Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2018 - 16
The GOOD WALK
Walking Dolly's Hometown
The West Prong of the Little Pigeon River flanks
Downtown Sevierville and the adjoining West Prong Greenway make for a walk that
has ample connections to the town's favorite daughter, along with many other treats.
Text and photos by Leonard M. and Laurie Adkins
I am a long-time fan of Dolly Parton. From when she was
just beginning to garner media attention on the "Porter
Wagoner Show" to her Hollywood actress days to her
latest albums, I've always enjoyed her song writing talents, singing and related ventures. However, I'm not a
devotee of amusement parks, so when a day at Dollywood was planned during a recent family vacation, Laurie and I decided to do a walking exploration of Dolly's
hometown, Sevierville, Tennessee.
The logical starting point was stops 1 and 2 on the
Sevierville Historic Walking Tour: the 1896 county
courthouse fronted by a six-foot statue of a smiling Parton holding a guitar. In the few minutes we were there
a dozen people stopped by to take selfies beside the
town's most famous daughter.
A café across the street became our unplanned breakfast stop. The aroma drifting out of Courthouse Donuts made it impossible to ignore the design-your-own
treats. Mine was dipped in vanilla icing and topped by
golden grahams and key-lime drizzle. Laurie's southern
pecans were held in place by warm caramel sauce.
We found the smaller items on the walking tour to
be the most interesting. Next to the town's gazebo was
a small magnolia tree planted in 2013 from a cutting
from Senator Howard Baker's magnolia, which in itself
was a cutting taken from Andrew Jackson's White House
magnolia. In turn, that tree grew from a sprout taken
from The Hermitage, Jackson's home near Nashville. We
would have not given a storm drain in a side alley a
second thought if the tour brochure hadn't mentioned
that it was fashioned from prison bars salvaged from the
town's jail that had burned in 1856.
It was not a part of the walking tour, but we learned
that Walker's Grocery Store (now incorporated into the
First Baptist Church) at 317 Parkway is where a young
Dolly sang on a weekly basis.
A twittering call from a red-winged blackbird welcomed us to the West Prong (of the Little Pigeon River) Greenway. With the Great Smoky Mountains rising dramatically as the eastern backdrop, the pathway
straddles both sides of the namesake stream. Its waters
rippled and swirled in an eye-pleasing way around a