Calling Franklin, North Carolina the Gem of the Appalachians maybe a bit cliché, as the word play has been used far too many times in reference to her abundant mineral deposits; however, cliché aside, I’m in the camp believing she is the gem of the Appalachians. It’s not solely for her mineral offerings; in fact, those offerings pale in comparison to the true rarities, treasures and secrets that lie and have lain beneath the dark soil of Franklin, adding greatly to Franklin’s mystique and reputation. A fine example of Franklin’s being a vault of secrets occurred in the hot summer months of 1898. Attempting to beat the Southern heat, several teenagers were swimming in the Little Tennessee River, nearest the edge of the ancient Nikwasi Mound. One child called out, after careful examination of something he’d seen sticking out of the earthen bank along the river, “Guys, I think I’ve found a skull!” The other teens, with wide eyes, and having found some sticks to dig with, began digging around the alleged skull. After several hours, and after running home for shovels, the teens placed on display their finds. Three entire, and intact human skeletons. Two of the skeletons were nothing but bone; however, the third was still wrapped in a rotting garment of some type. Not only that, a portion of a leather strap still crossed the chest of the skeleton and a piece of what appeared to be a hat still clung to his boney forehead. More shocking still, upon the strap and the hat were two different pieces of metal, both with a still-visible, carved name.
“His name was Danyl Crayne!” One of the kids called out.
The skeletal remains were carefully locked away until the year 1919, when a collector purchased them. His research and the later research of others identified Crayne as having been a Lieutenant in the British Army during the French and Indian War era. He’d been pronounced missing in action, after telling his men that he alone was going to speak with the Cherokee chief at Nikwasi.
The scenes that played out in the 1760s during and after the bloody French and Indian War were often set in Franklin, and many natives and Europeans lost their lives along Franklin’s winding rivers and deep in her vast wilds.
About the author:
Gregg Clark is a native of Macon County, North Carolina. He holds a BA in Professional Writing and a Master’s Degree in teaching English. He’s currently pursuing a doctoral degree in Executive Leadership at Lincoln Memorial University. He teaches English and History at Macon Middle School and he and his wife, herself a third-grade teacher at Iotla Valley Elementary, own and operate Where Shadows Walk, Historic Ghost Tours of Western North Carolina. They have three wonderful children: Erika, Aaron and Shade. Clark currently operates tours in Franklin, Bryson City and Sylva, North Carolina. 2016 will find tours in Highlands and Waynesville as well.
Now is the time to visit Franklin
Summers in Franklin are nothing short of extraordinary. From miles of winding hiking trails to conquer, to crisp, refreshing waterfalls to cool down in, the natural wonders of Macon County will never cease to amaze you.
August is a bustling time of year for Franklin, with outdoor adventure waiting to be vanquished and annual festivals full of mountain music and delicious treats just begging to be devoured. There are few things better in life than taking a break for the everyday under a shade tree along the Little Tennessee River. The second week in August is a special time in Franklin because its time for the annual Mountain High BBQ Festival filled with cooking competitions, car shows, and great southern tunes.
Let your senses come alive with a splash of traditional southern bbq specialties while you enjoy some good old fashion bluegrass. The Mountain High BBQ festival is just one of the unique treasures on the calendar for Franklin this summer, proving time and time again that this small western North Carolina town can pack a big punch of entertainment for people of all ages.
Before the bbq even has time to cool down, it will soon be time for the leaves perched atop the trees of Macon County to begin the ultimate color show for fall. Seemingly setting the mountains on fire with rich oranges and deep reds, as the leaves start to change colors in Franklin, you are able to experience the true beauty and unmatched dissipation of the change in seasons.
Whether you want to go off the grid along the Appalachian Trail, or go back to your childhood with some delectable southern cooking, right now is the time to drop what you are doing, and Discover Franklin.
The Little Tennessee River Basin boasts an incredible amount of ancient artifacts and spectacular views to coincide with a plethora of wildlife. If you think about it, objectively, it’s one of the prime areas within the Great Smoky Mountains. It’s understandable why the Town of Franklin spawned on the banks of the Little Tennessee River long ago. Civilizations dating back long before Christ were uncovered here, demonstrating the sustenance and beauty that this land provided – and continues to provide for towns like Franklin today.
With various access sites along the Little Tennessee River throughout Franklin and the Macon County area, anglers and water recreationists continue to enjoy one of Franklin’s greatest assets.
Speaking of wildlife and having fun on the water; On Saturday, Aug. 23, the Little Tennessee River will be bombarded with ducks and hand-crafted rafts. The first ever Franklin RiverFest of 2014 is coming to Franklin this Saturday. Sponsored by the Rotary Club of Franklin – Daybreak, the festival will feature several activities in an effort to raise money for local humanitarian organizations; such as CareNet, the Franklin High School Interact Club, Community Care Clinic, and many more.
The day will kick off at 9 a.m. with a 5K race on the Little Tennessee River Greenway, at the Tassee Shelter on Ulco Drive. Runners can register online at franklinriverfest.com. A duck derby will get underway at 10:30 a.m., with prizes that include get-a-ways to Myrtle Beach, Lake Chatuge and Hilton Head. The climax is the “Anything that Floats Raft Regatta.” Home-made rafts will trek 1.5 miles down the Little Tennessee, with $1,500 in prize money available to the best raft-builders.
Please come out and support a good cause, and help build what is sure to be an ongoing, fun-filled event for everyone. Visit franklinriverfest.com for more information about the first ever Franklin RiverFest.
11th Annual Mountain High BBQ Festival & Car Show
August 9 – 10, 2019
KCBS Sanctioned BBQ Cookoff for Backyard and Professional teams. BBQ vendors will be on the premises to sell great tasting BBQ. Food vendors, crafters, cooking demonstrations and a car show will round out the exciting features of the festival.
For more information visit www.MountainHighBBQFestival.com or call 828-524-3161.