Categorized | Entertainment

Kentucky Rifles of the Great Smoky Mountains

By Randal Pierce and Logan Hull

You are invited to view more than 20 examples of southern mountain rifles and pistols at an upcoming temporary exhibit at the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center in Townsend, Tennessee, from May 1 to October 25, presented by the Kentucky Rifle Foundation. These 18th and 19th century tools were essential for the survival of pioneers in the frontiers of Eastern Tennessee and Western Carolina.

These southern mountain rifles fully evolved in the last quarter of the 18th and the first quarter of the 19th centuries, as pioneers and settlers moved into what is now Eastern Tennessee and Western North Carolina. In the original colonies during this time, the Kentucky rifle was becoming an art piece in its “Golden Age,” while on the frontier, the southern mountain rifle had become an unadorned, iron-mounted utilitarian piece.

Baxter Bean, whose work exemplified the typical southern mountain rifle, was a third-generation gunsmith who worked in the Jonesboro, Tennessee, area. One of Baxter’s rifles, which will be on exhibit, was brought into Cades Cove by Wilson “Wilse” Birchfield, who named the rifle “Old Bean.” Wilse chose to live high in the mountains just under Gregory’s Bald. When he moved out of the Cove into the mountains, the old timers told him the bears would eat him alive. Wilse’s response to this was, “Old Wilson may eat some, too.”

These rifles, pistols, and accoutrements will be on display May 1 through October 25. For more details and to learn about special programming, call 865-448-0044 or visit www.gsmheritagecenter.org. This exhibit is included in the cost of daily admission to the Heritage Center or FREE to GSMHC members. Also, a special thanks to our sponsor, Blount Partnership.

Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center
123 Cromwell Drive
Townsend, TN 37882
865.448.0044
www.gsmheritagecenter.org

Leave a Reply