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Homecoming at the Historic Hensley Settlement

Cumberland Gap National Historical Park

National Park News

Heritage Event at Historic Settlement to Celebrate Appalachian Self-Sufficient Lifestyle

 For us poor people that was raised up there and lived up there, …we was about as nigh self-supporting people as I knowed of anywhere…we made a habit of trying to grow and make what we used…We just growed our own vegetables, we growed our corn, and we had our hogs…cattle…our sheep, our milk cows…our old-timey tools, and we just made what we lived on…and we, we made it all right…     Herb Hensley

The whirring of the spinning wheel, the bleating of the sheep, the clanging of the hammer as it strikes against red hot metal, the buzzing of honey bees, the sweet aroma of apple butter…Hensley Settlement in Cumberland Gap National Historical Park will come to life on Saturday, October 1st as an array of demonstrators showcase how families lived in Appalachia before the coming of paved roads and rural electrification.

Park Ranger Pam Eddy, who has choreographed this heritage day-long event, invites all explaining that Hensley Settlement is the perfect venue to showcase the self-sufficient lifestyle of the Appalachian people. "The cabins and corncribs which visitors see as they explore Hensley Settlement only date from the first decade of the 20th century. But they look much like typical homes built all along the American frontier in the 1700’s and 1800’s. Daniel Boone, Davy Crockett, Abraham Lincoln’s parents, or any the 1780 – 1815 emigrants who settled Kentucky, Tennessee, and the Ohio River states would have felt much at home in a place like Hensley. This was the same kind of edge-of-the-wilderness life those early pioneers hoped to find for themselves once they got land of their own and a little more elbow room."

Youngsters will have plenty to do during the Hensley Homecoming as they acquaint themselves with toys – marbles, jacks and even a climbing bear - from the past. They, along with adults, will be encouraged to visit the one room schoolhouse where a class might even be in session.

Eddy spells out that on October 1st, visitors will be able to drive their personal vehicles up the Shillalah Creek Trail to the settlement provided they have front wheel or four wheel drive vehicles. Passengers riding in the back of open pickup trucks will not be allowed. The road will be open for travel up to the settlement from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m., closed from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and then reopened from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. for travel back down the mountain. Visitors are encouraged to bring a picnic lunch. The program is free of charge and is being co-sponsored by the Friends of Cumberland Gap.

For additional information on Cumberland Gap National Historical Park’s programs, please call 606-248-2817, extension 1075.


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