This week, Friends of the Smokies organized an overnight trip to the Greenbriar area of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This was the July program for the Classic Hikes of the Smokies. Though the hike series focuses on the North Carolina side of the park, it’s important to show Friends members the other side of the mountain.
On Tuesday, we walked to the Walker Sisters Home, the last people to live in the park. Of the seven sisters, only one married and another died early in life.
Five sisters lived together in the log cabin, farming and making their own clothes. The women lived without electricity or running water. For cash, they baked and sold fruit pies to visitors. They made rag dolls and wooden toys. No, they were not a concession. The last sister died in 1964.
I told the group a little about the site. But where were the sisters buried?
We walked down to the Little Greenbriar school to hear the “teacher”, interpreted by Robin Goddard, a volunteer. See the picture above.
Visitors sit at the real wooden desks and learn how to read and spell the way it was done in the early 1900s. The school closed in 1935.
“Do you know where the Walker sisters were buried?” I asked.
“Know?,”Robin said. “I was at their funerals.”
It turns out the Robin was one of the people who helped the Walker sisters as they got older. She also worked with Ms. Elsie, the last “teacher” volunteer before Robin. For all her volunteer years, Robin received a prestigious award from the National Park Service.
In the evening, Friends of the Smokies put on a great dinner at the Buckhorn Inn.
We had a chance to meet the new acting Superintendent, Cynthia MacLeod on the left and Dana Soehn, the public affairs officer.
Yes, that’s Hannah in the middle. We need to inspire the next generation of outdoor activists.
Oh yeah! The Walker sisters are buried in the Mattox cemetery in Wears Valley.