Tuesday, July 29, 2014

To The Easternmost "Tip" of Tennessee

Tennessee is, generally speaking, shaped like a long parallelogram. Of course, a closer look reveals a much different and irregular shape.
Many people think the northeastern tip of Tennessee is a tri-state border with Virginia and North Carolina. There is a tri-state point, but that is not the northeasternmost point. Like a puzzle piece that seems to not quite fit, it strangely protrudes away from the NC line a bit. A few miles, in fact.

This northeasternmost point of the state has been a curiosity of mine since I was a kid. I've known for years that this oddly shaped tip of the state was located near the Virginia Creeper bike trail, but I've never determined to find it. That is until today.

Our family (minus Dara, who was invited by her friend to go to the beach) took advantage of a couple of days when Drew was home from Berry College and before Duncan must begin at Carson-Newman, to take a stay-cation. So we hurriedly packed the Wagoneer and hooked up the pop-up and headed to Bear Tree campground near Damascus, VA.

It is one of our favorite places. After the first night, we ate a big breakfast and spent the day at Grayson Highlands (awesome) eating our fill of wild blueberries (everywhere and delicious), apples, blackberries, and lying around the rocky peaks and grassy fields watching the clouds blow by.

Sparky and Mo (our ten-year-old Chocolate Lab and one-year-old Beagle, respectively) had the time of their lives (Sparky relaxing and Mo running free)!

On the 28th of July, it was around 58 degrees! With the wind blowing, you really needed a fleece or a warm jacket.

On the way back we stopped at a couple of places to let Drew collect some wild Beebalm to make tea.
We went to Damascus for dinner and discussed what we would do on Tuesday. That's when I sprung it on them: "Let's go find the easternmost tip of Tennessee. It's really close to the Creeper trail near Green Cove." No enthusiastic response. It seems that I was the only one who appreciated the novelty of finding the spot. No one had a better idea about what to do so I brought it up again. This time I got questions:
"How do you know how to get there?"
Me: "My topo map shows the place and I have a compass. I even have satellite photos on my phone."
"Is there a trail?"
Me: "I don't know. I don't think so."
"How far down the Creeper from Green Cove do we have to go?"
Me: "It's UP the Creeper, and it looks like about a mile."
"Up?! That will be hard."
Me: "The Creeper isn't steep. We can do it, no problem."
"What will we do with the dogs?"
Me: "We'll take them with us."
"Mo will run in front of the bikes and cause a wreck, and Sparky can't run that fast."
Me: "I'll take care of Mo on a leash, and Drew can get Sparky. We won't go fast. It's just a mile."
Truth is, I was feeling the pressure. This crazy idea had better work.

We got up the next morning, ate breakfast, and headed to Green Cove. A beautiful day. The dogs did fine. Drew ended up giving up Sparky since his bike wasn't working well. Mo pulled me up the trail like a sled dog. He couldn't go fast enough! I was laughing the whole way. We got to the place where I had figured was closest to the point and parked the bikes. Darla wasn't happy when I started up the hill in the thick woods and crossed a barbed-wire fence. "There's no trail! This is crazy!" She almost didn't go. We walked through some pretty thick stuff, including spider webs and brush, all the while keeping an eye on the compass.

I'm standing on the very tip of Tennessee looking west-southwest.
Virginia's border follows the fence lines on either side. Beyond the
fences are thick woods dominated by laurels & hardwood trees.
Drew saw what appeared to be a clearing in the otherwise thick woods. About 30 feet from "the point" there were some stout barbed-wire fences that the girls decided not to cross. Drew and I did, and (imagine the sound of angels' voices from heaven) there it was! It is an unceremonious spot, really. There is no sign. What once was a marker has been broken. But looking west into Tennessee is a beautiful view. I took in the moment. Thomas Jefferson's father was the first to mark this very spot. Since he did, there have probably not been that many more who have stood there. But now we had.

Here is what's left of a border marker that's buried deep in the
ground, inches from the very point of Tennessee. You can see
what's left of a hole that was once carved in this old stone that
perhaps contained a signpost of some sort.
I'm sure there is some spiritual analogy here, but I've not found one. It was just cool. I'll try to add some more pictures later. A great day.

I just wish Dara could have been here with us. I bet she would have appreciated it. Guess I'll just have to bring her back!

Oh, and I want to find the other three corners of Tennessee now, too.


Brett Maragni said...

Love it! What a great idea and fun day!

Anonymous said...


Found this article from ten years ago about the exact spot. Any thoughts about the "T" on the stone marker the author is talking about. I suspect the land owners are making a statement about privacy. Glad you found it.