Friday, September 25, 2009

Black Mountain, NC

We have been coming here for four summers and I have never given the history of Black Mountain, which is only 5 miles from the campground. The following information is taken from the Black Mountain Chamber of Commerce Guide in an article provided by the Swannanoa Valley Museum.
Evidence of primitive tribes from as long as 12,000 years ago, in the form of spear points, arrowheads and pottery shards, have been found on farms throughout the Swannanoa Valley. The Cherokee had hunted the area for centuries by the time the first immigrant settlers came to the valley.
In the early 1600's as the English arrived in the New World, pioneers heard tales of the mountains to the west and began making inroads into Cherokee lands. "Relations between the English, French and Cherokee were trade based and always uneasy, the balance of loyalty shifting many times over the next century. During the Revolutionary War, the Cherokee allied themselves with the English who provided them with guns and ammunition and offered bounties for the scalps of patriot settlers."

After the war, lands were opened to immigrant settlers. "The first settler known to have taken his family across the Blue Ridge was Samuel Davidson. In 1784, Davidson built a cabin at the foot of Jones Mountain and brought his family across the Swannanoa Gap to their new home in the Valley. Davidson was killed by a band of Cherokee hunters, although his family survived." By 1800 the first census in the Valley showed a total of 5,815 families. In the early part of the century, Davie Crockett married a local girl, Elizabeth Patton, whose descendants still live in the Valley.
In the nineteenth century, the town was known as Grey Eagle. Although the railroad was started before the Civil War, it wasn't until 1879 that the first train reached Grey Eagle. By the turn of the nineteenth century, tourism had become a major industry for the town that became Black Mountain. Other industry included textile and furniture manufacturing and logging. In 1933 an unusual educational forum opened as the Black Mountain College. "The experimental school was unlike any other in the nation and attracted some of the twentieth century's most outstanding thinkers and artists." The school closed in 1956.

The railroad no longer carries passengers. The Swannanoa River is called a creek by some. The old storefronts house specialty shops and bistro restaurants. Famous people from the area are of course Billy and Ruth Graham, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Brad Johnson, and former Basketball player Brad Dougherty, who currently commentates NASCAR races.

The above photo taken from Hwy 70 down Cherry Street.
The above photo taken from Hwy 70 looking east.

The Swannanoa Valley Museum housed in the building on the far right. I regret that I have never been in there. I found an old photo in the Chamber Guide that the middle building was once the fire department, evidenced by the wide wooden doors.

Town Hardware at the corner of Hwy 70 and NC 9. The wooden floors creak underfoot and it has been open longer than any Home Depot or Lowe's. And you can find everything you need, even things you don't need, in there.

Black Mountain has served as the comfort of 'home' the past 4 years. So long, my old friend...

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