Tellico Plains, TennesseeSpells passed on the porch since 05/10/07
Tellico Plains, Tennessee is one of those undiscovered pockets of beauty in the Cherokee National Forest. (I sure hope this site doesn't change that!)
The town itself is quaint and little changed from when my parents started bringing me here in the 60s. The main attraction, though, is the Tellico River and the surrounding mountains.
The River and its parallel road wind along for about 25 miles to the North Carolina line where the paved road ends. Along the river is some of the best trout fishing in the South. The river is stocked each week during the summer by the Tn Fish and Game agency. The tributary rivers, North River, Bald River and several large creeks are not stocked, feature native trout and may be fished only with artificial bait.
Though in the last 10 years or so, the Forest Service has pretty much destroyed the ad-hoc camping that used to be available along the river, there are still several free and unfortunately, many more pay camping spots. All of these camping spots are unimproved, having no water, electricity or sanitary facilities other than outhouses.
(An agency run amok, one of the things they like to brag about using camping fees for is for the removal of all the well water hand pumps from the campgrounds. They claimed it cost too much to test the water. Somehow we did just fine without testing in all the years since the CCC built the campgrounds in the 30s.) Now there is no water at any of the camp grounds.
Probably the most famous place on the river is the Bald River Falls. This is where the Bald River and the Tellico river come together. It has been interesting to watch nature change this falls over my lifetime, as rocks wear away and fall. There is a picnic area at the top of the falls but it's a long hoof up there.
About 18 miles up the river road is the Green Cove settlement. This area has some permanent residents, many cabins including mine, and two commercial RV parks. Both feature full hookups (no television, thank God.) There are two general stores and a gas station. (05/30/07 note: The RV parks are full with long time residents. Occasionally a spot will open up but I'd not recommend relying on it. Call ahead.)
A couple of miles up the road is the Game and Fish's Rearing Ponds where the trout to be stocked are raised from fingerlings to about 12" stocking size. This facility consists of several long concrete troughs feed by river water from a small dam about a half mile upstream. Another dam across Turkey Creek also contributes to the water. The fast moving water in the "ponds" exactly duplicates the habitat the trout like. Tourists are welcome.
My parents honeymooned in this cabin about 55 years ago. Dad was severely wounded in WWII and was entrapped in a stomach-down body cast for about 3 years after. Yet he was such a dedicated sportsman that he fished the river on crutches with chest waders stretched over the cast. This is a one room cabin with outdoor plumbing (City folks read: Outhouse) and gas mantle lighting that my dad's brother (also John DeArmond) built. Water is supplied by a water ram from a creek located a few hundred feet away, downhill.
I began coming to Tellico when I was, oh, maybe 2 years old. While in junior high my parents bought a Holiday Rambler pickup camper and a truck to haul it. We camped around a few different places but shortly ended up in Tellico in the Green Cove Trailer Park. There it sat for a couple of years with us using it almost every weekend until I hit about 6'4" tall and could not stand up in the shower. Mom decided we needed a cabin. Some of the last privately owned land in the forest came up for sale and we bought a 75' x 75' lot. Later, a couple more.
We hired Mr. Coppenger to build the cabin in about 1970. Then in his late 60s, he was an old-fashioned carpenter who eschewed the "new fangled ways" of building. He sheathed the cabin in diagonally cut 1x12 boards instead of plywood or, ugh, tar board. The floors are so sturdy most people think it's a slab floor until they see the basement. This place has been rock-solid with zero maintenance except for painting.
Mr. Coppenger was the sort of fellow that we opened a construction account at the local bank, then gave him the checkbook so he could pay himself, his workers and the suppliers. We'd meet at his farmhouse every couple of weeks to go over the work while his wife fed us wonderful meals. What jewels those folks were.
I and all my friends were dirt bike riders. That was before the Forest Service shut the forest down to normal recreational activities. Dozens of us would get together every weekend for long rides, then good time parties afterwards. I remember many a night with my parents and their friends playing poker in the living room while we worked on our bikes in the basement. It's so sad that the Forest Service has destroyed that type of family opportunities for today's parents and their kids.
In 1975 my new bride Doreen and I honeymooned in this cabin. Very regrettably, my marriage only lasted 27 years. Fortunately the cabin is still here.
Anyway, enjoy the photos. If you're an RV'er, then by all means put this area on your itinerary. Regardless, if you happen to be in the area and see a light on in the cabin, stop in. You're always welcome. We'll dig up some iced tea (made with the best water on earth) and vittles and sit a spell.
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