There is no way to describe the number of yard sales or their magnitude. Many vendors specialized in specific items… kids toys, tools, dishes, furniture. Several of the shoppers owned antique shops in other States and they came with large trailers and flatbeds. They had been going to the sale for years and they knew who had the items they wanted and they knew where those vendors would be along the corridor.
DAY ONE we started out early, anxious to see all there was to see. We began at the beginning, Noccalula Park in Gadsden, Alabama on top of Lookout Mountain.
There are actually two routes from Gadsden to Chattanooga, TN and we opted to take the more scenic of the two which went through the Little River Canyon National Preserve. There were probably more yard sales on the other route, buy we had already seen approximately 50 vendors and knew there would be a few along the way and certainly many more when we reached the most traveled road.
Vendors are a chatty group and we enjoyed hearing their stories and they were interested in their potential buyers. Some were a little on the “hard sell” side, but most were just interesting and interested in “you” and where you came from.
The scenic route of Outlook Mountain Parkway was awesome. The valleys, the gullies, the curved roads, plants and trees so foreign to Minnesota, and the water falls were all breathtaking. One plant that interested me was the Kudzu which I found beautiful, but also devastating.
Kudzu (Pueraria montana) is a member of the bean family which has been called “The Vine That Ate the South.” The vines have been known to grow 1 foot (0.3 m) a day during the summer months, choking out nutrients and sunlight to neighboring trees and plants. Thousands of acres of land in the SoutheasternUnited States have been overrun by kudzu since its first importation in 1876.
The plant is native to China and Japan, where it is used for medicinal teas, animal feed and a folk remedy for alcoholism. In 1876, representatives from Japan brought kudzu to the United States Centennial celebration held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It was used as part of a larger exhibition of flowering Japanese plants. The plant caught the eye of a Florida-based plant nursery owner, who took samples back home for further study. Soon afterwards, Southern gardeners began to plant it as a protective ground cover and decorative foliage in gardens.
During the Depression, the US government hired men to plant kudzu on farms to prevent costly soil erosion. The climate conditions in the South were much better for kudzu growth than Japan or China, so the vines began to grow at a phenomenal rate. The uncontrolled growth led to acres of valuable forests and farmland becoming essentially worthless. By 1953, it was declared an official weed by the US government.
We visited with a National Park Ranger in Little River Canyon National Preserve and he was most accommodating in explaining a number of things to us. He probably saved me from touching poison oak. Now that could have ruined the trip. Further down the road we came across a hang gliding school and club. Several members were preparing their gliders for take off and while we were there one did take off.. conditions weren’t perfect but he had to be back at work in 12 minutes so he had to go. We watched him glide down into the valley. Beautiful sight.
Back on the “trail to treasures” route we saw the most amazing things for sale. The first day the “wares” were unique and well displayed at most sites. Alabama claims to have a thousand vendors.. I would have to think that number is a little light.
Tired and hot we spent the night at the Deer Run Resort in Crossville, TN. Earlier in the day I met a vendor who recommended we eat dinner at the State Park. That was new to me. State Parks with a restaurant and great buffet? Well, I would recommend the Cumberland Mountain State Park to anyone. The buffet was great. The State Park appeared to have great camping facilities and cabins are also available as well. It’s history is fascinating.
The bridge/dam stands today as the largest masonry structure ever built by the Civilian Conservation Corps. It was the young men of the Corps’ Company 3464 that built this unsuspended bridge/dam for the impoundment of Byrd’s Creek creating a 35-acre lake for recreation.
So with fatigue setting in and our tummies full we turned in to get a good night’s sleep before embarking on Day Two of the World’s Longest Yardsale.
THE SECOND DAY we traveled from Crossville TN to Frankfort KY. We got a little later start in the morning and the traffic getting onto the 127 Corridor was unbelievable so we deviated a bit and picked up 127 a little further north.
I have no idea how many vendors were along the route the second day but the sites were larger. Huge roadside signs pointed to sites with 100+ vendors. The roadside was packed with vendors and if you were to stop at each site you could probably spend a week in that stretch and still not see all the vendors. One of the reasons may have been that Jamestown TN is located in that segment. Jamestown TN is the official headquarters for the World’s Longest Yard Sale and one would be remiss if they didn’t stop at the Chamber of Commerce in Jamestown to pick up a yard sale T-shirt or hat. Even more important to buy a souvenir since this was the 25th anniversary of the World’s Longest Yard Sale.
The highlight of the day had to be stopping at a location where there were probably 50 vendors whose wares were primarily household items and HGTV crews were following three teams that were given a thousand dollars to shop. The team that had turned the most profit were the winners. The show was originally shown on HGTV on October 5th. The HGTV crews had to run to keep up with their shoppers. I did visit with one crew and they posed for a picture along with the 2 fraternity guys they were following. A little later I talked to one vendor who had been interviewed and she was reliving the interview and wishing she talked so much… of course her husband was giving her a bad time. He thought he should have been the one talking. It was all in fun.
It was a fun day!
DAY THREE… what can I say? The heat and humidity had taken its toll. I was tired of getting in and out of the car and the intermittent rain showers weren’t helping improve my attitude. We traveled from Frankfort KY to Oxford OH which was about 75 miles short of our destination goal for that day.
The further north we went the treasures seemed to turn to trash. Well¸ not exactly trash. Obviously when you’re looking at thousands and thousands of yard sales you can’t get out and check each one so you do a drive-by scan. (Incidentally this is the reason for the slow traffic)
As we traveled north there were clothes, clothes and more clothes — Clothes in bins, clothes piled on tables, clothes hanging on racks. I swear there were enough clothes to clothe all the people in a small country.
We decided that would not be a good night for camping so we found the Sycamore Best Western in Oxford, OH had just had a cancellation and had a room available. (Thank you, God) We arrived there about three o’clock and were greeted by the nicest, friendliest staff I’ve ever encountered. Most of them had been born and raised in Oxford. The room was great! After settling in we went to find a place to eat and explore the town of Oxford which seemed to scream “WELCOME”.
Oxford is a charming town with quaint shops and cobblestone streets. The Pulley Tower (bell tower) is beautiful and The Pulley Tower (bell tower) is beautiful and you can request tunes for it to play from your mobile phone. Oxford is also home to Miami University… yes, that’s Miami University. It was founded in 1809, has 16,000 students and was named Ohio’s best public university by Forbes. It was beautiful, and the grounds were really well kept. We ate dinner at the Smokin’ Ox and the food was excellent. I would definitely go out of my way to stay in Oxford if I was in the vicinity again.
DAY FOUR was a sad day! We left Oxford OH in the rain, and as we traveled north into Michigan there were few remaining yard sales and those vendors that were left were packing up. On the bright side when there are so few left it gives you the opportunity to stop and visit.
We had that opportunity in Castine OH at the home of Wayne Sumner aka Santa. Wayne opens his yard up to a number of his friends every year and they all display their wares, but it struck me that it wasn’t about sales, it was about good friends getting together to have a good time – rain or shine. Debbie is a delightful personality who works wonders with grapevines and logs and anything wood. Jay is such an outgoing personality and I would have loved to watch him interact with the shoppers. He’d be a tough one to say NO to. Good thing they didn’t have a lot left. Jay’s wife Sue is really into dishes and glassware – she knows her stuff. She and Debbie promised to keep an eye out for pieces to my antique Christmas dishes. Sadly, I missed getting pictures of the others who were part of the group. That stop lifted our spirits as we continued on through the aftermath of the yard sales and headed to Elk Horn Campground in Cement City MI to spend the night before heading home.
This has only been a summary. We took over 1000 pictures and many of them will be posted with stories in the future. Events outside of the yard sale will be covered along with restaurant and lodging finds along the way. This was a good trip¸ but I would never do the whole 690 miles at once again. Stay in touch and learn where the best places are and how you can differentiate between the “vendor” and the lady down the street who is just cleaning out her house and getting rid of what she doesn’t need anymore.