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Old Burnside

Old Burnside

Copyright Date: 1977
Edition: 1
Pages: 150
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  • Book Info
    Old Burnside
    Book Description:

    In the early years of this century, Burnside, Kentucky, was a bustling community perched on and above the floodplain formed by the Cumberland River and the South Fork. It was a center for shipping by rail and steamboat packet, and its lumber mills sent their products all over the world. The lower part of the town -- once the heart of its economic being -- now lies beneath the waters of Lake Cumberland, and the remaining streets above no longer resound with the clatter and roar of older and busier times.

    Harriet Simpson Arnow moved to Burnside with her parents and sisters in 1913, a few months before her fifth birthday. She recreates for us the sights and sounds of the town as she sets her childhood memories against the history of the region from the days of early settlers until Wolfe Creek Dam was built, creating the hundred-mile-long Lake Cumberland. Arnow charms the reader with her account of what it was like to be child in such a place and time, describing the fascination of the general stores of the town, the grand sight of the Seven Gables Hotel, the excitement of school, and the ever-interesting river and railroad traffic, all of which lent diversion to a life that sometimes seemed overburdened with household chores and errand running.

    Though much of old Burnside has disappeared, the way of life Arnow describes is an important part of the fabric of the history of Kentucky and the nation. Evoking vivid scenes of river and railroad, lumber mill and country store, Arnow recreates for us with great artistry a long-vanished place and time.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-4889-2
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Prologue
    (pp. vii-xii)

    Ann arbor schools, like others in Michigan, have long observed Easter with a week’s vacation. During the Easter holiday of 1953, Husband took a week of his vacation in order to help take the children on the long-promised and overdue trip to see their grandmother Simpson at Burnside. Illness and vacations elsewhere had kept us away for more than three years. We would also see Lake Cumberland, one of the largest man-made lakes in the United States.

    I had tourist material and newspaper clippings describing the dam, Lake Cumberland, and even the changes in Burnside. I knew Lake Cumberland began...

    (pp. 1-16)

    I cannot think of the Burnside I knew as a child without remembering the rivers at her doorstep. The larger Cumberland was, in spite of her wicked ways, my favorite. This river rises high on the flanks of Pine and Cumberland mountains where rivulets rush down to form larger streams that merge in the valleys to form the creeks of Poor Fork and Clover Fork. Cumberland River is born when these flow together. Gathering tributaries flowing north or south on a curve but always getting back to her western course, the Cumberland loops and twists past Pineville, Barbourville, and Williamsburg....

    (pp. 17-29)

    The end of The War did not automatically bring happiness to all the people of Pulaski County. Some were angered over the loss of their slaves; many blacks were doing the same work they had done as slaves but were now being paid. Those for the Confederacy felt the sorrow of defeat, while most grieved for the dead Lincoln. Many men who had gone to war did not come home. They were dead. Many of those who returned were blind or had lost an arm or leg. Others were in poor health from battlefield hardships or time spent as prisoners...

    (pp. 30-42)

    I remember nothing of our move from Bronston to Burnside in March of 1913 when I was almost five years old; sister Elizabeth was seven, while Margaret, whom we called Peggy, was not yet two. Our new home was low in the town near where the main road reached the foot of the hill and turned left toward the South Fork.

    Early mornings while still in bed, my first awareness was of darkness and sounds: almost constant, seemingly unchanging, was the clomp, clomp of mule and horse shoes in the road and the rattle and creak of wagons; long blasts...

    (pp. 43-51)

    Here and there i saw blooming roses, and all the trees in lower Burnside and on Bronston Hill were green—except the two in front of the post office. They appeared green only from a distance on a still day; when the wind blew, these two became pale ghosts of trees with no green about them. I took my wonders to Papa; he told me they were silver maples. Their leaves were silvery white on their undersides; this showed when the wind was right. Somebody had set them to beautify the post office. Mama thought it was the Burnside Garden...

    (pp. 52-64)

    We moved to our new home high on Tyree’s Knob in mid-autumn of 1913. In spite of having two stories and an attic, the white-painted house looked small and out of place among the tall oaks, maples, and hickories that surrounded it. The house stood at the beginning of a narrow bench of level land that would become in the following spring the site of a vegetable garden, and later an orchard and small cornfield.

    The level ground was bounded in back by a limestone cliff, irregular and broken so that in places it was easily climbed; above this, slopes...

    (pp. 65-78)

    Time to go see the log boom seemed slow in coming. It was a sunny Sunday in early March before I at last had my wish. The Cumberland was still so high that we stood on the top of the bank at the head of the boom a short distance above the Somerset Road ferry. I hadn’t thought there were so many logs in the world. Row upon row of logs stretched above the boom chains until they were lost in a curve of the river above the railway bridge.

    The logs were like a floor the swift, muddy Cumberland...

    (pp. 79-92)

    Carrying a crammed lunch box, a new pencil, and a “rough” tablet, I went to school with Elizabeth. We ran down the school path, jumping the limestone ledges below the house, and on down the grassy slope where large cedars grew. Here the path turned to take us through a clump of buckeyes growing on the rim of a canyonlike creek valley below us. The path steepened as it turned down past big beeches until, nearing the bottom, sycamores lifted their white arms above us. We crossed the creek on a causeway of flat rocks; then it was up again...

  11. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
    (pp. 93-105)

    My regrets at losing Miss Rankin were soon eased by adoration of Miss Vaught, teacher of the second grade. School had changed little from the preceding year. Mr. McChesney was still principal; assemblies continued with all the ministers of the town taking turns at praying for and talking to us. The same children played the same games in the same places on the playground. School had lost the excitement of my first year, but I still liked to go.

    The only change I noticed was that the second grade was less crowded than the first had been; none of the...

    (pp. 106-126)

    Mama was still in bed when school started, but feeling fine and counting the days until the required fourteen were ended and she could be up and about. All women around us were supposed to stay in bed for fourteen days after the coming of a new baby. I wondered why but never asked. Questions about a new baby brought ridiculous answers; a neighbor who came to visit Mama told me Mama had planted her toenails back in the woods and they had sprouted and grown into a baby.

    I certainly would never ask Miss Lou Ballou about the how...

  14. Epilogue
    (pp. 127-128)

    I never again thought of Burnside as my home after leaving for school when I was sixteen years old. I visited home and later taught in the rural schools of Pulaski County. Still later, after marriage, I lived in the county for a few years, but not in Burnside.

    I missed all the events that shaped life in Burnside. I only heard of the thousands of acres of cutover timberland in the county going into the Cumberland National Forest during the 1930s, and the news that U.S. 27 was at last paved all the way to Chattanooga came when I...

  15. A Note on Sources
    (pp. 129-130)