Visitors to the Smokies are invited to take a trip back in time as they listen to a new audio tour developed for the Mountain Farm Museum located at Oconaluftee Visitor Center near Cherokee.
“This new tour allows visitors to hear the music and voices of typical families on a 19th-century farm in the Great Smokies,” said Steve Kemp, product support director for Great Smoky Mountains Association (GSMA). The dramatic tour was developed in cooperation with the National Park Service and GSMA using oral histories and other research as a basis for the script, he said. Professional actors and sound effect technicians were then employed to bring the words to life.
The audio tour covers topics such as keeping honeybees, vegetable gardening, managing apple orchards, preserving food for winter, and gathering wild plants for medicine and other purposes. Also depicted is social life in the mountains from weddings and funerals to family chores and food-related gatherings like making sorghum molasses, shucking corn, and plowing fields.
The open-air museum, located directly behind Oconaluftee Visitor Center, is a collection of historic buildings from different areas of the park. It includes a fully furnished log home, a spring house, apple house, heirloom vegetable garden, and livestock.
“We are very excited about this new product that helps our visitors imagine what it was like to live in the Smokies during this time period,” said Elizabeth Dupree, park ranger and Chief of Resource Education for the Smokies.
“To celebrate the official release of the audio tour, we invite park visitors and our members to listen for free on Saturday, Sept. 19, during the annual Mountain Life Festival at the museum,” said Lisa Duff, GSMA’s marketing and membership director.
Because the number of wands is limited, this special event will be ticketed on a first-come, first-served basis. Tickets will be available at the visitor center beginning at 8 a.m., she said.
The audio tour was produced by Antenna International, a theatrical company that has also created award-winning tours for Alcatraz Island, Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island, The Hermitage and the Arizona Memorial.
The approximately 30-minute tour is installed on a special sonic wand available for rent at Oconaluftee Visitor Center. Apart from special occasions like the Mountain Life Festival, the rental fee is $2.99 for park visitors and .99 cents for GSMA members throughout the year.