Friends General Conference

Nurturing faith and Quaker practice

2015 Field Trips

Field Trips at the 2015 FGC Gathering in Cullowhee, NC

The Field trips described below will be offered during the 2015 Gathering on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, or Friday afternoons. You can sign up for field trips when you check in at the Gathering on Sunday, July 5. More information and fees will be available at that time. Current plans include :

  • Cherokee (30 – 35 minute drive) – There will be two trips to Cherokee, a fascinating town at the southern end of the Blue Ridge Parkway and the eastern entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
    • Oconaluftee Indian Village and Mountain Farm Museum (family oriented trip)
      • Oconaluftee Indian Village is more than a museum; it’s living history. Follow a Cherokee cultural expert on an interactive journey through Cherokee lifestyle and history, through winding paths, flanked with traditional dwellings, work areas and sacred ritual sites. Witness cultural dances, and interact with villagers as they hull canoes, sculpt pottery and masks, weave baskets, and fashion beadwork. Watch an authentic stickball game and a blowgun demonstration.
      • The Mountain Farm Museum is a collection of historic log buildings gathered from throughout the Smoky Mountains and preserved on a single site. Buildings include a house, barn, applehouse, springhouse, and smokehouse. The site demonstrates historic gardening and agricultural practices, including livestock. There is a visitor center, where rangers can answer questions about the park, and a bookstore with a broad selection of guides, maps, and other products.
    • Museum of the Cherokee Indian and Qualla Arts and Crafts Gallery  (adult-oriented trip)
      • The world-class Museum of the Cherokee Indian and the adjacent Qualla Arts and Crafts Gallery/Store feature unique, hand-made and authentic native American pottery, basketry, bead-work and jewelry.
  • Dillsboro and the Jackson County Green Energy Park (15 minute drive)
    • Dillsboro is a well-preserved frontier town a few miles from the WCU campus, situated by the beautiful Tuckasegee River.  Visit craft shops, the Jarrett House (an historic stagecoach route inn), and a general store that features an old-timey soda fountain and apothecary.  Dillsboro is also a stop on the Great Smoky Mountain Railway, where early afternoon visitors can view an antique train. 
    • Tour the Jackson County Green Energy Park, one mile from downtown Dillsboro. The old Jackson County landfill provides methane, which powers glass studios, pottery kilns, and blacksmithing.  The smith features the only methane-fired metalsmithing boiler in the world, designed by the park's director.
  • Asheville – (1 hour drive) – Asheville has been the literary and cultural light of the Southern Highlands since soon after the first railroads arrived. At various times it was home to Thomas Wolfe, O Henry (William Sidney Porter), Zelda Fitzgerald and G.W. Vanderbilt. Modern travelers can still visit the sites connected with their literary heroes, Biltmore House, the Grove Park Inn, or downtown’s architectural wonders, featuring Art Deco, Neo Gothic, Spanish Baroque Revival and other styles. Asheville’s cultural community has also kept up with the times: it is a hub for “locavore” food, artisans, and more. Asheville field trip participants can choose among:
    • A Gray Line Trolley Hop-On/Hop-Off narrated driving tour of the city with time to explore at 2 stops (extra cost).
    • A one-hour-plus architecture-focused walking tour of the downtown area with an architecture buff from Asheville Meeting, followed by up to 2 hours to explore on your own.
    • Approximately 3 hours to explore galleries, bookstores, the Asheville Urban trail, and other downtown sites on your own.
  • Waynesville, the Museum of North Carolina Handicrafts, and optional side tour of the Performing Arts Center at the Shelton House (30 minute drive)
    • Waynesville offers a wealth of craft shops with knowledgeable owners and artists eager to share the facts and lore of the region.
    • The Museum of North Carolina Handicrafts at The Shelton House delivers just what its name implies and quite a few surprises. The collection contains fiber art; period clothing and equipment; wood-carving and dolls, as toys and as sophisticated portrait art. Find Navajo art and artifacts collected, and surely influenced, by the home’s owners William Taylor Shelton and his wife, Hattie Pitts Sledge, when they lived among the Navajo in Shiprock, NM in the early 1900s. Examples of both traditional and contemporary Cherokee art are also included. The house itself is of interest for the Charleston architectural style plus the extensive use of native black walnut in doors, staircases and impressively crafted furniture.  Throughout the house, photographs and other objects evoke the period of the late 1800s and the values of the Museum’s founders “to collect, preserve, and teach the heritage crafts of North Carolina.”
    • The Performing Arts Theatre at The Shelton House is adjacent to the Museum of NC Handicrafts and houses the Haywood Arts Regional Theatre, one of the most active community theatres in the Southeast. The facility itself is stunning, constructed from native materials in the style of Summer Stock playhouses of the 1920's. 
  • Local Hikes (20 minutes to 1 hour drive) – The area surrounding WCU offers an abundance of hiking opportunities featuring cool forests, stunning vistas, and shaded mountain streams. There will be one organized hike per day on Monday, Thursday, and Friday afternoons. Hike destinations will include moderate hikes on Thursday and Friday: Whiteside Mountain, south of Cullowhee, and Black Balsam, accessed from the Blue Ridge Parkway; as well as a more rigorous, longer hike (TBD) on Monday afternoon.
  • The Cradle of Forestry in America (1 hr. 15 minute drive) – The Cradle of Forestry site nestles just four miles below the Blue Ridge Parkway beneath the magnificent forest that has regrown from the conservation efforts that began at the Biltmore Forest School, the first forestry school in America. Started by Dr. Carl Alwin Schenck on George Vanderbilt’s 125,000 acre estate in 1898, the Biltmore Forest School introduced America to the concepts of sustainable forestry and land management. Dr. Schenck himself played a role in the American Friends Service Committee’s child feeding program in Germany between World Wars I and II.

    Those participating in this fieldtrip will begin with a guided tour (with a local Quaker Cradle of Forestry volunteer) of the Biltmore Campus trail (1 mile in length). This trail leads visitors back in time to life at the Biltmore Forest School and in the Blue Ridge Mountains at the turn of the 20th century. Afterwards, participants will have time to choose between:

    • Experiencing hands-on activities at The Adventure Zone trail,

    • Exploring the Forest Discovery Center with its family-friendly exhibits as well as one dedicated to climate change, and/or

    • Checking out a children’s naturalist backpack (as available) to explore the forest itself.

    All the forest trails are paved and accessible to motorized wheelchair/scooter, and all ages are welcome.