History of the Grassy Balds in Great Smoky Mountains National Park
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Carlos Campbell

Carlos Campbell, pre-Park hiker and secretary of the Great Smoky Mountains Conservation Association interviewed by Susan Bratton, Park Biologist, May 22, 1975

SB: Who are you, and when were you born, and where were you born?

CC: I'm Carlos Campbell. I was born in 1892; August of this year I'll be 83 years old. I was born the north end of Sevier County with Mount LeConte in sight of me. I never heard the name "Mount LeConte" till 1921. I was quite a young man by that time and became interested in the Smokies after that, but it was just some distant land in my boyhood days. After the Hiking Club was organized,—and I helped organize it—I spent a tremendous amount of time hiking the trails of the Smokies, made most of the hikes of the Hiking Club and a lot of additional hikes, and we'd have some interesting experiences.

In 1931 eight of us undertook to hike from one end of the Park to the other. That's a zig-zag distance of 72 miles. However, we actually announced plans to hike only from Davenport Gap to the northeast end of the Park, to Newfound Gap. Secretly, we had hoped to go on the rest of the way and did do that, but when we were two nights out, we ran out of food, because we had extended it, and we actually divided crackers. At lunch period we didn't have enough crackers to go around. We knew the Herder's cabin—that was before grazing was stopped in the Park—was only at Russell Field, a short distance ahead, and Harvey Broome and I went two or three hundred yards off the trail to where this cabin was to see if we could get a chicken or some eggs. When we got there, Fonze was sitting in the. door, and I said, "Fonze, you got any chickens or eggs?" He says, "Hell, no!" I said, "Well, we're out of food. Have you got any food you can spare?" He said, "Well, maybe." And believe it or not, the only items of food he had was corn meal, potatoes, and bacon without a single streak in it. Well, we bought two or three pounds of the fatback—That isn't what we called it—and about half a gallon of meal and a gallon or so of potatoes. And that's the only time in my life I remember being actually hungry. All of us were actually hungry then. And all of us admitted that that tasted like a banquet because we fried those potatoes and made some corn-cakes and really had a feast and went on and finished the hike.

Interesting thing about the end of that hike, though. Having changed our plans, we wound up at Deals Gap without transportation. We. knew that we could get a bus from Maryville. into Knoxville, but we stood down by the roadside, and, by the way, nobody had shaved for the whole nine days, and two or three people passed and wouldn't. . . . What we were wanting was to catch someone going down to Tapoco so we could phone to Maryville. for transportation. Finally, a couple of fishermen passed us and then backed up. They'd talked it over and decided maybe it would be safe to . . . So they brought us on into Maryville, and we got on the . . .

Well, we went to the drugstore and ate about a quart of ice cream apiece. We got on the bus, all of us at the back end. The rest of the bus was, oh, pretty well scattered, people all around. Pretty soon, though, the rest of the other people were all at the front of the bus. When Guy Frizell and I got to town, we saw a neighbor. We lived close together. We saw a neighbor who lived close to both of us, and he brought us home. Next morning he started to take his daughter to school, and she said, "Dad, what in the world have you had in this car?" We. hadn't had a bath in nine days so that accounted for the people moving to the front of the bus and for his daughter.

SB: When was the first time you ever visited a grassy bald? Do you remember?

CC: Yes. It was in 1925. The Hiking Club was organized in the beginning of 1925 as the result of a 1924 October trip to LeConte. In 1925 we would take a hike, and then at the end of that we would plan where we'd go the next time and when it would be, but we did have a hike to Gregory at that time. During that year we realized that what we needed to do was make out a schedule for hikes throughout the year and published a little handbook. But the first time was in 1925.

It was all entirely new to me. I had been on LeConte, saw how rugged it was, but it was my first time to visit one of the grassy balds, and at that time grazing was practiced there. The grass was only a few inches tall, and the fourteen or fifteen acres of Gregory Bald was covered with grass, a few willows on one spot, and then a lot of azaleas.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park was selected for park purposes as the result of a committee that was appointed by Dr. Hubert Work, who was then Secretary of the Interior, appointed a committee of five to investigate the southern Appalachians to see if there was any area suitable for becoming a National Park, and one of the members of that committee of five was Harlan P. Kelsey. He was quite a famous economic botanist, and he was noted for his landscape ideas, and he was fascinated with the flame azaleas that were in great abundance on Gregory Bald.

SB: Where were the azzleas?

CC: They were roughly around the rim, not on the crest and not right up against the forest, but there were hundreds of them in a kind of a crescent around the eastern end and the north and south sides back to at least the middle. That's where most of the azaleas were. There were a few elsewhere.

But Mr. Kelsey made the statement that the flame azalea, which, incidentally, was one of his favorite shrubs, reached its maximum development anywhere in the country on and near Gregory Bald and said that was one of the highlights, one of the things that made this area worthy of being a National Park.

He and one other man were the only two who climbed LeConte and went to Gregory after they were appointed, and they were so fascinated with what they saw in both places they brought the other three down, and as a result of what they saw, they recommended not just one park but two, Shenandoah and the Smokies. And, strangely enough, they admitted Great Smokies were easily first in height of mountains and depth of valleys and the unmatched variety of trees, plants and shrubs; but then, in spite of that, they recommended the establishment of a park in Shenandoah first in the hope that it would be so popular that one would then later be established in the Smokies. But that wasn't the way it worked out. The people pushing the plan for a National Park in the Smokies kept pushing, and we got ours established before Shenandoah was.

SB: At that time were there any other shrubs around the azaleas more or less off by themselves?

CC: I would say they occupied maybe one or two acres, but they were gorgeous plants in various shades.

SB: Were there any other shrubs near them or was that the only shrub out on the bald?

CC: That was the only tall shrub. There was a little colony of a dwarf type of willow that only grew 18 inches tall, maybe two feet.

SB: What about blueberries, little blueberries? Were there any blueberries?

CC: I don't remember any blueberries on Gregory at any time. I have on some of the other balds, on Parson Bald, but I don't remember seeing any blueberries at the time, back in '25, 6 or 7 on Gregory. I don't remember anything but grass, azaleas, and those few willows.

SB: There were no trees out in the center?

CC: Not a single one, not a single tree, and, incidentally, there was a 350° panoramic view. From there you could see Cades Cove along most of that area, along the top of the ridge.

SB: Okay. As you come straight down the top of the ridge from Gregory, then, you could see Cades Cove along most of that area, along the top of the ridge.

CC: Yes. The best view was out a little bit closer to the east end than the west end.

SB: Over toward Moore Spring, where the ridge came up a little ways?

CC: Yes, yes. And, incidentally, after you got into the forest down to Moore Spring, the forest looked there like a forested city park. There were big trees, not a single bit of young stuff, no undercover whatsoever, just grass and big trees. And every time a tree. fell, it just made room for that much more grass .

SB: So there was no seedling or sapling regeneration at all that you can remember?

CC: The grazing cattle and sheep would nip every acorn that sprouted the first year; it never got a tree started. Every little tender shoot that sprung up, they got it, and I suspect and firmly believe that if grazing had been continued maybe for a hundred or two hundred years, the whole ten miles between Gregory Bald and Thunderhead would have been one continuous grassy meadow! But grazing definitely kept all of that stuff out on the grassy part of Gregory.

SB: How far down did this open, park-like forest go?

CC: It went all the way down to what we then called Rich Gap. The grazing cattle developed a kind of a bloated condition, and in the fall when it was time to drive them down, they put them in an enclosure built of fallen trees. They just laid one on top of the other and made an enclosure of, oh, an acre or so; and that was at the point where the trail form Cades Cove reached the crest of the mountain, the Tennessee-North Carolina line. It was built right along the line, just barely east of where the trail crossed on its way around to Moore Spring-Gregory Spring—just near the summit.

But they put the cattle in there to let them work off that bloated condition a few days before they'd drive them down. I don't understand the mechanics of all that, but there seemed to be the necessity because they said the cattle couldn't stand driving down with all that living on all that lush grass diet continuously, and that was known as the "gant lot," a corruption of "gaunt," "gaunt" the cattle before driving them down. But there was some open area on east of that toward Thunderhead but not as much as there was between that gap we referred to as Rich Gap.

But after that first hike to Gregory Bald, Gregory was on the schedule for every year that the Club existed, AND ON TWO OR three occasions we had overnight hikes. Well on two or three occasions we had moonlight hikes. We'd started out after dark, depending on what time the moon came up, and camp there close to Moore Spring or up on the crest just in the forest, just before we got on the grassy. One time we had a moonlight hike there and I had some prune juice in my pack, and I kept teasing the rest about how they'd want to feel envious when they saw me drinking my prune juice the next morning. Well, come time to get up and go up to see the sunrise, and the . . . I was still kidding about the prune juice I was going to enjoy when we got back down, and when I got back down, there was an empty prune juice can on top of my pack. I had said a little too much. They got the juice and I didn't. But, anyway, we had a lot of play like that going on all the time, but later we had another moonlight hike up there, and we'd all get up and go see the sunrise from there.

Incidentally, here I have a picture that a grandson made on his honeymoon hike. He spent the first two nights at a resort out the edge of the mountains, and then he took a hike to Thunderhead and down the state line from Gregory and camped down there, and this is the sunrise that they saw. I've made a lot of sunrise pictures, but I don't think I ever got one I like as much as this one made by my grandson on his. . . . Incidentally, at that point they got a picture. of one of your wild hogs. They were looking at him running right out of the edge of the bush.

SB: Okay. You were up on the balds while they were still grazing them. Do you remember what kind of livestock they had or how large the herds were?

CC: I don't remember in numbers. I suspect that there were a hundred or more cattle., maybe a good deal more cattle. I think that not always did they have sheep, and I have seen pretty good size herds of sheep up there, and, incidentally, I've seen a few horses grazing with the others, not often, not many, but mostly cattle and occasionally some sheep. But they kept that looking like a well kept lawn. They didn't graze it down like an old grazed pasture field. The grass was always four or five inches tall. There was plenty of feed there for. . . . They didn't overgraze it.

SB: Was there any soil erosion, either because the cattle were cutting trails or the sheep were cutting trails, or messes around the springs?

CC: I have never seen any indication whatsoever of erosion until recently the rooting of the hogs rooting for grubs or whatnot turned up considerable patches of turf. That probably caused a little erosion. I don't know how much.

SB: What about trails on the bald, like the Appalachian Trail now at Spence? There's some places where there's some erosion.

CC: The Appalachian Trail doesn't cross Gregory now; it did in those days. It went on down to Deals Gap and on down to Tapoco and back up Yellow Creek Mountain and on over. Several years ago they changed the routing, and took the part between Thunderhead and Gregory down to Fontana Dam, so Gregory is no longer on the Appalachian Trail. But there's a lot of hiking. It's a very popular destination. The Park Service used to conduct a lot of nature guided hikes, and they'd always have one at the time the azaleas were in bloom and frequently at other times of the year. And then the Hiking Club had at least one hike every year to Gregory, and I guess, though, that by far the most of the people who went up there were in private groups. For instance, I like Gregory. I've gone many a time to take friends, not as part of an organized hike. I suspect more people go to Gregory in little individual groups than there are in the big organized groups. But it has always been, ever since I first knew the place, one of the most popular destinations, not as much so as LeConte but perhaps a close second. I never say any figures on that, but it's always been an extremely popular destination for hikes and, incidentally, for horseback trips. A lot of people ride horse back up there.

SB: Do you remember any fires on the balds?

CC: I don't remember any fires in any part of the Park after the Park was established. Before the Park was established, there were fires down on the slopes. One in 1925 was so bad that Colonel Chapman, the leader of the Park movement, flew over the area, and he said it appeared that the whole mountain was on fire. Well, it did burn over a lot of land where timber had been cut and brush let, and that was mostly what was being burned. But I have never seen the slightest indication of fire on Gregory Bald or Thunderhead or Spence Field or Silers Bald or Andrews Bald, any of those. Never heard of any fires in recent years, never talked to anybody who had seen fire or evidence of it. It's possible that way back there might have been some fire in there, but I have no personal knowledge of any. I do know that ever since the time I started up there, there hasn't been any.

SB: Now, you were there at the time when there were still herders up there. Where were there herders' cabins in 1925? Which balds had cabins, and where were they?

CC: Well, the main cabins I remember in operation was this one that Fonze Cable was using at Russell Field. And then at Spence Field there was one on there, but a neighbor who had been going to the mountains long, long years before the Park movement started, he said that he had seen at Spence Field four previous herders' cabins. So they evidently didn't last very many years.

SB: Where were those cabins?

CC: They were fairly close to the spring.

SB: The big spring down on the Carolina side, over top of the ridge?

CC: Yes, on the Carolina side. And I don't remember any herder's cabin at or near Gregory. I've seen the grazing many, many times, but . . .

SB: Where did the herders up on Gregory stay if there was no...?

CC: I don't know.

SB: Did they stay in (unintelligible) cabins farther down?

CC: Maybe. Or I suspect maybe they just slept out in the open.

SB: I've heard . . . The postmaster in Townsend mentioned a herder's tent somewhere, that one of the herders was using a tent.

CC: Well he might have used it. Oh, I do remember now that the spring between the ridge where the trail is and the . . . As you come off of Gregory down a mile or so. I'm sorry I forgot about that. There was one down there, probably a mile below the state line, maybe not over a half mile. But it was off to the left of the trail as you came down, or to the right as you go up. You could see it from the trail.

SB: This was the trail that comes up from Big Poplar and up that way?

CC: Yes.

SB: There was a cabin about a mile down somewhere on the way up that trail that comes up to Moore Spring. What about down at Sheep Pen Gap end? As you go on out towards Parsons? Were there any cabins or structures out there at all?

CC: Possibly there might have been before my day, but I never saw one in Sheep Pen Gap or at Parsons.

SB: Were there any other structures you remember like fences, outbuilidings, anything like that?

CC: Only this improvised fence that each autumn they'd keep the cattle confined there for a few days before they started the trip down the mountain. That's the nearest thing to a fence that I ever saw. It served a purpose, but it was an odd looking fence. There were some pictures; I had a picture. I never made a picture of it because I hadn't started making pictures in those days, but I wouldn't know where to get a picture of that.

SB: That was just small pole, or was that split rail?

CC: No, it wasn't cut up or split. It was trees. A lot of them were eight, eighteen inches in diameter.

SB: Eighteen inches—that's a fairly good sized log.

CC: They'd stake those into position and put these small ones on top of them.

SB: So they'd put great big ones down at the bottom, and they'd cross with smaller poles.

CC: They didn't. . . . They just more or less threw them one on top of the other, helter-skelter.

SB: How long were these logs? Were they like 16 feet long, 20 feet long?

CC: Sometimes a whole tree length from the base up to. . . . The side limbs were trimmed off. I suspect most of the logs in that improvised fence were ten to thirty feet long.

SB: How big was that area? It was an acre or two?

CC: About an acre, I would guess.

SB: What kind of gate was there? Was there any kind of gate?

CC: They'd just pull a log out of position and drive the cattle in and pull it back in position.

SB: Did they water the cattle when they were there?

CC: I don't know. I suspect that they watered them, but it would have been difficult. That was several hundred yards from Moore Spring. It never occurred to me what they did about water. I don't know if they carried water to them or what.

SB: Just left them. Did the cattle and sheep just water at Moore Spring and the spring at Sheep Pen Gap, just at those springs that were just off the high ridge?

CC: Yes.

SB: They just went down to water when they wanted it.

CC: Oh, yes.

SB: Was there much erosion around the springs due to animals watering there?

CC: Not enough to. . . . It was negligible.

SB: Did you worry about drinking the water in those days, coming out of those springs?

CC: Moore Spring is one of the finest springs that I ever saw. The water came out from under a rock and bubbled up good and strong even in dry periods. I have been up there when there had been no rain for weeks, and still it was flowing good and strong. Because it's probably a few hundred feet lower than the elevation of Gregory and all that grassy area absorbed the water, and it fed that spring. . . . I never saw it when it was anything less than a good flow of water, and I've had several friends agree that that was the best mountain spring they ever saw. Lots of the springs like the one on LeConte, for instance, the water, in a wet season the water would come out way up here, and in a dry season it would come out down maybe a hundred yards, two hundred yards lower, depending on the ground water table.

SB: When was the first time you remember anyone picking blueberries or serviceberries on Gregory or Spence?

CC: I don't seem to associate blueberries or huckleberries or any of those with Gregory.

SB: The blueberries there are excellent now.

CC: Yes, but I suspect, but I couldn't prove it . . . I suspect that they came in after the grazing stopped; I don't know.

SB: Do you know when they might have come in, like '40's, '50's, '60's?

CC: No. As a matter of fact, I don't remember seeing any myself even after the grazing had been stopped. Soon after grazing was stopped, the grass, which had been, oh, three, four inches tall usually, almost immediately it was knee high, just not long after the grazing was stopped.

SB: Do you ever remember people digging up azaleas from Gregory or planting azaleas from Gregory or the settlers maybe fiddling with them?

CC: Never heard of any vandalism of that sort whatsoever.

SB: What did the settlers, you know, the local people, think of the azaleas? Did you ever hear any of them talk about the azaleas on Gregory or mention them at all?

CC: I think they just took them for granted. I don't know if they were . . . They just grew up with it, you know. They were there. They didn't seem to . . .

SB: Do you ever remember. . . . Were there any bears around the balds when you were up there?

CC: We didn't see any bears in the Park until years and years after we'd been hiking. I remember once coming off of Spence Field shortly after we left the Bote Mountain Road, the trail swings around to the left, as you know, and we had a glimpse of a bear running off the trail down to the right through there. And then another time, I don't remember where this was, we came around a curve or bend, and we saw young sassafras trees spring up, somebody had them down, and we could see bear tracks around there. They had them pulled down. They had been eating the fruits off the sassafras.

SB: When was this?

CC: Oh, that was probably along the mid-thirties, but we didn't begin to see bears until a long time after the Park was established. We would see tracks. I've seen tracks of them in the snow sometimes, which indicates they don't sleep soundly all winter. Some people said maybe they walk in their sleep, but I doubt that. But anyway, I've seen bear tracks in the snow in the wintertime. When you got within sight or hearing distance or smell, they'd take off. They were afraid of people They had been hunted.

The hunting had prevailed in there, and the hunters used dogs, and they had killed them down to the point where there was relatively few bear, relatively few deer left when the Park was established, and it took years for the bears to accept man as not being an enemy. First it became evident along the road to Newfound Gap, and there it was the fact that they were being fed, tossing food out, which was a violation of Park regulations, but it was practiced pretty widely. And one woman was feeding a bear, and she ran out of food, and the bear didn't understand, and she started back to her car, and the bear followed and almost tore her dress off of her.

SB: So you remember any. . . . So the herders, then, had very few problems with bears or . . .

CC: I never heard of any problem, and I doubt if they did have because, as I say, the bears had been hunted so ruthlessly and so extensively that they were afraid of man.

SB: Did you ever hear any stories about panthers or wolves up around the balds or in those areas taking sheep?

CC: Oh, I've heard people talk about hearing them, but I always suspected that what they were hearing was a great horned owl, maybe not a great horned owl. One of the owls makes a noise like a woman screaming or a panther. I doubt very much if during my lifetime there were any panthers or any of the cats left in the Smokies. Bobcats, yes, I've seen a few, very few, but not any of the big cats.

SB: They used to turn their hogs loose in those days. Do you remember any damage by the hogs on the lower streams or around the balds?

CC: No, I don't know of any. They'd mark their ears so they'd separate their hogs from their neighbor's hogs. They could identify their own stock in the fall when they brought them in, same as cattle. They were intermixed while they were grazing on top. I never saw. . . . I don't know when I ever saw any hogs on Gregory. I'm not sure that I ever did, but very few would get up that high, I'm sure.

SB: They stayed down in the lower coves mostly.

CC: Yes.

SB: What about Andrews? When was the first time you ever visited Andrews?

CC: It was a few years after 1925. I didn't get down there until three or four years, maybe, after we started hiking. There wasn't any road out to Clingman's Dome then, and it was a pretty good hike. As a matter of fact, there wasn't any road to Newfound Gap in those days.

First time I ever saw Newfound Gap, it was a forested meadow and had spring beauties growing up so densely—And by the way, at a distance a spring beauty looks white; you don't see that little pink vein in it—but it almost looked like a patch of snow on the ground in Newfound Gap before they built the road there.

But to get to Clingman's Dome in those days you'd start hiking pretty close to where the Park Headquarters is now and hike up. I made only one hike up and back the same day, and that was tremendously hard, but usually we'd spend one night on top. I remember three different towers on Clingman's. One was built by the Forest Service before the Park. It became unsafe for use, and the Park Service built one with zig-zag steps. That first one, it went up the corners in improvised steps, and most people were afraid to go up. And you just went through a hole in the floor of the thing and pulled yourself around. It was really dangerous. Most people didn't go up. But then when the Park Service built its first and only wooden tower, there they had zig-zag steps leading up to a platform about the size of a living room. Then as that began to get shaky, they replaced it with the present tower.

SB: So when . . .

CC: The mountains are very different since grazing stopped. The forest encroachment on Gregory had made many of us fear that the azaleas and those fine views would be crowded out. I believe. you indicated you'd never seen Cades Cove from up there.

SB: Can't see Cades Cove from Gregory.

CC: In the early days we got some beautiful views of Cades Cove from near the east end of Gregory. Used to be a little pile of rocks and a pole on the very highest point with a marker. That was closer to the east end than it was to the west end of the bald. There we got good views of the Cove, and I would like to see that view restored.

SB: But you could stand on the ground and see the Cove, could you?

CC: Oh, yes. That was the only thing you could stand on. There was nothing else up there.

SB: You didn't have to climb a tree or anything?

CC: No trees to climb.

SB: Well, let's get back to Andrews. What did it look like the first time that you saw it? What were the edges like? Were they like the edges of Gregory? Now, that's got spruce forest up behind it.

CC: Spruce forest instead of the oak and beech. And also Andrews has some, I mean in addition to azaleas, has some very fine purple rhododendrons, and scattered spots have some very fine. orchids.

SB: The rhododendron and the mountain laurel and the azaleas were there at the time you visited that bald?

CC: Yes, that's right. And I helped get out the book Great Smoky Mountains Wildflowers, and the picture on the second edition, the enlarged edition, of that was rhododendron made on Andrews Bald.

SB: Were there any serviceberries on the bald or around the outside edge at that time?

CC: Perhaps around the outside. outside the edge. One other thing was on there—some haw. A few haw trees were in there.

SB: Were there any haw trees on. . . . You're talking about hawthorn?

CC: On Andrews Bald. None on Gregory.

SB: There were none on Gregory, and there were none on Spence at that time?

CC: No. There was some serviceberry on Spence.

SB: How big were they?

CC: Oh, they were twenty feet tall, six inches in diameter, perhaps.

SB: Out in the middle of the field somewhere or around near the edges?

CC: Off toward the west end, Tennessee side, just a few.

SB: But you don't remember exactly what the situation was on Andrews, whether there were any serviceberry out in the middle up there?

CC: I don't remember any serviceberry. Certainly wouldn't say there weren't any, but I don't recall seeing them.

SB: Were there any firs or spruces out in the center of Andrews?

CC: One or two isolated away from the regular spruce-fir forest. There were one or two standing out alone in the grassy area, not many.

SB: Just a couple. Do you remember ever visiting that little bog, the spring at the far end of Andrews?

CC: Well, the only spring I visited there was about half way down and on the west slope. Is that the one you're talking about? There's some orchids close to that, by the way.

SB: Do you remember any sundews there? It's got a ring of Sphagnum around it.

CC: I don't remember such details. In the early days of my hiking I knew almost nothing about the plants, but very soon I became interested in what I could see and what I could learn other than just the physical part of hiking, and I had the good fortune to hike with a number of botanists, and when they. . . . I developed a rather strong interest in, "What mountain is that and how do you get there?" and such things. "What plant is that, and where else might I find it, and why don't I find it somewhere else?" but hiking several years with those botanists, they sensed the fact that I was actually interested, my questions weren't just superficial idle curiosity; I really was trying to learn. And it's a rather ridiculous statement, but I remember hearing Dr. Hessler, who was head of the botany department at that time, make the statement that I knew a lot more botany than a lot of people who had completed the four- year course, and I never studied botany in a classroom in my life. But what little I did know was how to identify a considerable portion of the trees, shrubs, and wildflowers, just by observing and asking questions. You can get a lot of information if you hike with the right kind of people.


SB: This was Dan Myers going to Spence Field? He was 83?

CC: Just trying to think of the date when Jean did that. Well, I'm not going to try to pin down anything.

SB: It was in the thirties, anyway.

CC: An interesting thing came to light. We always felt that Gregory Bald and maybe Thunderhead were natural balds for a long time. Other mountaintop meadows we were pretty sure was not; we were pretty sure it was cleared. And talking with Dan Myers at that time, this was in the thirties, along the mid thirties, at that time he was 83 years old, and he told us he made his first trip to Spence Field as a boy, the place we now call Spence Field. He said he was 16 years old. And at that time, the place we then knew and now know as Spence Field was a beech forest. So there's living evidence that it was cleared.

SB: Did he tell you when it was cleared?

CC: Well, he didn't remember when. He said his memory was pretty hazy on that, but he did remember he was 16 years old, and it was a forest, not a grassy area like it later became. And now the trees are crowding in there.

SB: We could probably figure it out. What date was your daughter born? When was your daughter born?

CC: She was born in 1918 and . . .

SB So if she was a senior in high school, she was probably 17 years old.

CC: 1936, maybe, but I did work that out once to get the date that he was referring to, but I don't see any reference to it where I thought I had it.

SB: Well, that's good enough. I think I can work it backwards.

CC: We do know, well of course you've seen evidence that Russell Field was cleared. Few stumps still left there. I've seen an old hay rake in Russell Field.

SB: So that was farmed at one point?

CC: And I suspect that Spence Field might have been.

SB: What did they grow up there when they were farming?

CC: Maybe mostly grass. I think it was just grass. I didn't know what else. I never saw any crops growing up there. First time I saw Russell Field, it had already been cleared, but stumps were still standing, stumps two feet high. But I never saw any indication whatsoever on Gregory or on top of the high points of any other balds of any clearing. Probably might have been cleared way back, or it might have been fire, but whatever caused them to be bald in the first place, it's a definite fact, that we know, the grazing is what kept them open, because immediately when they stopped grazing, the grass instead of being three or four inches high, that first summer it was knee high, and it has never been shorter than that since then, just a tangle of knee high grass.

SB: So you were there the summer they stopped grazing.

CC: And many times after that.

SB: Were there as many cattle there towards the end as there were earlier on?

CC: Well, of course I . . .

End of tape

Transcribed by William Morgan and Mary Lindsay.

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Last Updated: 07-Mar-2008