What I’m learning from the MST

Flat Top Manor

For me, hiking the Mountains-to-Sea Trail was not just a hiking experience but a different way to see my state. I learned about it in ways that I could never do from a book or course.

Of course, I read several North Carolina history books as I was walking the trail but I learned so much more as I dug in deeper. And I still do.

I am writing a proposal for a photographic essay book on the MST. Besides photos, it will have several essays on the unusual, interesting, and quirky things that I found on the trail.

Consider one of my favorite places, Moses H. Cone Memorial Park. The trail goes right through the park, off the Blue Ridge Parkway.

I’ve been familiar with the Cone story for a while.

Moses H. Cone, son of an immigrant, becomes the denim king and builds Flat Top Manor outside of Blowing Rock. His money funded Cone Health System in Greensboro.

But as I dig deeper, I learn that the manor, park and hospital are only part of it.  His money also funded art museum.

His socialite sisters, Claribel and Etta, built up an art collection of Picasso, Matisse and other early 20th century artists that are now worth millions. Most of their collection ended up at the Baltimore Museum of Art. But here’s the exciting part for me – not all of it.

Some of this art collection is right here at the University of North Carolina in Greensboro. The Weatherspoon Art Museum has a Claribel and Etta Cone Collection with Matisse and Picassos. The university got this collection in 1949. Could you imagine the excitement when this small women’s college received all those pieces?

I’m going to check out this museum, the next time I’m traveling east. I always knew that hiking was educational and cultural. 


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