Jim Bales Place

February 27, 2013 by  

Jim Bales Place, The first historic stop along the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail is the Jim Bales Place, a farm which Jim Bales inherited from his father, Caleb. Jim, born James Wesley Bales in 1869, lived here for much of his life. He married Emma Ogle, a granddaughter of Gilbert Ogle, whose farm was located just above the Bales Place. As Bales got older, the farm passed on to other families, one of which erected a modern frame house on the land (known as the “fancy house”) where they entertained visitors.

When the Park Service gained control of the land in the 1930s, the frame house was torn down. The Alex Cole Cabin, being more representative of the pioneer days of Appalachia, was moved to the farm from the Sugarlands. Bales’ corn crib and barn remain, however.

Just below the Jim Bales place is the farm of Ephraim and Minerva Bales. Ephraim, Jim Bales’ older brother, farmed some 30 acres (120,000 m2) of his 70-acre (280,000 m2) plot. The other 40 acres (160,000 m2) were mostly wooded, which the Bales family used for construction material and firewood.

The Bales cabin was a double cabin with a passageway known as a “dog trot” in between. Dog-trot cabins, which are fairly common throughout the southeastern U.S., typically involve two adjacent cabins with roughly 10 feet (3.0 m) in between, but with one continuous roof. The space between the two halves was relatively cool in summer and warm in winter, making it attractive to dogs. Both halves of the cabin have their own chimney. With the exception of a back porch, the cabin remains largely as it was when the Bales family lived in here in the early 1900s. Along with the cabin, Bales’ corn crib, hog pen, and barn are still standing today, just a few yards from the cabin. A rock wall and paling fence behind the cabin are representative of the two major barriers used in the Northern Smokies in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

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