Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis)

Some of the Native Americans had several uses for the Bloodroot plant. They would use the bright red dye made from the root as war paint and dyeing baskets and clothing.

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   It was a custom for a bachelor of the Ponca Tribe to rub the bright red root into the palm of his hand and then try to scheme a plan to shake the hand of the woman he desired to marry. By doing this he would color her hand as well. This was meant to be a type of love spell.

(Be very careful this plant can be toxic to ingest!)

The Mystery of Fiddler’s Rock by Backwoods Adventures

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This past falI I set out on a quest to find a place called Fiddler’s Rock. After a lot of research, some map reading, and a little time in the forest near the Tennessee - Kentucky State line; I found the rock and took these pictures.

    There are many legends about Fiddler’s Rock, too many actually to mention them all. These are the ones I found the most interesting. 

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     #1   According to one local lore, there was an old man who came through this area with a fiddle. He would stop at houses to play for them in hopes that they would feed him. One day, he supposedly walked into a cave and was to never be seen again. The story goes that the locals could still hear him playing but never were able to find where the sound was coming from. Some say on a still night, you can occasionally  hear a fiddle playing near Fiddler’s Rock even after all these years.

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    #2   Another legend is that there was a moonshiner who lived nearby who played the fiddle. This legend explains that the carvings on the rock were a secret sign to let people know the direction to his cabin if they wanted to buy his moonshine.

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     #3 This story says that the rifle is pointing in the direction of Johnathan Swifts’ long lost silver mine. Most people who know this story all agree the long lost mine has never been found and  is most likely in Kentucky, Tennessee, or South West Virginia.

     #4  This local lore is the one that I believe more and seems to be the most true.

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According to some this was a place members of the surrounding communities from both Tennessee and Kentucky would gather for dances and to court much like a barn dance without the barn.

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The old road itself served as the dance floor. Evidence of the old road bed can still be seen by the rock today. The fiddler would stand on the rock facing the crowd. This would explain why so many names, dates, and initials are etched into the stone.   Among these is a nearly full size outline of a man wearing cowboy boots, a rifle, and a fiddle with its bow. All of which could play a part in any of these legends.

 The mystery of Fiddler’s Rock may never be solved. But at least now we know the place is real ! 

The Pearl Harbor Tree

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Hidden away off trail inside Cades Cove in what  was once Golman Myers front yard, stands a Sweet Gum Tree, known as the “Pearl Harbor Tree”. Today one could easily walk past the old homesite unaware there was even a home that once stood there. 

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  On December 7, 1941, the news of the attack on Pearl Harbor made its’ way into the Cove.   

     While mourning the loss of life in Hawaii and dreading the impending war that would surely pull his draft age sons from the family farm, Gorman Myers made his way into the mountains to return to his home with a small Sweet Gum seedling.

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    As Mr Myers planted the small tree in his front yard, he told his family “We will remember this day forever.” 

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 Today the Sweet Gum has grown into a very large and mighty tree.

   Mr Myers was right. We will remember that day forever.

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Indian Pipe Legend

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On our last adventure, we ran across several specimens of Indian Pipe growing. 

    Indian Pipe is known by several names. Just to name a few : Ghost Pipe, Ghost Plant, and Corpse Plant.

    Indian Pipe is more commonly found pure white but may have black specks on it and have pink colorations.                                       Rare variants may even have a deep red color.

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A Cherokee Legend...

"Before selfishness came into the world, which was a long time ago, the Cherokee happily shared the same hunting and fishing lands with their neighbors. However, everything changed when selfishness arrived. The men began to quarrel with their neighbors.

The Cherokee began fighting with a tribe from the east and would not share the hunting area. The chiefs of the two tribes met in council to settle the quarrel. They smoked the tobacco pipe but continued to argue for seven days and seven nights.

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The Great Spirit watched the people and was displeased by their behavior. They should have smoked the pipe AFTER they made peace. The pipe is sacred and must be treated with respect. He looked down upon the old chiefs, with their heads bowed, and decided to send reminders to the people.

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The Great Spirit transformed the chiefs into white-gray flowers that we now call “Indian Pipe.” The plant grows only four to ten inches tall, and the small flowers droop towards the ground like bowed heads. Indian Pipe grows wherever friends and relatives have quarreled.

 

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Next the Great Spirit placed a ring of smoke over the mountains. The smoke rests on the mountains to this day and will last until the people of the world learn to live together in peace. That is how the Great Smoky Mountains came to be."

~Lloyd Arneach

Spruce-Fir Nature Trail 13Aug2017

The Hellgrammite and Dobsonfly

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    When fully grown the Dobsonfly is also sometimes know by the name Luciferfly.

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   It starts its life as larvae living in streams, creeks, and rivers.                            At this stage of its life it's known as a Hellgrammite.                                       Once its starts maturing it will come out of the water and grow wings as an adult. This is when it's referred to as a Dobsonfly.

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                                The males have very large mandible jaws that look very fierce.

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  While the females have much smaller mandibles.

The bite from a female can be more painful than the male and will sometimes bite if felt threatened. 

 

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