Three weeks ago Bob Bolinger, BZ Lane, and I attempted to find the "Rock House" but a snowy and relatively deep stream crossing precluded our doing so. Today a still somewhat cool day but one which did not follow incessant rains appeared to present a golden opportunity to find it. I met Bob at our meet-up site in Sevierville at 0830; he then drove to Gatlinburg to pick-up BZ and then it was on to the trail head of Old Sugarlands trail just across US 441 from Sugarlands Visitor Center.
After ~1.6 mi. there are two manways, one leading to a cemetery and the other "sort of" leading to our quest. We took brief sojourns both in and out in what once was a thriving community. After ~2 hours we reached the stream crossing that we were unable to cross 3-wks ago; it was relatively easy this time. Minutes later we reached the "Rock House"; I did not expect to see so much of this structure it still standing.
In the first picture Bob is probably looking at the fireplace on the opposite wall; in the background on the right remnants of single bed frames can be seen. Note the big rock that spans the width of the window; I would love to have seen how the builders of this structure were able to place it a that height. Although the wall with this window looks good from this vantage point, it is leaning precipitously away from the room; we can only hope that a working crew will be assigned to shore it up. However, since it is not particularly easy to get to walking, that is probably wishful thinking.
In the second picture the fireplace is visible; in it were remnants of what appeared to be an old gas stove; I assume that the latter was used only in its later days.
In the 3rd picture I was waiting for BZ and Bob to exit the structure from its ante room; the only picture that halfway was any good has BZ leading with Bob in the background.
Although the history of its existence is probably on file somewhere, we could only surmise. One idea is that the CCC built it in the 1920's or early 1930's, perhaps for one of their honchos. Another idea that crossed our minds is that it was a vacation and/or hunting home for a wealthy individual. Yes, the valley that we had traversed had many families living in it in the early 1900's; however, this "Rock House" is up the mountain a little and a bit more remote. (Although BZ plans to do further research on it, if any reader of this blog can enlighten this issue, I would love to hear from you. Its coordinates are: N 35 degrees 39.483 and W 083 degrees 36.753.
One might say that a manway is off-trail; however, a couple of times we got off the manway we were on when it intersected with what were remnants of a road. We then followed the latter to see if we could determine where it dead-ended at a stream; at this point we can assume that a bridge of some sort existed in the 1930's.
My GPS indicated that we had hiked only 6.53 mi. Nevertheless, even though it was not a very good workout, it was a most enjoyable hike. Moreover, since we finished somewhere between 1300 and 1400 hours, the Mountain Lodge in Gatlinburg would still be open and I could get my Reuben sandwich (in my ~one dozen times there, I have ordered it every single time).
Bob then took me to my Outback in Sevierville; although my neck is still very immobile and somewhat painful, I had no double vision on the trip from the Park nor on my trip home. However, I must admit that my "bunion-foot" is not a happy camper; I have an appointment with my podiatrist prior to next week's hike.