Gary Lewis invites you to the Ridge, October 8-11, 2020! He, along with Annette Badland and Graham McTavish, will be our extra-special guests this year! Our celebrity guests are just a wee part of what makes Fraser’s Ridge Homecoming such a special event. The military encampments with the Mecklenberg Militia and the 71st Highlanders, the historical activities, Cherokee culture with The Warriors of AniKituwha, the workshops, great food, traditional NC and Celtic music, combined with Outlander–not to mention the Blue-Ridge-Mountains-in-Autumn atmosphere–create a magical and truly unforgettable long weekend! We want you to join us! Please take advantage of our $99 reservation offer–it runs through February 7, 2020! Click/tap here for terms and more info!
guest post by Susan H. Jackson
EDIT March 6, 2022 Thanks for stopping by–like you, I’m really wondering about the Big House in the Outlander tv series. While watching episode one of season 6, I was actually pausing the video and checking out different aspects of the home, and wow–the interior is rather opulent. I wrote the article to show that large houses (not just rustic cabins) could be built in the wilds of 18th c. North Carolina, as well as a few other places in the state. I do feel, however, that the show’s set for the house is a very wealthy landowner’s house, not the type of house the Frasers lived in according to the books. Jamie and Claire are not filthy rich settlers, so I have to stop looking at the fancy woodwork, glass windows, and gigantic rooms, and just enjoy the show! That said, please read the rest of this with the mindset that though I disagree with the fancy tv set house, there were some rather large homes built in NC during the Colonial period, and they’re still standing as proof!
Well, Outlander friends, we’re less than a month away from the end of Droughtlander–yay! All of the press releases, photos, interviews and sneak peeks have me even more impatient for the beginning of season five! From what I’ve seen, saying it looks like it’s going to be exciting is an understatement! I’ve tried to fill my time with re-watches, re-reads and reading about the history associated with the upcoming season. While the subject I’ve written about for this blog post isn’t historically significant–well, it is to a point–it was something that is important to our favorite show and questions about historical accuracy.
A few months back, social media lit up when one of the Outlander crew shared a last-day-of-filming-Outlander-season-five photo. Most of the cast and crew posed with smiling faces on the set of Fraser’s Ridge, with the Big House in the background. Opinions emerged, and some looked at that gorgeous two-story structure, and said “It’s just like I imagined it would be,” while others said, “No way–how could they build a house like that in such a remote area? Where did that come up with that paint color?!” Jon Gary Steele did share that the paint color was historically accurate, and the house, too, for that matter.
Whether it’s just as you imagined or not, I feel like our assumptions about mountain living are that it’s poor, dirty, and houses were unpainted and without adornment. We almost automatically think that a house such as the structure on set wouldn’t be sitting on a mountain ridge in the wild backcountry of Colonial North Carolina. Granted, the 18th century certainly lacked the construction technology we have today, but, just like today, if someone is well-off financially, they could afford all that modern life offered. There are several homes from the time period of the Fraser’s North Carolina that are still standing, and I’m going to share a bit of history about each one with you! (Disclaimer: I am not an architectural historian by any means–heck, I’m not even a historian, period! I love houses, and I especially love Colonial homes. I don’t claim to know all of the technical stuff, but hope you can enjoy reading my ramblings about these great finds in North Carolina!)
The two houses of interest that would’ve been standing in the Frasers’ time are the Lane House and the Cupola House. Now, the Lane House is not a big nor a fancy place, but it is important to North Carolina. The Lane House was discovered to have been built around 1719, making it the oldest house in the state! Recently, new owners were having it renovated for renting. A carpenter saw some of the wood under the layers of modern materials, and alerted the owners. Experts were called in, and after performing dendrochronological research, they estimated the age of the structure. (More about the discovery of this architecural treasure from NC Department of Natural Resources.)
The Cupola House, also located in Edenton, was built in 1758 for Robert Carteret, Earl of Granville, one of the Lords Proprietors. This gorgeous structure is a testament to building a house that is anything but a log structure in a remote area. A home in the northeast coastal region of North Carolina would have had to be built of local materials, as the swamps and large bodies of water surrounding the area would have made transport of imported materials difficult and very expensive. (Many census records show that “shinglemaker” was not an uncommon occupation, so if they were making shingles for homes, they were making pretty much everything else, too!) The house began to decline, even though one family owned it for 141 years, but thanks to the efforts of local citizens who organized the Cupola House Association, the house is refurbished and ready for visitors to come and tour the gardens and home. More recent discoveries about the original siding and other architectural details about the cupola can be read at the Cupola House Association website.
EDIT: I discovered these images of the Georgian woodwork from the Cupola House at the Brooklyn Museum website. In financial need, one of the family members sold the woodwork to the Museum in 1918. It is still on display.
Another house in the northeastern part of the state in Perquimans County is the Newbold-White House, the oldest brick house in the state, built by Quaker Abraham Sanders about 1730. I cannot be sure if bricks were made on-site, but I have a feeling that they were, as John Lawson noted in his expeditions that the coastal area had perfect brick-making materials. The house has been restored to its original appearance, and can be toured during the months of April-October.
In the Piedmont region of the Old North State, you can find the House in the Horseshoe near Sanford. The house was built by Phillip Alston (a Whig Colonel), in 1772. It was the site of a fight in 1781 between the Tories and Alston’s soldiers. Note the two porches are open underneath, and at one time, it’s very likely that none of the crawlspace was closed in, as it provided shelter for the roaming farm animals people kept for food during that time. You can find more about the architectural details, including a remodel done by a subsequent owner at the NC Historic Site webpage.
As we get in the Highlands of North Carolina, in Ferguson (not far from the venue of Fraser’s Ridge Homecoming), you can visit the home of William Lenoir, Fort Defiance. Lenoir fought in the Battle of Kings Mountain, and when he found the old fort abandoned, he bought the property and finished the house in 1792. According to the Fort Defiance website, there were five outbuildings located around the house, as well, to serve the family’s needs for food storage and cooking.
Once again, I am far from being an architecture history expert, but after reading a bit about different Colonial homes that are still with us today here in North Carolina, I see that it is totally possible for the Frasers to build such a large “fancy” house in the rugged Highlands of North Carolina. It would’ve taken years, though. The materials for posts, floors, walls and siding were all there in the forests, and would have to be milled by hand. If you’ve ever watched The Woodwright’s Shop on PBS and seen Roy Underhill use all of those non-electric woodworking tools, you can imagine the back-breaking work involved for anyone building a structure during that time period. Chimneys in the mountains were built with stones that lay anywhere and everywhere, likely found while clearing land.
It’s funny what takes up our time during Droughtlander. Any little thing someone from the television series shares just grabs our attention–well, mine, anyway–and I find myself falling down the rabbit hole of history, or searching other fan sites or in the pages of my Outlandish Companion, hungry to learn more until season five begins and the yearning is over! I do enjoy houses, and have especially enjoyed learning more about some of these old homes that have such great historical meaning, and that they’re right here in my home state. Thank you for indulging me and one of my nerdy interests!
For more architectual information, (that I found pretty fascinating), download the pdf of the book Colonial Houses (written by John V. Alcott in 1963) from the NC Department of Cultural and Natural Resources. It describes every style of Colonial home, from the smallest one-room structure to the grand homes of wealthy landowners.
What’s getting you through Droughtlander? One thing that has me looking past the end of season 6 is Fraser’s Ridge Homecoming, taking place October 19-21 in Ferguson, NC! The living history encampment, the interesting workshops and activities, and not to mention the fine entertainment that is scheduled to be there this year give me something to look forward to this Fall. Oh–by the way, Graham McTavish (Dougal McKenzie) will be the celebrity guest! Please check out the webpage for more information, and consider investing in this experience of 18th century mountain life, and the history of the Fraser’s North Carolina. You won’t regret it!
Hello From The Ridge!
I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season and have started a Happy 2020. It’s always such a busy time of year and I had to put my blog, and most everything else, on hold until after the first of the year! I’m living pretty much full-time now in Ashe County, North Carolina, which is in the Blue Ridge Mountains, just north of “Fraser’s Ridge”. I don’t care what season it is in these North Carolina mountains, it is simply beautiful. During the winter, the mountains are dark and you can see the ridges and hollows so much clearer. The profiles are distinct. It makes me think of what Jacosta told Jamie. When I’m out and about, I look at these mountains in winter and think this must be the way it looks in Scotland.
Season 5 And The Battle of Alamance
Well, I love that picture!!! Are you ready for Season 5?!?! After seeing the trailer and the promo picture above, I can hardly wait! It looks epic!
As the season unfolds, you’ll see that much of Season 5’s story revolves around the Battle of Alamance which took place in Alamance County, North Carolina, on May 16, 1771. Diana visited the Battleground in April of last year and you can too!
During the course of the season, look for blog articles from us exploring the real history and characters of the Battle of Alamance. Diana did a great job of depicting the circumstances leading up to the battle, the battle itself and the aftermath in The Fiery Cross so we will be delving further into the real characters and history come February!
Happy Hour With Harmony Returns
If you’ve been around for awhile, you probably know that during season 4, Harmony Tersanschi, one of my talented admins, did a round of FB Live videos called “Happy Hour with Harmony”. If you’re new to the group, she worked her way through the cocktail recipes in the Outlander Kitchen Cookbook & came up with Mocktail versions as well each Saturday evening, live on the Outlander North Carolina Facebook Page. Well, it’s that time again and Harmony will be doing things a little differently during Season 5 seeing that the next cookbook won’t be out in time for the new season. This time she’s asking you to send her your cocktail requests. She’ll make & taste, come up with a Mocktail alternative, and maybe review an appetizer or two from the Outlander Kitchen Cookbook. Harmony loved hanging out & chatting with every one each Saturday evening, and she can’t wait to do it again! Now it’s your turn. What are some of your favorite or not so favorite (if you want to get a good laugh) cocktail recipes, so Harmony can start making her list. Last year, during Season 4, we gathered around our various devices to watch Happy Hour with Harmony before the new episode came on. We’re looking forward to Harmony’s return to the “small” screen on February 16! Leave her a comment below with your cocktail suggestion!
Fraser's Ridge Homecoming 2020There's No Place Like Home
We are deep into the final stages of planning for Fraser’s Ridge Homecoming 2020 and this year our theme is “There’s No Place Like Home”. If you’ve ever been to the NC mountains, you’ll know that no truer words could be spoken about Jamie & Claire’s home on The Ridge.
We are excited to announce that tickets for Homecoming 2020 will go on sale at 6:00 PM EST on January 13, 2020. I am so looking forward to meeting some of you in October!
In case you don’t know, Fraser’s Ridge Homecoming is a celebration of the history of Jamie & Claire’s North Carolina backcountry wilderness. The Homecoming is Outlander inspired but history focused making it a truly unique event for the history-loving Outlander fan. Drawing from the places the Frasers lived and visited, the events that shaped their lives and the people who crossed their paths, the Homecoming takes us back in time via workshops, living history, music, performances, food, drink and so much more. Combine that with a fun dose of Outlander and you have the perfect combination.
And as if it could get any better, for the first time, we will be welcoming home to The Ridge some very special cast members from the TV series….the MacKenzies of Castle Leoch! Mrs. Fitz, Colum MacKenzie & Dougal MacKenzie will be joining us this coming October!
We are thrilled to be able to share North Carolina’s 18th-century history with our special guests!!
Please click HERE to see ALL the amazing things we have lined up for this wonderful weekend…and we’re not done yet! By clicking on that link, you will also find all the current information on ticket price, deposit, what the ticket price includes plus information on installment payments options. Tickets are limited to 200 attendees!
Homecoming Venue & Lodging Options
Our venue for The Homecoming is the beautiful Leatherwood Mountains Resort in historic Ferguson, North Carolina. Within the ten mile radius of where The Ridge is likely located, you will feel as though you have truly stepped back in time when you arrive at Leatherwood. Relax in a luxury vacation home hidden in the trees in Leatherwood’s Blue Ridge Mountains and wilderness horse country. If you are the more the rustic type, Leatherwood offers camping options on site. Either way, you will know you have come home to The Ridge.
Because of the popularity of the Homecoming, most cabins at Leatherwood have already been rented. So, we have some alternative options if you are unable to reserve a cabin because of unavailabilty or because of financial restrictions. Check these alternative lodging options below:
- Other Local Accommodations. In addition, The Hampton Inn and Holiday Inn Express in Wilkesboro (30 minutes from our venue) have also blocked off rooms for us and you can get a special rate by contacting either of the hotels directly. Just be sure to mention that you are coming for the Outlander event at Leatherwood.
- Cabin or Hotel Room Sharing. Many life-long friendships have been forged by folks who shared their cabins with complete strangers while at the Homecoming the last two years. Besides, in the Outlander community, are there really any strangers? If you’re interested in sharing a cabin or a hotel room with others, please complete the form at this link. We will do our best to connect you with other folks who are wanting to share.
- You might also consider looking at VRBO’s and AirBNB’s in Ferguson, North Carolina.
- NOTE: If you rent outside of Leatherwood, please check with the owner for the distance from your rental to Leatherwood and keep in mind that you need to at least double the amount of time you think it would take to drive to and from. The roads are extremely narrow and curvy – it is the Ridge, you know! Which bring me to this point…Ubers and Lyfts are unavailable in the area!
Get Your Tickets Here!
So, Sassenach, are you ready to go home? Click the button below to purchase your tickets. If you click it before 1/13 at 6PM, you won’t see any tickets to purchase yet BUT it will give you the opportunity to read through and review the important preliminary information. That way you’ll be ready to purchase when the time comes.
I look forward to meeting many of you and welcoming you “home” in October! It’s going to be the BEST Homecoming yet!!
Best Wishes For A Happy New Year!
In closing, I’d like to wish each one of you a very Happy New Year! Thank you for subscribing to the blog and taking time out of your day to read it. As I said earlier, you can expect more blog articles as Season 5 gets started. Only 38 days to go!! Which begs the question… what are you most looking forward to in Season 5? Put it in the comments below!
Your Forever Outlander Friend, Beth
Dawn Woo tells us of her weekend at the Homecoming, and likens the event to the color blocks on a quilt. Be warned: you might get the warm fuzzies after reading this!
While driving back into the foothills of western North Carolina towards Ferguson, I noticed nature acknowledging the changing seasons with trees of red and gold, much like a patchwork quilt. I can almost imagine this would be much like the picture Jamie and Claire would have seen as they and others made their way to Mount Helicon in October of 1770 for The Gathering seen in The Fiery Cross. The “family” that accompanied Jamie and Claire to Mount Helicon was also much like a patchwork quilt. Some were blood family. Some were adopted family. Some were old friends, and some were simply new friends brought into their clan on the ridge by faith and trust.
As I got nearer my destination, I began to feel a great sense of coming home–a connection to these mountains as I passed the Brushy Mountains that were once home to my ancestors in the mid-to-late 1700s. You see, much like Jamie and Claire and their patchwork quilt family at Mount Helicon, I have anxiously awaited the patchwork quilt family of Fraser’s Ridge Homecoming that Beth Pittman and her team have brought together since October 2018. I’d like to share with you just a few of the patches in the quilt of Homecoming 2019 that have been faithfully and lovingly sewn together.
Kerry Masarik would be an earthy, natural, and warm multi-colored piece of fabric in our quilt. This gifted woman taught several classes: medicinal plants, basket weaving and drop-spinning. Once again, I had to take a walk to look at plants under her tutelage since I have not been able to stop looking at the ground since last year! She opened a whole new world to the wonders of plants and their benefits. I also chose to try to learn to spin wool with a drop spindle under Kerry’s careful eye and engaging personality. We were taught a method called “between the knees” drop spinning that allowed us to get a feel for drafting out the fibers of the wool. By the end of the class, we all had a sizeable amount of yard wound around our spindle.
Now that I had learned to spin my yarn, I needed to learn how to “clickit like Jamie.” Wanda Noble, the fresh and harmonious-colored patch in our quilt, armed a class of beginning knitters with circular knitting needles and yarn. Much to our amazement and Wanda’s gentle encouragement, she had us casting on in the first few minutes of class!
Imagine the colors of the trees, the sky, rocks stained with burning reds and blues, and you will find the next patch in our quilt: Joe Candillo, our Native American educator and craftsman. After a short ride in the cool, misty weather conditions up the mountain in a hay-filled trailer, we met our majestically clad educator. Joe took us on an exploratory hike and showed us the way he was taught to respect and appreciate what nature had to offer. Joe gave us another reason to pay attention when we wander outside.
By this time, we needed some very practical and sensible patches in our quilt, and Jane Pyatt, aka The Backcountry Peddler, was the one who taught us how to dress “sensibly” for 18th-century backcountry living. Layer by layer, Jane explained why and how each article of clothing was worn. By the end of the hour, a volunteer from the class was dressed and ready for work on their North Carolina mountain settlement.
Chris Grimes’ presentation of an 18th-century physician was the patch in our quilt that is majestic and full-toned. The hour was tightly woven with all sorts of 18th-century medical practices, medicines and tinctures, and surgical/medical instruments and their uses. Healthcare in the 18th century was not for the faint of heart!
What colors do you think of when you think of music? Our quilt would have quite a few of these patches-some soothing and some quite animated. With mountains as a backdrop, the sounds of bagpipes, banjos, guitars, mandolins, fiddles, and even a harp filled our souls. While music filled our souls, the loving hands of the Thankful Goat and Snowbird Mountain Coffee filled our hungry bellies. Food is a language that brings people together. I can only imagine that this patch in the quilt would look unified and complement the patches around it.
Oh, friends, our quilt is far from being finished here! This is only a small section, for it takes many hands and many patches to lovingly complete a patchwork quilt. Many more wonderful patches fit into this quilt because there are many more wonderful people sewn into the fabric of Fraser’s Ridge Homecoming–our quilt would cover the mountain! Most importantly, this quilt is framed by the patches that are each of you. It’s the friendships that have been brought together by Beth and her team that bind this quilt–memories stitched with love.
Thank you so very much, Dawn, for capturing the warmth that most of us left the mountain with–we can’t say enough how happy we are you spent the weekend with us! A special thank you goes to our many attendees who have allowed us to use their photos for blog posts and other social media, as well as our photographer, Brooke Horn. That’s the best thing about the Homecoming—working together to make it great!
If you find yourself wanting to be a part of one of our quilt blocks, stay tuned! Tentative dates for ticket sales for Fraser’s Ridge Homecoming 2020 are set for February 2020, and their price will be announced in upcoming weeks. Until then, fill your Droughtlander days with re-reading the Outlander book series, stream the show, or check out our blog archives for more reading!
from Mary Helen Ellis
If you are reading this, you are one of “those” that are sucked into the world of Outlander, and glad of it! The Outlander Vortex–I find I measure a good portion of my everyday life by WWCD, What Would Claire Do? It’s twenty degrees outside my mountain cabin, snow is a foot deep, and I must walk out to the car and clear off the windshield. WWCD–it just makes my “git up and go” a little easier! For Pete’s sake, if I must run out to the mailbox when it is 95 degrees, I stop and think, at least I don’t have to chop wood to cook dinner.
Our lives are a cakewalk compared to the 18th century. Every once in awhile, though, there is a reminder of Fraser’s Ridge time that sneaks up on you. These peeks into their world are very close by in Leatherwood Mountains. The flora and fauna of the North Carolina wilderness assault your senses as soon as you arrive. Owning a cabin in Leatherwood, I will share some of the fauna that I have encountered over the last twenty years. I am from eastern North Carolina, my town literally has 5 streets and 1 blinking light, so I am a rural gal, but it is quite different than being a mountain wilderness lassie…WWCD!
Fauna always makes me think of fairies. My 25-year-old niece has a favorite Leatherwood fairy story: at the bottom of Flag Branch Road is a mountain creek and waterfall. Years ago, when she was 6, Mara saw a fairy at the waterfall. About 6” across with white wings, it fluttered by her and spoke to her–I’m guessing a luna moth, lovely in its own right, but more so as a mountain stream fairy. A not so pleasant recent story involves my blind Yorkie, her daily constitutions, and the redbugs (chiggers) she brought back to my lap! I can’t watch Jamie and Claire rolling around the beautiful green grass without thinking of chiggers and their itchy bites that last for days! WWCD in the NC mountains?
Yep, red bugs, millipedes, ladybugs, oh my! Our ladybugs are of the Asian variety, said to have been sprayed from aircraft by the Wildlife Commission on the mountain ridges to rid the mountains of some other kind of tree damaging insect. These are not the cute red and black variety they named a vehicle after; these orange ladybugs swarm into log cabins and have an odor. Claire would have never seen these. But she probably had plenty of millipedes, cluster flies, and other insects to contend with. I see some different species every time I stay at Leatherwood. I believe there are many more varieties of insects in the mountains than back east.
Leatherwood Mountains is a wildlife sanctuary, no hunting, no ATV’s, no fireworks; just peace and the natural quiet only found in nature. Large game animals such as deer and turkey live happily in the natural environment of the gated 5000-acre resort. Populous game animals also attract the “top of the food chain” critters. I have had a cabin for 20 years and have yet to actually see a bear, a wolf, a panther, but have seen a bobcat. There is clear evidence of scat and tracks to show that they are living with us in the wilderness. The first renters of our cabin in 1999 woke to find a bear on top of their minivan, hoping for the left-over french fries inside. On a January trip to Leatherwood, we arrived at midnight. The next morning, we found wolf tracks by the horse trough. We have seen tracks of coyotes, wolves, panthers, bears, and elk tracks as large as a man’s boot! My husband swears he and his parents saw an actual elk, (not out of the realm of possibility as they have been reintroduced in the southern NC mountains). Remember, I have yet to see any of these animals, only their tracks. I have seen skunks, raccoons, groundhogs, eagles, hawks, owls, turkeys, and more.
WWCD? In the movie “The Songcatcher” the old mountain woman told the Yankee lady…if you hear a “painter’s*” cry (sounds just like a woman’s cry) and he is after you, run as fast as you can while stripping off your clothes. The panther will attack your clothes and shred them giving you precious time to flee. *The Eastern Cougar, panther, or “painter,” as they are called by mountain folk, is said to be extinct in this part of the US by biologists. Many people claim to have seen and heard their bone-chilling cries, especially in the vast swampy places in the coastal areas of North Carolina. Do they or don’t they? Depends on who you ask.
Who remembers the three storylines regarding snakes in Outlander? In 20 years, I have seen snakes three times (four, if you count the dead one on the road). The first time there were two in a pallet of rock with a wire fence around it. I wanted to use the left-over rock to edge a flower bed. It was me or the snakes. Had I known what kind at the time, I may have let them be. I tied a rope around the pallet, attached it to my trailer hitch and yanked the fence and rocks to smithereens. The snakes turned out to be king snakes–the good guys. The second snake encounter was also a good guy. However at 6’-7’, I did not bother the black snake as it scaled a steep embankment! I hope he is still around, guarding against snake number three, a beautifully marked but poisonous copperhead. WWCD with a very large Copper Head?
We sort of chased him off with mothballs and have not seen him for a year. I have learned though, that this fauna is one to watch for; know what is beneath your feet! Thankfully, we don’t have outhouses to contend with (except for one of our cabins, Hemlock Point, that has an outhouse ½ bath in the basement!).
Today’s cabins with AC, WiFi, Netflix, refrigerators, dishwashers, laundry appliances, computers, central heat, etc. are modern and comfortable, just like your home. But, step out the door and you can enter Jamie and Claire’s time. Leatherwood’s motto is “The stars are our streetlights.” It is true in every sense of the word; I encourage rental guests to arrive in daylight hours. At night, however, you can see more stars than you knew existed, because of very little light pollution. On a moonless night, at the right time of year, you can make out the Milky Way! We saw Claire make the startling realization when she first rode behind Jamie and saw the town of Inverness off in the distance, and no incandescent lights anywhere. It is like this at Leatherwood when you look out over the mountains. You are in the Outlander moment.
So, I believe what Claire would do is relish and stand in awe of the fauna she encountered in her life at Fraser’s Ridge in the 18th-century mountains of North Carolina. She had no choice but to fall in love with the area, but we do. We can turn off the television, shut off our phones and computers, and step out the door at Leatherwood Mountains….aka Fraser’s Ridge!
Thank you, Mary Helen, for the preview of what animals we may encounter while we’re at Leatherwood Mountains in October at A Fraser’s Ridge Homecoming!
Why not plan a visit to the NC mountains, and consider the Leatherwood Resort for a cabin rental? Their lovely homes range from one bedroom to five, so you can go alone for a breather, or meet the whole family for a wonderful vacation! The resort also features camping sites if that’s more your speed! Amenities include a swimming pool, horses available for trail riding, tennis, fishing, hiking, and tubing down the creek! Take some time to just be, enjoy the natural surroundings and all of the flora and fauna, and experience the back county much like it was in the 18th century! Your stress hormones will thank you!