>Riding the Roads of Cumberland Gap
This winter has been “weird” according to the old timers who’ve lived here longer than me. They say “it’s not been this white of a winter since the 50’s”. They said that last winter too. Seems memories of mild winters will be the norm, while we sit by our fires, under our electric blankets, looking at the heat bills, crying for relief from the icy grip of winter.
Last weekend, I got that relief. I called a twitter friend I’d never met face to face, and asked if he’d like to go riding. He affirmed he would not be on the road that weekend and he indeed would enjoy a bit of throttle therapy! @SGTJohnD and I met up at Bean Station, in Tennessee. That’s about a 90 minute ride from my house, and about 20 minutes from where John calls home in Kentucky.
I stopped at a gas stations in Bean Station, and called John to tell him where I was. The phone went to voice mail so I guessed he was still on the road. He called me a few minutes later, he had stopped at the gas station up the road to see where I was. Great minds think alike. This is what I found next door to my fuel station: A BAIT STORE/SOUVENIR SHOP! I found this amusing…
John rides a nimble little Buell. It’s seen some road time, and John is an expert rider who kept the Buell right beside me as we moved along side by side on the roads around Cumberland Gap. That little motorcycle was a pleasure to ride beside with John guiding her front wheel. Not to mention that John was an excellent guide to the area. He grew up around there, and was able to show me some great sights, fun roads, and cool historic and photogenic places! I plan to ride in the summer with John, he has some great roads planned for the rides! Life is good.
Our first stop of the day was in the little town of Cumberland Gap. It’s here you will find a small but beautiful park/picnic area, an old mill house, and what’s left of an old iron foundry.
A few hundred feet up the hill is the remains of the Iron Furnace.
Although all that remains is the lower portion of the original 1819 30-foot-high blast furnace, it is actually a very small part of what was originally an entire complex known as the Newlee Iron Furnace.
The outside of the furnace was built of sandstone with a liner of firebrick. Furnaces were usually built with an incline just behind to ease charging and loading. The trestle leading to the charging point was usually built of heavy planks with a track on it. Men, often slaves, would roll wheelbarrows of raw materials over this trestle and dump them into the top of the furnace.
The daily product of the Newlee Iron Furnace was 3¼ tons, at a cost of $19.40 per ton in 1877 figures. The iron made at Cumberland Gap was shipped down Powell River to Chattanooga. This furnace was the only furnace in the Dyestone belt still using charcoal in 1877.
John and I left the Iron Furnace and he led me into Kentucky, where we visited Pinnacle Park. A state park in Kentucky that has a beautiful pinnicule overlooking the area of three states and where they converge. (Tennessee, Virginia and Kentucky)
The road to the Pinnacle Overlook is a nice little twisty road, ya can’t do fast road riding on this…don’t forget it’s a state park, thus loaded with looky-loos and lumbering mini vans, laboring to find their way to the top…loaded with babies, toddlers, pre-teens, grandma, grandpa and don’t forget the fact Mom and Dad dragged all these folks into the vans…kicking and screaming…only to ohhh and ahhh when they get to the out look. Yes, it’s beautiful.
We left the park, and headed into the lovely little town of Middleboro, KY. It’s pretty nice. Every time I’ve ridden into this area, I avoided riding into the town. I’m not gonna make that mistake again. When I come to Middleboro next time, I will be stopping to photograph the architecture of old downtown. Stopping at the local air field I snagged these photos of a WWII era tank and jet fighter.
Also in the town of Middleboro, is a structure built of coal! It presently houses the Chamber of Commerce.
This is John, sitting astride his Buell at the Coal House Museum.
Later John invited me for lunch. We stopped at Arby’s and by the time we were finished, the day for me was about over as well. I still have to get home and prepare dinner for Mom and the MR. I was 2.5 hours from home, so I bid farewell to my new riding buddy and headed home. I still was able to stop at a few places on the way home to capture some images of yesterday in this historic area of Tennessee and Virginia.
So, that’s my day…it was what winter daydreams are made of.