Sitting next to the Oconaluftee Visitors Center, near the park’s Cherokee, N.C., entrance, this open-air museum is a working farm made up of a collection of buildings moved here from other areas in the park. Dating from around 1900, these buildings include a fully furnished log cabin home (usually staffed by volunteer interpreters in period costume), a chicken house, a sorghum mill, corn cribs, apple houses, a smokehouse, a blacksmith’s shop, a springhouse, a very large barn and an outhouse (although the Plexiglas front prevents you from exploring this structure too closely). As you follow the gravel path past the structures, and also past the vegetable garden, corn patch, fruit trees and bee gums, you’ll get a pretty good idea of what it was like to be an Appalachian farmer during this time. Keep an eye out for the hens and roosters scurrying about, and peer over the hog pen at the far end of the walkway.
The original Oconaluftee Visitors Center currently stands adjacent to the museum, although the park service is building a larger and more modern visitors center in the field in front of the farm (currently scheduled to open in late 2010).
One of the most interesting times to see the museum is during the annual Mountain Life Festival, held on a Saturday in late September. The free event includes demonstrations of making sorghum molasses, apple butter, hominy, apple cider, and lye soap. A toymaker creates old-fashioned mountain toys, and live mountain music adds a little flair, as well. Restrooms are located at the visitors center.