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Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site
“It is necessary now and then for a man to go away by himself and experience loneliness; to sit on a rock in the forest and to ask of himself, 'Who am I, and where have I been, and where am I going?'”
In today's fast-paced world, it's nice to have an opportunity to stop and reflect. When you visit Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site, you can do just that. Prepare for a day spent experiencing Sandburg's life and writings while enjoying the relaxing pace of a small North Carolina farm.
Carl Sandburg was the “Poet of the People.” He wrote of and for the people, championing social justice and human rights. As a poet, biographer, lecturer, folk singer and two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner, Sandburg recognized the plight of the working man in his writings. Working most of his career in the Midwest around Chicago and Michigan, he moved with his family to his last home, located in Flat Rock, North Carolina, in 1945. This home, known as Connemara, provided the perfect setting for him to publish the final third of his works.
A 30-minute ranger-led tour of the Sandburg home, complete with the family's original belongings, offers a glimpse of their life in the 1950s. As you move from room to room, you can imagine the smell of cigar smoke and the sound of keys clacking on a Remington typewriter, as one of America's beloved poets, probably best known for the piece below, wrote through the night.
The fog comes
on little cat feet.
It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.
After a tour of the home, you can visit the barn and enjoy the company of some very personable goats from the Connemara Farms herd. Not only was Mrs. Sandburg a champion for her husband's writing, Lilian “Paula” Sandburg achieved national and worldwide recognition for her breeding program with dairy goats. Mrs. Sandburg developed her goats into a nationally recognized herd of top milk producers. Descendants of the original herd are still kept on the farm. If you visit in the spring, plan to spend time basking in the sun while watching the baby goats frolic in the barnyard.
To round out your day, there are many other activities. Take a self-guided tour of the historic buildings on the property, hike over five miles of easy-to-moderate trails, enjoy wildlife and tranquility while strolling the grounds, or bring a journal and write on the flat rock behind the house, where Sandburg himself found inspiration. If you are up for a little more adventure, hike to the top of Glassy Mountain and enjoy a spectacular view of western North Carolina. In the summer, you can enjoy a variety of special programs, including ranger talks and walks and live performances of Sandburg’s works. His home offers beauty, peace, and enjoyment to everyone.
By Dottie Brown, Park Guide, Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site
NPS.gov homepage photo: Carl Sandburg lived here with his family for 22 years, from 1945 to 1967. (NPS Photo)