Hickory Nut Mountain on Vaccine Day

After having the first shot of Mr. Moderna injected into my arm in Rutherfordton, I decided to stop at an Overlook south of my house. The clarity of the air made for the perfect photo op, with 3,100 foot Hickory Nut Mountain dominating the northern horizon. This is one of those long ridges that prevented the Cherokee and early settlers from having easy movement east and west along the Eastern Blue Ridge Escarpment. Even today, few roads exist on and around the mountain, making the area a true wilderness, with many unexplored regions.

My house sits in a valley at 1,200 feet at the base of the mountain, just above the line of pines in this image. As far as I have learned, most of the area is owned by Weyerhaeuser and Georgia-Pacific, but so far, no large scale logging has been carried out. There are no public lands anywhere on or around Hickory Nut Mountain.

View toward the northwest from Freemantown Road in Rutherford County
Earlier Winter view of the western face of Hickory Nut Mountain

On a Clear Day…

…you can see Forever…

Ice Crystals after sunrise…

With humidity very low and temperatures below freezing, Sunday was the ideal time to see these mountains north of Lake Lure in all their splendor.

Rumbling Bald Mountain on the left, Mount Shumont on the right.
Eagle Rock on the north end of Mount Shumont
Mount Shumont on the left, Youngs Mountain in the foreground
Youngs Mountain

More Shelby, N.C. Mansions

Six years ago I discovered these remarkable houses in downtown Shelby. They are worth another look…

Living in The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina- A Blog

Two more remarkable houses were both constructed in Shelby, North Carolina, in the same year, 1875. Because Cleveland County, where Shelby is the county seat, was the cotton capital of the Carolinas, the barons that owned the largest mills built the most elaborate homes.

Banker's House 1875 Shelby, N.C.
This Second Empire style home was built by the owner of the largest bank in Shelby, and was successively owned by the city’s wealthiest bankers. It became know as The Banker’s House, and is still a private home to this day. Years ago, the property was given to Preservation North Carolina, who continues to manage the property today. Occasionally, the house is opened for tours. It is made from yellow stuccoed brick, and features hand painted roof tiles.

James Heyward Hull House 1874
This impressive frivolity was constructed in 1875 as a traditional Georgian house, but when new owners bought the house in 1907, they added the monumental portico in the…

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Sunrise Paints the Blue Ridge

This morning, a combination of freezing temperatures and very low humidity teamed up to create one of the most dramatic images I’ve ever seen from my deck. It was 26 degrees with no wind. These colors are as close to natural as I could get.

Heavy Snow along the Blue Ridge

On Friday, January 8, snow blanketed the Eastern Escarpment of these mountains, turning them into a Winter Wonderland. A good four inches coated the bare trees, and the lack of wind left everything in place like a Currier and Ives print.

These images are from far eastern Buncombe County, along Cedar Creek Road as it ascends above 1,700 feet to meet up with Old Fort-Bat Cave Road at 2,000 feet. The temperature was right at freezing, and the snow was dry and fluffy. Lake Lure was about seven miles to the south in Rutherford County.

Historic Scandinavian barn…
My car straddles the Rutherford-Buncombe County line…
2,000 foot elevation where Cedar Creek Road joins Old Fort-Bat Cave Road
2,800 foot Youngs Mountain in Rutherford County…

Here is the short video of my drive to Old Fort-Bat Cave Road…

The Historic Railway Depot in Marion, N.C.

In 1871, the Great Southern Railway completed a monumental accomplishment when they connected the Piedmont Plateau with the mountain towns to the west across the Eastern Continental Divide. Considering the engineering and construction challenges that these men faced at that time, this feat was truly remarkable. Every town served by this new railroad needed a station and a depot where trains could load and unload passengers and freight. The first brick depot was built in the small textile and furniture village of Marion, North Carolina, in sight of the beautiful mountains that surrounded that town. The year was 1871, and today, 150 years later, that Depot still stands, and serves as the centerpiece of a historic district that recaptures the excitement of its 19th century founding.

1871 Freight Depot
Preserved Buildings in the Depot District
The building on the left is still one of the tallest buildings in McDowell; County. The fading Coca Cola sign was revealed when a newer structure was razed The two story building across the street now houses a Martial Arts studio, and is negotiating with developers to open a themed restaurant

The lower floor of the larger building is now home to a restaurant and game arcade called “The Feisty Goldfish” .

Marion is a town frozen in time, and with recent openings of micro breweries and even a Mead tasting room, it’s becoming a real tourist destination for travelers heading for the mountains.

Goodbye 2020… Glad to see you Go

As this past year fades into our memory, here are a few parting images from this past week. May 2021 bring you peace and joy. Protect yourselves and get your shots.

A frosty walk with Buddy
Sunrise over Otter Pond
Found the Beaver’s new hutch
35 degrees along Old Fort-Bat Cave Road
Blackberry Ridge at 2,500 feet in Buncombe County
Holly in my Woods
My Rain Gauge shows 6 inches for December, frozen solid…

A White Christmas in Spring Creek

Although no flakes flew for Christmas here in Otter Creek, it was an entirely different story for folks along the North Carolina-Tennessee border north of Asheville. A good friend lives in a small farming community called Spring Creek in Madison County just twenty-eight miles from Asheville, and these are images he sent from Christmas Day. Thank you Kenny Benjamin.

A Very Merry Christmas….

May the beauty of the season remain with you all year long. We have endured much this year, but I believe we will emerge from this pandemic stronger and healthier. Have you noticed that since March, the incidents of cold and flu have plummeted. Masks and social distancing have had unexpected positive effects.

Get out and enjoy the natural beauty around you. There’s never been a better time….

Otter Pond Sunrise
Ice Ribbons
Northwest Rutherford Mountains
Rumbling Bald Mountain
I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas
So is Buddy…

My Second most Popular Post

Just after I began blogging years ago, I was so captivated by the landscape paintings from 19th century America that I wrote a post about what I had found. Over the years, it has become one of my most read posts. With the pandemic and with so many of us staying home, I wanted to remind those of you who might have missed it of the beauty that early artists chose to glorify. These images have affected my photography in a profound way. With the holidays upon us, you might enjoy a respite from the chaos and turmoil that we have all experienced lately. Vann Helms