Page 9 - Jan2020
P. 9

Tale   continued from page 7

          Up in the mountains,  where the locals still call it
        Deal's Gap, 1962 feet above sea level, located at the
        NC/TN state line, the road we know as Tail of the
        Dragon passes through a natural pass in the
        mountains.  The gap is the highest point on the road.
        But before this road became known for its 318 curves
        stretching over 11 miles on the Tennessee side of the
        gap,  it had a history stretching back centuries.
          The road is still in a desolate part of the mountain
        expanse.  Bears, deer, turkey, wild boars still cross the
        road. You have to watch out for them; they aren't
        watching out for you.  Trees fall down and land across
                                                                     Above: Before it was  known  as a world class
        the pavement.  The weather can change abruptly from
        radiant sunshine to gusting rain. In the winter there is   driving road, the trail  had a varied history and  a
        snow and ice and storm debris.  The road is not for the       private  toll booth. Shown here circa 1890  is
        faint of heart, but if you take the challenge, driving it is    George Davis,  the toll keeper. The road, at
        better than the best roller coaster at any theme park,               various times, was known as Parsons,
        that is if you remember to respect it.                          Madisonville/Franklin and the Tallahassee
           In the beginning, the Dragon began as so many            Turnpike, as well as  Deal's Gap, the name that
        roads, in what would become America, began. It was                                          locals still use.
        an animal track, worn down by buffalo   and used for
        centuries by native Cherokee, long before hunters and
        trappers made its acquaintance in the 1700s.
        Continued on page  10

             Right: Toll taker
           Davis could
           never have
           imagined that
           high -powered
           cars would
           someday use his
           road for
           recreation not
           for necessity.
           Alex Hollis' (
           front) and Josh
           Swayze's turbos
           hug  a curve.

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