Jim Bales Homestead in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The Old Homestead

One of our stops along the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail during our Great Smoky Mountains National Park visit was to the Jim Bales homestead. The Bales family lived in the area in the late 1800s and the early 1900s. It was interesting to get a small glimpse of how they lived.

Jim Bales homestead in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Two of the buildings on the property are the cabin and the corn crib. I did not get the third building, which was the barn, in this photo. The barn was just to the left of where I was standing at this time. Read on for more about each building.

The Cabin

The cabin, at the right in this photo, was not actually that of Jim Bales. This particular cabin belonged to Alex Cole. It was moved here from its original location so that the cabin could be preserved and so that the cabin’s original location could return to nature. While it was not the original cabin that was here, it lets you know what life was like here. That is to say, you realize just what “rustic” means when you look inside the cabin.

Laura at Alex Cole’s cabin in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

In the photo above, Laura stands in the doorway of Alex Cole’s cabin at the Jim Bales homestead. We Burnses are not exactly what you would call tall people, but you can see how Laura’s head is almost at the top of the doorframe. We were amazed to see how short all of the doorways were in the different structures compared to how they are today.

The Corn Crib

Brant, Karen, and Laura at the corn crib

In this photo, Brant and Karen join Laura in front of the corn crib, which was the structure at the left of the first photo above. And once again, you can see the relative height (or lack thereof) of the structure and its low roof. I guess that would help if your frisbee landed on the roof, because you would not have as far to climb to get it off. Not that kids played with frisbees back then, of course.

If you are wondering, a corn crib is a crib that is used to store and dry corn. Nothing like the “cribs” of today! How did a word that meant something like the structure above end up being applied to nice houses today? These kids and their strange language!

The Barn

Jim Bales barn in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The third building on the property is Jim Bales’s barn, seen here with the corn crib in the background. Although the barn is larger than the corn crib, it still has the same low roof and short entryway. And I like how this barn makes our barn back home look a little more fancy! Although I am sure this barn served its purpose just fine.

Inside the barn

Here you can see Brant and Karen inside the barn. And you can see how short those stall entrances are. I do not know which our horses would like less when they go in, having to duck their heads or having to step over that bottom beam. My guess is that they would not like either one. I should show them this photo to let them know how good they have it!

A stone fence at the Jim Bales homestead in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

I also liked seeing this old rock fence that was built to mark the edge of the property. While I think our newer post-and-wire fences at home might be a little more effective, the newer fences do not quite have the charm of this rock fence. But I am glad that Jim Bales had to move all of those rocks and not me.

Down by the Lazy River

One of the nice things about the Jim Bales homestead is that it was near the Roaring Fork Creek. Actually all homes back then were close to a creek or river of some sort, because that is where they got their water. Even though I have shared some similar photos of creek views in other Great Smoky Mountains posts, I can’t help sharing a few more here, since they were taken near this homestead.

Flowing stream in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Can you imagine going down to the creek to get water and having this view? Yes, the view might not be so great if you are having to haul water buckets back up to the cabin. And yes, we often start to take for granted views that we see every day, even if others find them spectacular. But maybe every now and then the Bales family stopped to enjoy the scenery around them.

Flowing stream in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Here is one more view, just for good measure. As you can see, there were a lot of rocks around, so the fence above did not even come close to wiping out the local rock supply. However, all of those rocks would have made it a little difficult to get your water buckets down to the creek. That is just another reason to be thankful for indoor plumbing! So now, we can just look at these nice views without having to complain about the hardships they cause in things like washing up for dinner.

In some ways, they had it pretty good. But in other ways, so do we today. It is all about balance, after all.

Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. - Philippians 4:5-6

About the Photos

As with most of the Great Smoky Mountains photos, these did not take much work. The scenery was already beautiful to begin with. I did adjust some colors and enhance some shadow detail here and there, and a few other, relatively minor things. But that does make me wonder if Jim Bales and his family ever thought that people would wander through their homestead and take photos, calling it a beautiful place? Just remember, what might seem ordinary to you might be interesting to someone else!

Photo: Each photo is a single Raw exposure, processed in Luminar AI. Read more about photography tips, photo software, camera gear, and more at Steve’s Photography Tips.
Camera: Sony Alpha A7 II
Lens: Sony FE 28-70mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS Lens
Date: July 20, 2021
Location: Great Smoky Mountains National ParkTennessee