Miss Judy and I traveled back in time to a period before electricity; that would mean NO radio, NO television, and, heaven forbid, NO computers or internet. How could anyone have lived like that?
After a winding drive up the side of Black Rock Mountain, just outside of Mountain City, Georgia, we arrived at the Gate House which is the visitor’s center and gift shop for The Foxfire Museum and Heritage Center.
“The Foxfire Magazine began in 1966 as an attempt to engage high school English students and increase their interest for learning. The simple idea of students producing a magazine grew into an education success story unlike any other and has endured in the classroom. The Foxfire Magazine is still in production at Raburn County High School today.” - Museum Tour Guide Booklet
As the students were searching for things that they could write about, they turned to their heritage by seeking out the histories of their ancestors, friends, and neighbors. They wanted to know what life was like back in the 1800’s – how the people lived, how things were done, and what daily life looked like.
“In 1972, an anthology of the student-written articles was gathered and published as The Foxfire Book. Over 30 years have passed since then, and 11 more books have been published. The Foxfire Book series stands as a lasting tribute not only to the people and traditions of Southern Appalachia, but to those high school students who valued their community, neighbors, and families.” – Museum Tour Guide Booklet
However, the Foxfire experience goes beyond that of publishing a magazine and books. Through the combination of the classroom and hands-on learning, students experience life as it was lived two centuries earlier. Everything on display has been built and/or collected through the efforts of middle and high school students.
The exhibits consist of twenty plus buildings housing artifacts from life in the 1800’s. There are cabins that were homes to families, a chapel, barns, a grist mill and other utility structures such as smoke house and root cellar. Artifacts consist of tools, farm implements, toys, and other items used in daily life. The structures are both authentic or built using materials salvaged from other buildings from that period. Here are a few photographs from our tour.
Many of the exhibits, such as the Blacksmith Shop, are “working models” where students can gain hands-on experience.
The wagon shed housed two wagons one of which is the only documented wagon known to have traveled to Oklahoma in the Trail of Tears (the forced relocation of the Cherokee people from the east to the west).
The church was the center of any Appalachian community and was usually the first building constructed. It served as the church, schoolhouse, and meeting hall for the community.
The Gott Cabin serves as a broom shop where corn stock brooms are still being manufactured by hand the old fashioned way.
Notice the stilts in front of the Shooting Creek cabin. My dad used to make these for us kids during my childhood. They allow you to use them and, yes, Judy and I gave them a try – it wasn’t pretty!!!
The Foxfire Museum and Heritage Center is an ongoing project with more and more donations being brought in and erected every year. A couple of those are the Phillips Cabin and the Warwoman Cabin that are not yet opened to the public.
Miss Judy found a nice place to rest after spending the morning climbing around the mountain side viewing and all of the exhibits. And, with that we’ll conclude our tour of the Foxfire Museum and Heritage Center. If you find yourself in this area, be sure to stop by and take in this exhibit first hand. It will give you an appreciation for the lifestyle of our forefathers (and mothers).
Our next blog entry will cover a visit to Black Rock Mountain State Park, another Georgia gem with majestic mountain views, so be sure to check back with us again tomorrow. Until then, may God Bless.