Pine Mountain Settlement School

The “Lean-To” was crude outdoor picnic area that held a very special place in the memories of many early staff workers who worked at Pine Mountain. Many letters of staff workers recount the exchanges held at the “Lean-To” and the meals prepared there.

Angela Melville, bookkeeper and interim director at Pine Mountain, was an accomplished writer and poet. Here, she pens a sensitive reflection of “The Lean-To on Isaac’s Run” and the memories it evoked for her.


Dear little house of slabs and bark,
Making a spot of childish dark
In the candled light of this star-strewn night,
How may I write a song to your praise,
How may I hymn these gracious days
For others who walk in less happy ways?

Your bonfire burning high at night,
Casting its roseate rays to light
The manifold tiers of the sugar tree,
Flatters the pine that it may be,
Come next Christmas, the Christ-lit tree.

And on three sides the creek doth sing
All night long of its venturing;
How it came out of the mountain-side,
Out of the dark to seek its bride,
Yearning ever to lose its pride,
To drown itself in the ocean wide,
Its being lost in the greater tide.

And all night long it sings to me
In a liquid voice as it seeks the sea;
Sings of stones and brown earth sweet
And shadowed places where greens do meet.
But ever the push of its urging tide
Seeketh the sea, to be satisfied.

— Mary Angela Melville
August 1920

She later shared this poem among friends and sought to publish it. The exposure excited an exchange with Burton Rogers in 1967 regarding the history of the Lean-To and the various locations of the popular gathering place:

Dear Miss Melville:

“Mountain Creeks” was sent to the editor of Mountain Life and Work, and I hope that It may appear sometime. They plan their issues rather far ahead. The current editor is retiring as of tomorrow and I shall watch closely to see if I need to call this to his successor’s attentlon, when I learn who that is.

I have but now been writing to Mary Rockwell Hook…. I have taken the liberty of copying your new poem and sending it as well as “Mountain Creeks” to Mary Hook…

…Your account of the background of the lean-to is delightful; now we shall have to do some research as to the exact location of what you call the “little lean-to.” There is the big picnic area for Big Log lean-to some three or four hundred feet on up the creek from Big Log House, now overshadowed by tall trees and deep shade. You mention the cot being placed out by the little lean-to on the peninsula opposite Big Log House. Actually now the creek takes quite a straight run in front of Big Log House down to the big bend. I am therefore wondering if your adventure was in the days before the creek was straightened. I am glad you included the account of the thick rope circle Mr. Zande laid down for you. We still have our rattlesnakes and copperheads, although the rattlesnakes stay mostly on the mountain and are rarely seen on the campus. (I understand that in the early years the Latin word campus was avoided in favor of the Anglo-Saxon word grounds. However, we find it difficult to substitute at all times.)

I am going to make a copy of your account of your lean-to adventure for Mrs. Rogers to add to the special Pine Mountain Room collection of archives in our library, which is now housed in the entire main floor of Boys House; and of course, she is having a copy of the delightful lean-to poem. She has a copy of “Mountain Creeks.” The spirit of the poem is still quite applicable to Isaac’s Creek, as more people nowadays seem to call it, although we still frequently call it “Isaac’s Run.”

March 31, 1967
Miss Angela Melville
Jamaica, West Indies





Alt. Title

Lean To




Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY

Alt. Creator

Ann Angel Eberhardt ; Helen Hayes Wykle ;

Subject Keyword

Lean-To ; Pine Mountain Settlement School ; Pine Mountain, KY ; Harlan County, KY ; picnic area ; Mary Angela Melville ; poets ; poetry ; Isaac’s Run ; Isaac’s Creek ; bonfires ; Burton Rogers ; Mountain Life and Work ; Mary Rockwell Hook ; Big Log House ; Luigi Zande ; rattlesnakes ; copperheads ; grounds ; campuses ; Mary Rogers ; archives ; Pine Mountain Room ; Boy’s House ; Jamaica, West Indies ;

Subject LCSH

Lean-To — Pine Mountain Settlement School (Pine Mountain, Ky.) — History.
Architecture — Pine Mountain Settlement School.
Pine Mountain Settlement School (Pine Mountain, Ky.) — History.
Harlan County (Ky.) — History.
Vernacular architecture — Kentucky.
Historic Buildings — Kentucky — Appalachia.
Rural schools — Kentucky — History.
Schools — Appalachian Region, Southern.




Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY




Collections ; text ; JPG image ;


Originals and copies of images, documents, and correspondence in file folders in filing cabinet


Series 10: Built Environment (Physical Plant)




Is related to: Pine Mountain Settlement School Collections, Series 10: Built Environment (Physical Plant) ; Kentucky Virtual Library collections <http://www.kyvl.org/> [searchable]
Berea College Southern Appalachian Archives <http://www.berea.edu/library/Special/saarchives.html>
Transylvania College Archives <http://www.transy.edu/libspcoll.html>
Univ. of KY Appalachian Archives <http://libraries.uky.edu/libpage.php?lweb_id=84&llib_id=13>
National Historic Landmarks Database <http://tps.cr.nps.gov/nhl/detail.cfm?ResourceId=1756&ResourceType=District>

Coverage Temporal

1913 – ?

Coverage Spatial

Pine Mountain, KY ; Harlan County, KY ;


Any display, publication, or public use must credit the Pine Mountain Settlement School. Copyright retained by the creators of certain items in the collection, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.




Core documents, correspondence, writings, and administrative papers about the Lean-To; clippings, photographs, books by or about the Lean-To ;




Pine Mountain Settlement School Institutional Papers, Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY

Processed By

Helen Hayes Wykle ; Ann Angel Eberhardt ;

Last Updated

2013-12-19 hhw ; 2014-05-16 aae ; 2014-06-06 hhw



Pine Mountain Settlement School Institutional Papers. Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY. Archival material.