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Log Cabins and Railway Carriages

The cabin was built about 1860 and was set in the woods near the top of a ridge.

The cabin was built about 1860 and was set in the woods near the top of a ridge.

 

It is amazing where music will lead you.  In this case – to a shotgun shack in the Appalachian Mountains and an art deco railway carriage in Chattanooga.

Recently we went to a gig by US folk artist Diana Jones.  She sings songs of Appalachia. Mine disasters, murders – cheerful stuff. She’s very good – and talked about recording her latest album in a shotgun shack at the Museum of Appalachia.

As we were due back in the US of A for a wedding – this was too good an opportunity to miss. So we headed south into the Tennessee Hills.

Webmaster John gets megapoints for booking us into a cabin on a ridge.

There was no wi fi, and barely anything resembling mobile phone service. It was like stepping back into another era.

The people who lived in cabins like this usually built them out of timber from their own land.

Before saw mills arrived, they split the wood by hand.  The families who lived in them were often the poorest of the poor.

Unlike them – we had electricity, running water and central heating.

We did NOT have to use the outdoor facilites - for which I was extremely grateful.

We did NOT have to use the outdoor facilites – for which I was extremely grateful.

The cabin was fitted with a comfortable bed, a shiny bathroom and a modern kitchen. But the 1964 Sears catalogue on the coffee table was totally authentic – and fascinating. You really could buy anything from them…

I think my Mum had dresses like this - and a steal at just

I think my Mum had dresses like this – and a steal at just $7.84

We drove to a nearby famers market and I bought some fabulous heirloom tomatoes to add to a salad for our dinner. They looked – and tasted – like nothing I had ever had before – really giving us an old-time feel.

I am not quite sure why they were 'heirloom' tomatoes - but they were unusual colours and shapes and tasted just wonderful.

I am not quite sure why they were ‘heirloom’ tomatoes – but they were unusual colours and shapes and tasted just wonderful.

 

The gaps in the cabin walls were filled with some kind of modern concrete-like substance – not just mud, but the feeling was there. John, however, did NOT play the banjo on the porch.

Rocking chairs are everywhere in Tenessee - even at the airport

Rocking chairs are everywhere in Tenessee – even at the airport

So – why shotgun shack? The popular answer is that you could fire a shotgun from the back porch, through the open doors and hit someone standing on the front porch. There are other explanations:  that the planks they were built of came from crates that used to hold shotgun pellets. A more serious explanation suggests it’s a mis-pronunciation of an African word used by slaves. Personally – I like the first explanation the best.

We headed a bit further south the next day – and forward a bit in time to the era of the big bands.

I remember my Dad playing piano and singing Glenn Miller’s Chattanooga Choo Choo. Well – guess where we ended up.

 

The blown light suggests and old-time Hoochie Coochie dance show - but there was nothing like that - just the train.

The blown light suggests and old-time Hoochie Coochie dance show – but there was nothing like that – just the train.

 

The railway traffic was moved out of the centre of town a long time ago – and the original heritage building rescued to become a hotel.  The carriages – yep. You got it…

The most luxurious railway carriage I have ever been in.

The most luxurious railway carriage I have ever been in.

There were lines of carriages parked at the old platforms – each with power, heating, and of course….

A much better proposition than the bathrooms on the London bound commuter train.

A much better proposition than the bathrooms on the London bound commuter train.

I know – it was tourist central, but we were tourists and we loved it! So much more fun than a motel beside the interstate (and a lot more expensive too, which is why we spent the rest of the trip in motels by the side of the Interstate).

You don't actually leave the station 'bout a quarter to four - but who cares?

You don’t actually leave the station ’bout a quarter to four – but who cares?

And yes – I spent the next few days singing (in my head) … Pardon me boy, is that the…. (you know the rest.) That was my trip down memory lane – here’s one for
you too. 

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10 Responses to Log Cabins and Railway Carriages

  • That looks like a great trip, Janet. last year my dh and I joined friends in Yellowstone and Grand Titon where we stayed in a pair of old cabins. Friends had the kitchen in theirs and we had the bathroom in ours. Nobody met a moose crossing the yard in the dark. Anne

  • Now, that is a luxurious railway carriage! I do love the sound of the Appalachian shotgun shack, but the lack of internet and phone signal sound very much like this part of Wales! What a fabulous experience though and great to read about it.

    • There was wi fi and phone Chris – but we would have had to go seek it out. We decided sitting on the porch listening to the wind in the trees as the sun went down was a much better way to spend out time.

  • I loved all those photographs. The cabin looked just amazing – and I’m a real sucker for old magazines. I loved those 60s clothes.

    Thanks for that lovely post.

    • I love old magazines too Beverley – and old clothes – like your fabulous costumes. They are a very personal glimpse into people’s lives. Flicking through an actual catalogue is much more fun than surfing a website.

  • We’ve stayed at similar places close to where you were – beautiful right now with all the leaves changing. In fact reading about your trip gave me ideas for where to set my new book and it’s well under way!

  • Hi Janet
    Love, love, love the log cabin. I stayed in one very similar in the Cairngorm Mountains – here’s the link… http://lazyduck.co.uk/woodmans-hut
    Fantastic to get away from technology for a while.
    Mel x

    • I loved the Cairngorm cabins, Mel. That s also a beautiful part of the world. We have been to the highlands once or twice – makes me think it’s time to go again.

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Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence Finalist for The Wild OneColorado Romance Writers Award of Excellence Finalist for The Wild One
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