Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Boone's Cave Park

I had some time off so I drove over to a spot near Lexington NC to see a park I'd heard about. It's called Boone's Cave Park and was once part of the state park system. However, it was owned by the state because it was claimed that Daniel Boone had lived at this location for a while. In his journals, he mentions that he lived in the Yadkin River Valley and had stayed for a time in a cave above the river and later built a cabin on the bluff overlooking the river where he lived for two years.

The locals claim that this place is the only location along the Yadkin River where such a cave exists and that they knew the location of the cabin. However, after the park was established no archeologist could ever verify that Boone (or anyone else) had lived either in the cave or at the site where the locals claimed Daniel Boone resided.

Therefore, after a while North Carolina removed the state park designation for the site and just kept it as state property with few improvements. In 2003 the state sold the 100-acre park to the Davidson County government. They have done a lot with the park and it's an interesting place, even if Daniel Boone never really lived there.

Bluffs stand high above the Yadkin River at this location. There is a point above the cave where you can stand and look down at the river and the lower opposing bank. The cave itself is of geologic interest as an outcropping of the local sandstone. Catawba rhododendron actually grows here--I've often noted that rhododendron will thrive in the Piedmont, but only if it can find rocky soil and steep slopes on which to grow. The cave here is such a place.

But the main reason I wanted to go to the park was that I'd heard that it had a particularly impressive cottonwood tree. I'm always on the lookout of notable old trees, so this was high on my list to view. When I got to the park I found that the river was up due to recent rains and also because the sluice gates had been opened on the dam upriver from the park. The park superintendent told me that the trail I was going to use to access the big tree was underwater and was unsafe so I had to take another route to find it.

And I'm glad that I did make the hike in. The tree was almost as impressive as the press had made it out to be. It has a very large circumference, but I doubt the claims of the park propagandists that it's "over 157 feet tall". I don't own a range finder to measure such trees (something I need to get in the future), but I've seen trees that have been measured to be in that range, and this one did not seem nearly that tall. But I could be wrong.

At any rate, if you have part of a day to spend hiking about and resting you could do a lot worse than Boone's Cave Park in Davidson County near Lexington.

89 stairs leading down to the cave.

The old man at the entrance to the cave.

Part of the cave's interior.

This spring emerges from the side of this hill on the hike in to see the big tree.

Bottomland near the big tree.

The area near the cottonwood tree is pretty boggy.

And here I was at the base of the cottonwood tree.

A composite shot of me standing with the huge cottonwood.


The DPS Kid said...

I am making a motion for you to re-post the "lardass" comment and pic from the Yellowstone trip.

HemlockMan said...

Which Yellowstone trip report was that in?

Send me an email.

MarkGelbart said...

You don't need fancy gear to measure a tree's height. All you need is your thumb, a marker, and a tape measure. Here's a link to a youtube video that explains how to do it.

My favorite Daniel Boone story: While he was being held captive by Indians, his brother impregnated his wife. When he came home and found a baby he couldn't possibly have fathered, he was cool with it and said, "well, it's all in the family."

HemlockMan said...

Oh, yeah. I'm aware of the one inch = six feet yardstick method of measuring a tree. The problem with that is it isn't very accurate. This tree is listed as 157' 10" or something like that, and I've seen trees that are that tall and this one did not seem nearly that tall.

I could be wrong, which is when a range finder and some more complicated math comes into play.

I think one reason the State of NC decided to relinquish the property is that there's no proof that Boone actually lived here. His journals state that he lived in the Yadkin River Valley. First temporarily in a cave, and then in a cabin built on the bluff above the cave. However, who's to say he was actually living on the Yadkin river itself? Maps were likely inaccurate at the time, so he could very well have been on a completely different river. Add to that the fact that no one could ever scrape up the least bit of archeological evidence that anyone had used the cave or the supposed cabin site at that time.

Still, it's a nice county park. I'm glad that I visited it. Nice trails, decent forest, great views from the bluff overlooking the river.

sheila zuccaro said...

I am the Park Ranger here at Boones Cave Park. I just wanted to give you a little info. The cottonwood tree here at the park was measured by the NC Forestry Division, so it would be accurate, the highest point at that time was 169 feet. and 109 feet wide at its widest point, and I believe it was about 17 feet around at that time about 5 years ago. We have had some branches fall out of the top area in storms in the past 3 to 4 years, so it could be a tiny bit shorter now, but not much.Also, when Daniel Boone moved to this area he was only 15 years old, and still living at home with his parents. So no land ownership proof would be out there in his name for this area. There are however many deeds of land ownership in his fathers name and in his brother Johns name in this area. After living in this area for about four years, Daniel met Rebecca Bryan from Davie County and married her, they lived in the area of Dutchman's Creek,they lived in this area for a couple of years before moving away. Unfortunately,the records for Davie County for that time period were lost in a big fire in Davie County decades ago, so the proof of land ownership there went up in flames. Daniels parents also moved to that area of Mocksville and they are buried at the Joppa Cemetery along with Daniels brother Israel. Don't know if you have ever been there, the graves are well marked and easy to find. Daniel later had a son he named Israel. There was a cabin foundation found here at the park in the 50's. Inside the foundation area, was also found an arrow shaped stone with the name D.Boone carved on it along with some dates. Somehow they were able to date the foundation to the seventeen hundreds,but it ended up getting destroyed, and the stone was supposedly misplaced. We found an odd looking stone sticking up out of the ground on a hill top a couple years ago, after digging around it for a couple of days we were able to get it out, its about three feet tall, arrow shaped and has the name D. Boone and some dates carved on it. We don't know if it is the original stone or not, opinions go both ways. We do however have the stone here at the park in an area to be viewed by the public.

James Robert Smith said...

Thanks for the information! Much appreciated!