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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,