For 89 years, the farm on Harkening Hill was home to three generations of the Johnson family. John T. Johnson bought about 102.5 acres for $410 in 1852, and Callie Johnson Bryant, the last of the family to live there, sold the remaining 99 acres to Peaks of Otter Company for $3,500 in July 1941, 10 years after the death of her husband. The farm — the house and several outbuildings — is exhibited by the National Park Service as it existed in the 1930s, one of the few reminders of how people lived in this area before the Blue Ridge Parkway was built. Access to the farm is by a 2.1-mile loop trail from the Peaks of Otter lodge and restaurant area, Blue Ridge Parkway milepost 86.
Peaks of Otter, Blue Ridge Parkway, MP 86. The "Peaks of Otter" are Flat Top (3,973 feet), Sharp Top (3,862 feet), and Harkening Hill (3,353 feet). For each, heights vary among sources by 20-30; those given are from peakery.com. Some sources omit Harkening Hill from the peaks giving the area its name, but a 1993 NPS publication quotes Stanley Abbott (first Parkway superintendent and landscape architect who designed the Parkway) referring to “the triangle of mountains” at Peaks of Otter, and the basin formed by the three — the basin dammed to create Abbott Lake in 1964. (The peakery.com topographical maps shows Abbott Lake to be at 2,494 feet.) Peaks of Otter Lodge (also dating from 1964) has 60 motel-style rooms in three connected buildings on the north side of the lake; a fourth building several hundred feet away houses office, restaurant, gift shop, meeting space, and three handicap-access lodging rooms.
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