Gipson’s Switch to Midway Road (almost)

Such a pretty day for a bike ride today, so I decided to head down the Mountain Goat Trail beyond St. Andrew’s down into Monteagle. This part of the MGT will be paved in the next few months, I’m told, but I wanted to see it while it was still sort of rough.

Back when the train still ran, this spot was called Gipson’s Switch, as the (heavily-fortified) historical marker by the trailhead indicates.IMG_4845

IMG_4843You see the backs of houses as you ride along …

IMG_4839 IMG_4815… as well as a basketball hoop set up at the end of a cul-de-sac.


There are some houses you peddle by a little faster. NO TRESPASSING, says the sign. Not to worry, I won’t!

IMG_4803IMG_4795Further down is a pile of junk, festooned with a DANGER KEEP OUT sign. It looks like some kind of post-modern art installation. Maybe it’s called “Danger/Keep/Out”? Is it meant to provoke questions about our relationship to the discarded past? Is the “danger ” in what we “keep,” or in what is “out”?

IMG_4779IMG_4780Other sights further along, however, are less intellectually challenging and more simply charming.

IMG_4777IMG_4769This gate leads to a pretty field, but I think I’ll just look into it from here.

IMG_4757 IMG_4759I hadn’t realized that. on this path, I would arrive to the back entrance of Pearl’s. I’m tempted but decide not to stop in for some crème brûlée.

IMG_4749Another lovely farmhouse seen through the woods, and a reminder that this was in fact an old railroad bed.

IMG_4734 IMG_4742This is the end of the Mountain Goat Trail, at least for now. Ahead you can see houses that are at the corner of  41A and Midway Road.  I’m not going to try to go through the chiggery high grass, or over that fallen tree ahead. But in the coming months, it will be fun to see what comes of the rest of the trail.


Postscript, March 22, 2015. So, this part of the Mountain Goat Trail has been paved now and, though it is not officially open, I can tell you that it is a very pleasant ride.  The “No Trespassing” shack is gone, as is the pile of junk. It was not possible for the trail to continue into Midway, so the very charming bridge below was built up around the Pearl’s parking-lot.


Postscript, June 28, 2015. Took a nice ride today along this part of the trail and, as always, enjoyed the view of the backs of the farmhouses along the way. Later in the afternoon, came across this passage from Hawthorne’s Blithedale Romance (chap. 17):

… as a general rule, that there is far more of the picturesque, more truth to native and characteristic tendencies, and vastly greater suggestiveness in the back view of a residence, whether in town or country, than in its front. The latter is always artificial; “it is meant for the world’s eye, and is therefore a veil and a concealment. Realities keep in the rear, and put forward an advance guard of show and humbug. The posterior aspect of any old farmhouse, behind which a railroad has unexpectedly been opened, is so different from that looking upon the immemorial highway, that the spectator gets new ideas of rural life and individuality in the puff or two of steam-breath which shoots him past the premises.

About Uncomely and Broken

I am a classicist in Sewanee, Tennessee.
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