August 27, 2010

Message from the Past: Visiting Chimney Rock

Parking Place at Base of Chimney Rock, Western North Carolina
(Used - divided back, 1921)

Driving along the steep and winding highway 74A as it passes through Hickory Nut Gorge in Western North Carolina, Chimney Rock stands as a sentinel over the Rocky Broad River. For over 100 years, the distinctive 315-foot tall granite rock formation has been the centerpiece of Chimney Rock Park and a destination for visitors.

Access to the park is across a bridge and along a road that leads to the base of the chimney. In earlier days, visitors had to climb a series of trails, stairs, and ladders to reach the top of the chimney. In 1948, a 26-story elevator was constructed inside the cliff to take visitors to the top. A footbridge is still needed to get from the elevator out onto the top of the chimney.

The cover of the postcard shows Chimney Rock with the parking lot and the Cliff Dwellers Inn at the base of the chimney. The inn would be torn down to make way for the entrance to the elevator.

The back of the postcard has a postmark of 1921. The message reads:

"Our boarding house accommodates thirty six people. July and Aug. are the hottest months. This is top of Chimney Rock. It is so high that people have been carried down on stretchers as they could not stand the altitude."

It is no wonder that an elevator was installed, and good that it is still in service today for visitors to Chimney Rock.

— Dan Hardison

August 20, 2010

Morning in the Blue Ridge

Morning comes
to these mountains before me.
Not in a rush
but gently and silently.

It is a cloud-covered morning
bathed in a myriad of blues.
It is hard to tell
where the mountains end
and the heavens begin.

There is little sound
save for a breeze
rustling through the trees,
and a mourning dove
somewhere in the distance.

As time slowly moves on
there seems to be little change –
as though time itself
was standing still.

But at some point
this peaceful calm will be broken.
The sun will come alive
and the day will awaken.

— Dan Hardison

Photo by Dan Hardison
Blue Ridge Mountains, Western North Carolina

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August 13, 2010

Swirls of Mystery

Haiku and image by Dan Hardison
Photo: Western North Carolina

World Haiku Association, April 2010

August 6, 2010

Rough Country

Give me a landscape made of obstacles,
of steep hills and jutting glacial rock,
where the low-running streams are quick to flood
the grassy fields and bottomlands.

A place

no engineers can master–where the roads
must twist like tendrils up the mountainside
on narrow cliffs where boulders block the way.
Where tall black trunks of lightning-scalded pine
push through the tangled woods to make a roost
for hawks and swarming crows.

And sharp inclines

where twisting through the thorn-thick underbrush,
scratched and exhausted, one turns suddenly
to find an unexpected waterfall,
not half a mile from the nearest road,
a spot so hard to reach that no one comes–
a hiding place, a shrine for dragonflies
and nesting jays, a sign that there is still
one piece of property that won't be owned.

Dana Gioia
From his book “The Gods of Winter.”

Photo by Dan Hardison
Western North Carolina

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