Finally made my way up to Shuckstack yesterday morning. This 60 ft fire tower is at the southern most end of the Smoky Mountains and the last one I needed to climb to say I’ve seen them all. (In the park that is..)
Shuckstack Mountain narrows to a very cramped peak at the top. What makes this location interesting is that the remnants of the fire ranger’s cabin are still there, just a few feet away from the tower. Some of the foundation stones, the chimney, and the cistern are still intact.
The fire tower sits atop a 4,000 ft peak overlooking the Fontana Dam and is one of the only three remaining in the park. If you’re able, I would highly recommend you go see these fire towers before they fall into further disrepair and the park decides to remove them as they did with all the others. To my knowledge the park service puts little to no effort into maintaining them. The Mount Cammerer fire lookout was completely restored several years back by a dedicated group of enthusiasts and private donations, in fact Shuckstack is probably in danger of being removed as they don’t have any weather or air quality equipment attached to it, like on Mount Sterling.
An excerpt from Anthropologist James Mooney’s book Myths of the Cherokee (1900).
“The earth began as nothing but water and darkness, and all the animals were in Galúnlati, above the stone vault that makes up the sky. Eventually Galúnlati became so crowded that the animals needed more room, and they wanted to move down to earth. Not knowing what was below the water, they sent down the Water-beetle to explore. Water-beetle dove below the water and eventually came back with some mud from below. That mud grew and grew, and finally it became the island that we call earth. This island of earth is suspended at its four corners from ropes that hang down from the sky, and legend has it that some day the ropes will break and the earth will sink back into the water.
Because it grew from mud, the new earth was very soft. Many of the birds flew down to explore the new land, but it was too wet for them to stay. Finally the buzzard flew down, hoping it was dry, but the earth was still wet. The buzzard searched and searched, especially in Cherokee country, and finally he became so tired that his wings flapped against the ground. His wings dug valleys where they hit the ground and turned up mountains where they pulled away, leaving the rugged country of the Cherokee.”
Had to give a few “tours” of the Hondaminium during breakfast Sunday morning. Folks would routinely stop to take in the views from the overlook and then divert their attention to my mobile campsite. It’s cool, I’m used to it at this point, it is an odd contraption I’ve constructed.
The Masonic Marker hidden deep in the woods on the border of the Smoky Mountains and Blue Ridge Parkway. Constructed in 1938, the monument contains stones from most all the states and 41 countries. I guess this is where our illustrious leaders used to (or still do) gather, dance around naked, and worship Moloch. Creeps.
“You know that kind of quiver that trembles around through you when you are seeing something so strange and enchanting and wonderful that it is just a fearful joy to be alive and look at it; and you know how you gaze, and your lips turn dry and your breath comes short, but you wouldn’t be anywhere but there, not for the world.” ~Mark Twain
His gaze can be a little intense.