Favorite thing: This old salt kettle was used to make salt by boiling salt laden water at Saltville, Virginia. During the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln ordered this "salt works" and others like it destroyed, and four generals carried out his orders. After capturing the salt kettle they knocked a hole in the bottom to render it unusable, but soon afterwards it was repaired and used to make salt again.
Wire, nails and other hardware were expensive and difficult to obtain for the pioneer homesteader, but there were an abundance of trees, many of which needed to be cleared to make room for pastures, gardens, etc. Therefore it was a natural to build fences of split rails.
You will see these authentic old fences throughout the grounds of the Museum of Appalachia, although today a strand of electric wire is run along the inside of the fence to reinforce and protect them from grazing livestock. The fences are very picturesque and add to the ambience of the setting.
Near the center of the Museum of Appalachia you will see this authentic working cane mill and hay stack, both of which are still in use.
Visitors who come to the Museum in early fall may see a mule slowly turning the mill as it presses the sweet juices of sorghum cane which is used in the making of syrup or molasses. The sorghum molasses, which was a favorite sweetener in the 1800's and early 1900's, especially in the south, can be purchased in the Museum Gift Shop.
Sun dials such as this one were used for thousands of years to accurately tell the time of day. This sun dial, now found near the center of the Museum of Appalachia Village, once stood in the sunken garden of playwrite Tennessee Williams' great grandfather's home in Knoxville, Tennessee.
When I took this picture, at high noon, we were only about half way through a tour which we had begun at 9:00 A.M. Noticing the time, we took a lunch break at the Museum Cafe before continuing our tour. You can't adequately see it all in a day.
Favorite thing: Pioneer farmers built houses of gourds to encourage flocks of purple martins to nest and raise their young on their homesteads. The purple martin, a large dark member of the swallow family, is desirable because of their enormous appetite for flying insects, including the mosquito.
These White Silkies were among the rare breeds of poultry we saw at the Museum of Appalachia. The birds have free range over the entire 65 acres so you may see them anywhere. I particularly enjoyed this since I used to raise rare breeds of poultry as a hobby.
These peculiar fowls, seldom seen today, are mentioned by several of the oldest naturalists, "hair like cats" being one of the expressions used to describe their plumage. They are believed to have originated in China, and are sometimes called Japanese Silkies. The breed was one of those brought to America by early pioneer explorers and settlers.
Favorite thing: Throughout the 65 acres of the Museum of Appalachia village you will see cattle, sheep, goats, chickens turkeys, peafowl, and other farmyard critters. These are all of the breeds that would have been raised by the Appalachia pioneer of a century or more ago. If you come at the right season you may see an old farmer plowing the garden with mule drawn implements.