August 29, 2009

Postcard: Andrews Geyser

Old Fort, North Carolina
(Used - postmark 1914)

Travel through the mountains of Western North Carolina was particularly hard during the 1800's. Even the railroad found extending its tracks through the Blue Ridge Mountains a daunting task. During the late 1800's, an effort was made to extend the railroad to Asheville, North Carolina along an especially treacherous section of the mountains. Once completed, a man-made geyser was constructed in the town of Old Fort to mark the railroad gateway to the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Originally known as the Fountain at Round Knob, the geyser is a tribute to Colonel Alexander Boyd Andrews and the approximately 120 men who died building this stretch of railroad. Andrews was Vice President of the Southern Railway Company and one of the men responsible for the construction of the railroad through the mountains. The area was known as Round Knob and at the time of its construction, this section of railroad was regarded as the marvel of railroad engineering in the United States.

The site of the geyser was chosen to mark the railroad gateway to the Blue Ridge Mountains. The railroad wraps around the location of the geyser at a spot aptly called Horseshoe Bend. Railroad passengers could view the geyser several times as the train made its way along the 13 miles of track.

Constructed in 1885, the geyser was gravity fed from a lake created by the railroad two miles uphill from the site. The water flowed through a 6-inch underground pipe dropping 500 feet in elevation and came out of a 1/2-inch nozzle surrounded by a concrete basin. The geyser would shoot water 80-100 feet into the air.

A hotel was also built at the time of the geyser's construction, but the hotel burned in 1903 and the geyser fell into disrepair. The geyser was refurbished in 1911 and extensively restored in the 1970s. Today, the geyser still sends its stream of water into the air and is the centerpiece of a public park in the town of Old Fort.

The lake that furnishes the water for the geyser is on the current site of a Bed & Breakfast, the Inn on Mill Creek. Visitors to the Inn can enjoy its trout filled lake and visit the site of the valve and pipe where the water begins its long journey down the mountain to Andrews Geyser below.

— Dan Hardison

August 21, 2009

Live Your Life

"When you were born, you cried and the world rejoiced. Live your life so that when you die, you rejoice and the world cries."

— Cree saying

Photo by Dan Hardison
Wilmington, North Carolina

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August 14, 2009

Dark and Deep

Into the quiet of woods
dark and deep,
a stream flows gently
never disturbing the calm
of its surroundings.

Along the way,
the stream starts to tumble
as rocks block the way.
Louder now, it rushes on
as the stream begins
a downward slope.

the stream is airborne
as it is pulled down,
down into a basin
of boulders and rocks.

Now the calm is broken,
the serenity dispelled
by the sounds of water
crashing on rocks below.

Onward flows the stream
unscathed and renewed
as it continues its flow
into the quiet of woods
dark and deep.

— Dan Hardison

Photo by Dan Hardison
Western, North Carolina

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August 7, 2009


Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.

David Wagoner
From his book "Traveling Light: Collected and New Poems"

Photo by Dan Hardison
Red Clay State Park, East Tennessee

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