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Friday, September 4, 2009

Backbone Rock Tunnel and Falls


George always surprises me with a "Surprise Trip" around Valentine's Day. He knows how to 'spoil' me BIGTIME---and he knows how to plan a wonderful trip. Today I'm going to share a small piece of our trip in 2008. We left early on Thursday morning --and I just relaxed and 'wondered' where we were going. We headed east ---into far East Tennessee. I 'think' I had been to Elizabethton and to Mountain City in my younger years---since I was raised not too far from there in southwest Virginia... But--riding along all of those 'back' roads was SO much fun ---and so gorgeous!

Our first waterfall was not too far from Elizabethton in the Cherokee National Forest (in the Unaka Mountains of the Blue Ridge). This waterfall was named Blue Hole--and was really a four-in-one waterfall since it had four tiers. I will enclose some pictures of Blue Hole in another blog sometime.

Our second stop on this Valentine's Trip was in northern Johnson County, not far from Mountain City, TN (and actually closer to Damascus, VA). We drove on Highway 133--opposite Beaverdam Creek. There were rhododendrons everywhere along our route and it was SUCH a gorgeous drive in the mountains! It reminded me of my hometown area --which was not far from where we were (Big Stone Gap, VA). In fact, we found a BSG radio station in our car that day. I got SO excited!!!!!

The second waterfall was called Backbone Falls. We made the loop hike in order to see this waterfall. First, we were above it--and then we walked down some steps to see if from below. It was nestled in a small canyon filled with more rhododendrons. What a beautiful setting!!!! The waterfall itself was long and skinny---and was called a 'horsetail' by some.

After seeing the waterfall, we enjoyed checking out Backbone Rock Tunnel nearby. Backbone Rock gets its name from a spur ridge on Holston Mountain that ends abruptly at a bend in Beaverdam Creek. This huge stone ridge stands 75 feet high and approximately 20 feet thick. A tunnel was drilled through the rock in 1901 to allow railroad access between Shady Valley and Damascus, VA. After the tunnel was blasted and the track was laid, the smoke stack of the train's engine could not pass through the tunnel. SO--the top of the tunnel had to be hand-chiseled to eliminate this problem. Motorists pass through what is locally known as the "Shortest Tunnel in the World" --as they travel along TN 133.

If you ever get to this area, be sure and check out both the tunnel, rock and the waterfall. Thanks to Clare from Bluff City, TN for reminding me about this place. She lives near there --and wrote about the tunnel in her blog HERE. Check out Clare's blog. She lives in a far eastern TN in a gorgeous area. Above is a picture of Backbone Tunnel. You can see where they chiseled out the top for the train's smoke stack.

Below are five pictures of Backbone Falls. We hiked on a loop trail--first being above the falls and then hiking down some rock steps to get to the bottom. Backbone Falls is from 35-45 feet high. If you look to the left of the falls in some of the pictures (especially the 2nd one below), you'll see ICICLES along the rocks. It was a cold day in February even though the sun was out!!!



















George stands on the bridge between Beaverdam Creek and Backbone Rock. Wonder who was taking his picture????? ha






George stands at the sign describing Backbone Rock Tunnel.





This was such a neat tunnel... I love waterfalls---but seeing this tunnel was totally awesome.





Here's one more look at Backbone Rock Tunnel. We read where rock-climbers climb here, but we didn't see any when we were there.

Hope you have a wonderful weekend and Labor Day. I can promise that we will NOT be 'laboring' on Labor Day!!!!! We'll throw some steaks on the grill and just RELAX. How about you?????

I'm taking a few days 'off' from blogging and hopefully can catch up on some Family History and other things around here. I'll be back on Tuesday morning. Have a wonderful weekend.

Hugs,

72 comments:

diane said...

What an interesting story about a short tunnel. How lucky you are to get taken on surprise tours.I have to do the tour organising in this family. It looks and sounds a beautiful state.

Deb Murphree/Alabama Politics said...

LOL@Betsy excited over hearing a Big Stone Gap radio station. You go girl!! I wish I could hear one from where I live! You love those waterfalls, do you not? I'm wondering if you have ever seen the one that is near Camp Blue Ridge, in Virginia? I know there was one, when I was at summer camp, and we used to ride down the rocks in our shorts...into a big hole of water at the bottom...Omg..that was fun!! Have you ever been to Niagara Falls? My daughter went there with her family a couple of years ago. The pictures she brought back her astounding...Oh the beauty...My parents also went there MANY years ago, on their honeymoon.

♥ Kathy♥ said...

Betsy that is one cool looking tunnel but lol I think it would make me a bit nervous driving through it. Great shots of the waterfalls. =)

Darla said...

Ya'll must take energy pills! Busy, busy, busy....lovely trip here.

Sunny said...

I would love to see that tunnel in person, really cool!
Have a great Labor Day weekend.
Sunny :)

Jayne said...

What a neat place Betsy. :c) We'll probably have a cookout here as well, but no laboring. Have a wonderful weekend!

Pam said...

How lucky you are Betsy. This is a wonderful surprise trip. I think he took you to the tunnel of love :D
Have a wonderful weekend, I enjoyed your delightful journey...

Busy Bee Suz said...

This looks like a wonderful trip. That George is so thoughtful and romantic.
Do you know if we cloned him, we could make a billion dollars?!? What do you think???

Arkansas Patti said...

You really landed a romantic fellow.
I love tunnels like you love waterfalls. They are such marvels, some by God, most by man.
Have a wonderful Labor Day.

This Is My Blog - fishing guy said...

Betsy: What a neat look at the falls and the tunnel. I'm glad they didn't destroy the rock formation while making the road.

Your EG Tour Guide said...

How nice the road builders used the tunnel instead of blasting it all away. (I'm assuming that's what happened.)

Have a great weekend, Betsy!

Vicki ~ FL said...

Thanks for taking us on your beautiful journey......gorgeous waterfalls and great tunnel.

The Incredible Woody said...

That tunnel is awesome!! That area is very scenic - I love the drive along Hwy 321 by Watauga Lake. It is beautiful.

JKoenig said...

Have a wonderful weekend, Betsy. You sure live in a lovely part of our country. Thanks for sharing your "surprise trip" with us.

mountain.mama said...

You deserve to be spoiled by that husband of yours! And I think I like the tunnel pictures the best but I like the waterfall pictures too.

Ruth's Photo Blog said...

Thanks for another wonderful tour of this scenic area.Have a great weekend.We are going out for more photography.Hm,wonder what else is new.:) Looking forward to doing this with friends this time.
Blessings,Ruth

Small City Scenes said...

Awesome pictures. You guys sure know how to plan a perfect get a way. Isn't it amazing how someone drilled, chipped, chopped through all that rock. MB

Roses and Lilacs said...

Love that rock tunnel. I've never seen that one but there were similar ones out west. Too bad modern road makers don't do things like that anymore.

I plan to do a little laboring of my own this weekend. I've put off too many things and now is catch up time.

Enjoy your weekend and see you next week.
Marnie

Cicero Sings said...

Our relaxing will have to wait until AFTER Labour Day as D works up to and including LD. Then he is a free man. We don't know about next year ... some things are being made in the Forestry Department. But if he doesn't have to work next summer ... just think of what all we can do ... for a change.

A Brit in Tennessee said...

What an exciting trip you've taken us on !
Love, love the waterfalls, and that little tunnel is so interesting, and the story behind it.
Thanks for sharing Betsy !
Have a great Labor Day weekend..

Janie said...

Great tunnel and waterfall photos. I really like the icicles. George is such a wonderful husband to give you a Valentine surprise trip!

Diane said...

You two are just vagabonds (that's an old word, isn't it). I'm glad you have such a great time exploring. Nice story.

Susie said...

Looks like a great place to visit Betsy.

Hope you and George have a great weekend!

Bill S. said...

Sounds like a very fun trip. Small trips with my wife are always a lot of fun. Have a great weekend - I will fish one day, church one day and hiking one day.

Kirigalpoththa said...

I love that rock tunnel!

Jen said...

Good for you; you and George sit and enjoy your weekend at home.
I enjoyed your visit to the Rock Tunnel. ;)

Betty said...

You and George always seem to have such a good time.
Have a wonderful weekend
~~ Hugs ~~

Leedra said...

I had seen Clara's post, so I was a little confused, thinking I had already seen this post. Glad you clarified that one for me. It is very neat looking. I also have a friend just moved to Mountain City.

Kay said...

Fantastic photos. I've see photos of that rock tunnel before. A friend of mine who moved from Burbank, CA to Salem, VA sent me photos of it.

Kay

Clara....in TN said...

Hi Betsy, your post is so much more informative than mine. Isn't it just lovely through that area? I remember one year we had a picnic right there at the tunnel. Have you ever seen those "crock" churns that people really churned in? Well, my Dad had one that held five gallons. He had made it full of lemonade and someone was helping him carry it across the road and the handle broke and came out and that was the end of the churn and the lemonade. That is what I think of everytime I go through there.

Tina said...

Wow I want someone to plan a surprise trip for me...lol..lucky girl you! That tunnel was quite an eye catcher..and hiking in Feb..in cold temps..you go girl!!
have a great weekend and don't come back on Tuesday with a sore back or a sunburn!!

blushing rose said...

Oh, Betsy! Your pics are wonderful. We haven't been to this area yet, I don't know how we missed it. Have to go on the 'travel to' agenda soon.

You have a wonderful weekend also.
TTFN ~ Marydon

PS TY for popping over.

Kamana said...

what a great guy george is to be planning surprise getaways for the two of you :)

Kamana said...

what a great guy george is to be planning surprise getaways for the two of you :)

Tootie said...

Betsy you sure found a gem when you found George. :-) You are storing away so many wonderful memories together. Have a nice weekend.

Daisy said...

Sounds like it must have been a lovely trip for you, Betsy. The waterfalls are beautiful. Hope you have a great weekend! :D

cherie said...

LOL! ms. betsy, i've just gotta say this - you both are sooo cuuuteee! big hugs!!! mmmm!!!

Jerry in Tampa said...

Hey Betsy! You always make me so envious with all your trips, but I get to enjoy them through you! I hope this finds you well!
It's that time again! TEBOW TIME! Lookout Lane Kiffin!
:-))

Be good!
Jerry in Tampa

Jerry in Tampa said...

Hey Betsy! You always make me so envious with all your trips, but I get to enjoy them through you! I hope this finds you well!
It's that time again! TEBOW TIME! Lookout Lane Kiffin!
:-))

Be good!
Jerry in Tampa

storyteller said...

The two of you have such wonderful times together ... and it's fun to read about your adventures. Hope you enjoy your Labor Day weekend away from the computer. I'm getting together with an old friend later today ;--)
Hugs and blessings,

Rose said...

I love that tunnel...sounds like a wonderful day. I am slowly trying to catch up with everyone. Lorelei kept me busy last week. She is always doing something new to make us laugh...I am convinced she is going to be like her mom and love entertaining people.

T said...

What a great way to spend the day and what a wonderful surprise!

I'm going to have to check that out one of these times in down there.


BTW - NO WORRIES about your post. It was sincere and respectful - exactly what I was posting about!

Elenka said...

Just love the photo of the tunnel! You're lucky to have such a thoughtful husband. You never know what's around the corner, and that's very cool.

Elenka said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Elenka said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Elenka said...

Don't panic, Betsy. The deleted comments were mine...for some reason I ended up with 3 identical comments posted.

Cookie said...

Wow! That tunnel is so neat and those waterfalls are beautiful! I'm just surprised that it's not colder at Valentine's day there!
enjoy your time off!

SmilingSally said...

That's a beautiful rock tunnel. I love rocks.

Cheryl /Ashton said...

I really enjoyed the story about the short tunnel. Amazing photo, certainly something I would love to see. And the waterfalls are so neat, how lucky you are to be in the area where there are so many. And what a wonderful husband you have to take you on such wonderful "surprise" trips. He is a gem for sure.

Lola said...

Beautiful just beautiful. Have you ever been to Mingo Falls just outside Cherokee? It's really a good Falls to visit.

Bonnie Bonsai said...

What a wondrous escape from a daily grind! Your waterfall pictures are awesome and the hike sounds fun especially glancing at the shortest tunnel in the world in close quotation.

So it's Labour Day over there. And no labour? Oh yes, there is! Chucking steaks on the barbecue plate. Yum, tastes so so beefy. And hmmmm I love the aroma of the barbecue too.

Have a safe weekend and thank you for this wonderful post.

You always leave me a hug, so here's some hugs for you too.

Happy weekend! :)

Robert V. Sobczak said...

You're so right: planning a trip is an art, and like a sandwich that someone else makes for you, it always seems better when its served up on a silver platter. I admire your travel spirit ... not every couple has that.

Tammie Lee said...

I love how you two enjoy waterfalls together! How wonderful that you have a man that loves to surprise you and you seem to relax and trust that you are on an adventure. That sounds like the best! Have a great few days off!
Spirithelpers

Nina P. said...

Thank you for sahring your adventures. You bring out the traveler in me. Hmm... where to first?... You've enlightened me with so many new and exciting places! Happy Hiking! Love and Light, Nina P.

Rocky Mountain Retreat said...

Yep, I agree, that tunnel is spectacular. How amazing is that??!!
What a great post and how awesome is George to give you these "surprise trips"?!? He really does spoil you and you definitely deserve every bit of it!

Hug♥

Unseen Rajasthan said...

Fantastic story about tunnel !! This is simply a great journey you had..Thanks for sharing..Unseen Rajasthan

Beth said...

Hi, Betsy! I love traveling along with you and George---you go on the most interesting trips. I think you two love roadtrips almost as much as my husband Tom! That Backbone Rock Tunnel is amazing. We will definitely have to take a little roadtrip of our own up there someday.

By the way, it was SO cool to see that you and George passed by the same waterfall we did! I had seen that one on your blog when you did that post, but didn't make the connection until you pointed it out. We were lucky, though, that there wasn't anyone behind us honking their horns! :-) In fact, we didn't see another soul for our entire trip down the road.

Have a great holiday weekend!

Netster said...

Hello Betsy!

I am really bad at planning for any surprise party or suggesting a place for foods and etc....

I am the worse hahahaha

I have got to learn from George!

XOXO

Visiting you from Kuching (Borneo)

Queen of Dreamsz said...

Hey Betsy,

That tunnel is so cool!!! I want one..hahahha..interesting story too.

Thanks for dropping by for a visit....It's Sunday afternoon..let's see what I can get done today. :0)

Hugs, Steph

Our Back Porch said...

That is awesome Betsy! Thanks for sharing. I am back to blogging...been craziness! I missed all of you! Come by when you get a chance.

Huggles,
Rebecca

Nance said...

what a lucky girl you are, Betsy! being treated by your George like a queen. I'm open for adoption! lol

the stories of those falls are interesting, so said it so well! thanks.

hugs,
nance

Tins and Treasures said...

Surprise trips...how fun! The scenery looks beautiful here. Happy Labor Day to you too. ~Natalie

Judy AKA Sunny said...

Hi Betsy ! Wow, thankyou for sharing a most interesting story of your journey ! Nice tour!!

I felt like I was right there along with you......

love all the photos and ohhhh you did awesome new layout here too!

That's a mighty cool looking sweatshirt ya have on ;)

Hugs

Judy AKA Sunny said...

Hi Betsy ! Wow, thankyou for sharing a most interesting story of your journey ! Nice tour!!

I felt like I was right there along with you......

love all the photos and ohhhh you did awesome new layout here too!

That's a mighty cool looking sweatshirt ya have on ;)

Hugs

ROSIDAH said...

I love your wonderful trips! Thanks for sharing them with us. Hugs and love. Have a great week, Betsy :)

Mary said...

That tunnel is very neat...love that first shot of it. You better hang on to a man who spoils you so much :-) You both seem very happy and enjoying life together! Keep it up!

Gena said...

Betsy,
I just love the "tours" you take me on. Once again, George and Ollie have something in common. He likes to surprise me with little trips since we have to work around his schedule. We are always "veering off" our course to see what we can find. I love it! We drive and look. Thank goodness for GPS! Although it isn't always accurate, it can get you back to civilization!
Enjoy your time off. I, too, need to work more on my Family History, but ..... maybe this winter.
Talk soon!

SquirrelQueen said...

Betsy,

The photos are great, what a wonderful place. The story of the tunnel is fun to hear but I can't help but wonder how they found out the train's smoke stack would not go through. Trial and error? LOL

Hope you are having a great Labor Day and enjoying the steaks.

Hugs,
Judy

Baby Rocket Dog and Hootie said...

That tunnel is very cool! How do you remember all the names of the falls you two travel to?? I have trouble remembering the name of my town! Happy Labor Day to you Betsy.
X-C

Bird Girl said...

Boy George DOES know how to spoil a gal - you better hang on to him for dear life - haha ;-) He is always coming up with fun things to do! I really loved this tunnel too and the name is perfect!

Kelly said...

Wow!!! What a gorgeous and romantic trip. I'm going to be sure to send Rick-man to this post. We've been married 21 years, and I don't think he's ever planned a Valentine trip........I think it's about high time he did! Lovely photos....I love that rock arch....

matthew houskeeper said...

What an interesting spot. Nice!!!