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Judaculla Rock Gets a Facelift

By Adam Crisp
On July 16, 2009

  • Dr. Brent Kinser started playing the five-string banjo at 12-years-old.

Judaculla Rock is getting a facelift. Jackson County, along with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, the Caney Fork Community Development council, and the Parker Family, who have owned the land for hundreds of years, are attempting to restore the rock back to where it was in the 1920s.

Since the 1920's, constant erosion due to accumulated dirt along its sides has been covering a great deal of Judaculla Rock.

"We're working on the area around the rock to eliminate some of the erosion problem," commented Emily Elders, Recreation Project Manager or the Jackson County Recreation & Parks Department and one of the people leading the project. "There's a lot of runoff that's causing unnatural build up around it. It's actually a lot bigger than you'd think it is. Most of it is buried at this point."

The Louis Berger Group completed plans for the rocks facelift in March. The plans have been reviewed by the North Carolina Rock Art Survey, the United States Forest Service, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians' Tribal Historic Preservation Office, and the North Carolina State Office of Archaeology. Members of Western Carolina University's Archaeology Department and the Mountain Heritage Center are reviewing the plans as well.

The current plan will include moving the parking lot near the bridge at the bottom of the field near Judaculla Rock. Access trails leading up to the rock will also be added along the creek and the cane, as well as posted Information about Judaculla rock and the area. There will also be access to the creek for fishing and recreation.

The age of Judaculla rock isn't known, but it has been dated as far back as 2,000 B.C. On the rock are glyphs that no one has yet been able to decipher. A Cherokee legend surrounding the rock tells the story of the giant slant-eyed hunter, Tsul'kalu', that jumped off a mountain and landed on the rock scratching it with his fingernails. It was said that Tsul'kalu' lived in a cave, (now called the Devil's Courthouse on the Blue Ridge Parkway) and when the white men found the cave, said the Devil held his court there.
Over time, the name Tsul'kalu' became the name Judaculla, thus giving the rock its name.

To volunteer for clean up days, contact Emily Elders at 828-293-3053.

To visit Judaculla Rock, drive south on 107 and take a left on Caney Fork Road. Drive 2.5 miles until you get to a gravel road on the left. Turn down the road and continue for .5 miles. The parking lot will be on your left

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