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Hensley Settlement


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The Hensley Settlement was a 67-acre self-reliant community along the Cumberland Mountains. In May 1903, 500 acres was purchased by Sherman Hensley and subdivided into 16 parts for the Hensley family and their relatives. They began arriving at the site in 1903-04 and cleared the mountaintop for homes. Constructed of chestnut timber with shake roofs from the cleared forest and stone from the protruding rocks, they provided a stable foundation for which to base their community on. Corn cribs, chicken houses and barns were constructed as well. Within a few years, grist mills, a school, a blacksmith shop, a sorghum mill and whiskey stills joined the original dwellings. At the peak in 1925, the settlement contained 50 to 100 inhabitants and 40 structures. The school closed in December 1947 when only four students and three families remained. Hensley settlement was was occupied until 1951.

Since 1965, the National Park Service has restored three of the farmsteads with their houses, barns, fences and fields, along with the cemetery. The schoolhouse and has been fully rehabilitated to the mid-1940s appearance.

1. So I assumed that the Hensley Settlement was ~1,000 feet up Cumberland Mountain, but was I ever wrong. It was over 3,000 feet in elevation and took over three hours to bike up grades that exceeded 10% for 3/4 of the 4.2 miles. Ugh.


2. Blacksmith shop, with equipment inside.


3. Former home.


4. Chicken coops and barns outside.




6. One-room school as it appeared in the mid 1940s.


7. Ditto.




9. Cemetery.


You can find more images and history at my Cumberland Gap National Historical Park guide at American Byways!

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