National Geographic : 1962 Jul
Remnants of a sorghum mill: The horse went round and round as sorghum stalks were fed between two rollers. The juice was cooked in a long shallow pan, then strained. with the drippings from wood ashes. "People were plumb fools over that soap," he said, adding with a twinkle in his eye, "though 'twas able to take your hide off." Cades Cove had quite a few set tlers between 1818 and 1830. In the thirties many, including the Jobes, moved to Georgia. But the Olivers stayed, and more people came to take the place of the departed. They usually came by wagons pulled by three oxen, over an old Indian trail. They used "tar-pole" wagons-axles of hickory or locust and hubs of dog wood or white oak. A tar bucket swung underneath, filled with resin prepared from lengths of pine heated on end over a hot fire with a drain that caught the drippings. This tar greased the creaking wheels. They were also known as "jolt" wagons, for they had no springs. One day John W. Oliver, his son Judge Wayne Oliver-who presides over the Fourth Judicial Circuit of Tennessee-and I entered the Cove over the present Rich Mountain road. I had hiked it one March day, just before the dogwood was out. The north slope of the mountain is forested with a rich mixture of hard woods, and hemlock-called spruce pine-grows along the streams. To day's road does not follow the origi nal one. Wayne Oliver, who was born in the Cove, pointed out pieces of it. In places it was so dim that imagination was needed to recon struct it. The old one, all agree, was steep. "If I left the Cove very early in the morning with a loaded wagon and a team of horses and went over Rich Mountain," Judge Oliver told me, "I could get to Townsend and back the same day." "Mighty hard on wagon brakes," his father added. "Going down the steepest places," the judge said, "I'd lock the two rear wheels, and we'd sort of slide down. On each trip I'd just about wear out a pair of brake blocks." We stopped at the top of the mountain, where a distant view of the Cove could be had through trees not yet in full leaf.