CCPA workers gather in front of the Carter-Shields Cabin with Randy Hatten from the National Park Service to plan the walkway.
The finished walkway leads visitors to the Carter-Shields Cabin in Cades Cove.
CCPA Rebuilds Walkway To historic Carter-Shields Cabin
Years of rain, snow and bad weather, along with the feet of hundreds of visitors, had taken their toll on the walkway to the historic Carter-Shields Cabin in Cades Cove. Gullies, in places more than a foot deep, had made it hard to walk to the cabin without walking through the sometimes wet grass beside the path. That has all changed now. The gullies have been filled with dirt and gravel, the sides of the walkway have been bordered by locust logs and the entire path has been given a covering of small gravel. This all came about through the efforts of the Cades Cove Preservation Association. CCPA members, along with some National Park Service employees, rebuilt the walkway to this beautiful historic cabin in the Cove. The members gathered on Tuesday, May 14, to rebuilding the trail. They finished the job late in the afternoon on Wednesday, May 15, by spreading the cover of fine gravel on the trail. They also landscaped the path outside the borders with dirt where grass will eventually grow. Jason Willis of the NPS Cades Cove maintenance department, saved many sore backs when he showed up with his Bobcat skid loader, courtesy of maintenance chief Dale Brukiewa, to haul the gravel from a pile beside the road to the pathway. Randy Hatten, GSMNP Historic Preservation director, oversaw the overall project. Other maintenance workers hauled more gravel and dirt to the site as needed to assist the volunteers. CCPA members first placed locust logs along the sides of the walkways to outline the trail. These poles were held in place by nailing them together and then driving large spikes through them and into the ground. Next, the workers hauled loads of a dirt and gravel mixture and dumping it into the gullies between the locust borders. And some of these gullies were quite deep in places. At one point, dirt had been washed out from around a large root cutting across the walkway. The dirt-gravel mixture was spread and leveled out. With the aid of Jason’s Bobcat, the workers were able to rebuild most of the trail the first day. On the second day, they covered the mixture with a thin layer of chat gravel to dress it for the thousands of visitors who come to Cades Cove every day. Mechanical problems with the Bobcat the second day, however, forced the CCPA and NPS workers to resort to hauling the mixture by wheelbarrows. Even with these problems, volunteers finished the job in two days. David Ledbetter, CCPA member and the liaison with the National Park Service for work projects, said NPS officials were appreciative of the CCPA’s work on the walkway. Great Smoky Mountains National Park Superintendent Dale Ditmanson, who spoke at the CCPA annual picnic a week after the workday, complimented the CCPA on its work in Cades Cove. By Ken Garland
Photos by Ken Garland & Paulette Ledbetter