(refer to pages 30-33, & 58 in On the Trail of the Last of the Mohicans)
Goode Farm, North Cove (north of Marion), McDowell County
More so than any other, partially due to the difficulty in finding it, this site brought immense pleasure in its discovery. I was at a newspaper office, that of The Morganton News Herald, looking for clippings related to the filming process. I found a little article mentioning the fact that the battle scene was filmed in McDowell Countyís North Cove. I voiced this out loud. There were several newspaper people in the room, busy with their work. One, Mike Conley, happened to be the fellow who had written the story. Bingo, again!
It was off to North Cove. I actually passed the site the first time I ventured up there. Stopped in at a little antiques place [now gone - a victim of road widening!] up the road to inquire of the whereabouts. The proprietress, as was customary by this time, was thrilled to provide the info. She sketched out a little map. I thanked her and rushed off. I canít tell you how excited I was!
I reached the site, parked my car, which, if it could speak, would probably have pleaded, "OK! Enough already!" Not quite, but we were close to being done now. I believe only the River Walk and Vistas remained to be seen ... oh, Cameronís Cabin, as well. Anyway, I ventured in. A fallen tree lay in my path. After skirting that, I found myself in the crew parking area, a fairly large, tree surrounded field, the parking gravel now all but hidden by grass. I wandered along the grassy way, winding to the left and then to the right. My heart was beating rapidly. I felt like I was on the verge of some great discovery. I felt like I was discovering a long lost historical site of some importance.
Of course, I was not. I was simply locating a film location that was once but a swamp. Yes, this beautiful meadow was, prior to the filming in 1991, a wasted, mosquito-infested, swampland. Michael Mann had it drained, graded, and seeded, and now it was this! The sound of a passing train in the distance could be heard. Somehow, that didn't seem to belong!
I passed over some flat, wooden, boardwalk-like bridges, that took me over still wet areas. I tramped through the high, green grass towards the far end. I turned to look back. There, behind me, was the view seen in the movie. Another surreal moment in my search. This was wonderful. I thought that perhaps I might never be standing here, but here I was! My guide booklet was coming closer to being a reality!
I looked around. I discovered a stand of trees, towards the far end, that resembled, oh so closely, the backdrop for the scene where Magua cuts out the heart of one Colonel Munro. This couldnít be. I had been told that the scene had been filmed at the Corner Rock Picnic area, where the Elk Hunt scenes had been shot, and it probably was. But, that particular shoot was not what they used in the film. This was. The twisted trunks I saw before me matched up perfectly with those on the video, I discovered upon my return home. Well after the book was completed, I met the veterinarian who had been on-site to sedate the real horse before they switched to the fake. Curtis Gaston says this of the scene:
... regarding Col. Munro's withdrawn heart, it was filmed right there in Massacre Valley. I should know, see, i was Munro's stand in for that, or lay in. whatever. so, next time you watch, just remember it was me on the ground with my leg under a fake horse and a bucket of red karo syrup next to my head.
This location is private property. The nearby home (nearby to the now nearly indistinguishable entrance) houses the owners. Ask! As per the directions in On The Trail Of The Last Of The Mohicans, use your odometer to find this place! This is particularly true today - the "wooded & winding" road, described in On The Trail ... is now a mostly open 4-lane. It is quite different!