October 14, 2010
Martin Luther King Jr. gravesite
Prior to heading back home to Key West, Kathy & I decided to take in some of the scenery between Blackberry Farm and the airport in Atlanta starting with the beauty of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park and including a stop in the Sweet Auburn neighborhood of Atlanta where Martin Luther King Jr. was born and raised and that is now home to the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site.
The incredible perfect weather, the changing fall foliage and the long weekend combined for one of the best possible days to visit one of our favorite National Parks, the Great Smoky Mountains. We had visited previously, a few years ago during our cross country trip. On that occasion we crossed the park along the Newfound Gap road, visiting the highest point Clingman’s Dome and taking in Cherokee and
This time we stayed in the western section of the park, visiting the popular former farming community Cades Cove. The park service has preserved the Appalachian farm community of Cades Cove much as it was during the more than 100 years it was an active community. Today more than two million visitors drive the eleven mile loop road that winds through the small deserted community.
John Oliver Place
Missionary Baptist Church
Cades Cove contains over 70 historic buildings that date back to the early 1800s. Most can be easily accessed along the loop road, which also allows close-up viewing opportunities to the large variety of wildlife that makes the park home including deer, fox, black bears, raccoons, wild turkey and bobcat.
Even with the massive crowds that packed the park on a perfect fall morning, the natural beauty and cool historical structures were cool to see and we had a great visit to the park and the perfectly preserved examples of homes, churches, grist mill and other structures.
Not getting enough historic Americana for one weekend, we had another very different, yet no less relevant in American history, stop to make before hitting the airport. From the wild natural setting of the mountains to the highly urbanized area of downtown Atlanta known as Sweet Auburn is quite a contrast, but both hold beauty and inspiration.
MLK birth place
Sweet Auburn is the name given to the Atlanta neighborhood along Auburn Avenue which served as the main artery through the African American neighborhood which came to symbolize prosperity and equality to the community. It also happened to be the birthplace and home to Martin Luther King Jr.
Today the entire area is part of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic site and includes such historic and cultural treasures as the King birth home, the Ebenezer Baptist Church where both Dr. King and his father served as pastor, the historic Fire Station #6, and the King Center. Also on site is the final resting place for Dr. King and his wife Coretta Scott King.
In our many visits to Atlanta, I had not made it to visit this area and it was high on my list of places to go and it was well worth the trip. Easily accessible just off I-75, Sweet Auburn holds many more places that I really want to spend more time visiting and I am certain to visit again. It was a fitting final stop for a really awesome little mini-vacation.