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Library Notes: Explore ‘Fraser’s Ridge’ with Rowan Public Library

By Laurie Lyda
Rowan Public Library

It’s always fun to see favorite titles in my Netflix “New Releases” queue. When I discovered that a new season of Starz’s “Outlander” series, based on the book series by Diana Gabaldon, was now available, I settled in to catch up.

Watching “Outlander” proved to be an excellent diversion during a gray, rainy, dreary weekend. I’ve always found the lovely landscapes and general aesthetic of the show calming, no matter how traumatic or dramatic the material being portrayed. (The show has light moments, too, but if you know the storyline, then you understand the narrative can be intense — in a good way!)

In season 4, the main characters, Jamie and Claire Fraser, settle in the mountains of North Carolina, an area called “Fraser’s Ridge” in the show and the books. On the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources website, Grandfather Mountain State Park is identified as the location of the fictional Fraser’s Ridge.

So, when the show’s timeline shifts to the 20th century, where Jamie and Claire’s daughter Brianna Randall (Jamie and Claire’s daughter) and Roger MacKenzie attend a Scottish festival in North Carolina, I immediately thought of the annual Highland Games, and I watched for footage of the mountains that I love.

Alas, there were no magnificent views of the Grandfather Mountain area — and while the show’s landscapes are always gorgeous, a quick Google search revealed that most of were shot in Scotland. While I absolutely understand that filming, particularly filming on location, is complicated and expensive, I admit that I was disappointed — and I realized quickly that my disappointment stemmed from missing the mountains.

It’s something of a relief to realize that while life might not allow as many impromptu trips to the Blue Ridge Mountains as I would like, the history, secrets, and fictional representations can be explored anytime through Rowan Public Library. Here are some examples of what you might find:

Diana Gabaldon’s eight (soon to be nine) volume series that the show is based on begins with the novel “Outlander,” which was published in 1991. The entire series is part of RPL’s circulating (print) and e-collections. The STARZ series, however, is not available because of its Mature rating. (RPL only circulates DVDs with a PG-13, PG, G, or NR rating.)

The outline of Grandfather Mountain against the sky is awe-inspiring, and a visit to Grandfather Mountain State Park, particularly if you participate in the audio tour (visitors receive a CD at the entrance gate) that shares a lot of interesting history, is a reminder of the mountain’s importance and longevity. “Grandfather Mountain: The History and Guide to an Appalachian Icon,” by Randy Johnson and published in 2016, offers a rich history about the mountain, its history, and its significance. This book includes more than 200 historical and contemporary photographs, maps, and a detailed guide to hiking the mountain’s extensive trails.

The mountains naturally seem to inspire supernatural stories, and RPL’s e-copy of “Mountain Ghost Stories and Curious Tales of North Carolina” is an interesting collection. Written by Randy Russell and Janet Barnett and published in 1988, the collection of 18 stories explores legends and myths passed down for generations.

If you’re looking to explore the Blue Ridge Parkway, there’s a guide for that — many guides, in fact — William Lord’s “Blue Ridge Parkway Guide” will help you plan a route from Grandfather Mountain to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and is available in RPL’s circulating print collection. Carolyn Sakowski’s “Touring the Western North Carolina Backroads” offers a downloadable guide book that can be accessible via any personal device.

For those who want to dig into the history of Grandfather Mountain, RPL’s Edith M. Clark History Room collection includes non-circulating titles that include “History of the Highland Games,” published in 1970, and Shepherd Monroe Dugger’s “The Balsam Groves of the Grandfather Mountain,” published in 1934. The History Room is located on the third floor of RPL Headquarters in Salisbury and can be reached at 704-216-8253. Patrons are encouraged to make appointments, though drop ins are welcome.

Reading and researching may not offer quite the same effect as a windy walk across the mile-high swinging bridge or a joyful viewing of happy otters playing in the snow at Grandfather Mountain State Park, but an absorbing and engaging narrative — whether fiction or nonfiction — can be life changing all on its own. The next time I visit Grandfather Mountain, I will definitely be thinking of the fictional “Fraser’s Ridge.” Until then, I’ll continue exploring the adventures RPL’s that materials and resources offer.

You can explore RPL’s circulating collection online or at one of RPL’s three branches: RPL Headquarters (Salisbury), RPL East (Rockwell), or RPL South (China Grove). If you have any issues borrowing digital materials, contact your nearest branch. E-materials require the use of your library card number and password, which is a four digit PIN that can be easily re-set if needed. To learn more about RPL’s materials and resources, visit www.rowanpubliclibrary.org; to access the catalog directly, visit catalog.rowanpubliclibrary.org.

Laurie Lyda is library services manager at the Rowan Public Library.

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