Welcome to the ABA! Bell Talk Forums General `Bell Stuff` Photographing bells in steeples

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    • #11051

      Gail in Tennessee writes:

      There are currently seven churches still standing in Great Smoky Mountains National Park in East Tennessee and Western North Carolina, six of which have belfrys and bells. In the research I’ve done in the Park archives in Gatlinburg, Tn; I’ve been unable to find any documentation on the bells. I’m hoping to persuade Park personnel to allow someone (me or someone else) to take closeup photos of these bells to discover the name of the manufacture, diameter, etc. I’m seeking suggestions on the best way in which to take these photos, i.e., with a cherry picker, place a ladder on the outside of the building or inside the tower? Any ideas will be most welcome. Thanks. Dr. Gail

    • #14414

      In most cases there will be a stairwell or ladder into the bellfry to service the bells. It may be in poor repair and dangerous, so be careful. If the bell is not protected by a screen to keep out birds, you should wear surgical gloves and a protective mask as the bird droppings may contain pathogenic fungi that could cause a respiratory illness when inhaled. If the bell is mounted on a wooden frame, it may be unsteady due to rot, and you do not want to risk falling a great height. Be very careful.
      Harry Long, MD

    • #14415
      Peter Hyde

      Helpful advice Harry. I will be wary if I decide to venture into a belfry over here!

    • #14416

      Thanks, Harry! You’re right. Taking photos of bells in steeples is a dangerous undertaking. Three of the bells are in open belfries, while three are enclosed. Since these bells are in a national park, the ladders have been removed. The Park Service has to approve any activity that includes climbing in/on the buildings. I haven’t yet tried a telescopic lens but plan to do that soon. Also, I talked with some people who have a cast iron “dinner” bell that was made at Chattanooga Foundry. I see that it is out of business. Does anyone know if the records of this company is available anywhere? Thanks for your help!! Gail.

    • #14417

      I have a fancy cast steel Ross Meehan no 22 bell here. It weighs with all the gear about 200lbs.

    • #14418
      Green Grass

      Dr. Gail:

      My name is John Eachus and live in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. For 20 years, I have travelled Alabama, Georgia & Tennessee selling, repairing, and installing bells. Over the years, I have accummulated a tremendous catalog of foundry information in bits & pieces.
      I work very closely with the State of Alabama Historic Preservation Department documenting & surveying historic clock & bell installations for appropriate restoration techniques.
      My father-in-law worked in the Park his entire life. He was one of the rangers that jumped out of planes & helicopters to search for missing persons, and cut trails, and cleared snow, etc. My mother-in-law was born in the log cabin on Roaring Forks Road, now a museum, and was relocated from the Park.

      I would volunteer my time and experience to document the chapel bells in the park that you have located. Please contact me personally at 865-436-2397


      PS The Ross Mehan Foundry in Chattanooga cast iron pipe. (US Pipe bought them out. US Pipe just cloed.) The foundry cast iron bells as fill in work. I personally have several chapel bells & farm bells dating 1800’s from this foundry on display at my studio on the City of Gatlinburg Arts & Crafts Community Tour Studio #88. Mehann was a very promenant citizen, having ball parks, etc. named after him.

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