Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 60

The Old Stone Chimney
THE REMNANT OF AN OLD HOUSE CLOSE TO YOURS CAN BE A SOURCE
OF CURIOSITY AND RESEARCH. OR, OF IMAGINATION AT WORK.
Story and photo by Steve Cason
THERE'S AN OLD STONE CHIMNEY in the
woods a few yards from the edge of my lawn
that I can see from the window when I'm
sitting at my desk.
It stands about 20 feet tall, rising up from
a notch of flat ground carved out of a gently
sloping hill. Fast-growing cedar trees, poplar
and black walnut surround it. It was all but
invisible until a few months ago, when I
cleared a path through the brush and saplings
that separated it from my cabin.
I've lived here seven years and don't know
anything about the house the chimney was
once attached to, or how old it is. Other than
the chimney, there's no evidence that a house
even existed. I've not excavated the site, and
don't plan to in the near future, unless I'm
bitten by an ambitious bug that motivates
me to tackle a chore that doesn't need doing.
This past fall, while I was pulling down
some poison ivy vines that had grown up the
This old chimney in East
Tennessee holds many
stories, not least of
which are those that
come into the mind of a
visitor to its site and
surroundings.
mortised rocks, I heard glass crunch under my boot. I
brushed aside the fallen leaves with my toe and uncovered
the remnants of an old bottle. It had been broken
a long time ago and all that remained were a few shards
of thick glass with a frosty green hue. One of the pieces,
a little over an inch long, was obviously the bottle's neck
and rim, where the cork would have gone. I showed it
to a friend of mine who collects bottles. He said it was
probably made in the late 1800s, and most likely contained
medicine. That timeframe neatly coincided with
the suspected age of a rusty horseshoe that I'd uncovered
in a nearby daylily bed a few years earlier.
I could, I suppose, go down to the county courthouse
and research the property records to find out who
owned the land 100 years ago. There may even be something
historical about it, but I really don't care. I prefer
to let my imagination concoct its own history.
I like to think it was a log cabin, built by someone
with a pioneering spirit. Someone of hardy stock,
because this is hardscrabble country. The location is
isolated and the land rocky. It's not suitable for farming,
or much else except, perhaps, a moonshine still, since
it's tucked into the woods nearly a half mile from a road
that was first paved near the end of the 20th century.
60 | BlueRidgeCountry.com
I don't know if a family lived in the house, or just
one person, but someone once called it home. I like to
imagine it was a husband and wife, with a couple of
children. And a dog. I'm sure they spent many a winter
night huddled in front of that fireplace, before electricity
came to this region in the 1940s.
There was probably a rifle or shotgun hanging
above the mantle, partly for protection but more so
to hunt game for food. A sturdy wooden dining room
table of some kind was likely nearby, where the family
gathered to give thanks for their meager blessings. A
pot of squirrel stew, a rabbit sometimes, or maybe,
on occasion, fresh venison, or a wild turkey at
Thanksgiving.
Pies and cobblers made from blackberries that grow
abundantly on these rugged hillsides were likely cooked
over the fires that burned inside that fireplace. But the
people who ventured into the thickets to pick the fruit
had to be careful. Copperheads are common here. So
were black bears and panthers a century ago.
About 100 feet or so down the hill from the house
site is a creek, where the family likely drew water for
drinking, cooking, and, I like to think, their weekly
bath on Saturday night.
Lives were lived in that house where that chimney
stands. Memories etched with both good times and
bad. Within its walls, a baby may have entered the
world. Birthdays and anniversaries were surely celebrated.
A doctor might have come on horseback to treat
a sick inhabitant, providing the medicine that hopefully
made someone feel better. There could have even
been a death. A mother may have lost a child. Or a child
its mother or father.
Who knows? Someone, somewhere, perhaps. The
historical society. The library. In a book. Or an old
newspaper. I could research it. But I kind of like not
knowing.
Ultimately, of course, the house burned down, leaving
the possible source of that fire, the chimney, as a
monument of sorts to that very tragedy. Whatever its
history, I like to believe that old stone chimney, in
some small way, helps spark the flames of my imagination
when I sit here at this desk.
I can live without knowing its history. I can't live
without my imagination. 
http://www.BlueRidgeCountry.com

Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015

Letters
From the Editor & Digital Help Guide
Mill Creek Stories
Creature Feature
The Hike
Great Buys
Mountain Report
Country Roads
Creature Feature
Festivals & Events
The Curios: Our Annual Compendium of the Strange
North Georgia: A Foodie Haven
Why We Travel: The Photoessay
The 2015 Blue Ridge Country Travel Guide: A Year of Experiences
The Weekend: Harpers Ferry and Western Maryland
The Old Stone Chimney
Cabin in the Woods: Fiddler’s Roost
Mountain Garden
Guest Column: Author Stephanie Jeffries
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - Intro
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - Cover1
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 2
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 3
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 4
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - Letters
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - From the Editor & Digital Help Guide
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 7
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - Mill Creek Stories
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - Creature Feature
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - The Hike
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 11
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - Great Buys
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - Mountain Report
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 14
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 15
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - Country Roads
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 17
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 18
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - Creature Feature
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - Festivals & Events
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 21
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 22
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - The Curios: Our Annual Compendium of the Strange
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 24
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 25
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 26
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - North Georgia: A Foodie Haven
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 28
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 29
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 30
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 31
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 32
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 33
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - Why We Travel: The Photoessay
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 35
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 36
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 37
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - The 2015 Blue Ridge Country Travel Guide: A Year of Experiences
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 39
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 40
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 41
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 42
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 43
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 44
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 45
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 46
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 47
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 48
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 49
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 50
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 51
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 52
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 53
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - The Weekend: Harpers Ferry and Western Maryland
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 55
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 56
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 57
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 58
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 59
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - The Old Stone Chimney
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - Cabin in the Woods: Fiddler’s Roost
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 62
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 63
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - Mountain Garden
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 65
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - Guest Column: Author Stephanie Jeffries
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - Cover3
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - Cover4
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