Andrew Johnson National Historic Site

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Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.

0DSC05207We stopped at the Andrew Johnson National Historic Site in Greeneville, Tennessee on our road trip down to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This site encompasses a couple of blocks in the town, preserving Johnson’s early home, tailor shop, presidential museum and his larger homestead.

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Abraham Lincoln, a Republican, chose Johnson, an anti-secessionist Southern Democrat, as his running mate for his re-election campaign in order to promote his message of unity following the Civil War. Their ticket easily won the election. Johnson became the 17th president of the United States, only six weeks after being sworn in as VP, following Lincoln’s assassination.

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Johnson was deeply unpopular, at odds with the Republican Congress over Reconstruction policies. His strict constitutionalism and opposition to civil liberties for the freedmen ultimately culminated in his impeachment by Congress. He was acquitted by one vote and served the duration of his term as a ‘lame duck.’

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We began at the visitor center where we signed up for the next guided Homestead Tour. We watched the short film and browsed the adjoining presidential museum while we waited.  Johnson’s original, tiny tailor shop is contained within the Memorial Building.

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Then we walked a couple of streets over to the Homestead for the ranger-guided tour. Andrew Johnson owned this large home for 24 years. The home was occupied by soldiers during the Civil War and pretty much trashed. When Johnson and his wife returned from Washington they renovated the home and redecorated in a Victorian style.

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The Homestead passed on to two more generations and was then donated to the National Park Service with many original furnishings and memorabilia.

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On our way back to the car, we stopped in the ‘Early Johnson Home’ across the street from the Visitor Center. The Johnsons lived here before moving to the larger Homestead in 1851.

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I had mixed feelings about this park unit. It’s easy to write off the man who opposed the 14th amendment (giving citizenship to the freed slaves) as the worst president in history. But the park service does a good job in presenting all facets of this man who raised himself up out of extreme poverty, with no education, to become a defender of the Union and of the Constitution. They leave it to the visitors to judge him by casting a ‘vote’ in the impeachment trial after touring the site.

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Location: 101 N College St, Greeneville, TN

Designation: National Historic Site

Date designation declared: 12/11/1963

Date of my visit: August 12, 2013

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Top 10 Posts of 2018

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Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! As 2018 draws to a close, I’d like to do a year-in-review post. It’s been a great inaugural year here on the blog, with 113 posts, over 5000 visitors and over 600 people following along on the journey. I am grateful for and humbled by your support.

Here are the top ten most popular posts from 2018 (you can click on each title to go to the original post):

10: Great Smoky Mountains National Park – Clingman’s Dome (Tennessee/North Carolina)DSC05739

9: Montezuma Castle National Monument (Arizona)IMG_5657

8: Muir Woods National Monument (California)F-_2012_2012-08-11-San-Francisco_DSC02511

7: Crater Lake National Park – Garfield Peak (Oregon)Day7-IMG_6122

6: Bryce Canyon National Park (Utah)DSCN0953

5: Flathead National Forest – Whitefish Mountain (Montana)IMG_1677

4: Acadia National Park – Loop Road Highlights (Maine)IMG_1355

3: Acadia National Park – Jordan Pond and the Bubbles (Maine)2007_0527(009)

2: Glacier National Park – Running Eagle Falls (Montana)IMG_1792

And the most popular post of 2018….Capitol Reef National Park – Cathedral Valley (Utah)IMG_8712

Happy New Year everyone and here’s to happy exploring ahead for 2019!

Great Smoky Mountains National Park: Roaring Fork Motor Trail & Grotto Falls

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Welcome back to National Parks with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.

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Great Smoky Mountains National Park has a few scenic drives from which you can explore the park. The Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail is  approximately 6 miles of narrow, winding road. It is one-way, just outside Gatlinburg.

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The trail-head for the popular Rainbow Falls hike is at the beginning of this road. We stopped there, but saw that the hike was over five miles. It was a hot, humid afternoon and we weren’t really up to that challenge.

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A little further along the loop, we parked at the Trillium Gap trail-head to take the shorter hike to Grotto Falls. It is 1.5 miles from the trail-head to the falls. It is steep and rocky in places.

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At the top of the Grotto Falls hike, the falls cascade over a rock shelf.  This creates a ledge behind the waterfall. We walked behind the falls and cooled off in the spray.

To see my other Great Smoky Mountain National Posts, click the following links:

Location: Gatlinburg, TN

Designation: National Park

Date designated or established: 9/02/1940

Date of my visit: August 2013

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Great Smoky Mountains National Park: Cades Cove

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Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.

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Cades Cove is a valley located in the Tennessee section of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The valley was home to numerous settlers and many historic buildings, dating back to the 1800s,  are open to visitors along the 11-mile, one-way park loop road.

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This section was the farthest section of the park from our Gatlinburg hotel, so we set off early in the morning, planning to spend the day there.

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Our first stop was to Cades Coves stables, an official park concessioner that runs hay rides on the loop road. We were hoping to take one of those rides, but the timing just didn’t work out. Instead, we opted to take a horse-drawn carriage ride.  For about 45 minutes, our driver wound through the wooded park trails, entertaining us with the history of Cades Cove. We saw several deer.

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Back at the corral, he pointed put some of the horses roaming free in the fields. One was blind and always ran with the same horse so he’d know where he was going. It was touching to see how the two looked out for eachother.

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Next we explored the loop road. Though only 11 miles long, this requires several hours.

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There are a lot of other motorists on this road who don’t seem to know they should pull over when they see something they want to take a picture of.

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We’d picked up the self-guided tour booklet at the entrance and stopped in a few places to go inside log cabins, old churches and walk a short trail or two.

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The last stop on the return side of the loop is the visitors center with a few old buildings to explore and a working grist mill. You can buy the corn meal they produce at the store.

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You can see my other posts for Great Smoky Mountain NP by clicking on these links:

Clingman’s Dome

Location: Cades Cove, TN

Designation: National Park

Date designation declared: 9/02/1940

Date of my visit: August 2013

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Great Smoky Mountains National Park: Clingman’s Dome

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Welcome back to National Parks with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.

Clingman’s Dome is the highest peak in Great Smoky Mountains National Park at just over 6600 feet. Visitors can take the 7-mile road to the Clingman’s Dome lot, walk an extremely steep, albeit paved, half-mile path to a 54 foot observation tower. Although the GPS address is in North Carolina, Clingman’s Dome actually straddles the state line ridge so that it is both in NC and Tennessee.

DSC05697Because of the elevation, the weather here is very unpredictable. On our first day in the park, we started out visiting some of the lower elevation areas of the park and it was a nice sunny day. By the time we reached the lot for Clingman’s Dome, it was pouring rain to the point where we could hardly see the road. We carefully turned around and went back to Gatlinburg (where it was only drizzling) and did some sightseeing in town. On our last day in the park, we attempted again to visit Clingman’s Dome. While it wasn’t raining, it was completely fogged in. We did the hike to the tower anyway because we weren’t going to have another chance.

While we weren’t able to enjoy the 360 degree views from the tower (which we hear isn’t as spectacular as it can be due to pollution) we did get some pretty cool shots of the fog rolling down the mountains.

Location: Clingmans Dome, Forneys Creek, NC 28713

Designation: National Park

Date designation declared: 9/02/1940

Date of my visit: August 2013

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We saw these guys making a nature film as we were walking back down from the tower. Not sure what they were filming…bees?
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Lots of dead trees up on this mountain..they are Fraser Firs which are being attacked by a European insect against which they have no defense
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And of course the sun started to come out as soon as we were back down at the parking lot, climbing rocks.