Trees were cut, the branches stripped off and the logs laid close together to be lashed with ropes. A short rail was built around the sides, and pegs set to lash their belongings in place. Onto the rafts, they loaded their household goods, stocks of food, seeds and saplings of fruit trees for their new homes. They also loaded farm tools, their guns and powder and extra ropes. The children were lashed to the rails, so if they fell overboard, they could be quickly pulled back.

The French Broad was wide in the valley, making the rafting easy. But, in its meandering through the Smoky Mountains, at times it crashed and rolled as it tumbled over rocks and through narrow passes. The spray soaked the families on the rafts. They pitched and rolled as the river rushed on its way. In late afternoons, they started watching for an open space along the banks, where they could stop for the night. When one was sighted, the rafts were poled toward the bank. One of the adults would jump out, grab the rope and pull the raft close to tie it off to nearby trees so it would not drift away in the night. Supplies were unloaded, wood was hunted and a fire started for the evening meal. Items that had become soaked that day in the rapids, were spread around the fire on bushes to dry. While the women cooked, the children scampered and played, using the pent up energy from the day on the raft. The men scouted the area, checking for unseen dangers. After the evening meal was over, all the utensils cleaned and put away, sleeping areas were set up around the fires and the children put to bed. The adults talked of the trip that day and what may be ahead of them. Sentries were set up and everyone bedded down for the night, exhausted after fighting the river all day.

Submitted By Ethel Taylor
June 9, 2004
Copyright 2004

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