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Summer May Be Over, but Programs Still Abound at Cumberland Gap National Historical Park

Cumberland Gap National Historical Park

National Park News

November Offerings Focus on Area’s Rich History and Patriotism

For many, summer trips to national parks are now fond memories to be relived through the sharing of stories and photos. But late autumn visitors to Cumberland Gap National Historical Park continue to discover a filled cornucopia of delightful activities. On Sunday, November 6th at 2 p.m., musicians Sara Grey and Kieron Means make a return appearance to the national park performing in the visitor center auditorium. In their "Tracing the Migration of Songs between Scotland and Ireland to North America," the renowned mother-son team will showcase the rich oral tradition of song and ballad singing which Scots and Ulster Scots carried with them as they immigrated to America. The duo’s repertoire will include songs and ballads whose tunes and words have remained unchanged throughout the years to compositions which have radically changed but still remain recognizable. Sara and Kieron will expect all to enthusiastically chime in on choruses and refrains.

Park Naturalist Scott Teodorski, a musician himself, describes Sara’s playing and singing as "richly emotional." "Sara is equally at home with a gentle lyric or a harsh account of life on the frontier." Sara grew up in New Hampshire but has lived in North Carolina, Ohio, Montana, New York, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Wales and England; she presently resides in Scotland. This card-carrying member of the British Actor’s Equity has toured abroad in Belgium, Bermuda, Canada, Cyprus, Denmark, France, Germany, Holland, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Norway, Lithuania, Australia and the USA.

Though born in the United States, Kieron Means grew up in Britain, gaining a great love of the music of both traditions as well as the contemporary scene. Throughout 2011, Kieron has been performing in the United Kingdom with stops in Sidmouth, Dartmoor, Whitby, Wadebridge, Edinburgh and at the Fylde Folk Festival. Ranger Teodorski has the highest of praise for Kieron stating "He truly is a master both of song and guitar." "Young and old alike are drawn to his gentle nature."

Ranger Teodorski acknowledges that the concert takes place the same day and time as the "Stand in the Gap" rally against drugs and alcohol abuse. "We booked Sara and Kieron eight months ago. It’s really cool that both events are occurring simultaneously as this concert helps to showcase the rich heritage of the area. Folks in this area are fiercely proud of their heritage and they should be. Appalachia is known for its music. Music can serve as a powerful bridge between barriers."

On November 11th, at 5 p.m. at the visitor center flagpole, retired U.S. flags, once brilliant and glorious, will be laid to rest with dignity and respect in a solemn ceremony hosted by Boy Scout Troop 544 and the Thomas Walker High School Army Jr ROTC. Chief Ranger Dirk Wiley applauds these young men and women. "They’re learning at an early age how precious our freedom is. They understand that many men and women have lost their lives or have been injured in war insuring our freedom. We extend an invitation to all veterans to participate in this Veteran’s Day ceremony."

"Filling in the Gaps," the fourth and final program in the park’s Hidden History Lecture Series takes place on November 12th at 2 p.m. in the visitor center auditorium. National Park Service Archeologist Tom DesJean will showcase the science of archeology and its role in advancing our understanding of prehistory and supplementing the written record. DesJean will also illustrate how controlled excavations provide the scientific data that are used to discover past behavior.

All are encouraged to join park rangers on November 19th at 7 p.m. for an adventure into the forest during an "Owl Prowl." A short program at the park visitor center will first introduce visitors to these night time forest denizens. Visitors should dress warmly and bring flashlights.

 Naturalist Teodorski reminds visitors that Gap Cave tours also continue to be offered. Through November 26th, tour times are 10 a.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on weekends. Both cave tours will be cancelled on Sunday, November 6th due to the "Stand in the Gap" rally. Beginning November 27th through the spring, tours will be offered on weekends only. "As each tour is limited to 15 visitors, we definitely recommend reservations, which can be made up to one month in advance of the trip date by calling 606-248-2817, extension 1075." Teodorski explains that cave tours are very popular on Thanksgiving Day. "Some folks literally get kicked out of the house while the turkey is roasting. A cave tour on Thanksgiving Day is really magical. As we walk up the trail to the cave, the air is crisp and refreshing. Leaves crunch beneath our feet. We have great views of the historic Cumberland Gap itself. Within the cave, we’re welcomed by glistening stalagmites and stalactites. And we find another reason why we should give thanks – for our national parks, which reinforce in us who we are as a proud nation and a proud people."

For additional information on Cumberland Gap National Historical Park’s programs, which are co-sponsored by park partners the Friends of Cumberland Gap and Eastern National, please call 606-248-2817, extension 1075.


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