New Appalachian Moments Blog Post
By Scott Ballard
Let’s take a hike…to a couple of those old cabins…back in the woods.
As we become a more urbanized society, I want you to imagine building your home 8 miles from the nearest town, “not so bad” you might say…a house in the ‘burbs…but the kicker for a family like the Caudills is that there was no road….none…not only that but the footpath crossed Basin Creek 12 times in those 8 miles!
The Basic Creek Cove trail is at milepost 243 on the Blue Ridge Parkway as it winds its way through Allegany County North Carolina—1,500 feet below the parkway is the home of Martin and Janie Caudill, oh and their 14 children! You would rightly think to yourself, “I guess Martin needed some farm hands” or “Bless Miss Janie’s heart!” but the FACT is that Martin downsized his family…HE was one of 22 children…11 boys and 11 girls …his father gave George Washington a run for the title: “father of our country.”
In 1916 back-to-back hurricanes rolled up the Appalachian Mountains and the second one caused a massive mud slide in Basic Creek Cove that killed three of the Caudill family…Most of the family moved out for good after that and the last to leave, Harrison Caudill, cleared out in 1924. Descendants of the Caudills and friends hike back down to clean up around the cabin every year.
Just down the Parkway at milepost 239, The National Park Service often has demonstrations at the Brinegar cabin, but the cabin ITSELF is a demonstration…oh how difficult it was to eke out an existence. The cabin is perched on the side of a cold and windy edge of the mountain and sitting on rocky soil. Like many High Country homes, this cabin has a view, but the Brinegars weren’t “snow birds” it was a year-round home.
Martin Brinegar “took eyes to” a girl named Caroline and brought his young bride to this outcrop of land in 1880…they were proud of their farm and homestead…where they said the spring water was always two degrees colder than the mornin’.
New t-shirt slogan: Brinegar Strong! Let there be no doubt!
Visiting these cabins, and they’re both accessible today off the Parkway, helps put flesh back on the bones, and breathes life back into those hardy pioneers. The more we walk back in time by visiting those cabins in the woods, the more we connect to that pioneer spirit in our own DNA! Share your family’s cabin in the woods stories in the comments section, and please like, comment and share!