Tag Archives: Loudon County

John Muir on Roane County

{Robert Bailey – Roane County Historian}

John Muir, (1838-1914), was a well-known conservationist and naturalist. In 1892 he founded the Sierra Club and served as president until his death. Muir helped to establish the Sequoia and Yosemite National Parks. In 1867, he began what was called “the thousand-mile walk to the Gulf” collecting plants and passed through Roane County. The following is from his journal about his trek through Roane County:

“September 12 [1867]. Awoke drenched with mountain mist, which made a grand show, as it moved away before the hot sun. Passed Montgomery [which was the county seat of Morgan County at that time], a shabby village at the head of the east slope of the Cumberland Mountains. Obtained breakfast in a clean house and began the descent of the mountains. Obtained fine views of a wide, open country, and distant flanking ridges and spurs. Crossed a wide cool stream [which would have been the Emory River], a branch of the Clinch River. There is nothing more eloquent in Nature than a mountain stream, and this is the first I ever saw. Its banks are luxuriantly peopled with rare and lovely flowers and overarching trees, making one of Nature’s coolest and most hospitable places. Every tree, every flower, every ripple and eddy of this lovely stream seemed solemnly to feel the presence of the great Creator. Lingered in this sanctuary a long time thanking the Lord with all my heart for his goodness in allowing me to enter and enjoy it. Discovered two ferns, Dicksonia and a small matted polypod on trees, common farther South. Also a species of magnolia with very large leaves and scarlet conical fruit. Near this stream, I spent some joyous time in a grand rock-dwelling full of mosses, birds, and flowers. Most heavenly place I ever entered. The long narrow valleys of the mountainside, all well watered and nobly adorned with oaks, magnolias, laurels, azaleas, asters, ferns, Hypnum mosses, Madotheca, etc. Also towering clumps of beautiful hemlocks. The hemlock, judging from the common species of Canada, I regarded as the least noble of the conifers. But those of the eastern valleys of the Cumberland Mountains are as perfect in form and regal in port as the pines themselves. The latter abundant. Obtained fine glimpses from open places as I descended to the great valley between these mountains and the Unaka Mountains on the state line. Forded the Clinch, a beautiful clear stream, that knows many of the dearest mountain retreats that ever heard the music of running water. Reached Kingston before dark. Sent back my plant collections by express to my brother in Wisconsin. September 15 [1867]. Walked all day across small parallel valleys that flute the surface of the one wide valley. These flutings appear to have been formed by lateral pressure, are fertile, and contain some fine forms, though the seal of war is on all things. The roads never seem to proceed with any fixed purpose, but wonder as if lost. In seeking the way to Philadelphia [this was in Monroe County, near the Roane County line. It became a part of Loudon County in 1870], I was told by a buxom Tennessee ‘gal’ that over the hills was much the nearer way, that she always went that way, and that surely I could travel it.

Originally written for the Roane County Newsletter to the Community, August 2018.

Rachel Rose Parker

{Robert Bailey – Roane County Historian}

Rachel Rose Parker, of Kingston, passed away February 16, 2017. She was Roane County Historian from 1994 until 1996, when she resigned, and I (Robert Bailey) became the county historian. Rachel and her husband, J. Clyde “Babe” Parker, the banker at Kingston Bank and Trust, were very much interested in Roane County’s history. Rachel and “Babe” were instrumental in saving the Old Roane Courthouse and preserving the Fort Southwest Point site. They also collected many photographs and historical records which are now stored at the Old Roane County Courthouse. She was born “south of the river” of which she was proud. She married “Babe” in 1939 in Loudon County, and they had one son, Frank Parker. Except for a short time during the depression when her family moved to Ohio, she lived her entire life in Roane County. She was very much interested in politics. She ran for Kingston City Mayor in 1973 and lost to Jim Henry. From there, Jim Henry went on to serve in the Tennessee House of Representatives and is currently deputy to Governor Haslam and chief of staff. Those who knew her know that she lived a full life, probably enough for 20 lives. She will be remembered for all of her adventures and stories that Babe told about her including the time that she almost got arrested in Russia and the time that she won a pig in a contest held by Brownie Ellis. She made Babe hold the pig in the back of the car while Rachel drove. Fortunately, her father was able to take the pig to his farm. She was a special lady.

Originally written for the Roane County Newsletter to the Community, March 2017.