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Thursday, October 25, 2007

Home of Carl Sandburg

It finally stopped raining! Although the air was cool, the sun was out and the sky was a gorgeous blue. Here is the view from our campsite. We took off to have a look around the area.

One of the events scheduled for this weekend is the Fall Harvest Days at the Agriculture Center just south of Asheville. It was to start today, so that was our first stop. One of the activities on the schedule is a tractor pull, something I've never seen and Randy thinks is fun. But, we found out that wasn't happening until Saturday, so we decided to wait and go then. I know, I know, you all are jealous of the wild life we lead! :)

Also in the area, in Flat Rock, is the home of Carl Sandburg, one of America's wonderful writers. I was excited to find that out because I remember reading his stories when I was a kid. I didn't realize he was a Pulitzer Prize winning author as well. Mr. Sandburg also was a poet, minstrel, biographer and lecturer. As a biographer, he wrote many books on Abraham Lincoln.

Sandburg bought the home in Flat Rock in 1945. Its name is Connemara, which was given to it by the previous owner to honor his Irish ancestry. The estate consists of more than 245 acres and is also home to a goat farm. Mr. Sandburg moved there from Michigan with his wife, Lillian and their three daughters and two grandchildren. The desire to move came from Mrs. Sandburg's need for a better climate for her growing goat herd. The location was also wonderful for Sandburg to pursue his writing. He would ultimately write more than a third of his work here.

Mrs. Sandburg was a prize winner in her own right because of her goat herd. She bred them and also ran a dairy which provided goat milk and cheese to the region. At one point, in 1952, the herd numbered more than 200 and more than 50 goats were milked daily. The goats found on the farm today are descendants of Mrs. Sandburg's herd.

The Sandburg family lived at Connemara for 22 years. After Mr. Sandburg's death in
July of 1967, Mrs. Sandburg sold the property, with most of the house's furnishings intact, to the National Park Service. It became a National Historic Site in 1968. Mrs. Sandburg moved to Asheville with her two older daughters, Margaret and Janet, to live. Her youngest daughter and the mother of her only grandchildren, Helga, remarried and moved to Cleveland, Ohio. While Margaret and Janet have died, Helga still lives in Cleveland today. Her children, John Carl and Paula, enjoyed living at Connemara during their childhood. John Carl now lives in Philadelphia while Paula still lives just a few minutes away from her grandfather's home.

The home was fun to tour. One of the brochure describes the house as feeling as though the family is about to come back at any moment - and that is so true. The furnishings, books (of which Mr. Sandburg had about 14,000 at one time), magazines, personal items, etc., are all scattered about. It is a home and not just a museum. Most of us could easily envision ourselves living in this home.

The grounds have several buildings still standing and in good shape. A few of them are tenant homes for those who worked for the farm. And there is a small goat herd. We were able to go into the field and play with them. They are cute.

This visit was such a nice surprise. It's tucked away in the town and if it weren't for the National Park signs, you probably would never know it was there. It is very unassuming.

On our way home, we traveled through Pisgah National Forest. This was the first national forest to be established in the United States. It is also home to the first school of forestry - the Biltmore Forest School. On this site now is the Cradle of
Forestry, a 6500 acre historic site that commemorates the beginning of forestry conservation in the United States. It was lovely to drive through this area.

Tomorrow we are taking a ride on the Great Smokey Mountains Railroad. We're going on the October Leaf Train. The colors have finally burst here and they are just beautiful. I'm sure there will be lots of pictures taken!

Hope all is well in your world. Randy & I are enjoying every day and wish the same for each of you. So, until the next time . . .

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