>Riding the Roads of Cumberland Gap


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Image Caption: Infinity view of snow and tracks

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.

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Image Caption: Winter Blues

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.

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Image Caption: Country Boy Gift Shop and Bait Store

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…

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Image Caption: John and his Buell

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.

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Image Caption: John leading the way to Cumberland Gap

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.

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Image Caption: The Old Mill House in Cumberland Gap

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Image Caption: Side view of the mill house in Cumberland Gap

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.

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Image Caption: Stream that runs beside the 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.

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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.

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Image caption: A view into VA. at the Pinnacle Overlook

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Image caption: A view of 3 states…somewhere in that valley

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.

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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.

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Image Caption: WWII Era tank

Also in the town of Middleboro, is a structure built of coal! It presently houses the Chamber of Commerce.

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Image Caption: House made of Coal

This is John, sitting astride his Buell at the Coal House Museum.

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Image Caption: John, sitting astride his Buell

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.

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Image Caption: Old train depot in Duffield VA.

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Image Caption: Old train depot in Duffield VA.

So, that’s my day…it was what winter daydreams are made of.

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11 comments on “>Riding the Roads of Cumberland Gap”

  1. >It's good you had such an enjoyable ride and brought back great photos. Thanks.

  2. >One of the best blogs I've read in a long time…makes me want to come out riding with you.Great photography and story

  3. >It looks like a beautiful area to be riding, loved to see the beautiful pictures. Wish there was a picture of the Buell 😉

  4. >Lucky you, it sounds like a wonderful ride. The Pinnacle overview must be particularly beautiful during fall foliage. May I suggest that you return in autumn, and share some more pictures of the area?

  5. >WOW…Great pics! You have a very nice blog.

  6. >Great ride report and photos, like Baron said…one of the best! I love seeing the old architecture, especially the old mill.

  7. >chessie, your words and foto's inspires me to declare my self healed…four years, four months is long enough to be listening to the witch doctors,,,have fwd'd your link to all my riding friends, associates so they too can enjoy your brilliant writings and foto'smy machine is almost ready, all it needs i a quick sea trial, and i will be off to find you and do some riding….this weird winter delayed my progress on my bike….ride like your invisible, sister of the wind…! ! !sie, on the red river boarder,texas

  8. >First heard about Cumberland Gap via Lonnie Donegan's version of the song, Cumberland Gap. I assume it is the same place even if he sings '15 miles from Middlesboro', a place in NE England. Strange what an added letter may do.Excellent photos from an interesting ride out Chessie. Looking forward to more of the same.

  9. >Thanks for pointing me to this post as it has inspired my daydreaming and putting Kentucky on my to do list this coming riding season. Only feeling a twinge of envy at you being able to get the bike out this time of year. I'm afraid with all the snow we've had this season, I won't see bare ground for a while! Thanks for the great photos too!

  10. >Cool, love those old buildings, especially the train depot, always great for photos. I've got to make it down to the southern states someday!

  11. >Another excellent post Marilyn! Someday, I have to ride in your neck of the woods. This post brought many smiles to my face…thanks so much for sharing!


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