Monday, August 1, 2011

Foxfire Museum

Years ago, I discovered this series of books called Foxfire. They were started in the early 70's by some high school students as a sociology project. They interviewed some older appalachian people who lived a primitive lifestyle. They teach the old ways of doing things, but also, they just talk about things, wherever their minds wander. The reading is slow for me since they try to type exactly as things sound...which is with a thick southern accent. Kind of like reading the dialouge in Mark Twain's books. I have the first three and refer to them every now and then.

A couple of months ago, I discovered that they have a museum in North Georgia. So we took our day long staycation on Friday and drove up to see it.

You end up driving on a narrow gravel road up the mountainside to get to it. It was a really pretty ride.

The enterance fee is only $6/person. This is the first cabin you go to. It's a gift shop and where you pay. From here, you start the hike.

We didn't realize there would be hiking. We had a very large breakfast at Cracker Barrel since we knew we'd be skipping lunch. The hike to the first two cabins was not sitting well with either one of our stomachs but it got less steep after that, plus we took our time in each cabin so we eventually digested it.

There are 20 cabins scattered throughout the museum. Some are locked since they house archives from the books and other artifacts. They were all extremally old cabins that were taken apart and brough back to Foxfire and rebuilt. The only exception is the church building. They hadn't been able to find a community willing to donate their old church so that one is a new building, designed after one in Tennessee.

The first cabin you come to is the oldest one, originally built in 1820. It has a front door and a back door. The loft would have been accessed by a ladder. The furnishings in this cabin is what you would find in any ordinary cabin of the time.

A pie safe/jelly cupboard and other food storage, cooking tools, spinning wheel.

A loom. Adam mentioned that the loom was much larger than the bed. It really was big!

A bench to sit on. Can I have one of these beauties?? And notice the straw bed beside it? That was actually the trundle bed that slides in under the main bed. This was one half of the house, split in half by the doorways. At the door is the loom, the bench and then the bed...and the ladder would have been beside the bed.

On the other side of the room was the "kitchen". The jelly cupboard area, the fireplace where all the cooking was done and the table.

The back porch was large enough to sit on and held the stuff for washing up.

Most cabins were like this windows. The first thing you notice when you walk in is how dark it is. It was about noon when we first got here...the sun was shining without a cloud in the sky. Both doors were open but inside the house, it was like you were in a cave almost. I could only see most of the things in the house when the camers lit it up with the flash. How depressing it must have been to be a woman as they mostly had to stay in the home and take care of the food and other care her family needed. I am sure she spent as much time outside as possible, shucking peas on the porch, cooking over a fire in the yard, tending her garden, picking berries...whatever she could find to do outside. But in the winter when they were all stuck inside, having to be careful of how many candles they went through so they'd have enough to last until they could make more.

One of the buildings was a wagon shed. It had an old conestoga wagon, the kind the pioneers used to move across the plains, and another buckboard type wagon that was built in the 1980's.

The blacksmith's cabin was open so you can lean in, but not so you can walk in. The smell of the shop is really strong. It's still used to make replicas and full cool tools.

This is a good pic of the type of setting it is in. On a mountainside with lots of trees and greenery. Doesn't it just make you want to live there?

This cabin was locked but it had actual windows...but it wasn't lit by any artifical lights so it was impossible to see anything inside. It had a few sets of stilts leaning against the porch so I tried my hand at it. The pictures I've seen makes it looks easy...I mean, kids can do it, so I should be able to too, right??

I tried and tried with no success. Two steps was my record.

The church was the highest building on the hike. After that it was all downhill. The church is an exact replica of an old one. It has a working bell in the tower (adam tried it out timidly...but the kids who came up later rang it boldly). We had just steppinside the church when Adam got a call for a tow. He spent about 10 minutes on the phone getting the info he needed. I looked around, took some pictures, then sat down on a bench. As I sat there, sweat was rolling down my back. It was hot and muggy inside, much like outside. There were 6 windows in this building and it was still dimly lit. It made me wonder what they thought about sweat rolling down their backs back then... They knew nothing different in the summer. It had always been that way. Like the videos of people in Africa letting flies crawl all over their skin, they've given up fighting it because it is just a part of life. I don't write well what I am thinking...but this and the cabins with no light were really what struck me the most here at the museum.

There were two coffins on display in the church: an infant's and an adults. A little creepy, but certainly much more a part of daily life back then than nowadays.

The church has 6 windows (8 if you count the stained glass windows in front) and more well lit than most of the other buildings and yet, this is how dark it was. Can you imagine?

Some high school students got this from the first woman they interviewed for their project. She donated it and they moved it to the museum and rebuilt it and even made the motor work again....but it's nowhere near water so it never runs.

One of the cabins has the village weaver camped out in it. She spends all day weaving towels and hot pads and spinning yarn to sell in the shop. She talks while she does it too. She made it look easy and it has now been put on my list of things to someday learn.

Hot pads and kitchen towels that she weaved.

She demonstrated how to make yarn. She started with raw wool, carded it, rolled it, spun it into yarn.

There were a few more cabins to look at then we were back at the beginning. I have even more respect for these people than I did before. Makes me want to read the books again.


Stella Andes said...

That is really interesting, Tiff! Thanks for posting it. Glad you had a chance to go there for your staycation!

Valerie said...

I cannot imagine living like that, even though, like you said, they knew no other way. Thanks for the peek at the museum. Makes me more grateful for what I have and what I don't have to do because of modern conveniences.

Us said...

How cool!! It's amazing how different things are now (For moat of us at least!) from the way people used to live. What an interesting museum! Btw, I saw an old looom at DI yesterday. :)

Anonymous said...

Neat. That is really living out "in the sticks"! Everything was so stark, yet the village weaver lady's work sure softens things up! I guess if we put a lady in each of those cabins, they would be cozier and probably were cozier back then! That book collection looks very educational and interesting to read. love,andrea

Tiff :o) said...

Thanks everyone, yes, it was kind of place to visit. It makes me more grateful too...I took my windows for granted. :o) I am no longer allowed to complain about anything...we'll see how long I last, but I will try.

Jared, you didn't buy it it for me?? You're killing me. ;o) I totally wouldn't have been able to say no to it if I had seen it.

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