Saturday, August 11, 2012

Homeschool: Cumberland Gap National Historical Park; Pinnacle Overlook Field Trip

On our way home from our field trip to the Museum of Appalachia, we decided to take an impromptu trip to the Pinnacle Overlook at the Cumberland Gap National Historical Park. Elevation 2,440 feet!

"Gateway to Kaintuck: For travelers who had to walk, the Appalachian mountains seemed like an impenetrable wall, 600 miles long and 150 miles wide. Here at Cumberland Gap, you could find a good way in and a good way out of that rugged labyrinth or ridges, coves, and meandering streams. 

Woodland buffalo and parties of Cherokee and Shawnee passed North and South over this wilderness road for thousands of years. Frontier-era longhunters and settler families followed their trails, climbing up the Gap and dropping into Yellow Creek's valley. Once past Pine Mountain Narrows, they were well on their way to reach the Kentucky bluegrass and the rich Ohio river bottomlands." 
"Stand at the Cumberland Gap
and watch the procession of civilization, 
marching single file-
the buffalo following the trail
to the salt springs, 
the Indian,
the fur-trader and hunter, 
the cattle-raiser, 
the pioneer farmer-
and the frontier has passed by."
Fredrick Jackson Turner. 
Here are my boys standing on the Virginia/Tennessee line on the path to the overlook. Sorry that they aren't looking at the camera. They were paying attention to the other kids. (Faces of other group members blocked out for privacy). 
Dalty and I stand on the line next. Bai was too impatient to have his picture taken with his Momma. He wanted to get to the overlook. 
"Named for a British Lord: The town you see 1,400 feet below, the mountain on which you stand, and the gap itself all bear the name of an English royal- the Duke of Cumberland. Prince William Augustus (1721-1765) was the third and favorite son of King George II. The popular young nobleman was sometimes called "Sweet William" after her successfully crushed the 1745 Jacobite rebellion in Scotland. 

In Virginia, Peter Jefferson, Joshua Fry, and Thomas Walker- all politically well-connected planters- formed the Loyal Land Company in 1749 to sell Virginia's western lands. The Governor's council in Williamsburg granted Loyal Land title to 800,000 acres west of these mountains. Sometime after Thomas Walker explored here in 1750, the gap was named for Sweet William."
"Powell's Valley: The names of the valley, river, and mountains that stretch out before you echo the names of long-hunters and explorers of the mid-18th century. Frontiersman Ambrose Powell came here with the Loyal Land Company expedition in April 1750. 

Long-hunter Elisha Walden saw Powell's name and initials still carved on many trees when he hunted buffalo, elk, bear, and deer in the valley below in the 1760s. For wildlife and pioneer alike, Powell valley provided a broad, easy travel corridor to the gap."
"A Maze of Mountains: The Cumberland Mountains on which you stand are only one link in a great chain of ridges and valleys that stretch 900 miles from New England to Alabama. The Appalachian wilderness was a 150-mile-wide wall to settlers looking west in the late 1700s.

Nature provided only three good routes for a mass migration through the maze: the Mohawk valley in upstate New York, the Potomac's passage that linked the Chesapeake to the Ohio valley, and the gap you see below. For some 300,000 pioneers from mid-Atlantic and southern states, this was the best road west. "

Here are the spectacular views from the overlook into Kentucky, Virginia, and Tennessee. 
This one was taken on the way out the trial. Isn't it beautiful? 
I just ran into a great post by Joyful Reflections about Cumberland Gap. Stop by and check it out too!

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