April 2017: Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site

Flat Rock, North Carolina

In 1945 at the age of 67 Carl Sandburg, widely lauded as the “Poet of the People,” had accomplished enough for two lifetimes. He left school at 13 to go to work and help his Swedish immigrant parents in Illinois. In his teens he traveled the country as a hobo and then fought briefly in the Spanish-American War. Afterwards he landed a job as a newspaper writer and established himself as a crusading investigative reporter and champion of labor rights. An inveterate collector of folk songs, Sandburg became a popular lecturer and in 1926 recorded an album of songs for the RCA Victor Talking Machine Company. Turning his talents to research he became known as the biographer of Abraham Lincoln and won a Pulitzer Prize for history in 1940 for four-volume set Abraham Lincoln: The War Years. 

So when the Sandburgs packed up their belongings, including 16,000 books, onto a train in Michigan and moved to the Connemara Farm on the slopes of Glassy Mountain it could be expected he was ready to relax. Not so. After fixing up the 1839 Greek Revival house that had been built as a summer home for South Carolina political leader and first Secretary of the Treasury for the Confederate States of America, Christopher Memminger, Carl Sandburg would produce more than a third of his life work on the farm in his remaining 22 years and win another Pulitzer Prize, this time for poetry.

On over five miles of groomed hiking trails the Carl Sandburg Home offers something for any level of canine hiker. For easy jaunts with your dog there is a splendid undulating trail around the picturesque Front Lake beneath the house - go around three times for 1.2 miles. For more spirited canine hiking there is a 623-foot climb in 1.5 miles to the views atop the Big Glassy Mountain rockface. Halfway up the mountain, exactly when your panting dog will welcome a breather is a dammed creek reservoir that forms an ideal canine swimming hole. It that hike sounds a bit too ominous you can content yourself with a trip around Little Glassy Mountain on the Memminger Trail. And if athletic dogs are whimpering for more, you can abort the trip around and go over the summit of 2,426-foot Little Glassy Mountain that abounds with Lady Slipper’s orchids in the spring.

Until she was 53 Paula Sandburg had never given much thought to goats. In 1935 when her youngest daughter wanted a milking cow for their Michigan farm, her father suggested a dairy goat instead. Less expensive to feed, easier to move around, he said. Soon a handful of goats were happily grazing the dunes on the Sandburg farm above Lake Michigan. Paula discovered that her chronic digestion problems were going away as she drank goat’s milk. She became immersed in dairy goats, keeping meticulous records on herd management and best breeding practices. Her Chikaming herd became internationally renowned for the quality of their milk and followed her to Connemara Farms. Jennifer II, a Toggenburg dairy goat, was the world’s top producing Toggenburg in the world in 1960. If the herd is outside, your dog can still see descendants of three breeds of champion goats today - no dogs allowed in the barn area.

Flat Rock; take Exit 53 off I-26 onto Upward Road west. At its end turn left on Greenville Highway and right on Little River Road to the parking area on the left.