By Phil Planck
While we had been to the Smokies before, we had not been to this part. When the ECH was announced to be at Fontana Village it did not take Nancy and I long to decide we would go. Got our reservation in early so had a room at the main lodge. We took 3 days to get there on the old highways. No expressways except a short stretch of I 140 as we neared the event. We took US 127 all the way down into Kentucky where we cut over to US 27. All roads in very good condition and a very nice drive. Well, except for getting across the Ohio river without getting on an expressway.
In order to get to Fontana Village from the north, one must take Rt. 129 in Tennessee. The last part of this before turning off onto the road that the village is on is known as “The Tail of the Dragon”. It is an 11 mile stretch of 129 with 316 curves. We got to drive 9 miles of it to get to the village turnoff. Never got out of 2nd gear the whole stretch and drove it quite briskly for a 59 year old car.
We got to the event and went through registration very easily. Ran into Bill Block there and he was behind us on the Dragon in his Audi(blew and oil line on his Cab). Also, as we got out of the car to register we saw Neil Golberg sitting out on the deck. At registration we decided to sign up for a 1850s log cabin tour and a 2 mile hike on a nearby stretch of the Appalachian trail. The log cabin tour and story was very interesting and it was right at the Village. The trail was a surprise. A pretty rigorous hike on a very narrow footpath. I always pictured it as being several feet wide and well groomed. Not the case. Had to walk single file, and oncoming hikers had to stand aside in order to pass. We stopped at one of the overnight shelters.
On Saturday morning the plan was to drive all of the 356s to Fontana Dam, the highest dam east of the Mississippi. This was a fun drive(a good hill climb road) and we were fortunate to be behind Dick Weiss in his 4 cam Speedster.
Once all of the 356s were on top of the dam, a local photographer who runs Killboy, had a drone with a camera and flew along the top of the dam filming all of the 356s. We were stopped at the center of the dam right next to the drones take-off and landing spot.
There is also a youtube video posted of this flight:
We departed the dam for one of the self guided driving tours to Bryson City. Another nice drive and interesting town.
Late Saturday was the car show and it was very low key with a simplified voting system. Pick your top 3 cars. The cars were parked in the order they came in, so there was a real mix of models spread around.
I finally go to meet Steve Harrison and see his 55 coupe (above) that he spent 25 years restoring. He did a great job and won best of show.
Also ran into Ron Roland, who I have not seen since he became a minister. Got to see his America Roadster up close. Another great restoration with a lot of history. I did not know that Vic Skirmants once owned this car.
The swap meet was pretty sparse, as I guess not many wanted to bring parts on a trailer through the Dragon.
We took 2 days to get home and this time took 127 right through Cincinnati. At least until the 127 signs disappeared and after 100 stop lights, almost all on upward hills with SUVs on our tail I said screw it and got on I 75. Got back on 127 when we got out of the city and drove 550 miles that day.
Made it home early enough on Monday to pick up our dogs at the kennel and beat a heavy rain storm. We did not have one drop of rain on the whole trip, and Foam Cars S90 engine in the 55 coupe was nice to have on those mountain roads.