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List Of Contents | Contents of On Horseback by Charles Dudley Warner
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disgraced to know, and she takes any place that money will buy.  It
is this sort of thing that hurts."

We took the eastern train one evening to Round Nob (Henry's Station),
some thirty miles, in order to see the wonderful railway that
descends, a distance of eight miles, from the summit of Swannanoa Gap
(2657 feet elevation) to Round Nob Hotel (1607 feet).  The Swannanoa
Summit is the dividing line between the waters that flow to the
Atlantic and those that go to the Gulf of Mexico.  This fact was
impressed upon us by the inhabitants, who derive a good deal of
comfort from it.  Such divides are always matter of local pride.
Unfortunately, perhaps, it was too dark before we reached Henry's to
enable us to see the road in all its loops and parallels as it
appears on the map, but we gained a better effect.  The hotel, when
we first sighted it, all its windows blazing with light, was at the
bottom of a well.  Beside it--it was sufficiently light to see that--
a column of water sprang straight into the air to the height, as we
learned afterwards from two official sources, of 225 and 265 feet;
and the information was added that it is the highest fountain in the
world.  This stout column, stiff as a flagstaff, with its feathery
head of mist gleaming like silver in the failing light, had the most
charming effect.  We passed out of sight of hotel and fountain, but
were conscious of being--whirled on a circular descending grade, and
very soon they were in sight again.  Again and again they disappeared
and came to view, now on one side and now on the other, until our
train seemed to be bewitched, making frantic efforts by dodgings and
turnings, now through tunnels and now over high pieces of trestle, to
escape the inevitable attraction that was gravitating it down to the
hospitable lights at the bottom of the well.  When we climbed back up
the road in the morning, we had an opportunity to see the marvelous
engineering, but there is little else to see, the view being nearly
always very limited.

The hotel at the bottom of the ravine, on the side of Round Nob,
offers little in the way of prospect, but it is a picturesque place,
and we could understand why it was full of visitors when we came to
the table.  It was probably the best-kept house of entertainment in
the State, and being in the midst of the Black Hills, it offers good
chances for fishing and mountain climbing.

In the morning the fountain, which is, of course, artificial, refused
to play, the rain in the night having washed in debris which clogged
the conduit.  But it soon freed itself and sent up for a long time,
like a sulky geyser, mud and foul water.  When it got freedom and
tolerable clearness, we noted that the water went up in pulsations,
which were marked at short distances by the water falling off, giving
the column the appearance of a spine.  The summit, always beating the
air in efforts to rise higher, fell over in a veil of mist.

There are certain excursions that the sojourner at Asheville must
make.  He must ride forty-five miles south through Henderson and
Transylvania to Caesar's Head, on the South Carolina border, where
the mountain system abruptly breaks down into the vast southern
plain; where the observer, standing on the edge of the precipice, has
behind him and before him the greatest contrast that nature can
offer.  He must also take the rail to Waynesville, and visit the
much-frequented White Sulphur Springs, among the Balsam Mountains,
and penetrate the Great Smoky range by way of Quallatown, and make
the acquaintance of the remnant of Cherokee Indians living on the
north slope of Cheoah Mountain.  The Professor could have made it a
matter of personal merit that he escaped all these encounters with
wild and picturesque nature, if his horse had not been too disabled
for such long jaunts.  It is only necessary, however, to explain to
the public that the travelers are not gormandizers of scenery, and
were willing to leave some portions of the State to the curiosity of
future excursionists.

But so much was said about Hickory Nut Gap that a visit to it could
not be evaded.  The Gap is about twenty-four miles southeast of
Asheville.  In the opinion of a well-informed colonel, who urged us
to make the trip, it is the finest piece of scenery it this region.
We were brought up on the precept "get the best," and it was with
high anticipations that we set out about eleven o'clock one warm,
foggy morning.  We followed a very good road through a broken,
pleasant country, gradually growing wilder and less cultivated.
There was heavy rain most of the day on the hills, and occasionally a
shower swept across our path.  The conspicuous object toward which we
traveled all the morning was a shapely conical hill at the beginning
of the Gap.

At three o'clock we stopped at the Widow Sherrill's for dinner.  Her
house, only about a mile from the summit, is most picturesquely
situated on a rough slope, giving a wide valley and mountain view.
The house is old rambling, many-roomed, with wide galleries on two
sides.  If one wanted a retired retreat for a few days, with good air
and fair entertainment, this could be commended.  It is an excellent
fruit region; apples especially are sound and of good flavor.  That
may be said of all this part of the State.  The climate is adapted to
apples, as the hilly part of New England is.  I fancy the fruit
ripens slowly, as it does in New England, and is not subject to quick
decay like much of that grown in the West.  But the grape also can be
grown in all this mountain region.  Nothing but lack of enterprise
prevents any farmer from enjoying abundance of fruit.  The industry
carried on at the moment at the Widow Sherrill's was the artificial
drying of apples for the market.  The apples are pared, cored, and
sliced in spirals, by machinery, and dried on tin sheets in a
patented machine.  The industry appears to be a profitable one
hereabouts, and is about the only one that calls in the aid of

While our dinner was preparing, we studied the well-known pictures of
"Jane" and "Eliza," the photographs of Confederate boys, who had
never returned from the war, and the relations, whom the traveling
photographers always like to pillory in melancholy couples, and some
stray volumes of the Sunday-school Union.  Madame Sherrill, who
carries on the farm since the death of her husband, is a woman of
strong and liberal mind, who informed us that she got small comfort
in the churches in the neighborhood, and gave us, in fact, a
discouraging account of the unvital piety of the region.

The descent from the summit of the Gap to Judge Logan's, nine miles,
is rapid, and the road is wild and occasionally picturesque,
following the Broad River, a small stream when we first overtook it,
but roaring, rocky, and muddy, owing to frequent rains, and now and
then tumbling down in rapids.  The noisy stream made the ride
animated, and an occasional cabin, a poor farmhouse, a mill, a
schoolhouse, a store with an assemblage of lean horses tied to the
hitching rails, gave the Professor opportunity for remarks upon the
value of life under such circumstances.

The valley which we followed down probably owes its celebrity to the
uncommon phenomena of occasional naked rocks and precipices.  The
inclosing mountains are from 3000 to 4000 feet high, and generally
wooded.  I do not think that the ravine would be famous in a country
where exposed ledges and buttressing walls of rock are common.  It is
only by comparison with the local scenery that this is remarkable.
About a mile above judge Logan's we caught sight, through the trees,
of the famous waterfall.  From the top of the high ridge on the
right, a nearly perpendicular cascade pours over the ledge of rocks
and is lost in the forest.  We could see nearly the whole of it, at a
great height above us, on the opposite side of the river, and it
would require an hour's stiff climb to reach its foot.  From where we
viewed it, it seemed a slender and not very important, but certainly
a very beautiful cascade, a band of silver in the mass of green
foliage.  The fall is said to be 1400 feet.  Our colonel insists that
it is a thousand.  It may be, but the valley where we stood is at
least at an elevation of 1300 feet; we could not believe that the
ridge over which the water pours is much higher than 3000 feet, and
the length of the fall certainly did not appear to be a quarter of
the height of the mountain from our point of observation.  But we had
no desire to belittle this pretty cascade, especially when we found
that Judge Logan would regard a foot abated from the 1400 as a
personal grievance.  Mr. Logan once performed the functions of local
judge, a Republican appointment, and he sits around the premises now
in the enjoyment of that past dignity and of the fact that his wife
is postmistress.  His house of entertainment is at the bottom of the
valley, a place shut in, warm, damp, and not inviting to a long stay,
although the region boasts a good many natural curiosities.

It was here that we encountered again the political current, out of
which we had been for a month.  The Judge himself was reticent, as
became a public man, but he had conspicuously posted up a monster
prospectus, sent out from Augusta, of a campaign life of Blaine and
Logan, in which the Professor read, with shaking knees, this
sentence: "Sure to be the greatest and hottest [campaign and civil
battle] ever known in this world.  The thunder of the supreme
struggle and its reverberations will shake the continents for months,
and will be felt from Pole to Pole."

For this and other reasons this seemed a risky place to be in.  There
was something sinister about the murky atmosphere, and a suspicion of
mosquitoes besides.  Had there not been other travelers staying here,
we should have felt still more uneasy.  The house faced Bald
Mountain, 4000 feet high, a hill that had a very bad reputation some
years ago, and was visited by newspaper reporters.  This is, in fact,
the famous Shaking Mountain.  For a long time it had a habit of

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