Spending a month in Europe a few years ago has really elevated my appreciation and love of old architecture and the many stories of peoples lives that had interacted with those structures. So, when fellow camera peep Bob Clark asked if I wanted to join in on his Photowalk @ Elkmont, I was down for the journey.
The Little River Lumber Company established the town of Elkmont in 1908 as a base for its logging operations in the upper Little River and Jakes Creek areas. As the Elkmont valley was slowly stripped of its valuable timber, Townsend began to advertise the area as a mountain getaway. In 1909, Little River Railroad began offering the Sunday “Elkmont Special”— non-stop train service from Knoxville to Elkmont. In 1910, an affluent group of Knoxville hunting and fishing enthusiasts formed the Appalachian Club and purchased what is now “Daisy Town”. They built the Appalachian Clubhouse for use as a lodge and within a few years, several club members built cottages, and the club evolved into a mountain getaway for Knoxville’s elite.
Most of the lifetime leases on the rustic cottages at Elkmont expired in 1992, and ownership reverted to the National Park Service. However, in 1994, the Wonderland Hotel and several of the rustic cottages were placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
I had never visited Daisy Town before so I did not know what to expect and packed along my D600, Leica R4 & Nikon FE packed with Ektachrome 200 and a empty Nikon F100. 35-70 glass on the film cammies, a spare 85mm f/1.8 and my everyday-everywhere 24-85mm glass. I did actually fire 2 or 3 frames with the R4, but due to the darkness and shaded areas of the town… being most all of it. I went with my D600 at ISO 3000. I am not a fan of carrying a tripod on photowalks, so I would rather shoot at high ISO and be able to handhold the camera.
When I first saw Daisy Town, I was excited to wander through a place that once thrived with affluent Knoxvillians in their patchwork built cottages. Along with my preference to shoot hand held, I also prefer natural lighting and did not have a flash with me either. Walking through the cottages is a great glimpse into the social activity that once filled the place. But… unless you shoot at a really high ISO, you will need a flash. That being the case, I only fired off a few sots outside with the Leica loaded with Ektachrome 200.
As I enjoyed my walk along the path through Daisy Town with Bob, I found that I didn’t shoot very many images, but in the end I did come up with a few new works that officially went into my gallery 5 offerings.
Although my images from this trip might be highly criticized by fellow photographers, that is my whole point. I got into photography and stay interested in it because I produce images that represent what I saw in my eyes or could envision in my mind.
I wanted to present my take on Daisy Town as a vibrant remembrance of the joys spent there and the colors in the air of people enjoying nothing but life itself. With the emptiness felt of today having a vibrant reminder instead of the cold dark stained way it could appear in most cameras. I was not there to document the scene, but rather get a feel of the energy that once ran through the place.
In the end, I didn’t fire off any frames in the FE or the F100 although I did have 2 rolls of Tri-X black & white on my and should have shot a roll at least. My mind was occupied with finding scenes I wanted to capture that I forgot all about the film on hand. Did manage a few frames with the R4 on Ektachrome and only fired off about 2 dozen frames on the D600. But in the end, after coming away with at least 2 scenes from the journey was worth it.