It's not just what you know, but also who you know. Our favorite Tennessee State Park Ranger came through for us again and took us around some of the less-visited spots that not everybody has access to today.
First stop, the ruins of an old sand plant outside Tracy City where sandstone was ground into sand and then transported to the Coke Cola bottling plant nearby to be made into glass bottles.
Next up, the abandoned cabins of Camp Mountain Lake near Grundy lake. I couldn't find any references on the web for why exactly the camp shut down but I did find this little bit of information about its founding:
Camp Mountain Lake was founded by Sewanee (The University of the South) football coach Horace Moore in 1946, and ran every summer until 1987 under his supervision. It drew children from all over the country, especially from the Southeast. Coach Moore's approach at the camp created a lasting affection among the campers and their families for both its director and the grounds of the camp.
This seems to conflict with the sign found inside the camp that credits the founding of the camp with George Reynolds. Based on this newspaper article, Mr Reynolds was the Director of the camp. It looks like the previous campers and counselors were having reunions as early as 2004, based on this Yahoo Group posting and (Colonel) Reynolds appeared to have been a member. Further poking around in the group indicates that Coach Moore passed in 2005 and there was a falling out among the members. I also found Coach Moore's Wikipedia entry but there is no mention of the camp.
|Table practically set for a meal|
|Domino pieces on the floor of a cabin|
|"Tao of Pooh" in a bucket|
|Mattress, sink and cot frame- AM/FM radio on the mattress|
|Photo of a small child and book on cabin floor|
|Quite an impressive wardrobe in another cabin|
|Rusted metal cabnet|
|What appears to have been the gym|
|Sign leaning against one of the buildings|
This next building was a goldmine of interesting objects and left-behind art and craft projects. It had been the glassworks run by a Ed Russell. Attempts to find any information about Mr. Russell haven't been very productive- with the exception of the Yahoo Group I mentioned above. I can't find any evidence that he's still working with glass. The domain names that were listed on several business cards that we found in the glassworks are no longer maintained and up for sale. The winking cat spray-painted on the side of the building appears to have been his logo, but Google image searches don't turn up anything. I did have some luck using the Internet Wayback Machine. Let this be a lesson for everybody- what they say about anything you put out on the web being out there forever... it's true. From the archives of his website (similar text as I found above):
Ed Russell attended Camp Mountain Lake from 1972, when he was 9 years old, until 1978. He would return to the camp as a councelor and as the cook for Sewanee football team during their training at Camp Mountain Lake. Ed, his mother Esther, and many former campers speak of the sense of community and family that was fostered here.
|Just inside the main door|
|Esther holds up a canvas depicting a glassblower|
|Prescription glasses on the floor of the shed|
|Discarded magazines and decal sheets with the winking cat logo|
|Table of various glass art pieces, mostly undisturbed and unbroken|
|Banner at the back of the shed|
|More glass pieces, a furnace can be seen on the left|
|Weird mix of random VHS tapes|
|One of the glass furnaces|
|The other furnace surrounded by furniture|
|Mounted bear head near the entrance|
|Discarded canvases with works in various states of completion|
|Wider shot with the glassworks on the left|
Our Ranger-Guide had to break off and see to some park business so we headed into Tracy City to grab something to eat. We usually stop at the Dutch Maid Bakery, but decided we wanted something with a little more meat to it. We tried the new "The Gizzard" restaurant because we had heard the menu incorporated many of the local features. I'm sure it might be a great place at a different time of day, but the lunch staff didn't seem too interested in acknowledging our presence so we moved on over to the Lunch Box. I had heard tales of the Mega Burger and after walking around in both the blazing sun at the sand plant and then nearly being washed down the hill at the old camp it sounded like something that Jake and I wanted to take part of.
Jake had a Mega Burger with bacon and I had a Mushroom Swiss Mega Burger. The patty was huge and came to the edge of the bun like it should. The fries were perhaps a little over-cooked but not burned. Everybody else had some version of burger or sandwich and I didn't hear any complaints. Service was nice and attentive. The place isn't much to look at, but it's clean and comfortable.
We met up again at Grundy lake but not before a quick hike down the Lone Rock Trail where Esther and I took some mushroom pics.
We also took a tour of our Ranger's recent land acquisition, an awesome 2.5 acres on a bluff, but I managed to not take any pictures of the view. Next trip.
All the pictures from the day are here.