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Good Conversations in May

Good Conversations in May

Celebrating 75 Years of Hospitality


May Activities

The Past Becomes Present
Local historians, naturalists and storytellers engage guests in lively conversations about the cultural, historical and environmental history of the Great Smoky Mountains and the present and future challenges that face this area. Presentations will be between 5:45 and 6:45 pm on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays in May. Many of the programs will include photos and power point presentations. Opportunities for guest comments and questions abound. You do not have to be a guest of the Inn to attend.

Wednesday, May 1
Frances Hensley, Park Volunteer and Storyteller (aka Granny Franny) will talk with guests about the history, people and customs of the Greenbrier community before the Park became a reality and about some of the flora and fauna that now inhabit this unique area of the Smokies.

Thursday, May 2
Ray Palmer, Park Volunteer Almost everything you see in the Park that is man-made was originally built by members of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) during the Great Depression. The CCC is a perfect example of the long lasting effect that a quality, socially responsible government program can have. Find out about the challenges the members of the CCC faced during the 1930sand their way of life and the contributions these hard-working men made to the pleasures we all enjoy today in the Park.

Sunday, May 5 Sarah Weeks, Friends of the Smokies With the help of thousands of people, businesses, and foundations, Friends of the Smokies now funds more than $1 million annually to protect bears, heal trees, improve trails and visitor facilities, and foster a love for Great Smoky Mountains National Park and its tremendous cultural and natural resources. Find out about the history and mission of Friends of the Smokies and the many park programs and projects for which it has provided support in the last 20 years.

Tuesday, May 7 Kim Delozier, Former Park Ranger and Wildlife Biologist Elk, bears, peregrine falcons, river otters, deer, wild pigs—if it inhabits our Park this former manager of wildlife resources for 32 years has a story to tell you about it. Kim, who described his career with the Park as like being a kid in a candy store, maintains his enthusiasm for all creatures great and small—and will be sharing it with you.

Thursday, May 9 Liz Dominque , Naturalist and Hiking Guide Salamanders, anyone? Liz is expert on these gorgeous little creatures. The Great Smoky Mountains are known as the “Salamander Capital of the World!” Salamanders are an especially abundant and diverse group in the Great Smokies. In fact, the great majority of vertebrate (backboned) animals, including human visitors, in the park on any given day are salamanders. Liz is going to tell you how to spot them on your next walk in the park.

Sunday, May 12 Carey Jones, Naturalist and Hiking Guide and Former Park Ranger Just how come did so many different types of animals and plants end up in the Smokies? Carey can tell you. This self-described “old Smokies naturalist” will let you in on why our Park is so special in its abundance and diversity of plants and animals. He promises to answer questions as long as you like.

Tuesday, May 14 Holly Scott, Friends of the Smokies and Billy Jones, Ridgerunner Since 2003, Holly has had the pleasure of helping to promote Friends of the Smokies’ activities and raise awareness of the ongoing need to preserve and protect Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  One of the programs supported annually by Friends is the Appalachian Trail Ridgerunner program.  From March to October, Ridgerunners patrol the A.T. in the Smokies, helping to ensure that the park’s resources and facilities are being used responsibly, responding to hikers in distress, and performing maintenance along the A.T. and at the park’s backcountry shelters.  Billy Jones is in his second year of Ridgerunning in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, an opportunity he sought after hanging up his suit & tie to thru-hike the A.T. in 2006.  Holly will be with us to talk about the ways that Friends’ members improve our national park, and Billy will describe a day in the life of a Ridgerunner.

Thursday, May 16 Wanda DeWaard, Naturalist, Tracker, Hiking Guide and Monarch Butterfly Aficionado The Smokies are central to the annual Monarch Butterfly Migration and each year as they pass through Wanda expands her knowledge and expertise about these magnificent creatures—and she is going to share her information and insights with you. Monarchs descend upon the mountains as the law of nature demands. In mass numbers they arrive dedicated and loyal to their own ancestral customs and traditions. Bonded as family, they adhere to their kinsmen calling, displaying their traditional colors and design like the tartans of Scot-Irish clans or the tribal pottery motif of the ancient Native Americans. Their family crest is of a style that sets fear into their natural enemies, an age old shield that provides safe passage for them and their loved ones.

Sunday, May 19 Frances Fox, Artist, Weaver and Local Historian One of the most important early 20th century developments in Gatlinburg’s was the Phi Beta Phi Settlement School, created in 1910 to improve the educational standards for children and women in particular. It also stressed native handicrafts production as a means of raising local economic standards. Find out from Frances, one of its former students, how the school shaped the life of its students and contributed to the good of the community.

Tuesday, May 21 Glenn Cardwell, Pittman Center Mayor, Historian and Former Park Ranger In 1919, a Methodist missionary preacher came through the area then known as Emerts Cove, an area just to the northeast of Gatlinburg. Dr. Burnett realized there was a great need for a center to provide education and health needs to these impoverished people and he took his vision to the Methodist Episcopal Church who adopted it and opened the school and campus in 1920. Glenn Cardwell was one of those who benefitted from this establishment and he will be here to share his memories and those of other students and teachers of those days.

Thursday, May 23 Ellen Bebb, Retired Teacher and Daughter of Buckhorn Inn Founder Douglas Bebb Ever wonder what growing up in an inn would be like? Find out from Ellen Bebb, who with her sister Tina and four step-siblings did just that, working alongside their parents in the daily tasks of keeping the inn thriving and earning a living.

Sunday, May 26 Robin Goddard, Storyteller, Park Volunteer, and recent recipient of the National George B. Hartzog, Jr. Award for Enduring Volunteer Service for her outstanding service to Great Smoky Mountains National Park Robin will charm you with her presentation about our famous Walker Sisters, entitled Common Women in an Uncommon World. Consider all the people who lived in the Great Smoky Mountains and none will exhibit the character of these mountain people better than the Walker family of Little Greenbrier or Five Sisters’ Cove. Isolated by their environment, each generation was raised with the idea that dependence on any strength save God’s or their own was less than wholesome. Close family ties and an insuppressible belief in a strong pioneer faith were practically inherent in the Walkers. Resourceful, strong-willed, self-reliant, and an illimitable love of this land and their home were all fitting descriptions. The old ways passed down from father to son or daughter were almost sacrosanct. Advancements were not spurned, neither were they sought. An advanced society would have thought them primitive. Perhaps they were, but here in these mountains they lived the only life they knew–the only life they wanted to know. This kind of life elsewhere had passed into history years before. Find out more about that life from Robin.

Tuesday, May 28 Janet Rock, GSMNP Botanist Janet is interested in everything—but especially in rare plants in the Smokies. She has also studied the harvesting impacts of American ginseng and wild leeks and impacts of white-tailed deer on herbaceous vegetation. Find out from Janet about the great plant diversity of the Smokies and its unusual habitats. She has some wonderful photos to share with you.

Thursday, May 30 Carroll McMann, Historian While much is known and obvious to national park visitors, there are some things that are not well-known and often remain secret unless you either stumble upon them or learn of them from a local. Such just might be the case with the Mayna Avent cabin in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  Find out about this very special place and the woman whose cabin it was.