Tails of the Smokies

Driving toward the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you may decide to take one of the numerous backroads to avoid the traffic of the more touristy areas. One of those backroads, Highway 15, takes you across the Harvey “Pop” Powell Memorial Bridge, where Homer is selling copies of the Laurel Cove Banner for a quarter, and through the fictional town of Laurel Cove, population 278. Laurel Cove has one traffic light, really a flashing yellow light, slowing down visitors. Otherwise, you may miss the whittlin' bench in front of Webb's Grocery or Boots' Barber Shop, owned by the only barber and one of several part-time moonshiners in town. Further down Main Street, you turn left at the light in front of First Fidelity Bank, once robbed by Public Enemy Number 1, John Dillinger, and onto Church Street. After crossing Big Bear Fork, Reverend Mitchell waves as you notice the sign shows Sunday's sermon, “The Prodigal Son.” Most residents know the sign is referencing Dr. Jay McMahan, fresh out of medical school, who grew up in Laurel Cove and is now returning home to assume the role of retiring Doc Hembree. Also, welcoming Jay is his best friend from birth, Dillon Webb. As the two friends resume their friendship and love for fly-fishing, they remember their first trip to Big Creek where Dillon's grandfather, Pop Powell, taught them to catch trout. As Jay and Dillon continue their trips into the mountains, they do so surrounded by the unique characters and humorous events that can only transpire in a small town on the edge of the Great Smoky Mountains.

--Jim Parks

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