Smoky Mountain Graveyard

I cannot tell from the map of the footprint of the still ongoing wildfires whether this little graveyard, just a stone’s throw from Gatlinburg, is in the affected area, but there can be little doubt that other graveyards and historic structures have been destroyed and that the views are going to be different for awhile.
There’s nothing like stumbling upon an unexpected graveyard.  And I don’t mean that in a spooky way!  It happens more often than you’d think, as I’ve told you before:  Stanton Cemetery on the Meads Quarry Trail; the tiny graveyard at Charter E. Doyle Park; even Greenbrier Cemetery was a surprise to me when I first encountered it on a family picnic to Metcalf Bottoms.
I love hiking and I love graveyards, and when the two serendipitously collide, all is right in my little world.  So I was tremendously excited to tackle a very steep hill on our recent Smoky Mountain walk, and to be rewarded at the summit by an old family graveyard.
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Fighting Creek Cemetery is a small graveyard (more correctly called William Stinnett Cemetery according to those who ought to know) with a beautiful view, populated mostly by Stinnetts and Bohannons.
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One can hardly imagine a more beautiful place to be laid to rest, or a more challenging one for those in charge of the burying.  The most recent grave here dates from 1990, and it’s hard to imagine how a heavy modern coffin could make the trip up the hill.
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The earliest burial I saw was from 1877.  There were many stones that couldn’t be read, and probably some that were never written on at all.
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Of course there were babies.  There are always babies.
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There’s a little trail at the back of the cemetery that doesn’t go anywhere anymore, but the picture I took looking back through the leaves is my favorite:
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Neither I nor most of the other folks who hike through the Smokies know the stories of those who gave up their homes so that the land they loved would be forever preserved.  But at least the presence of this graveyard and others like it lets us know they were there, and that we should appreciate their sacrifice.
And if you would like to help the people who now live on the borders of the Park, who have lost homes and businesses in the fire, please consider a donation to Dolly Parton’s My People Fund.