Easton (N.H.).

Summer resorts and points of interest of Virginia, western North Carolina, and north Georgia online

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of the connecting or cross-ridges that we encounter going west on the railroad line, is
the Balsam, in Haywood county, forty miles west of Asheville ; next the " Cowee " in
Jackson. Then flanking the " Nantehaleh," we ascend the Valley River mountain in
Cherokee. When we look down from some lofty peak like Pisgah, or the Nantehaleh,
on this wilderness of mountains which raise their gigantic forms in every direction, it
would seem a hopeless task to attempt the construction of a railroad through their


rugged labyrinths. But the observant eye of the engineer discovers that there are
two deep fissures or canons, in this apparently impassable barrier, which extend from
the southern boundary of North Carolina to the State of Tennessee, and offer an easy
egress to the tributaries of the Mississippi. Both of these deep defiles, these natural
highways, belong to North Carolina, and they have been furrowed out by the waters
of the French Broad, and the Little Tennessee.

Mr. Hayne, the eloquent Senator from South Carolina, said, in 1835, that the
Alleghany mountains were the dividing line of two great empires, and that sooner or
later they would become the geographical and natural boundary of a trans-AUeghany
and cis- Alleghany republic, unless they could be united by bands of iron, laid down
through these great depressions which the Creator had marked out for railroads.

This prophetic statesman used his persuasive eloquence and logic to unite the
States of Ohio, Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina, in an effort to occupy
these passages by constructing the Charleston and Cincinnati and Rabun Gap Rail-
roads ; and from then till now this scheme has been the hope of the good and the
g^eat in all this land. Half of this mighty work has been achieved by the Western
North Carolina Railroad Company, who laid the iron " bands of empire " along the
French Broad in 1882. The same capitalists who now operate and control the
French Broad line are pushing forward their track down the Little Tennessee caiion
to the East Tennessee, Virginia and Georgia Railroad, and thus forging the two
mighty bands which shall make this Union " one and inseparable," " an indestruct-
ible union of indestructible States."

Few persons appreciate the magnitude and importance of these great achieve-
ments. It has been sixty years since the project was conceived and two generations
that waited for its fulfillment have passed to the silent shores beyond, and the third
is now striving manfully, in its day, to complete the gigantic plan. The Ducktown
line is the connecting link which unites these great bands together and feeds and
strengthens both. It joins the French Broad line, at Asheville, to the Tennessee line at
the mouth of the Tuckaseege in Swain County, traversing a distance of about seventy-
five miles. It is in this mountain region that the last of the aborigines of this continent,
east of the Mississippi, have clung to their native homes. It is here that the ancient and
warlike Cherokees, now only a small remnant, still kindle the fires of their wigwams
on the ancient spots, where for unknown centuries their ancestors lived and ruled. It
is pitiful to look into their sad, silent faces, which rarely light with a smile, and read
the destructive destiny which advances upon them. They were the friends of the
white man, when he fled from tyranny and despotism to seek a home in their
unlimited domain, and with what ingratitude and injustice does he now requite
them ?

Driven from valley to valley, they are now pushed away to the most remote lands
and compelled to live in poverty and want — submissive, ignorant, patient, unobtru-
sive they subsist ; a nation of eleven hundred human beings — hopeless, helpless, and
dejected, year by year lessening in numbers and passing away from the memory of
man. Yet, with all these burdens on their hearts, we find occasionally a mind among


them which shakes off its load and brightens up with the ancient tire which animated
the brave spirits of their heroic ancestors.

Instances of chivalr\' are found among them, and even wit and humor have been
unexpectedly encountered ; but these are the rare exceptions to a dull and stupid ex-
istence. We may have occasion to refer to them hereafter.

It will be readily understood that this part of North Carolina was rarely visited
by strangers previous to the location of the railroad over it, and that the paucity of
its inhabitants prevented its occupation or development. It is a virgin, primitive
land, existing very nearly as it came from the hand of the Creator. What is on it, is
comparatively unknown ; what is under it cannot be told.

Enough, however, has been discovered to allure strangers to pass to and fro over
it for the last two years, and to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in expectancy
of wealth and profit.

Leaving Asheville we pass, for twenty miles, over an undulating country which
produces good wheat, oats and rye, and on the slopes excellent tobacco ; while the low
land meadows are covered with nutritious grasses. The evidences of improvement
are visible every where. We pass several good mills, a number of new houses, brick
and wooden, of modern style ; the cattle indicate good blood and careful treatment ;
strangers are exploring the country and old citizens show signs of activity and enter-

At Hominy, the first station, is a hotel well furnished, situated on a fertile farm,
and around it are several stores and some small residences. The house is well kept
and has as many patrons in the summer as it can accommodate.

Mr. Smathers, who is a prince of country landlords, keeps a first-rate tavern at
" Turnpike," the next stopping place. There is a " shut in " of the ridges here, leaving a
narrow shady valley, watered by a clear, bold stream, and on its banks, and under the
shadows of the mountain, Mr. Smathers entertains his numerous guests with " good
cheer," and plentiful abundance. It is quite popular as an inn and guests from many
places congregate under its pleasant roof during the summer months.

Passing over a little mountain, known as " Hominy," we suddenly emerge into
the valley of the Pigeon, and crossing this bright, clear, rapid stream the eye feasts
upon a picture well worthy of admiration.

The lands on both sides of the Pigeon are luxuriant with verdure ; on every emi-
nence around there is a church, or cottage, or some more pretentious residence, the
whole forming a bright little village ; there are several stores, where crowds are assem-
bled for business ; everything looks new and clean, and we are persuaded that live
men are building up the place. Our vision, however, cannot rest on even so pretty a
picture as this, when the lofty panorama above attracts our attention.

From the veranda of the " Penland House " the view is extensive and lovely,
the mellow tints and colors blend into harmony under the soft sunlight, the farms
dotting the slopes here and there, the cattle browsing in the green pastures, and the
forests of many hues are so charming to the sight that the dinner-bell sounds once,
twice and thrice, before one realizes that the time for the more practical business of


gratifying the inner man has arrived. Now that we have dined and determined to
stop over and see something more about this charming place ; the first thing that
rivets our attention is a huge pile of hundreds of logs, lying in a space near the
depot, and we observe a tackle close by, and large ropes hung to it, and we approach
to ask what this means. We ascertain that they are


from twelve to sixteen feet long and varying in diameter from two to four feet. They
belong to a firm of Scotchmen, who have branches of the same business in Austra-
lia, California and the Rocky Mountains. They have compassed the world and found
in Haywood and the surrounding counties the finest specimens of walnut wood in
existence. They are getting out these majestic trees from the primitive forests and
shipping them by rail to West Point, Va., on the York river, and from thence by sail
vessels direct to Liverpool and London. They have shipped about 3,000 of these logs,
which are said to average from $25 to $30 per log, and other lumbermen of less capi-
tal have, perhaps, aggregated a like number.

The business is yet in its incipiency. When traders first came into this vicinity
they purchased walnut trees of two feet in diameter at two dollars per tree, and as
speculation became rife the price increased to ten dollars, and the land-holders, who
then began to open their eyes and understand the value of their forests, refused to
sell at all, and began to cut, haul and export their own lumber, and some have joined
capitalists and sawed these logs into lumber.

One man, who purchased a mountain farm for $2,500, sold the walnut trees on
it, averaging over two feet in diameter, for the purchase money, and had his land and
other trees left as profit. This timber is so valuable that roads are cut in the very
depths of the mountain coves, where it grows, and after sliding the logs down to
where they can be put on trucks, they drag them still further until they can get a foot-
hold, and there they load them on lumber wagons and haul them as far as fifteen and
twenty miles to the railroad for transportation.

Lumbermen are now looking for white oak, which abounds on the mountain in
great quantities and of extraordinary size.

The curly maple, which is found on the streams, is also coming into market,
with the wild cherry and other ornamental woods. One piece of curly maple, two
feet in width, which was polished and exhibited at the Boston exposition, was said to
be unequaled in beauty, hardness of finish and the wondrous intricacies of its texture.

From this station sportsmen ascend the Pigeon to its tributaries that rise in the
cold and lofty ranges of the Balsam for


T^HESE beautiful game fish, with their olive green sides and carmine spots, in

■*■ horizontal lines and fiery like fins, are the most beautiful fish in the world.

Their flesh is salmon color and delicious to the taste. By taking hold of the spine of

the fish, near its head, the whole column can be extracted from the body, and it


brings the ribs with it, which are fastened to it, thereby leaving the fish entirely free
from bones. Their flesh is very delicate in this region, from the fact that they do not
grow large and coarse, seldom exceeding a pound in weight, and because of the
purity of their food, which they find in these clear, cold waters. They ascend the
streams in October, and follow the tributaries to their fountain heads, hence they are
called sa/iiio fontina/ts ; here they spawn in water scarcely deep enough to cover
their bodies. In March following, these eggs hatch and the " fry " remain for a time
until they gain strength, activity and size enough to escape being devoured, when
they reach the deep water below. These fish are very carniverous and feed upon one
another — the big fish devouring the little, just like mankind.

They are caught in the early spring when the water is not quite clear with a
hook and line, with sinkers to take it under the water, the bait being angle worms,
grasshoppers and the like ; but from May to September they rise to the different flies
according to the season, and then the most enthusiastic fisherman can satisfy his most
ardent wishes in this sport. The sportsman must, however, bring his rod, line, and
flies with him, as the fishing tackle in this region is rude and clumsy, suc"h as would
provoke laughter in an accomplished fisherman. But with it the natives catch fish,
and they know how to cook them.

The railroad goes on its way down the river until we reach Pigeon River Valley,
where we find an excellent water power known as William's Mills, situated in the
midst of an intelligent and christian community. The passengers here may see a
pretty church, twenty-eight by forty feet, with neat little spire, all of which was made
from the lumber of a s/ngle poplar tree.

Waynesville, the county seat of Haywood county, twelve miles west of Pigeon,
is a charmingly located village.

The principal attraction to the seeker for pleasure in that section, is the


one mile from Waynesville, in the green valley of Richland creek.

The railroad runs along the creek, the station being but a short walk from the
hotel grounds. Artists and correspondents who have sketched and described the
loveliness and beauty of this place, agree that it is unsurpassed by any spot in the
Alleghany range. There are five peaks of the Balsam directly overhanging the valley,
which mount up over 6,000 feet, one, it is claimed, as high as 6,500 feet.

The meadows up and down this Richland creek are luxuriant in growth and ver-
dure and bordered with azaleas, rhododendrons, and ivies. The waters of the creek
rush along with great rapidity over the whitest pebbles, and their gentle murmuring
is sweet music to the troubled heart and weary brain. The spot was once the hospi-
table home of Colonel Love. After the war, and the emancipation of the slaves, an
old servant was allowed to select a place for a cabin, and the first convenience he
sought for was a spring. He found " a bile," as he termed it, but told his old master
it had a bad smell to it. On examination it was ascertained to be sulphur, and the
track of the vein was traced to the foot of a hill where the spring first found its outlet.


An excavation was made and a granite bowl set over the spot with an aperture in the
bottom, through which the water finds its way to the surface.

A few boarders were taken from year to year at the family residence, but the
attractions were so great that Major Stringfield, son-in-law of Col. Love, was com-
pelled to enlarge his house and then to erect cottages, and finally it grew into such
importance that it has been leased by enterprising parties, who have added more
rooms, put up ten-pin alleys, furnished billiard rooms, laid off the grounds, opened
roads, and made the place convenient and comfortable, artistically as well as naturally
beautiful. It bids fair at no distant day to rival, in its accommodations and the
number of its guests, the Warm Springs of Madison County. The present pro-
prietors are making every preparation for a " big run " the coming season, and the
gayest and gravest may find here the choicest pleasures or food for reflection and
thought. No one visiting Western Carolina should fail to see this beautiful place.

The village of Waynesville, on the ridge above the springs, has about five hun-
dred inhabitants, and is noted for the excellence of its climate and water, the num-
ber and beauty of its churches, and its large fine court-house, which occupies a com-
manding eminence in the centre of the town. The Episcopalians have quite an artis-
tic little church, the inside furniture and trimmings being made of the various
ornamental woods that grow in the surrounding countr)-.

The Methodists have a commodious brick building to accommodate their large

The Presbyterians have erected quite an imposing looking wooden edifice, near
the east end of the town, and its aspiring steeple can be seen as the most prominent
object on the approach to the village from that side.

The Baptist Church, which has one of the most successful Sunday-schools in the
county, is situated near the depot.

The tourist will find ample opportunity for adventure in climbing the tall Balsam
peaks. Good roads and bridle ways have been cut out and leveled, safe and steady
guides are ready to accompany the traveler. Livery stables are plentiful, and good
horses can be obtained for the journey. If this tramp does not satisfy his curiosity,
let him hire a conveyance and go fifteen miles over to Jonathan's creek and its tribu-
taries, and catch plenty of trout, or if he has nerve enough, the old bear hunters of
that region will be glad to introduce him to " Bruin " in his home among the crag-
gies. This requires pluck, patience and a good shot, but when the game is bagged,
it is something of which we can boast, and a large bear skin is a trophy to be proud
of when we return to our friends.

The track of the railroad now at Waynesville will be laid, not only to the pictur-
esque gap of the Balsam mountain, eight miles west of Waynesville, but early in the
summer will be extended down the banks of the rushing Tuckaseege.

The work is being prosecuted vigorously, with five hundred hands. The tele-
graph wires will follow the track as it progresses west, and facilities for comm.uni-
cation with all parts of the country will be furnished.

The Balsam gap, 3,357 feet high, is forty miles from Asheville.


The route lies over the Balsam, thence along Scott's creek, leaving Webster in
Jackson county, one and a half miles to the south, to the Tuckaseege river, then
down that stream, penetrating a point of the Cowee mountain, with a tunnel of six
hundred feet, thence by Charleston, the county town of Swain county, nine miles
further down to where the Tuckaseege and little Tennessee flow together, then nine
miles in a southerly direction up the Tennessee, through another tunnel of five hun-
dred feet, to the mouth of the Nantehaleh river ; then leaving the Tennessee, it winds
along up the Nantehaleh seven miles, thence through deep cuts to Marble Gap, a
depression in the Valley river mountain, and from there west to Murphy, about twenty-
eight miles.

This route is a considerable deflection from a straight line, and lengthens the dis-
tance somewhat, but as it was impracticable to construct a road crossing the Cowee
and Nantehaleh ranges, they had to be flanked by following the depressions made for
the bed of the stream.

The road barely touches Macon county, but its county town, Franklin, will be in
twenty miles of the road when it reaches the Nantehaleh river.

Rich ores of various kinds, gold, iron and copper, have been found in Jackson
County, and the mountains are covered with splendid forests of fine trees.


in this county, is the summer home of wealthy persons who come there from the
South every season, and it is regarded a romantic retreat.

In Macon county, which lies immediately west, and bordering on Jackson, the


of the world are found, and nearly all of this article used in the United States is
exported from these mines. This mineral is found sometimes in crystals, cube-
shaped, half inch in diameter, but the most of the corundum of commerce is found
in very small crystals called corundum sand.

It is put up in bags and wagoned to the depots, where it is more safely secured
and forwarded to market. It is next in hardness to the diamond, and is used to cut
that stone, and for a variety of abrasive and polishing purposes.

It is found in large deposits, or in veins, and the working of the mines is not as
costly as that for other precious metals. It was first discovered here and made
known to the commercial world by the Hon. Thos L. Clingman.

Among the corundum sands Doctor Lucas, a large owner of corundum mines,
has found almost every precious gem except the diamond. Some exquisite

have been taken from his mme. This gem is of a beautiful blue color, and is next in
preciousness to the diamond.

The ruby, differing but little from the sapphire in its constituent elements, but of
a carmine color, has also been found in small quantities.


The mineralogist and geologist are by these presents introduced to Prof. C. D.
Smith, who lives in one mile of Franklin. They will find him rich in the knowledge
of every mineral, stone and gem that is found in this wonderful region.

His cabinet of minerals is quite extensive and varied.

The visitor will also find Lieut.-Governor James L. Robinson in the town of Frank-
lin, who has spent much of his valuable energies in bringing this region to public
notice. The Governor is never happier than when he can find an intelligent com-
panion with whom he can discourse about his native mountains.

Mica is also found in great abundance in this county, chiefly on the high ridge of
the Nantehaleh. It is worked by driving horizontal tunnels into the mountain, and
following the course of the vein when found.

The Natehaleh Mountain in this county is the grandest of its great companions.
Its loftiest pinnacle is 5,500 feet high, treeless and covered with grass. The extent of
the view from this point is only excelled by the boundless sweep of vision from the Roan.
But it surpasses the Roan in the loveliness and variety of landscape around its base
and the beautiful streams which spring out of its bosom.

Nothing could be more charming than the verdant valley of the lola, which
widens and deepens as it reaches out to the east, diversified by the little hills which
swell up from its bosom and add loveliness to the scene. The most attractive of all
the sweet spots, which make this valley so enchanting, is the rich and fertile farm of
the late Governor Swain, called " lola farm." Nearly a thousand acres of level bottom,
rich with alluvial deposits, hemmed in on every side like an amphitheatre, spreads
out before the eye, carpeted with green and musical with the gentle murmuring of
the falling water and the tinkling bells of the browsing herds.

Within two hundred feet of the greatest altitude of the Nantehaleh pinnacle, under
a bluff, in a secluded cove, is the


more properly a gushing fountain. This subterranean stream bursts from its confine-
ment with such force and power that the water spouts up to the height of six or eight
inches. It is as pure as transparent crystal and cold enough to make the teeth
chatter, and many imagine that there are gases in its composition which exhilarate
the spirits.

The stream is bold enough to have slaked the thirst of all the famishing hosts of
Israel in the desert of Zion, and no one can see this marvelous fountain of water
without having vividly recalled to his remembrance the scene described in Num-
bers, where " Moses smote the rock and the water came out abundantly and the
congregation drank and their beasts also." The herds of cattle which graze upon
this mountain from May to November congregate here in great numbers to drink
these sweet waters. They are salted on the bare rocks in the vicinity, and from these
they retrace their steps to the spring. These cattle are salted monthly and are called
together by a peculiar "whoop " from their owners, and seeing tourists approaching
this place, the cattle mistake them for the salting men and congregate around them


in such compact herds that it becomes dangerous to attempt to return down the
mountain. They obstruct the pathway and come rushing down behind you with such
speed that you must give way or be run over. A peculiar phenomenon is occasion-
ally, though very seldom, experienced on this mountain height which seems to be inex-
plicable. While riding on the undulating plateau and gazing in admiration at the
unfolding panorama far away, the attention is suddenly arrested by the humming,
buzzing noise of a hundred swarms of bees, that seem to dart down and circle about
the ground, then suddenly rise and whirl around as if there was a mingling of swarms
and then passing away until the sound is lost in the distance.

But before we can recover and begin to philosophize over this strange mystery
the swarms surround you again and nervous ladies begin to hide their heads and faces
in their shawls to avoid the sting of the little insects.

I looked faithfully, but I never saw a bee or awing to create the sound, but if one
swore by his ears, instead of his beard, he would be ready to take his corporal oath
that a million of bees had passed near him while on the mountain.

The natives say that it is an invisible bee, but I venture the opinion that it is
some electrical current that disturbs the air and creates the noise.

The old State turnpike passes immediately over the Nantehaleh, crossingit at a
gap where there is a great depression. It is about three miles to the summit of the
gap, in a straight line, but the twistings of the " pike " road lengthen the way to nine

The turnpike leads up the Wah-yah (the Wolf) creek, and ascends up a grade of
one foot in twenty. At one place, after traveling three miles, a person can stand on
the edge of the road and cast a stone to the point of departure below.

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Online LibraryEaston (N.H.)Summer resorts and points of interest of Virginia, western North Carolina, and north Georgia → online text (page 9 of 11)