A publisher ponders

A park and a preserve

Already the site of occasional weddings, Blount County’s beautiful Palisades Park will soon have another place for exchanging marriage vows: A wedding chapel in the form of a gazebo.

Preservation of native trees and other plants was a driving force of those who dreamed of maintaining the unspoiled woods on Ebell Mountain for the enjoyment of nature lovers, picknickers, hikers, and later rappellers. They didn’t just dream; they set about making it a reality.

Three handsome rustic lodges are widely used for governmental, business, and club meetings and family reunions. Children revel in a well-equipped playground. Picnic shelters with tables, benches, and grills are popular.

Preserving nuggets of county history became another role for the park. Authentic structures – Daniel Murphree and Blackwood log cabins and old Compton School – were moved there from their original sites. A meditation chapel and the Quilters Cabin were actually built at the park but are compatible in appearance with the other features.

While it’s comparing apples and oranges, DeKalb County residents’ response to one of its gems contrasts sharply with this county’s attitude toward Palisades.

Tigers for Tomorrow on Untamed Mountain near Collinsville is “a state-ofthe art wild animal park and rescue preserve,” as described by free-lance writer Anna Wright, whose interesting article appears in Cooperative Farming
this month.

The preserve takes in leopards, foxes, camels, zebras, and many other wild animals no longer useful to zoos, circuses, fairs, and wildlife parks and provides a serene home for them to live peacefully and with dignity for the duration of their lives, says Wright. It also provides a place for the public to learn about these animals’ behavior and the habitat and food they require.

No government funding is available to support the preserve, which depends on grants from other sources, donations, and fundraising. Wright says lack of local interest in the preserve has been a surprising challenge for Tigers for Tomorrow. Most of the volunteers, on whom operation of the private facility pretty much depends, drive from as much as three hours away to reach the preserve. Owners/operators and volunteers must have a passion for these animals and their welfare.

It’s hoped that realization of plans for enriching the preserve’s offerings to the public will stimulate the needed interest and support. A day trip to Tigers for Tomorrow sounds like a fun time and a learning opportunity.

Lest you should wonder, safety of the animals and their visitors is given high priority. The creatures are behind heavy fencing.

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Not incidentally, Blount County’s free-lancer Suzy Geno has a fascinating article in the same publication. She writes of The Gathering Place, which James Tolbert built in Murphrees Valley of lumber and boards retrieved from old buildings, thus preserving some of the county’s history.

Initially built as a place for daughter Shirley Cornelius to display her art, it evolved into a place where he and his late wife Anne Buckner Tolbert served meals to groups by reservation, and has become a living museum.