Friday, November 7, 2014

A Place Called Grassy Cove

Tennessee is a photographer’s treasure trove of pictures just waiting to be taken, and during our recent trip to the Nashville area to visit our son, I captured over a thousand of those pictures.

And no matter how well my pictures turn out, I always wish I could go back and walk a little further down the highway, or across a ditch, or up a hill, and take more pictures, from different angles and distances and times of day.   
One of the most picturesque places we visited is a breathtakingly beautiful pastoral valley called Grassy Cove.


The valley is notable for its karst formations, which have been designated a National Natural Landmark. [Karst topography is a landscape formed from the dissolution of soluble rocks such as limestone, dolomite, and gypsum. It is characterized by underground drainage systems with sinkholes, dolines, and caves.]  Be that as it may, all I could see were its grassy meadows, rustic red barns, and SHEEP grazing in the distance.



Grassy Cove is also home to a small unincorporated community consisting of a few houses, the Grassy Cove United Methodist Church, and John Kemmer’s general store, circa 1886. There are a lot of Kemmers in Cumberland County today, and their presence there goes back hundreds of years to when the area was first settled. 

Although no extensive archaeological work has been conducted in Grassy Cove, early farmers found projectile points and other prehistoric artifacts when plowing fields, suggesting that Native Americans were living in the cove during prehistoric times. Also, early 19th-century settlers reportedly found the cove bottom cleared and containing only high grass upon their arrival. 
The first Euro-American settlers arrived in Grassy Cove in 1801. This early caravan consisted primarily of families from Fluvanna County, Virginia. In 1803, they completed a log church and formed the Grassy Cove United Methodist Church, one of the first congregations in the Cumberland Plateau region. 

Prominent early settlers included John Ford, the community's founder, and Weatherston Greer, who arrived circa 1830. Greer set up the first post office in the cove, operated a sawmill and gristmill, and owned large tracts of land in the cove until the Civil War. 
During the Civil War, Grassy Cove's caves were an invaluable source of saltpeter, which was used in the manufacture of gunpowder. According to a local legend, the body of a Confederate soldier (in full uniform) was found in a petrified state in one of the caves shortly after the war. When no one claimed the body, it was buried in the Grassy Cove Methodist Cemetery. Several residents claimed to have seen the soldier's ghost in the church, however, and when church attendance began to drop as a result, the soldier's body was disinterred and reburied in an undisclosed location.

But enough about the history of Grassy Cove … here are a few more pictures I made while we were there.

Grassy Cove United Methodist Church and Cemetery

This little fellow stopped long enough for me to snap his picture.  I guess he was curious about the strange lady standing on the other side of the fence yelling, "Baaaaaaa .... baaaaaaa."

A drive through a place like Grassy Cove wouldn't be complete without an old Chevy truck peeking out of a barn.

I wish my camera could have captured my sense of wonder and awe as I glimpsed God’s glory in that peaceful little valley lying in the shadows of the Cumberland Mountains … a place called Grassy Cove, Tennessee.