Lost in time: a manuscript from Horace Kephart, a driver behind the designation of Great Smoky Mountains National Park





Horace Kephart is best-known for his role in raising public support for what became the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and as the author of two non-fiction books that have become classics. Tucked away for 80 years was a literary surprise: the completed manuscript for a Kephart novel. It's just been published by the Great Smoky Mountains Association and the timing is appropriate: this year is the park's 75th anniversary.

It's also appropriate because Horace Kephart figures into the story of Great Smoky Mountains National Park that Ken Burns tells in The National Parks: America's Best Idea. In tonight's episode, Going Home, we learn that Kephart was something of an enigma. Sharp-minded, he entered college at age 13, was a graduate student four years later, and settled down with a wife in St. Louis before he was 25, as Ken Burns tells us. But his life seemed to collapse when he lost his job and turned to drinking; his wife took their six children and left him.

In heading to the Smokies in 1904, the then-42-year-old was looking to start life over. In the Smoky Mountains, he found "an Eden, unspoiled and unpeopled."



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