"Cumberland Gap Part 1"
hrs on the road
If you’ve been keeping up with us for a while now, you may remember our Bell County adventure, where we visited a couple of spots in Cumberland Gap. Well, we enjoyed our time there with the people we met so much that we knew we had to come back! Tony Maxwell coordinated an amazing weekend trip with us chock full of good food, good conversation, and plenty of adventure. This episode covers the first day of that weekend.
What We Did
OLD MILLE INN BED AND BREAKFAST
We started our morning off with packing up the trucks and leaving home base in Corbin around 8:00am. We arrived at the Olde Mill Inn Bed & Breakfast for breakfast and met up with Tony, Shelly from Ale-8, and our tour guides for the morning, Zach and Rose. Over a delicious meal, everyone was briefed on the plans for the day. It was time to head out on hike #1 of the trip.
TRI STATE PEAK
With Zach and Rose leading us on the trail, our team took off to stand in “three states at one time!!!!” (as James yelled from the car). The hike is steep, but short, gaining about 626ft. in 1.1 miles. First, we stopped at the Iron Furnace, which we saw on our last trip to Cumberland Gap. After a pitstop there, we kept hiking to the mountaintop. Halfway up, we were able to check out a point of the Wilderness Road Trail, symbolizing Daniel Boone’s trek into KY. At the top, we were greeted with a glorious overlook view and sights of Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia. After taking it all in, we were ready to head back down the trail and eat some lunch.
GAP CREEK COFFEEHOUSE
Tony and his staff had an amazing spread ready to go for us when we got back into the Gap. The blackberry grilled cheese was a huge hit! The group is known as the “Guardians of the Gap” also met with us there, sharing their stories and passions for protecting the arts and culture of Cumberland Gap. This gave us an extra opportunity to learn more about the history of the town and where it’s headed.
In the spirit of getting to know the town better, we decided to spend the afternoon with John, who is one of the Guardians, visiting as many of the local businesses as possible, meeting the owners and learning about what they do!
We had the opportunity to tour several businesses ranging from arts to food. Our first stop was Mitty’s Metal Art, where we got to meet Mitty himself and learn about the craft of metalworking.
Second was Papa Chum’s Music, owned and operated by the Chumleys, where we were greeted with an array of musical instruments and records. Cassidy was in heaven! Before we left, Daniel Chumley played and sang one of his original songs for us- be sure to check him out on streaming platforms!
After our serenade, we headed next door to Flour Baby’s Bakery, where we were able to meet Kayla, the baker, and check out her wide variety of delicious baked goods.
Next, we walked across town to Gertie’s Commissary, a beautiful antique shop that also features local art and t-shirts that are specific to the gap. Once we finished checking out all of the neat antiques, it was time to meet up with Ralph at the Bicycle Museum. The museum displays bikes dating all the way back to before any of us were born, and Ralph was very informative with not only telling us about the history of bikes, but also his own stories in the Gap and beyond. He even gave Chase and Kaitlyn a ride down main street before we left!
Before the afternoon was over, we stopped at the Artists’ Co-op, a collective that represents multiple artists from the Gap, Whistle Stop antiques, and Steve Moore’s frame shop, where he frames everything from little pictures of people’s families all the way up to large commissions!
Once we made it back to Gap Creek, we said goodbye to John and got ready to head out to Wilderness Road State Park.
WILDERNESS ROAD STATE PARK
When we arrived at Wilderness Road, we were greeted by the lovely Frances Inwood, who was kind enough to show us around the outdoor living history museum that is Martin’s Station. It consisted of a fort, multiple houses and outbuildings, and plenty of farm animals- Kaitlyn’s favorite part. Luckily, several of the reenactment actors were still there, and they gave us some history on the fort and a shooting demonstration. After shooting a couple of interviews and some drone footage of the station and the park, we left to walk over to the Karlan Mansion, which is located on the park property.
It just so happened that Frances is the great-niece of the original owners of the Karlan Mansion, so she was able to give us a unique tour of the home, complete with the history of it and her own stories of spending time there as a child. If you’re looking to explore a wide open space with incredible views and beautiful architecture, this is the place for you!
Once we finished up our exploration of Wilderness Road and the mansion, it was time to head back to the Gap to clean up for dinner.
After an hour of down time, we walked down the street to Angelo’s, a local Italian place known for their pizza and lasagna. Almost everyone stuck to ordering those two items and they were delivered to our table nice and hot, leaving us with full bellies to close out the day.
We debriefed and said goodnight, ending part one of our Cumberland Gap adventure! Keep an eye out for part two to find out what we did over the rest of the weekend!
Who We Met
TONY– OUR HOST AND OWNER OF GAP CREEK COFFEE HOUSE
Tony made our weekend as seamless and comfortable as possible, making sure that we had everything we needed from connecting us with the right people and putting us up, to telling us stories and keeping our hands full of fantastic cups of hot coffee.
KIM, MEGAN, AND COREY– BED AND BREAKFAST EXTRAORDINAIRES
Megan, Corey, and Kim gave us the perfect start to our whole weekend, welcoming us into the inn’s dining room for a delicious breakfast, just like we were family.
ZACH AND ROSE– OUR CUMBERLAND GAP TOUR GUIDES
Zach and Rose made our morning a lot of fun by showing us around the town and up to Tri State Peak.
GRACE, CAROLINE, AND JOSH– GUARDIANS OF THE GAP
Grace and Caroline are locals who are very passionate about the arts in the gap, and they shared their goals for the region with us over lunch at Gap Creek.
John is also part of the heartbeat in the gap and gave us an excellent introduction to the local businesses and their owners in the town.
DANIEL– MUSIC MAGICIAN
Danny and his dad showcased the music they’re driving in the Gap, both in their store and also with what they’re personally creating.
KAYLA– BAKING QUEEN
Kayla owns Flour Baby’s bakery and makes the best cookies in the Gap!
KAY– ANTIQUE CURATOR
Kay owns Gertie’s Commissary and curates unique pieces from all over to bring to the Gap.
RALPH– BICYCLE GENIUS
Ralph gave us the most unique bicycle history we’d ever heard, complete with a demonstration and ride on a much older model than what’s common today.
CATHY AND CORA
Cathy and Cora strive to care for the artists in and around the Gap using their Artists’ Co-op as a catalyst for creative livelihood.
Joe owns Whistle Stop antiques and gave us a warm welcome! He even had some film that Cassidy was able to buy and use in her camera.
STEVE– MASTER FRAMER
Steve is arguably one of the funniest people we’ve met on an EA trip so far. He was welcoming and told us plenty of jokes while introducing us to the world of framing from his perspective.
As the great-niece of the original owners of the Karlan Mansion, Frances was a wellspring of knowledge and storytelling not only about the mansion, but also about Wilderness Road park as a whole.
We met Sharon and her family over breakfast at the inn. They were just as excited to be in the Gap as we were, and it was neat to hear part of her story.
Yankee is the town’s most beloved pet. Imagine the fluffiest Great Pyrenees dog you can, and you’ve got Yankee.
What We Ate
As far as food goes, this trip was 10/10 all around. Breakfast consisted of quiche, fresh fruit, hot coffee, and orange juice, which Sydney really appreciated because she drinks it religiously.
Lunch was at Gap Creek Coffee House– already one of our favorite places. We all chose different things off of the menu, but Josh and Cassidy both ordered the blackberry grilled cheese, and it was a hit! Natalie got her favorite sandwich in the world aka chicken salad on a croissant. Everyone ordered coffee to fuel up on some caffeine before our walk about town complete with James’s classic iced vanilla latte and Sydney’s go-to of the Gap Creek Bun latte; Cassidy ordered about 47 shots of espresso over ice (okay, so maybe it was only 4?).
The Italian meal provided by Angelos was delicious! Almost everyone ordered either lasagna or pizza (You may have noticed our love for pizza in our first episode). You can’t go wrong with the “Meat Angelo” or White Chicken pies!
What We Saw
TRI STATE PEAK
The point where Tennessee, Kentucky, and Virginia all meet. We hiked up the semi-steep, one mile trail to check out the stunning view and be in “THREE STATES AT ONE TIMEEEE”, in the words of James.
DOWNTOWN CUMBERLAND GAP
We spent a couple of hours touring the town, meeting local business owners, and checking out their businesses. John was able to tell us about the growth of the town up to this point, as well as their dreams for growth and change moving forward into the future.
HISTORIC MARTIN'S STATION
A historic outdoor museum of a recreation of one of the oldest forts in the south. We loved getting to explore the buildings and hang out with the farm animals while taking in the history.
The historic mansion that was built from 1877-1878 is a gorgeous home set against the backdrop of Wilderness Road State Park and the Appalachian Mountains. Touring it with Frances felt like a step back in time!