Tag Archives: Carl Sandburg Home

Government Shutdown at Carl Sandburg National Historic Site

Well, it’s happened!

Our U.S. Government has shut down, as of midnight last night. So, today, on a weekend, I was curious to see what it meant for our local national parks. I drove down to Carl Sandburg National Historic Site, ready to walk all five miles of trail. I chose this site because it’s the easiest to close of the park units close to me.

Carl Sandburg home site is only open from 9 am to 5 pm normally. Unlike larger parks, there’s a gate which can be closed, but it wasn’t.  I can only assume that the rangers didn’t close it last night, in preparation for today. Most visitors use it as their local park to walk, talk and exercise their dogs.

When I got to the Flat Rock, NC site, I was amazed to see that almost all the parking spaces were taken. As soon as I left the parking site and got on the paved trail to the house, I saw this yellow sign:

Government Shutdown

The sign tells visitors that there are no NPS staff members and they’re on their own. In  my wanderings, I saw four of these signs.

The bathrooms were closed, as advertised. So was the bookstore. The house is being renovated, so was going to be closed anyway.

I walked to the top of Big Glassy Mountain on an icy trail. I guess if someone slipped and couldn’t walk out, they would have to alert the county EMTs. At the top, I only saw one group of walkers. The trail is short but steep. See the picture on top.

CARL goat barn

What about the goats?

I knew that they were being taken care of and fed. A car was parked at the goat barn, which I assumed belonged to a volunteer.

The sign on the gate said “Come on in” but the gate was locked tightly. Too bad since several children congregated at the fence.

You can’t see the goats but they’re in front of the barn, hugging the wall. Usually you can go in and pet them.

My last trail took me around the lake.


It’s the easiest trail and therefore had the most people. Eavesdropping on conversations from groups walking the trail, I couldn’t discern any bitterness about the shut-down.

Other than the closed restrooms, the shutdown probably didn’t affect most visitors to the Carl Sandburg house. But the National Park Service doesn’t just protect and preserve; it interprets as well, so that you know why this site is important. And that’s what was missing today.

As I headed for my car, Rob Moore, a reporter at the Hendersonville Times-News, came to see  the situation. I told him about the four yellow signs, thereby saving him a walk through the park.

Elections have consequences. The government shutdown is one of them.

What’s happening at your park?

Children in the Woods

On top of Big Glassy
On top of Big Glassy

Thanksgiving is over and all my guests have gone home. We ate, shopped and hiked.

Saturday, Lenny and I took Hannah and Isa to Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site. You remember Carl Sandburg from  your high school English class. He’s probably best known for his Lincoln biographies and his cutesy poems:

The fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.

No. Well, never mind. Carl and Lillian Sandburg spent about 20 years on an estate in Flat Rock. When he died, Mrs. Sandburg sold the property to the National Park Service. Today, visitors can hike 1.2 miles to the top of Big Glassy Mountain with a great view of the surroundings. While Hannah and Lenny strided out, five-year old Isa and I walked, talked and sang our way to the top. She didn’t complain or say she couldn’t do it. Both girls know that when they visit, they’ll go hiking with us. They look forward to it.

We passed and were passed by adult hikers, runners and dog walkers but no other child. Where were they all? After a snack, we ran down and took a side trail to Little Glassy. We didn’t realize that Little Glassy didn’t have a view. We blew right past it and we were back at the Sandburg home and visitor center.

That’s where most of the visitors had congregated. The children and their adults were listening to music, played with toys at the bookstore and generally hung around. Why weren’t they on the trail?

2141130CARLgoats 006A
At the goat paddock

We wandered to the goat barn and fields. Lots of children were petting goats and playing tag. There were plenty of children in the national parks, but they could have been on a farm.

Mrs. Sandburg was a goat breeder and the park still maintains a few goats for the historic feel of the place.

On Sunday, our son and family all headed back on the road and Lenny and I went on the half-day Carolina Mountain Club hike in Pisgah National Forest.

Caney Creek Falls
Caney Bottom Falls

Five-year old Cameron and his dad, Jacob, came along for this five-mile hike. Cameron had his arm in a sling, but he was very happy to skip along with twenty other adults. Jacob has been taking Cameron on CMC hikes for years. We all remembered when Jacob carried Cameron in a backpack. Now he was on the trail with a bunch of adults.

So the moral of the story is:

Children will be in the woods if adults are willing to take them.