Falling off the Mountain


Logging Train - Photo Credit: NPS Archives

"We hadn't been there long when a log train, going past with a loader full of logs, fell over directly in front of our house. It barely missed the house and fell over the side of the mountain. The whole thing was over before I realized what had happened. I heard the metallic, squeaky noise of the train, the thunderous boom of the logs hitting the ground, and then silence as they fell into the hollow.

Loaders are equipped with boilers of their own to produce power. Looking out the door, I saw the loader lying on its side with hot, white steam hissing. Thinking it would explode any minute, I grabbed Wilma and ran up the tracks, away from the wreck. The crew met me on their way down. They said there wasn't any danger of explosion and I could stay in the house. Wilma, sensing my terror, was screaming at the top of her voice. Two cranes were brought up from Elkmont to pull the loader back on the tracks. A few more feet and it would have been in the deep hollow with the logs.

Fred still worked the dawn-to-dusk shift while I took care of things at home. We had four boarders, who had to be fed morning and night and have lunches packed for the job. I had to carry water from a spring about a half mile away for all our drinking, cooking, and washing. Once a week, I made out a grocery list and sent it out on the train to the company store.

After all the men were gone, Wilma and I were free to do what we wanted. Morning and evening, we climbed the mountain to milk the cow. She grazed around the house and up the mountain, always returning to her stall for milking time. She waited in the stall until we came to milk. One morning she wasn't anywhere to be seen. Calling and looking, we went around the mountain. Wilma pointed down to the hollow below. The cow never went there, so I kept calling. "Mama," Wilma said, "she's down there." I looked down. The cow was there all right-dead. She had fallen off the mountain and broken her neck.

The death of our cow was a great loss, and I didn't know how we would replace her. I thought of the jokes Pa and Ma used to make about falling out of the cornfield. What would they say about our cow falling out of her pasture?"

Dorie: Woman of the Mountains pgs 123-124 (1912-1917)


I like this excerpt from the book because it allows your mind to visualize the steep mountains that were being logged-steep enough for a load of logs to fall off, steep enough for a cow to fall off. I also like it because you can 'hear' the happiness in Dorie's voice when she says "After all the men were gone, Wilma and I were free to do what we wanted." Her life may have been a hard one, but it was obviously one she loved and enjoyed. 


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The Last Where I'm From Poem...At Least For Now

Today's guest poem is from Theresa Anderson. Theresa isn't from Appalachia, however a lot of what she describes fits Appalachia perfectly.

Trip home-May2009 228

I’m From Wyoming Wind written by Theresa Anderson

I am from knitting needles, Gram’s crystal dishes, Mom’s one carnival glass vase, and raisin cream pie.

I am from the log house on open prairie, from buttered popcorn in a dishpan with card games round the kitchen table. I am from sagebrush and spiderwort, buffalo grass, and prickly pear.

I am from working hard and dancing in the living room; from Grama Gussie and Cousin Cad and the Mack motto of do it yourself and do it right.

I am from dry humor and unconditional honesty. From a friend is a friend no matter what. I’m from use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.

I am from Methodists and circuit preachers, from wise women and dirt scratch farmers.

Trip home-May2009 274 (1)

I'm from windy Wyoming plains and German-Cherokee Missiourians, from Scotch-Irish New Yorkers, from preachers and moonshiners, from eating  ginger snaps and stodge.

I’m from the blind plow horse and the raccoon in the kitchen, the hunting dogs and the dachshunds Grandpa Jackson always named Queenie.

I am from don’t matter if you’re a woman, carry your weight like a man; from measure twice and cut once, and from kneading bread dough in the wee hours so the house would cool before the heat of the day. 

I’m from memories of tarpaper shacks and catfish fried with green tomatoes on Missouri river banks and farms lost to government camp in New York State. I am from nights on end waiting in hospital hallways while daddy’s lungs fought the Wyoming winters and from laughter as we played together when he was well.

I am from black and white photos of family long gone but not forgotten, from Gram’s butterfly pin and Mom’s orange earrings, from playing croquet in the backyard and from laughing with neighbors around the kitchen table. 

I’m from scraps of paper covered in notes of Mom’s heritage spoken of only once. I’m from kicking frozen cow pies and from hot water bottles on cold winter nights, from watching thunderstorms on the porch with my dad and my mother singing lullabies.

I am from people so rich in love that money never really mattered. 

Theresa Anderson


I hope you enjoyed Theresa's poem as much as I did! My favorite line is the last one: I am from people so rich in love that money never really mattered


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Where I Come From

Today's guest poem was written by Don Casada.

Tim and Don Casada

Don took the time to record his poem-so you can listen to his voice, read his words, or both! To listen to the poem click on the link below that says "Download Where I come from." (*Before you listen to the poem you need to stop the music player-far left side-just under the Blind Pig logo. Click the center round button to stop the player.) 

Download Where-i-come-from-1-1-1


Where I Come From written by Don Casada

Mama served dinner right at 12 o’clock,
We had supper at the end of the day.
One packed up, another did the washing
And a third-un dried and put things away.

Just a flying down a broom sage hillside
On a flattened-out cardboard box;
Sewed on patches on blue jean knees,
Sharing the measles and the chicken pox.

I mowed grass for a dollar an hour
And trimmed hedges for the same rate of pay.
But if things cost what they did back then,
Why, I believe I'd still do it today.

A speckled ball from the bubble gum machine
Brought a nickel and a snaggle-thoothed grin
A big Baby Ruth would cost you a dime
As did a Dixie Cola way back then.

And it was only a dime to see a Western Show
At the GEM, come Saturday afternoon,
With Gene and Roy and Colonel Tim McCoy.
The Three Stooges and a Looney Tune.

We burned paper trash in an open-topped drum,
With an air hole cut out in the bottom.
A soft drink bottle was worth a full penny.
So you carried them back where you got 'em.

Golf was played on a sand green course.
The club house was a tin-roofed hut.
Britt McCraken held, then broke a mighty wind,
And Jack Williams missed a little gimme putt.

Corn, tomatoes, and green beans from the garden,
The smell of mint from the patch out back.
Watching Sir Arthur make his daily rounds
Over his shoulder, that burlap tow sack.

Throwing pebbles off and runners out
At the diamond down below town,
No rosin bags, just dust and spit;
"Come on boys, let's bat around."

Falcons, Black Hill Don Casada
It was Roger and Mickey and Whitey;
Stan the Man, Hank, and Say Hey, too.
The name Orlando meant Cepada,
Ernie said “Hey! Let’s play two!”

A hot summer day and a cool swimming hole
On Deep Creek – up at Big Rock.
The Wood-Turning whistle blowing quitting time,
Hours chimed on the courthouse clock.

Don Casada with beagle pups

When it came to running rabbits,
Ol’ Chip was the finest dog around
But it was our tears that did all the running
When Daddy finally had to put him down.

It’s thoughts like these that pass through my

When I consider where I come from.
And I thank the Lord for the time and the place,
And that I can still call this my home.
I hope you enjoyed Don's poem as much as I did! If you'd like to know more about the
sand green golf course Don mentioned go here
and here


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Where I'm From

Today's guest poem was written by Ethelene Dyer Jones

 Poetry by ethelene dyer jones

Where I'm From written by Ethelene Dyer Jones.

I am from cleanly-laundered clothes blowing on the line, Octagon soap, and lye soap, stronger, for well-worn work clothes, double-scrubbed and drying in the sun.

I am from Choestoe, between mountains named the Blood and the Bald; from a house with a front porch where summer visitors loll and swing; and from sugar pears gathered for afternoon snack.

I am from hydrangea bushes in full bloom, chinquapin roses spotted pink and fuchsia and a garden growing rhubarb, turnip greens, sweep peas and spring onions.

I am from going to visit Grandma Sarah and hearing her wisdom, going to Grandpa Bud’s house where lazy Susan table rolled our food around, from seeing the names of Dyer, Souther, Collins Hunter engraved in mind and on tombstones at the New Liberty and Choestoe cemeteries.

I am from saving pennies and making-do, from hand-me downs and mended shoes, from hard work and planting by the signs, from overcoming ravages of the Great Depression and hoping times will get better.

I am from “remember, when you go out into the world, where you’re from, for you have a name and a place to uphold, a reputation to honor and never dishonor, an ingrained goal to ‘be somebody!”.

I am from protracted meeting beginning the second Sunday in July after “laying-by,” from baptizings of converts in the cold waters of Nottely River at Morris Ford, from precept and example, from learned Bible verses, from neighbors helping each other.

I’m from country lanes and corn fields in the breeze, from hardy pioneer families that left their mark in mountain settlements, from cornbread fritters slathered in churned butter and sorghum syrup.

I am from the 1874 ‘Apparatus for Navigating the Air’ invented by Micajah Clark Dyer, and from Dr. M. D. Collins gone out from Choestoe to make a difference in Georgia’s education, from my own long line of farmers, teachers and “make-do-with-what-you have” or ”better it” people. 

I am from stalwart stock whose word was their bond and a handshake meant “I’ll do anything I can for you” to “Don’t fence me in!”  “I want to be free!”

I’m from all of these, and more, for I am not yet through Growing, Becoming, Being.
Like them, I want to reach out and up, and forward-- to make a difference. 

-Ethelene Dyer Jones  (Following suggested “Where I’m From” Template by George Ella Lyon).


I hope you enjoyed Ethelene's poem as much as I did! I especially liked the ending lines I’m from all of these, and more, for I am not yet through Growing, Becoming, Being.

I'm constantly busy with the present, and I often think of the past, but I sometimes forget the excitement and hope of the future.  


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I Am Of The Mountains

Today's guest poem was written by Kenneth Roper.


I Am Of The Mountains written by Kenneth Roper.

I am from fields of broom sage, pickin' berries, and Liquor trails. From hot days of hoeing corn and sunburns, seining minnows and catching lizards.

I am from "Dinner On The Ground", Church Revivals with Gospel Singing Groups, and tall Mountains that seem to reach the sky. I am from Mae and Harley, with five brothers to watch over me. Some went off to war but came home to loving arms.

I am from yellow cherries, apricots and rabbit tobacco that filled a corn cob pipe; from possum hunting and persimmons that longed for a kiss from the coming Frost.

I am from the Cleanout where we use to play, of teaberries, buckberries, and a honey tree.

I am from the Moonshiners who sometimes forgot the basic law, "Your Rights End Where Mine Begins."

I am from White Walnut Trees, Gensing, and Yellow Root, from hurrying home after a bus ride from school to Squirrel hunt under my favorite Hickory patch.

I am from Trim Cove and the Twin Falls where I swung on grape-vines as a kid, and still enjoy the rush of Mountain waters.

I am from a time of close-knit neighbors and family who was excited when you came to visit, and you left with some of their canned bounty.

I am from the time when God's Promise is Everlasting, and the Church House was standing room only, from the time of sitting on the porch after supper, listening to the many sounds of the Nightingale and a lonely Whippoorwill calling for a mate.


I hope you enjoyed Kenneth's poem as much as I did! My favorite line was the one about his brothers watching over him. I've always felt lucky to be sandwiched between Steve and Paul. A brother on either side to watch over me.


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Where I'm From

Today's guest poem was written by Sheila Nelson.

Sitting on the Steps 2

Where I'm From written by Sheila Nelson

I am from cast iron skillets and number 10 washtubs, from Hi-Ho crackers, JFG peanut butter and Bessie’s unpasteurized, unhomogenized sweet milk.

I am from the hill in the holler, from a tar-papered house that embraced a home.

I am from wild white dogwoods, sweet pink mimosas, orange ditch lilies, and from the fleabane and Queen Anne’s lace that lined the sides of a pig-trail road.

I am from a Friday night supper of homemade hamburgers; Sanford and Son on a new color TV set. I am from Momma ‘n Daddy keeping their family together.

I am from Thanksgiving Dinner served at noon. I am from letting the men fill their plates first. I am from Lawrence and Alyne, Parkers and Burchards.

1 Sheila Nelson

I am from my grandparent’s front porch. I am from “come on in and pull up a cheer.”

I am from talkers and listeners.

I am from cracklin’ AM radio and scratchy vinyl records. I am from Mac Wiseman, the Browns singing The Three Bells, Hee Haw, Lawrence Welk and Porter Waggoner.

I am from “don’t touch the dog when it’s a’stormin’”. I am from “yuns put your bicycles in the cellar, come on in the house and watch Billy Graham.“

I am from rarely saying grace, but always giving thanks.

I am from cotton dresses worn to school under a warm coat.

I am from the southern end of Appalachia, from one whose lineage can be traced to the Mayflower, and from one whose roots disappear into the soil of the early 1800s.

I am from “ain’t” and “pillers”, from “yonder” and “yuns”. I am from East Tennessee twang.

I am from hik’ry switch stripes on my legs. I am from encouragement and selfless love. I am from parents who intended to raise me right, no matter what it took.

I am from a Momma who had a good example to follow, and did it right. I am from a Daddy who didn’t have a good example to follow, but did it right anyway.

I am from the foot of an old Appalachian mountain spur. I am from a sunset that slides to the south of the mountaintop to let me know we’re heading towards winter, and creeps north to give my spirit hope that winter will end.

In the Yard

I am from land given to my family as a death settlement in the last century. I am from people who held onto this land like a bulldog. I am from daguerreotypes and tintypes, I am from black and white, I am from color, stored in boxes and albums and held in trust by three strong, sweet women.

I am from Appalachia, beginning in New England and ending in Tennessee.


I hope you enjoyed Sheila's poem and photos as much as I did! I identified with much in Sheila's poem. Lines that stuck out for me: the one about rarely saying grace but always giving thanks; and the one about having hik’ry switch stripes on your legs.

We only said grace on special occasions-Thanksgiving and Christmas come to mind-but we were always thankful for what we had.


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I Am From Wiggins Creek

Today's guest poem was written by Ed Ammons.

Wiggins Creek NC

I had a little trouble with the template because the words “I am from” to me mean I have distanced myself from something. I have not. Memories may have faded but not by choice. All this and much, much, more is still what I am, not where I am from. -Ed Ammons


I Am From Wiggins Creek written by Ed Ammons 

I am from the head of Wiggins Creek. Across the mountain from the head of Licklog, Rattlesnake and Wesser. Nearby to Hightower and Needmore and Loudermilk.

I am from gaps. Wilke, Hightower and Charlie. From mountain trails that followed the ridge tops from Needmore to Flats, Nantahala and beyond.

I am from patches. Blackberry, bean, and boxwood. Strawberry, tobacco, and kudzu. Sewn inside overhaul britches. Cut from print feed sacks and sewn into quilts.

I am from The American Tree Farm System with a sign stating so. I am from thousands of seedlings planted in rows. One lick with the mattock, insert the plant and firm it with your toe. Wait forty years for it to grow. This was long before tree huggers came along.

I am from cutting pulp wood to send off to Canton. Five feet long and thicker than the span from the end of your thumb to the end of your little finger. Toss it off your shoulder and make it walk, end over end down the mountain.

I am from tanbark, dogwood shuttles, wormy chestnut and rich pine knots.

I am from mica mines, rubies, garnets and rose quartz picked up off the ground.

I am from summer Sunday afternoon haircuts with shape note singing. Hoping Wayne brings the boys. Hoping somebody brings a watermelon.

I am from peddlers with apples, peaches, Watkins, Blair and The Grit.

I am from a people displaced by rising waters and wealthy industrialists willing to sacrifice a way of life to preserve a wilderness for their descendants. From people cut off from their ancestral homes and their ancestors’ gravesites.

I am an Appalachian……


I hope you enjoyed Ed's poem as much as I did! I am from pulp wood cutters too-so I especially liked that line. My favorite lines from Ed's poem are the last ones. No one in my family lost their land for the supposed good of all-but my heart goes out to those who have.


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I Am From Front Porch Swings

Today's guest poem was written by Ron Banks.

Ridge Way Baptist Church

Ridgeway Baptist Church Ca. 1860’s

Where I Am From written by Ron Banks

I am from front porch swings and a hand hewn log church.

I am from the house at the end of the road, noisy katydids at night, soft handmade quilts and the smell of hot biscuits in the morning.

I am from the apple tree the muscadine and fertile soil.

I am from summer revivals, hard work and my parents, Simon and Amy.

I am from the mind your own business and not others.

From, if you stand on your head your liver will turn over and kill you and chewing tobacco will stunt your growth.

I am from hell fire and damnation preaching, altar calls and shouting the house down.

I'm from Gilmer County, Scotland, Ireland, England and France. Cornbread and fried pork chops.

From a Confederate soldier, wounded and captured. I am from the moonshine runner and the circuit preacher.

I am from the family Bible, hickory switches, daddy’s pistol and grandpa’s straight razor. I am from Appalachia.


I hope you enjoyed Ron's poem as much as I did! The line about standing on your head made me think of all the sayings I heard as a kid like "if you swallow chewing gum it stays in your stomach for 7 years."


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I Am From Gravel Roads

Today's guest poem was written by Wanda Robertson. Wanda is a blogger who writes at Faith, Folklore, and Friends.


 I'm From Gravel Roads written by Wanda Robertson

I am from pea shelling and pinching pennies; from Vick's salve and Syrup of Black Draught.

I am from the Tennessee hills, with its lush creek bottoms and rocky ridges, where panthers screamed, thunder shook the house, and whippoorwills lulled us to sleep.

I am from corn fields and morning glories, black walnuts and hog killings, wood piles and canned vegetables, poke sallet and fresh promises.

I am from big people. I am from sharecroppers and quilters, from the scattered clans named Stricklin and Gean. 

I am from the weary with calloused hands and burned necks.

I am from moonshiners and midwives, herbal healers and hell-fire preachers.

I am from Shall We Gather at the River and I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry.


I'm from the South, from catfish and clotheslines and chasing chickens for dinner, from homemade ice cream and blackberry cobbler; from the cotton pickers, the recyclers, and the storytellers that crowd my mind.

I am from Eve, the Scots-Irish, the Germans, the slow-talking, the stubborn, and the lasting.


I hope you enjoyed Wanda's poem as much as I did! While I related to much of Wanda's poem-the line that stuck out for me was I am from corn fields and morning glories. The cornfield in late summer, dotted with a bazillion bright morning glories has never lost its magic for me. Everytime I go inside the green walls I feel as though I'm a child hiding one row over from Pap again. 

I Am From The West Virginia Hills

Today's guest poem was written by Carol Stuart.

From the west virgina hills

I AM FROM written by Carol Stuart

I am from kid curlers, and Ovaltine, and radio shows

I am from the West Virginia hills, beaten pathways and fragrant soil through my toes

I am from the tall hollyhocks, purple violets, bushy pink roses

I am from prayer before meals, and strong opinions, and Betsy and Bob and “Kennycotachee”

I am from homemade clothes, ironing the dish towels and eat everything on your plate generation, I heard “waste not, want not” and “Don’t talk back” and visits with family were our only vacation

I am from hymn sing nights and Bible school days, baptisms in the creek and church on Sundays

I am from the Scots and the English and the Cherokee; cornbread with onions and beans also homemade cottage cheese

My one Grandpa engineered roads, while the other walked daily miles in the hills and my Dad went to college after his time overseas

I am from photo covered tables, quilts from treasured scraps, lists of names and dates in the family Bible marking the measure of our days.


Loved Carol's poem! Like Carol's family, the only vacations we ever took was to visit family-and those were far and few between-but man how I looked forward to going.


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