Tennessee’s Cumberland Trail is stunning. It passes roaring waterfalls and climbs atop jagged rock formations. It teems with many species of snakes, ferns, salamanders and flowers. The land around it is full of history, from camps of the Civil War to coke ovens connected indirectly to the Scopes Monkey Trial.
In my upcoming natural history travel memoir Ben and Larry in Cumberland: Father-Son Nature Adventures on Tennessee’s Cumberland Trail, I have woven these stories together with my own story as I hiked on the trail’s existing pieces with my aging ecologist father, Larry. He contributed pieces to the book about his own life and about nature, especially plants. Our book will give readers a taste of the trail’s beauty and the kind of musings that beauty inspires.
I grew up in the small town of Oak Ridge, Tennessee and currently live in the even smaller town of Loudon, Tennessee. The towns of Soddy-Daisy, Dayton, Caryville and Cumberland Gap play a major role in our upcoming book. Below is an excerpt from my chapter on Soddy-Daisy.
“When looking at much of the natural world: sky, streams, mountains, valleys, trees and birds, it can be easy to assume that humans have not disturbed it. They nearly always have though. If you look closely, you can often see mounds of shoveled earth, blasted rock faces and built-up stone walls. You might even smell the smoke from an abandoned mine that caught fire. The people who dug into the land for mining years ago had stories of their own, stories hidden in small towns. The Cumberland Plateau is what it is today because of the towns below it. Those towns are what they are because of the Plateau.”
You can visit our website at http://www.benandlarryincumberland.com
Our Facebook page which includes maps and cartoons: https://www.facebook.com/incumberland
Our Twitter: https://twitter.com/benandlarry
My blog: http://benpounds.wordpress.com/
My flash fiction piece "On Time": http://www.stanleythewhale.com/StW/index.php/issue-4/issue-4-flash-fiction/187-on-time