces of a tin roof.

But I was able to locate the kitchen sink.
On down the road to the Oscar Blevin farm.
Notice how the tree has grown around the barbed wire and fence post.
Our first glimpse of the Oscar Blevins Farm. The cabin in the middle is the oldest structure, built by John Blevins in the late 1800s, and added onto by his brother Jack in in the 1920s. In the 1950s Oscar Blevins and his wife moved into the "new house" seen on the right. The barn on the left was added in the 1960s.
Oscar Blevins was building this root cellar when he found out the government wanted his land. He stopped work on it and it was never finished. Because the house never had electricity, the root cellar would have been needed to store food.
The National Park Service keeps horses in the pastures at the Blevins farm.
One came over to meet Thistle. He was ok with that until I started to pat the horse. We went on...
This diagram shows the layout of the farm.
The original cabin was built using hand-hewn logs, and a hand-dressed fieldstone chimney. The land and farm has a complicated history, as does the Blevins family. John Blevins, who built the log cabin was the grandson of Jonathan Blevins, a long hunter who first settled near here in the late 1700s. John sold his cabin and the land to the Stearns Coal and Lumber Co. around 1900. The Stearns Co. leased the cabin, rent-free, to Oscar Blevins' father, who was another grandson of Jonathan Blevins and a cousin of John who built the cabin. It was there in the one-room cabin that Oscar Blevins was born in 1915. The family moved when Oscar was 5, and the cabin was then leased by Jack Blevins, brother to John. He added a room to the cabin. In 1940, Oscar came back to Bandy Creek at the age of 25. By then, Stearns Co. was selling off its holdings and Oscar purchased the the farm.
Oscar built a number of other structures that are still standing, including a new, much larger frame house (around 1950), and the barn (in the 1960s) where the NPS continues to stable horses.
Fence in front of the "new" house.
From here we follow the old wagon road, eroded downward by the passing of wagon wheels through the years.
Nearby, we come to the Clara Sue Blevins Homesite, also referred to as Lora Blevins place. It was built by George Blevin in the late 1920s and occupied until sold to the NPS in 1980 to become part of the Recreation area.
An herb garden and outhouse in the back.
The house

Next to Lora Blevins' place is a cemetery where many of the Blevins family is buried.
Katie Blevins was John Blevins' mother, daughter-in-law of Jonathan Blevins.
A Katie's headstone...but not THE Katie....the dates aren't right.
The Katie Blevins Cemetery was begun in 1868 when Jacob Blevins senior was buried here. The local story has it that Jacob, while out walking one day, stuck his walking stick down on a spot and said, "This is where I want to be buried." His wife, Catherine, was also called Katie, so maybe?
Oscar Blevins and his wife are also buried here, but I didn't locate their headstones. The bugs came out and it was getting hot (yes hot!) so we left.

1 comment:

  1. Looks like a great place to camp and interesting place to investigate while hiking.