Let’s start today’s blog with a trivia question: Why is this woman famous?
Her name is Elizabeth Blackwell. If you know the answer before I tell you below, let me know in the comment section. Fabulous prizes could be yours.
Asheville is best known as the location of George Vanderbilt’s Biltmore Estate and the home of American novelist Thomas Wolfe. The first we have been too a number of times before we started RVing, and the latter I will discuss shortly.
Samuel Ashe was born March 24, 1725 (that is 50 years before the American Revolution) in Beaufort, Province of North Carolina. He studied law and was named Assistant Attorney for The Crown in the Wilmington district of the North Carolina Colony. He ultimately became involved in the revolutionary movement. After serving in the War, he became active in politics, and in 1795, the General Assembly of North Carolina elected him governor at the age of 70. He served three one-year terms, the maximum constitutional limit, before retiring in 1798. Thereafter he remained active in politics until his death.
In 1784 a town was established where two old Indian trails crossed. By 1793 the town had grown and was named Morristown. In 1797, Morristown was incorporated and renamed “Asheville” after North Carolina Governor Samuel Ashe. (Of course you know all about Samuel Ashe, because I just told you.)
We strolled through Asheville utilizing their 2 mile walking self-guided tour. I was not impressed with the city. It was dirty and grungy, and they did not do a good job of preserving their rich history. Most historic sites merely had a plaque that identified it, as the historic buildings themselves had long ago been destroyed.
All museums and public buildings were closed as a result of the china virus, even the Basilica of St. Lawrence. This building had not been previously closed since it was built in 1909. If a house to God is closed, what is left?
In 1924, the Jackson Building became North Carolina’s tallest skyscraper. It is 13 stories.
North Carolina’s most famous writer is Thomas Clayton Wolfe, born October 3, 1900 in Asheville, North Carolina. He could not have been that famous as I never heard of him, and I minored in English Literature in college.
Look Homeward, Angel, his first novel, was published in 1929 and although a commercial success, was not well received by the citizens of Asheville. They recognized the characters were based on them, and they did not appreciate their dirty laundry aired.
Thomas’s mother ran a boarding house, called “Old Kentucky Home” where he grew up. It is now a memorial too Wolfe.
Usually open for tours, but not now.
Another Asheville native is Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell, who began her medical studies here and was the first women to receive a medical degree in the United States. Medicinal herbs decorate the bench honoring Dr. Blackwell.
The town was named for Jesse Franklin, born March 24, 1760, in Orange County, Virginia, who surveyed and organized the town in 1820. Jesse Franklin served North Carolina as a senator and as its 20th governor. The town of Franklin was not incorporated until 1855.
The town is located in a valley surrounded by some pretty high mountains. Driving here we had to go up and down 8% grades. As usual, I just kept my eyes closed.
Throughout these mountains rivers and streams run. Naturally, some of the restaurants in Franklin are on these waterways.
Prior to the White Man taking over here, the Cherokee Indians called this area home. The area that is now Franklin was named “Nikwasi” or “center of activity”. The remains of the Nikwasi Mound are still visible in downtown Franklin, marking the location of Nikwasi’s spiritual center. A Council House used for councils, religious ceremonies, and general meetings was located on top the mound, as well as the ever-burning sacred fire, which the Cherokee had kept burning since the beginning of their culture.
In 1761 the British, former allies of the Cherokee, destroyed Nikwasi. After the Cherokees rebuilt, the Americans destroyed it in 1776. The Cherokees rebuilt again and lived here until they were forced out in 1819.
You are probably wondering how I know all this. Simple, the Cherokee’s left a plaque.
Tidbit of Information: William Holland Thomas was born February 5, 1805 on Raccoon Creek, two miles east of Mount Prospect, later called Waynesville, North Carolina. He was related to the Calvert family, the founders of the colony of Maryland, through his mother the grandniece of Lord Baltimore. Thomas had the distinction of being the only white man to serve as a Cherokee Chief, and an adopted member of the Cherokee Nation. But, that is a story for another time.
In 1997, Duke Power acquired property along the Little Tennessee River, which runs through Franklin, to built power lines. After completion of the power system they deeded the property to the Town of Franklin who constructed the Tennessee River Greenway, a 4.7 mile paved trail along the River, part of which we walked today. Thank you Duke.
Like all the cities and towns we have come across in this area of North Carolina, there was a statute dedicated to the Confederate soldier who died defending his home in the war of northern aggression.
Bryson City, North Carolina is located about 70 miles southwest of Asheville, NC.
The historic courthouse is now the city visitor center, and for a change, was open with a nice exhibit on the area.
The Tuckasegee River flows directly through the City.
Bryson City use to be the Cherokee settlement of Kituwa, which stood here for hundreds of years.
Thaddeus Dillard Bryson was born February 13, 1829 in Haywood County, North Carolina. On September 7, 1861 he was Commissioned a Colonel in the 20th North Carolina Infantry of the Confederate Army. After the war, in September 1868, he acquired a large tract of land on the north side of the Tuckasegee River. 17,000 Cherokee Indians had been forced out of the area in 1838, leaving the land open for white man settlement. The town was originally called Charleston. The Postal Service screwed up the mail because it confused this city with Charleston, South Carolina. They are not even close to each other. Nevertheless, in 1889 the name was changed by the citizens, population 25, to Bryson City, to acknowledge the many services rendered to the city by Thaddeus Bryson.
We hiked the Bartram Trail in the Nantahala National Forest to a lookout tower on Wayah Bald said to present a spectacular 360 degree view of the Nantahala, Appalachian, and Great Smoky Mountains. We were not disappointed.
Wayah Bald is the highest point on the trail where it crosses the Appalachian Trail (which is blazed white, for those that are interested).
The trail is named for William Bartram, born April 20, 1739 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, a naturalist, who crossed here in 1776 looking for new plants.
The drive to Wayah Bald can be a dizzying one if you aren’t used to hairpin turns and switchbacks. From the bottom of the mountain at 2,095 feet above sea level, to Wayah Bald lookout tower at 5,342 feet is a 40 minute 13.2 mile drive over a winding very narrow road. The last 4.5 miles are on a dirt fire service road. A Bald is an area of a mountain top not covered by trees. Wayah Bald was named by the Cherokee Indians who called the area Wa-ya, Cherokee for wolf, which inhabited the area.
The tower was built in 1937 by the Civilian Conservation Corp to accommodate personnel observing the Nantahala National Forest, keeping watch over the area for wildfires.
Three miles from the top, we came across the first forest ranger station of the newly formed Nantahala National Forest, built in 1916.
The forest got it’s name from the Cherokee word meaning “Land of the Noonday Sun.” Because of the dense trees, the sun only hit the ground at high noon (as opposed to low noon?).
We then went to Bridal Veil Falls, a 45-foot waterfall not too far from the lookout tower. I could not find it.
Well, the china virus has finally effected us. No, we don’t have it. Our plan was to leave North Carolina and proceed to Maine. Maine’s border is closed to anyone traveling through New York State. Not just New York City, but the whole state.
When we booked our campsite at Moonshine RV Campground, we booked through the July 4th holiday, and planned to move north. By the time we tried booking in Maine, and New York, the campground here had completely booked up through September. We spend two days boon-docking in the middle of the woods, with no facilities (water, electric, sewer), which was fine with me, we can be independent for up to 7 days.
We found our current campground had openings. It was only 21 miles from Moonshine campground. Actually, we are on another creek (there are dozens of them in the mountains). This is the view from our side window. Tough life, huh?
Although it is called Fort Tatham Campground, there is, and never was, a Fort Tatham. Sun Resorts like to name their campgrounds “fort”.
We are on the other side of the city of Sylva, which we have already talked about (Day 1348) still in the mountains.
From one side of Sylva to the other, North Carolina: 21.0 miles
Waynesville, North Carolina, is located 30 miles southwest of Asheville, N.C. between the Great Smoky Mountains and the Blue Ridge mountains.
The town of Waynesville was founded in 1810 by Colonel Robert Love, born May 11, 1760, in Augusta County, Virginia, a Revolutionary War soldier. He donated the land and named the town after his former commander in the war, General “Mad” Anthony Wayne. General Wayne was born January 1, 1745 in Chester County, Pennsylvania, his military exploits and fiery personality quickly earned him promotion to brigadier general and the nickname “Mad Anthony”. Waynesville was incorporated as a town in 1871.
On May 6, 1865, Union Colonel William C. Bartlett’s 2nd North Carolina Mounted Infantry, the Union Garrison at Waynesville, were attacked by a detachment of rebels from Col. William Holland Thomas’s Legion of Highlanders, who had been summoned by the locals of Waynesville. Thomas’ Legion fired “The Last Shot” of the Civil War here. The following day the Confederate and Union commanders negotiated a surrender. They had been made aware that Generals Robert E. Lee and Joseph E. Johnston had already surrendered and that continued hostilities would prove pointless.
The claim that Waynesville saw the last shot fired in the Civil War is unsubstantiated, and the Battle of Palmito Ranch is considered as the final battle of the Civil War. It was fought May 12, 1865, on the banks of the Rio Grande east of Brownsville, Texas (see Day 269).
We explored Waynesville to look for evidence of the last shot theory, but nothing has been preserved from the Civil War. In fact, no mention of that theory is mentioned anywhere (although it might have been in one of their closed museums).
So, I set off for the old Strand Theater which is now a coffee and ice cream shop. Sadly, it was closed today.
Waynesville today, although the County Seat, is nothing more than antique shops, and tourist traps.
Lake Junaluska in the Blue Ridge Mountains was named after Chief Junaluska, a Cherokee leader, born in 1775.
He fought alongside Andrew Jackson and saved his life at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend on March 27, 1814 (see Day 807). The Chief was alleged to have said upon the removal of the Cherokee Indians from North Carolina by President Jackson: “If I had known at the battle of the Horseshoe Bend what I know now, American history would have been differently written”.
Tidbit of Information: During the Civil War, The CSS Junaluska of the Confederate States Navy was named for him.
We hiked the 2 miles around the lake.
We got caught in a rain shower and were able to take refuge in a gazebo along the lake.
We are now, literally, in the middle of the mountains in Western North Carolina, a few miles from the city of Sylva. The campground is just South of the Great Smoky Mountains in the mountain range known as Plott Balsam Mountains.
Smack-dab in the middle of this photograph is Moonshine Mountain Creek Campground, where we are currently located.
If you look really, really, really hard, you still can’t see us. Turning 180 degrees is the Great Smoky Mountains.
Our campsite backs up to Moonshine Mountain Creek, which is part of Jones Creek. Because so many creeks are in this mountainest area, the origins of their names have been lost.
Going through these mountain with our 22 foot truck and 40 ft Sphinx was a challenge. It really didn’t bother me as I kept my eyes closed most of the time. I had to tune out Barbara’s screaming.
At the campground, we played various games with some friends. Their campsite had a deck built over the creek, how cool.
The town of Sylvia developed as a center of local commerce after the coming of the railroad in the 1880s. Incorporated March 9, 1889, Sylva is named for Danish handyman William D. Selvey. I guess some people are just impressive.
The Jackson County Courthouse, on Main Street, was built in 1913. The Courthouse served as the county’s courthouse from 1914 until the present Justice Center was built in 1994. The courthouse building is now the county library. The Courthouse can be reached by climbing 107 steps from Main Street.
Because of the China Virus, access to the library is by appointment only. We convinced them to let us in to look at the structure and was directed to the historical librarian who gave us a verbal tour of the building.
Like all public buildings in North Carolina this week, we were required to wear “face coverings” (I guess they changed the name to get around people wearing batman masks).
The literature said there were 107 steps leading up to the library’s front portico from the plaza at street level. Barbara counted only 105. I told her she should go back and recount them. However the historical librarian told us two steps were taken out when the fountain was installed. Barbara was relieved.
From the top of the Courthouse steps was a neat view of Sylva.
If the town looks familiar, you probably recognize it from the movie “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” which was filmed here. You remember movie houses, those places where people met and ate popcorn.
McDonald, Tennessee to Sylva, North Carolina: 141.7 miles