Cumberland Gap

I promised that I would “Post” about our trip to Cumberland Gap in Tennessee over the Memorial Day Weekend, so even though it’s a month later, and almost the “Fourth of July”, here it is.

The first stop was at the Busy Bee Restaurant in Marietta Ohio for a really great breakfast. The restaurant has been a landmark for years, but recently it was taken over by a young couple, and has been remodeled into a really fine family restaurant. The food is great, the atmosphere friendly, and the prices reasonable.

We left the Busy Bee before 9:00 AM and crossed the Ohio River into West Virginia. The weather was great and traffic was light, so by early afternoon we were in eastern Tennessee. We needed a break to stretch our legs, so we decided to visit the Cherokee National Forest.

It didn’t take long to realize that our time would be way too short, and that this would be the destination for another trip in the future. Check out some of the images we took just in the one or two hours we were able to spend here.

Cabin in the Woods
Rocky Gorge
Checking out the world from a different perspective
Display at Visitors Center
Display at Visitors Center
Display at Visitors Center

Cumberland Gap Awaits

We got back “On The Road Again” (that would make a great title for a song) and arrived in Cumberland Gap in the early afternoon. We checked in at the “Olde Mill Inn B&B” where we had a reservation, and got settled in. If you are ever traveling in this area, you should consider giving this B & B a try.

Tfhe Dining Room
The Olde Mill B & B

This is a very special, historic late 1800s home with a working grist mill – one of the last left in Tennessee… “The Olde Mill Inn” is a lovely, first-class bed and breakfast snuggled in East Tennessee’s beautiful Cumberland Mountains – next to a soothing creek fed from a spring inside a mountain cave. The creek flows year-round and has large trout that you can feed! The building is the oldest standing structure in Cumberland Gap; part of it is a log cabin originally built in the 1700s.

It was late afternoon by now but still too soon for dinner, so Judy and I went exploring,

This is a walking trail that is built on top of an old railroad bridge that crosses a walking trail.

I tried to get Judy to take pictures of the inside, but she said something about spiders, and snakes.

This is an old Iron Smelting Oven. Each day 625 bushels of charcoal (approximately 52 trees), 6 1/4 tons of iron ore, and 1,563 pounds of limestone were used to produce approximately 3 tons of iron. That seems a bit labor intensive.

This is Judy waiting for me to catch up.

Hey look at this!!! I’ll bet that this tunnel goes all of the way to Kentucky.

I wonder if I could walk through to Kentucky? There is no light at the end of the tunnel—–???

Then there was this little voice saying “If you don’t go in there, I’ll buy you a beer.” It was Judy. I learned early in our marriage, never argue with Judy. Especially if she is buying beer.

So we went to “Angelos”, a local Italian restaurant, for dinner, which I heartily recommend. We both had a skewer of shrimp over pasta which was great!

Judy bought me the beer (After I came out of the tunnel.)

I read somewhere that Cumberland Gap could have been the subject of “Norman Rockwell Painting” and that is a perfect description for it.

The next morning we got up before the kitchen was open at the “Olde Mill Inn” so we decided to tour the town of Cumberland Gap. We hadn’t gone more than a block when we ran across one of the local residents. We struck up a conversation with him, and asked where we could get a cup of coffee. He asked if we were staying at the Olde Mill Inn, and when we told him we where he took us back to the Inn. He went into the kitchen and made us a pot of coffee, then went on his way. Later we found that he had nothing to do with the Inn, he was just being friendly.

We went on with our tour of the town

This is a great antique/art gallery. Judy bought a hand-carved ornament for our Christmas tree.

Cumberland Gap has a long going back beyond the town.

I believe that this is “City Hall”. If you look behind the mayors car you’ll see the town’s “Local Taxi”.

Display at Local Walmart

There’s more but it’s almost 9:00AM and breakfast is being served at the Olde Mill.


And Back to the “Wilderness Trail”

This is the creek that ran the Mill and probably the Iron Smelter down in Cumberland Gap, back in the day

There’s no bikes on this trail, but there are plenty more places to ride in and around the town.

Sometimes we don’t realize how far back civilization goes in our country. Think about the Anastasi Indians and the Mound Builders. They were come and gone long before the Woodland Indians even settled here.

This is a close-up of that trail marker.

You can’t read it, but maybe it will give you a reason to come to Cumberland Gap and check it out in person.

This is the bridge over the walking trail shown earlier.

This is me checking out the trail starting to go uphill.

What can I tell you – – – -They’re “Rocks”

This is me calling the “Local Taxi” for a lift back to our car.

So this is a fond farewell to Cumberland Gap and the Mountains of Tennessee. I hope that you have gained some insight into what we have here in the United States, and will take time to explore it. Until next time,

I Didn’t Forget You!!!

Judy and I have been traveling for the last several weeks and I have a bunch of Cool places to show you. However My “Cell Phone” went bonkers, and I am still working on downloading the images. Never fear, Success is fleeting, but close at hand!!!

So while I am unraveling the mess, Here Is Some Wisdom From The Ages

We older people need to learn something new every day, just to keep the grey matter tuned up, so here goes

Where did “Piss Poor” come from? 

Here are some facts about the 16th Century

They once used urine to tan animal skins, so families used to all pee in a pot and then once a day it was taken and sold to the tannery…
If you had to do this to survive you were “Piss Poor“.

But worse than that were the really poor folk who couldn’t even afford to buy a pot…
they “Didn’t have a pot to piss in” and were the lowest of the low.

The next time you are washing your hands and complain because the water temperature isn’t just how you like it, think about how things used to be. Most people got married in June because they took their yearly bath in May, and they still smelled pretty good by June. However, since they were starting to smell, brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide the body odor.
Hence the custom today of carrying a bouquet when getting married.

Baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot water. The man of the house had the privilege of the nice clean water, then all the other sons and men, then the women and finally the children. Last of all the babies. By then the water was so dirty you could actually lose someone in it.
Hence the saying, “Don’t throw the baby out with the Bath water!”

Houses had thatched roofs-thick straw-piled high, with no wood underneath. It was the only place for animals to get warm, so all the cats and other small animals (mice, bugs) lived in the roof. When it rained it became slippery and sometimes the animals would slip and fall off the roof.
Hence the saying, “It’s raining cats and dogs.”

There was nothing to stop things from falling into the house. This posed a real problem in the bedroom where bugs and other droppings could mess up your nice clean bed.
Hence, a bed with big posts and a sheet hung over the top afforded some protection.
That’s how canopy beds came into existence.

The floor was dirt. Only the wealthy had something other than dirt. Hence the saying, “Dirt poor.”

The wealthy had slate floors that would get slippery in the winter when wet, so they spread thresh (straw) on floor to help keep their footing. As the winter wore on, they added more thresh until, when you opened the door, it would all start slipping outside. A piece of wood was placed in the entrance-way.

Hence the term “Thresh hold


(Getting quite an education, aren’t you?)

In those old days, they cooked in the kitchen with a big kettle that always hung over the fire. Every day they lit the fire and added things to the pot. They ate mostly vegetables and did not get much meat. They would eat the stew for dinner, leaving leftovers in the pot to get cold overnight and then start over the next day. Sometimes stew had food in it that had been there for quite a while.
Hence the rhyme:

“Peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot nine days old”.

There were times when they could obtain pork, which made them feel quite special. When visitors came over, they would hang up their bacon to show off.
It was a sign of wealth that the man of the house could, “bring home the bacon.”

They would cut off a little to share with guests and would all sit around and “chew the fat.”

Those with money had plates made of pewter. Food with high acid content caused some of the lead to leach onto the food, causing lead poisoning death. This happened most often with tomatoes, so for the next 400 years or so, tomatoes were considered poisonous.

Bread was divided according to status. Workers got the burnt bottom of the loaf, the family got the middle, and guests got the top, or “the upper crust.”

Lead cups were used to drink ale or whisky. The combination would sometimes knock the imbibers out for a couple of days. Someone walking along the road would take them for dead and prepare them for burial. 
They were laid out on the kitchen table for a couple of days and the family would gather around and eat and drink and wait and see if they would wake up.
Hence the custom of; “Holding a wake”.

England is old and small and the local folks started running out of places to bury people. So they would dig up coffins and would take the bones to a bone-house, and reuse the grave. When reopening these coffins, 1 out of 25 coffins were found to have scratch marks on the inside and they realized they had been burying people alive.

So they would tie a string on the wrist of the corpse, lead it through the coffin and up through the ground and tie it to a bell. Someone would have to sit out in the graveyard all night (the graveyard shift.) to listen for the bell; thus, someone could be,
“saved by the bell” or was “considered a dead ringer”.

And that’s the truth. Now, whoever said History was boring!!!

I promise to do better next time—Honest!!!,

Canal Boat (5/23/2021

This is the painting as of May 23, 2021. It has been blocked in and I’m moving along with the rough detailing.

I’m adding a bit of history of the Ohio Erie Canal when it was just opening up the “Northwest Territory” to put this picture into context.

The Northwest Territory, 1787

The Northwest Territory was established in 1787 and included all the then-owned land of the United States west of Pennsylvania, east of the Mississippi River, and northwest of the Ohio River. It incorporated most of the former Ohio Country except a portion in western Pennsylvania, and eastern Illinois Country. It covered all of the modern states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin, as well as the northeastern part of Minnesota.

Lands west of the Mississippi River were the Louisiana Province of New France (acquired by the United States in 1803 by the Louisiana Purchase); lands north of the Great Lakes were the British Province of Upper Canada, and lands south of the Ohio River constituted Kentucky County, Virginia.

You must keep in mind that just 16 years later, in 1803, Ohio became the 17th State, and less than 25 years later, The Ohio Erie Canal was a reality. The time frame of this painting was in the early days of the canal.

The Ohio Erie Canal ran from Cleveland to Portsmouth on the Ohio and was the only practical way of for farmers to get their grain to market. Most of the canal at this time was still running between small towns, through the uncut forests of Ohio.

 This painting was meant to depict such an area between the village of Zoar and Roscoe Village near Coshocton Ohio.

And so until next time – – –

Canal Boat 5/16/2021

It’s another week into this painting, and here is where I am today. I was expecting to be a bit farther along, but Spring finally got here, and the weather forecast looks great as far as morning frosts are concerned, so Judy and I have been planting garden.

I am pleased with how the proportions are working out with the painting. Maybe there is a chance to save it after all.

Talk to you again next week,

Proportioned Sketch

Hi Folks,

This sketch is on the 12 X 24 inch canvas that will be the format for the final painting. The sketch has been sized to fit the canvas. However, although the team, woman, and canal boat are in a one point perspective, vanishing to that faint “X” between the left horse and the canal boat, the shore lines are not yet as they should be.

The little boy riding the trailing mule, and the folks riding on the canal boat will all be in period dress (pre Civil War), and the area on both sides of the canal will be tow paths. The rest of the background will be forest.

The last frost of the year (I hope) will be tonight. so Judy and I will be planting garden and tender flowers this weekend. I doubt that there will be much done on this painting until next week.

Talk to you again next week,

A Return to Reality

A few weeks ago I told you that I was going to get back to working on this painting. So at the time I hung it on the studio wall where it could haunt me on a daily basis, and it worked.

The more I looked at it, the more I realized why I quit working on it in the first place. Not only was the proportions off, but so was the perspective. So a couple of days ago I reworked the whole painting with a bottle of “Gesso”, and a “Broad Brush”, and now it looks like this.

Then I went to my Photoshop program and in a few hours came up with a new direction for the painting.

So this is what I’m aiming at now. (Although as I look at it now, I believe that I’ll move the canal boat a bit more to the left.) The ruler at the top can be scaled so that each inch is exactly 1 inch long, and the sketch will fit exactly on a 12 X 24 canvas. (I hope)

This could take awhile,

“Pond” (Another week passes)

Well, here is the pond after another week or so of construction . If things look a bit wet and dreary, it’s because it has been raining for several days, and frosting every night. (What is it that they say about “Rainy Days and Mondays”?)

However, Judy and I gathered a bunch more rocks, (moss covered if you please) and with the help of our next door neighbor, (“The Other Bob”) stacked them to form a waterfall and fitted others to form the edge of the pond. The concrete blocks were already there around the former flower bed.

This is a better look of the waterfall

And this is what’s left of the flowers

So anyway, if the weather warms a bit, and the creeks/pond don’t rise, perhaps next time we’ll have some more plants, and maybe even a fish or two.

“The Pond”

Last weekend when we were strolling through Roscoe Village the image above started to haunt me. So when I got home, I dug up a perfectly good flower bed, laid down a liner, and began to fill it with water.

Then Judy and I wandered around Holmes County, and picked up a few rocks. (I wandered, Judy picked up) We then placed the rocks around the liner to hold it in place.

And that was the beginning and the end of the “First Day”. (Not to mention the end of a couple of hundred dollars. However, who counts cost when you’re having fun?- – – – – Judy Do!!!!)

“A Stroll through Roscoe Village”

Hi Folks,

Judy and I have been immersed in “Spring Planting” and “Frost Control”, both of which have been keeping us pretty busy. With that in mind, we decided to take a “Stroll” instead of a “Hike” this morning.

We drove to Warsaw Ohio, a small town in Coshocton County, Ohio and had breakfast at Roberta’s Diner. We frequently stop by here if our travels takes us to that “Neck-of-the-Woods” (I have no idea what this means but my dad used the expression on occasion.)

This is a great little family restaurant with a great menu which I heartily recommend.

After breakfast we drove on to Coshocton, and stopped by Roscoe Village. I posted a history of the town below to give you an idea of how this town developed, crumbled, then was re-established. It’s pretty interesting.

August 21, 1830

(This description was reprinted from the Roscoe Village History article)

The port town that was to become Roscoe was laid out in 1816 after a bankrupt merchant bet that rural farmers would rather do business there than have to shell out 25 cents for the ferryboat to Coshocton. On the heels of that hunch, James Calder set up shop across the Muskingum River and named the spot Caldersburgh after himself. Caldersburgh was renamed Roscoe in 1830 in honor of William Roscoe, an English historian and a leading abolitionist of the time.  

The construction of the Ohio and Erie Canal in the 1820s was a boon to the burgeoning village. The first canal boat, the Monticello, landed at Roscoe on August 21, 1830.

Roscoe became the fourth largest wheat port on the 350-mile canal system that stretched from the Great Lakes to the Hudson River. 

Roscoe thrived until the 1860s, when the canals gave way to the railroads. Although the canal system continued to operate, Roscoe steadily ceded its position until the once-prosperous port town was swept away in the Great Flood of 1913.

Today, the restored Roscoe Village stands as a testament to Ohio’s bygone Canal era.  Edward E. Montgomery created what he called, “a living museum, so that people of the 20th century and beyond could enjoy a ‘step back in time’ to the 19th century where aged brick buildings, costumed interpreters and quaint shops bring the canal era back to life.” The picturesque Roscoe Village has become a major tourist destination in Ohio.

If you are interested in history, quaint little shops selling everything from art to high end crafts, to fine food, to horse shoes this is the place to visit.

We were visiting in the Spring so there were plants, flowers, and goldfish, lining the brick sidewalks.

And as if that weren’t enough there are “History Tours”, “Street Festivals”, a “Working Blacksmith Shop”, and a “Canal Boat Ride”.

Our “Stroll” didn’t allow time for all that Roscoe Village has to offer, but just as a side note, my wife Judy’s great-uncle was Tinker Dobson. He was the town blacksmith and along with her Father, worked in the “Blacksmith Shop” shown above. Back in the 1950’s they were even shoeing horses there.