Cades Cove was once home to about 125 farming families. A few homes, three churches, a mill and some other buildings are all that remain, although the National Park maintains the general appearance by keeping the fields mowed. An 11-mile road loops through the valley and presents postcard-worthy views almost the entire way. But history and scenic beauty aren’t all the cove has to offer. There’s also wildlife.
We’d hardly started on the drive when a Pileated Woodpecker flew in front of the car and landed on a fencepost next to the road. I pulled right next to it and snapped a few photos.
Several Wild Turkeys wandered the fields.
We rounded a bend in a patch of woods and suddenly found ourselves in a traffic jam. With good reason. A half-grown Black Bear was grazing through the trees about 20 yards off the road. We got out to look. Most of the time it kept its head down as it slowly moved away from us.
Primitive Baptist Church, constructed in 1887.
Methodist Church, built in 1902. The guy who built it did so for $115 in 115 days. The two front doors were standard in Methodist Churches because men and women were usually separated, although that wasn’t the case in this particular congregation — it seems they borrowed the plans from another church.
Brown Thrasher in the Methodist Church cemetery.
The Gregg-Cable House, built in 1879. The owners ran a store out of the front room.
The Cable Grist Mill.
Black Bear #2 — a young bear with oddly-large ears wandering around in a large field.
Bear #3 — a large sow. She had a small cub.
They both disappeared from our view behind a rise. Of the 50 people lined up along the road, 47 of them were content to wait until the bears reappeared. Three others, however, — an idiot along with his wife and daughter — walked out into the field to get closer photos. Several people along the road were screaming at him that he was not only being rude and breaking the law but risking serious injury. He paid no attention. As soon as he crested the rise, the bear took off for the woods, ruining the moment for everyone. I got one shot as they headed for the trees. The cub (bear #4) can be seen in the grass in front of the sow.
Everyone was pretty upset at the jerk, but he pretended like he was unaware of what people were saying as he strolled back to his car. I wasn’t wanting him to get mauled, but I would have enjoyed seeing him chased for a bit.