After a hectic start to the summer I am glad to be getting back into archiving! I have been able to visit the WRA (Western Regional Archives) a few times prior to this entry, but this week has been the first week that I have had the opportunity to focus on our newest project: creating panels for the WRA’s State Park Centennial Celebration exhibit that is fast approaching. This will include information, ephemera, and pictures on Western North Carolina State Parks. The idea was that if we all, the WRA employees and willing volunteers, pick a few parks to focus on, we could easily produce a detailed display panel for each park. The first park I chose to focus on was Chimney Rock. Lately I have been spending my free time doing varying degrees of research on Chimney Rock State Park, including looking into the park’s history, perusing their official website, and even visiting the park itself for a firsthand experience of my own (the elevator was broken and the stairs…. are many. I was, however, rewarded with an amazing view and mild vertigo!). I have recently taken my research and compiled it into a short piece discussing the park’s history and the various activities and amenities offered at the park. On Wednesday I was at the archives bright and early to meet with Heather to get her approval on my Chimney Rock write up. Since she was pleased with it, the next step will be to find appropriate pictures for the panels and, of course, to make the panels themselves! To complete the panels we will be using PowerPoint. I’m not quite sure yet how this is done, but I have a handy guide to work by! Since I am almost done with Chimney Rock I have agreed to take on New River State Park as well. Being a newer park, New River does not have the extensive (park) history that Chimney Rock does, but it has a rich history nevertheless, having been officially named by Thomas Jefferson’s father and used for hunting and traveling by various Native American Tribes. While I plan on doing a fair amount of research off of the internet, I am again going to visit the park itself for a first-hand experience.
Last semester Kendall and I assisted Heather with a Cherokee Language Exhibit, but this will be the first time that my own work will be displayed by the WRA (not including my essay that they posted on their personal blog at the end of last semester). This time I utilized many of the skills that I have learned from Heather in regards to arranging and presenting a display for public viewing. In writing my description of Chimney Rock, I kept in mind my viewer. How might they react to a long written piece as opposed to a number of short blurbs? What information would they be most interested in, what information was important for me to convey, and how could I satisfy both of these needs? Would there be pictures available to accompany the particular subjects in my piece, such as Dr. Morse, the founder of Chimney Rock Park, or the “Hillclimb,” the race that ran for fifty years at Chimney Rock? After a fair amount of judgement on my part the Chimney Rock State Park description was deemed acceptable by Heather. I was afraid of agreeing to a second park, but in hindsight I am happy that I have the opportunity to create a second panel. Chimney Rock is iconic, but New River State Park is not as well-known and the parks themselves have very different histories and uses. Chimney Rock has been featured in various films and has been the location for a popular race whereas New River was used by Native Americans and white trappers for travel and hunt. Chimney Rock is a web of trails and has a beautiful waterfall while New River is a rare north-flowing river that is ideal for tubing, rafting, and kayaking and has campgrounds available for patrons to stay at. These two parks are clearly very different and will require a different approach and representation, giving me more opportunity to put in to practice all that I have learned about creating exhibits.