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Centennial Article – A CHILD OF SUMMER PEOPLE IN LITTLE SWITZERLAND

By Sue Lanier

As a child of summer people, I have many wonderful memories of the way Little Switzerland used to be.

On most days the kids would leave the house after breakfast and stay in the woods until lunch, then go again after a brief rest.

Big chestnut trunks were down all over the woods and we could travel almost all the way down the ridge by walking on them. There were also what we’ called ‘Indian Trees’ that had an ‘L’ shaped limb you could climb up and stand in to see to the next tree with an ‘L’ to follow the Indian paths. One of these led right to the old Horse Stomp Mine and on over to the Nydegger’s cabin.

The paths down through the woods to the falls, up to the top of Rich Knob and the back way up Grassy Mountain were favorites, but we also would usually walk the two miles to the post office every few days to see Mr. Pete, get a big drink of spring water from the fountain, and get the mail.

(Fred Self, Ralph Ramus, Dr. John Howell, loitering with intent in front of the old store)

One day a cousin and I got to the store and were tired, so we asked Mr. Collis if he would mind giving us a ride back to Chestnut Grove Church, as we knew he went home that way: When we got in, it seemed like the whole bed of the pickup was filled with emeralds in huge clumps! I’ve often wonder what he did with all of that. Some years later my mother found a large emerald in her driveway that I now have in a ring. I think the gravel we used was from the emerald mine.

Grassy Creek was our playground. Sliding on the rocks, the cold shower under the falls, hiding behind the falls, the danger of slipping, and the cool water on warm summer days made it our favorite place.

Some days it seemed like we stayed wet all day and by the end of the week our overalls would stand up in the comer by themselves! Once in awhile we would see some mountain boys in the woods or old Merman McKinney walking the falls road: We never worried about bears and I don’t ever remember seeing a snake.

The old mill was way up the creek toward ‘town’ and had a wheel when I was very young. Later, the older boys told me they rode it around until it broke. Some other things the older boys did was to move the outhouse at the store around. Or maybe it was an outhouse from somewhere else, anyway it was all in fun and didn’t hurt anybody. There used to be a concrete marker on the Parkway that stated the population of Little Switzerland as 35. Usually in the summer the sign would be changed to 3,500 or maybe even 35,000! The old Geneva Hall building had been danced in until it just about fell in.

We used to be able to crawl under the building where the coke machine was and find nickels that had dropped through the cracks. These went right back in the coke machine for more wet stuff to cool us off. These few memories are not just mine, but belong to many of us who have loved this place so long.

Sue Lanier is a resident of Little Switzerland.
Article from the Mitchell News-Journal, June 23rd, 2010

(Photo below is the original store building, before any additions)

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