March 27, 2009

Postcard: Balsam Inn

Balsam, North Carolina
(No postmark - early 1900's)

During a by-gone era, guest inns could be found in the mountains for people living in low-lying cities to provide an escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and from the heat of summer. To provide such a refuge, the Balsam Mountain Springs Hotel was built in 1905. The unincorporated community of Balsam, North Carolina, is located in Balsam Gap, a mountain pass through the Great Balsam Mountains, one of the highest ranges in the Appalachian Mountains. The hotel was situated on a hill behind the Balsam Depot, the highest railway station east of the Rockies, where guests could arrive by train.

The decline in railway passenger service brought an end to the Balsam Depot and the old building was moved in the 1960's. But the old hotel continues to accommodate guests today as the Balsam Mountain Inn. The three-story building with its two-tier porch offering views of mountain vistas remains today much as it did during the heyday of the railroad.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Balsam Mountain Inn still offers a quiet respite with rooms and furnishings that hark back to a simpler time. You will not find room telephones or televisions, and at 3,500 feet, there is little need for air conditioning. What you will find is the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway, and as a nostalgic reminder, the occasional whistle of a freight train as it rumbles past.

Dan Hardison

March 20, 2009

There Was a Time

There was a time
when "iron horse" and "riding the rails"
were at the heart of this land.

Moving commerce and people
when tracks were abundant
and destinations aplenty.

Where once could be heard
that familiar whistle and rumble
the tracks are now idle or gone.

And the prized depots
that were once the center of life
are gone or simply forgotten.

What happened to this thing,
this mode of transportation,
that carried the weight of our nation?

Yes, there was a time
when the railroad stood proud
but those days are past.

You see . . . the train
doesn't run here anymore.

— Dan Hardison

Photo by Dan Hardison
Balsam, North Carolina

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March 13, 2009

The Night Will Never Stay

The night will never stay,
The night will still go by,
Though with a million stars
You pin it to the sky;
Though you bind it with the blowing wind
And buckle it with the moon,
The night will slip away
Like sorrow or a tune.

Eleanor Farjeon

Photo by Dan Hardison
Wilmington, North Carolina

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March 6, 2009

Seeking Life

The river cut deep into the earth
as it tumbled around a bend –
the bank steep in crumbling layers
of moss covered rock.

On a stony ledge, its roots exposed,
a lone tree grew –
not knowing that God
never meant it to be there,
but seeking life just the same.

— Dan Hardison

Photo by Dan Hardison
Fall Creek Falls State Park, East Tennessee

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