Wilbur Gleason Zeigler.

The heart of the Alleghanies; online

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(See page 98.)












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Copyright, 1883



The Culmination of the Alleghanies Area The Grand Portal The Blue Ridge
The Smokies Transverse Ranges of the Central Plateau Ancient Mountains 7


The "Moon-eyed" People Ottari and Erati Musical Names Legendary Supersti-
tions The Devil's Footprints His Judgment Seat A Sacred Domain Cherokee's
Paradise Gained Aboriginal Geography Sevier's Expedition Decline of the
Tribe Younaguska A White Chief The Qualla Boundary A Ride Through the
Reservation Yellow Hill Constitution and Faith of the Band Characteristics
An Indian Maiden Soco Scenery . . . 15


Bruin's " Usin'-Places" Pointers A Hunting Party Stately Forests Wid Medford
Sticking a Bear Trials of Camping-Out A Picture Frosted Mountains Amid
the Firs Natural History In Close Quarters Scenic Features The Drive
Begins An Ebon Mountain Judyculla Old Field Calling In the Drivers A
Snow Storm The Vale of Pigeon A Picturesque Party Through Laurel Thick-
ets At Bay The Death Shot Sam's Knob Bear Traps An Old Hunter's Obser-
vation .......... 45


The Nantihala Woodland Scenes Monday's Franklin Evening on the Little
Tennessee The Alleghanies 1 Grandest Highway The Valley River Range
Lonely Wilds The Prince of Sluggards Murphy A Swiss Landscape An Ani-
mated Guide-post At the " Hoe-Down" Apprehensions of Harm A Jug in My
Hands Pine Torches The Shooting Match " Hoss-Swoppers "Discouraging

4 Contents.

Comments The Fawning Politician Cat-Stairs The Anderson Roughs Camp- *

bell's Cabin No Wash-Basin The Devil's Chin Soapstone and Marble Quarries

A Stinging Reception Deer A " Corn-cracker " Robbinsville . . 79


The Tow-head Angler The Brook Trout Points The Paragon Month for Fishing
Artificial Ponds Trip to the Toe Anti-Liquor Rattlesnakes Mitchell's Peak
A Ghost Story In Weird Out-lines Burnsville Pigeon River Cataluche
Mount Starling and its Black Brothers Whipping the Stream Striking a Bargain
An Urchin's Ideas Swain County Trout Streams In Jackson and Macon A
Grand Cataract Trout, Buck and Panther In the Northwest Counties . 107


The Heart of the Smokies Clingman's Dome Prospect from the Summit Mounted
Sportsmen A Mountain Bug-Bear Charleston The Dungeon A Village Store-
keeper Beautiful River Bends At the Roses' A Typical Mountain Cabin Quil's
Wolf story A Quick Toilet The Footprints of Autumn Knowledge from Ex-
perience The Ridge Stand Buck Ague On Long Rock A Superb Shot The
Buck Vanishes Acquitted Through Superstition The Hunter's Hearthstone . 137


The " Tar-Heel" joke Tobacco Favorable Conditions for Gold Leaf A Ruinous
Policy Hickory Shelby In Piedmont Old Field Land General Clingman's
Story -Watauga County Unequalled Pastures Prices of Lands Stock Raising
The French Broad Tobacco Slopes Fair Figures Henderson and Transylvania
The Pigeon Valley The Extreme Southwest Portion Character of Wild Range
Horticulture The Thermal Zone Forests for Manufacturers The Gold Zone
Mica Mines Corundum Iron Deposits The Cranberry Ore Bank Copper,
Lead, Tin, and Silver Precious Stones ..... 167


Early Emigration Daniel Boone The "Pennsylvania Dutch" Conservatism
The Revolutionary Forces The King's Mountain Battle " Nollichucky Jack"-
The Prisoner's Escape The State of Franklin The Pioneers Formation of
Counties The Western North Carolina Railroad During the Late War Restless
Mountains Scientific Explorations Calhoun's Observation The Tragedy of the
Black Mountains Later Surveys Representatives of the Mountain People . 213


Mounting in Asheville A Surly Host Bat Cave Titanic Stone Cliffs Chimney
Rock Hotel The Pools A Sunset Scene The Shaking Bald The Spectre Cav-
alry Fight A Twilight Gallop Through McDowell County Pleasant Gardens
The Catawba Valleys On the Linville Range Table Rock and Hawk-Bill The
Canon Innocents Abroad The Fox and the Pheasant Linville Falls A Dismal

Contents. 5

Woodland Traveling Families Grandfather Mountain The Ascent A Sunday
Ride Blowing Rock Boone Valle Crucis Elk River The Cranberry Mines
On the Roan Cloud-Land Hotel A Hermit's History Above a Thunder Storm
Bakersville Traces of a Prehistoric People The Sink-Hole and Ray Mica
Mines Cremation Drawing Rein ...... 237


Stage Riding The Driver's Story Waynesville Court Week Prescriptions for
Spirit. Frument. Before the Bar -An Out-Door jury Room White Sulphur
Springs A Night's Entertainment The Haunted Cabin A Panther Hunt The
Phantom Millers Light on the Mysteries Micadale Recollections Soco Falls
Webster An Artist's Trials Above the Tuckasege Cataract Hamburg A

Cordial Invitation Cashier's Valley Whiteside A Coffee Toper Horse

Cove Golden Sands Ravenel's Magnificent Site Hints for the Mounted Tourist
The Macon Highlands A Demon of the Abyss A Region of Cascades and
Cataracts Through Rabun Gap Clayton, Georgia The Falls of Tallulah
An Iron Way ......... 279


The Mountains as a Summer Resort On the Western North Carolina Railroad
Sparkling Catawba Springs Glen Alpine Marion Asheville Romantic Drives
Turnpike Arden Park Hendersonville Flat Rock The Ante- War Period
Caesar's Head Brevard A "Moonshine" Expedition A Narrow Escape How
Illicit Whisky is Sold Along the French Broad An Excited Countryman Mar-
shal Warm Springs Shut-in Gap Paint Rock A Picture of the Sublime . 333

Tables of Altitude, Population , Area of counties, and Temperature . . 371



1. VALLEY OF THE NOON-DAY SUN ..... Frontispiece.

2. UNAKA KANOOS ......... 13

3. A Soco LASS .... ... 37

4. MOUNT PISGAH ......... 43

5. THE FINAL STRUGGLE . . . . . . .74

6. THE WARRIOR BALD . . . . . . . .82


7. A NARROW WATER-WAY ....... 102

8. A GLIMPSE OF THE TOE . . . . . . .119

9. ON THE CATALUCHE . . . . . . .128



12. SILVER SPRINGS .... .... 173


14. SWANNANOA HOTEL ........ 211


16. THE WATAUGA FALLS . . . . . . . .266

17. MACON HIGHLANDS . ...... 293

18. THE JUNALUSKAS . . . . . . . .316

19. THE CULLASAJA FALLS ....... 329

20. UP THE BLUE RIDGE ........ 338

21. BOLD HEADLANDS ........ 354


DR. W. C. KERR'S MAP OF WESTERN NORTH CAROLINA (used by permission of
State Board of Agriculture).


Oh, holy melody of peace !

Oh, nature in thy grandest mood !

I love thee most where ways are rude
Of men, and wild the landscape's face.

T(f-HE great mountain system that begins in that part of Can-
^J^s, a da south of the St. Lawrence, and under the name of the
Alleghanies, or Appalachians, extends southward for 1,300
miles, dying out in the Georgia and Alabama foot-hills, attains its
culmination in North Carolina. The title of Appalachians, as
applied by De Soto to the whole system, is preferred by many
geographers. Alleghany is the old Indian word, signifying
"endless. " It is ancient in its origin, and in spite of its being
anglicized still retains its soft, liquid sound. It was not until
a comparatively late year that Western North Carolina was dis-
covered to be the culminating region. Until 1835 the moun-
tains of New Hampshire were considered the loftiest of the
Alleghanies, and Mount Washington was placed on the maps
and mentioned in text books as the highest point of rock in the
eastern United States. It now holds its true position below
several summits of the Black, Smoky, and Balsam ranges.


8 Introduction.

From the barometrical measurements of trustworthy explorers,
no less than 57 peaks in Western North Carolina are found to
be over 6,000 feet in altitude. The more accurate observations
being taken by means of levels, by the coast survey, may slightly
reduce this number.

It was John C. Calhoun who, in 1825, first called particular
attention to the southern section of the system. His attention
had been turned to it by observing the numerous wide rivers,
and tributaries of noble streams, which, like throbbing arteries,
came forth from all sides of the North Carolina mountains, as
from the chambers of a mighty heart. He saw the New river
flowing towards the Ohio ; the Watauga, the Nolechucky, the
French Broad, the Big Pigeon, the Little Tennessee, the Hia-
wassee, and their thousand tributaries, pouring from the central
valleys through the deep gaps of the Smokies into the western
plains, and uniting with the branches from the Cumberland
mountains to form the stately Tennessee ; the Yadkin, the Ca-
tawba, the Broad, the Chatooga, and the headwaters of the
greatest streams south of Virginia that empty into the Atlantic.
From these observations he reasoned rightly that between the
parallels of 35 degrees and 36 degrees and 30 minutes, north
latitude, lay the highest plateau and mountains of the Atlantic

The region, as measured in a bee line through the center of
the plateau from Virginia to Georgia, is 200 miles in length.
Its breadth, from the summits of the parallel rampart ranges of
the Blue Ridge and Smokies, varies from 15 to 65 miles, and
includes within this measurement a plateau expanse of 6,000
square miles, with an altitude of from 2,000 to 4,000 feet. In-
clusive of the eastern slope, the off-shooting spurs of the Blue
Ridge and the South mountains, the average breadth is 70 miles.
A portion of the piedmont section, properly a part of the
mountain district, would be taken in the latter measurement.

The Grand Portal. 9

The counties are 25 in number, reaching from Ashe, Alleghany,
and Surrey in the north to Macon, Clay, and Cherokee in the

After the bifurcation of the Blue Ridge and Smoky moun-
tains in Virginia, embracing with a wide sweep several counties
of that state and Ashe, Alleghany, and Watauga of North Car-
olina, they almost meet again in the northeastern limit of
Mitchell county. Here, in collosal conjunction, through their
central sentinel heads, the two ranges seem holding conference
before making their final separation. The Grandfather, the
highest peak of the Blue Ridge and the oldest mountain of the
world, stands on one side ; the majestic Roan of the Smokies,
on the other, connected by the short transverse upheaval known
as Yellow mountain. This spot is poetically spoken of as the
grand portal to the inner temple of the Alleghanies ; the Grand-
father and the Roan being the two pillars between which hangs,
forever locked, the massive gate of Yellow mountain. The
high table-land of Watauga forms the green-carpeted step to
it. Trending southwest, between the two separating ranges,
the Blue Ridge bending like a bow, and the Smokies resembling
the bow-string, lies wrapped in its robe of misty purple, the
central valley, comprising 13 counties.

The western rampart range, bearing the boundary line
between North Carolina and Tennessee, lifts its crest much
higher than the Blue Ridge ; is more massive in its proportions;
less straggling in its contour ; but with lower gaps or gorges,
narrow and rugged, through which flow all the rivers of the
plateau. Generically known as the Smoky mountains, it is
by the river gorges divided into separate sections, each of which
has its peculiar name. The most northerly of these sections is
termed the Stone mountains ; then follow the Iron, Bald, Great
Smoky, Unaka, and the Frog mountains of Georgia. Twenty-
three peaks of the Smoky mountains are over 6,000 feet in alti-

io Introduction.

tilde, the loftiest being Clingman's Dome, 6,660 feet. The
deepest gap is that of the Little Tennessee, i, 1 14 feet

The eastern rampart range the Blue Ridge trends south-
ward with the convolutions of a snake ; its undulations rising
seldom above a mile in altitude and sinking sometimes so low
that, in passing through its wide gaps, one is not aware that he
is crossing a mountain range, the fact being concealed by the
parallel spurs rising, in many instances, to a higher altitude than
their parent chain. In spite of its depressions, and, when com-
pared with the Smoky mountains, the low average elevation of
its crest, it is the water-shed of the system. Not a stream sev-
ers it. On the east every stream sweeps toward the Atlantic.
On the west the waters of its slopes are joined at its base line by
those flowing down the east or south side of the Smoky moun-
tains ; and, mingling with the latter, pour through the deep
passes of the loftier range into the valley of the western con-
fluent of the Tennessee.

From the Blue Ridge is thrown off many short ranges, trend-
ing east and south across the submontane plateau. In charac-
ter of outline they are similar to the parent chain. This plateau,
known as the Piedmont, walled on the west by the Blue Ridge r
diversified by mountains and hills, and seamed by the Yadkin,
Catawba, and Broad rivers and their affluents, incloses in its
limits many beautiful and fertile valleys. The outer slope of
the Blue Ridge, overlooking Piedmont, is abrupt in its descent
and presents wild and picturesque features ; cascades marking
the channels of the streams. Further south, where the range
bends around the South Carolina and Georgia lines, bold escarp-
ments of rock and ragged pine-set declivities, seamed by
cataracts, and beaten on by a hot and sultry sun, break sheer
off into the southern plains. The inner slope of the Blue Ridge
throughout its entire length from Virginia to Georgia, as con-
trasted with the outer slope, is more gentle in its descent ; is

The Central Plateau. 1 1

heavily wooded and diversified with clearings. The Smoky
mountains present similar characteristics richly wooded
descents toward the central valley ; rocky and sterile fronts
toward Tennessee.

The reader must not imagine that the central valley or
plateau, of which we have been speaking, is a level or bowl-
shaped expanse between the ranges described. On the con-
trary, its surface is so broken by transverse mountain ranges
and their foot-hills that, by means of vision alone, the observer
from no one point can obtain a correct idea of the structural
character of the region. From the loftiest peaks, he can see
the encircling ranges and the level lands beyond their outer
slopes ; but below him is rolled an inner sea of mountains,
which, when looked upon in some directions, seems of limitless
expanse. The transverse chains, comprising the Yellow moun-
tain, the Black, Newfound, Balsam, Cowee, Nantihala, and
Valley River mountains, hold a majority of the highest sum-
mits of the Alleghanies.

The Black mountain chain, the highest of these ranges, is
only 20 miles long, and has 18 peaks in altitude over 6, ooo feet ;
the highest of which, Mitchell's Peak, 6,711 feet above sea-
level, is the sovereign mountain of the Alleghanies. The Bal-
sam range, the longest of the transverse chains, is 45 miles in
length and crested by 15 wooded pinnacles over 6,000 feet
high. The parallel cross-chains have, nestling between their
slopes, central valleys, varying in length and width, and open-
ing back into little vales between the foot-hills and branching
spurs. Through the lowest dip of each great valley, sweeps
toward the Smokies a wide, crystal river fed by its tributaries
from the mountain heights.

The great valleys, or the distinct regions drained each by one
of the rivers which cut asunder the Smokies, are six in number.
The extreme northern part of the state is drained by the New

1 2 Introduction.

river and the Watauga. Between the Yellow mountain and the
Blacks lies that deeply embosomed valley region watered by
by the head-springs of the Nolechucky. Next comes the widest
and longest plain of the mountain section the valley of the
French Broad. The Big Pigeon winds through the high plateau
between the Newfound and Balsam mountains. The region of
the Little Tennessee comprises not only the wide lands along
its own banks, but those along its great forks the Tuckasege,
Nantihala, and Ocona Lufta. West of the Valley River moun-
tains the country is drained by the Hiawassee.

Geologically speaking, the mountains of North Carolina are
the oldest in the world. During the period of general up-
heavals and subsidences of the crust of the earth, these moun-
tains were the only lands remaining throughout firm above the
surface of the ocean. Rocks of the Archaean or earliest age
are exposed, and with their edges turned at a high angle lie up-
on the beds of later periods of formation. North of the south-
ern boundary of Virginia, the structural character of the moun-
tains is different.

The entire region is mantled with forests to the summit of
every peak ; the valleys and many of the adjacent coves are
cleared and inhabited by a happy, healthy, and hospitable peo-
ple. It is rich in picturesque scenery romantic rivers, luxu-
riant forests, majestic mountain heights, valleys of exquisite
beauty, quaint villages, cliffs, and waterfalls. It is rich in a
life-giving climate, brilliant skies, fertile lands, pastured steeps,
and timber and mineral wealth.

It is of this country the Heart of the Alleghanies that in
the following pages we have treated in as full, concise, and en-
tertaining a manner as we could conceive and carry into execu-



All kinds of creatures stand and fall

By strength of prowess or of wit;
'Tis God's appointment who must sway,

And who is to submit.


E are excluded from a knowledge of ancient American
history by an impenetrable veil of mystery and silence.
The past has left us only relics relics of things and relics of
races-^which are interpreted by an unreined imagination. Be-
fore Europeans set foot on the western shore of the Atlantic,
before the Indians occupied the forest continent, there dwelt on
all the sunniest plains and fertile valleys a race well advanced in
mechanical and aesthetic art, skilled in war and consecrated in
religion. It came and flourished and perished, leaving only
monuments of its existence in the form of works of earth, and
works of stone mounds, forts, and pottery. The old mounds
scattered everywhere are the sepulchres of illustrious dead, and
because of their number, the race has been designated the
" Mound Builders." They inhabited, among other places, the


1 6 The Native Mountaineers.

southern Alleghanies, the largest number of mounds being
found in the upper valley of the Little Tennessee. Most of the
rich mica dikes bear evidence of having been worked centuries
ago. The marks of stone picks may still be seen upon the soft
feldspar with which the mica is associated, and tunnels and
shafts show some knowledge of mining. The fact that a great
many ancient mounds all over the country contain skeletons,
encased in mica plates, associates these diggings with the build-
ers of the mounds.

The earliest traditional knowledge we have of the habitation
of the southern highlands has been handed down by the Chero-
kees. They say that before they conquered the country and
settled in the valleys, the inhabitants were ''moon-eyed," that
is, were unable to see during certain phases of the moon. Dur-
ing a period of blindness, the Creeks swept through the
mountain passes, up the valleys, and annihilated the race. The
Cherokees in turn conquered the Creeks, with great slaughter,
which must have occurred at a very ancient date, for the
country of their conquest and adoption is the seat of their re-
ligious legends and traditional romances.

No definite boundaries can be assigned to the land ef any
Indian tribe, much less a nation of proud and warlike mountain-
eers who were happy only when carrying bloodied tomahawks
into an enemy's country. The tribe was distinguished by two
great geographical divisions, the Ottari, signifying "among the
mountains," and the Erati, signifying "lowland." Provincial
historians have designated them as "In the Valley" and
"Overhill" towns, the great highland belt between the Blue
Ridge and Smoky mountains being designated as a valley.
The ancient realm of the tribe may, in a general way, be de-
scribed as the headwater valleys of the Yadkin and Catawba
on the east; of the Keowee, Tugaloo, Flint, Etowa and Coosa
on the south, and the several tributaries of the Tennessee

Beauty of Indian Names. 17

on the west. There were 60 towns, and 6,000 fighting men
could at any time be called by the grand chief to the war path.
It was the military prowess of these warriors that gave to the
nation the most picturesque and most secure home of all the
American tribes. A keen and delicate appreciation of the
beautiful in nature, as associated with the grandeur of their
surroundings, inspired them to unparalleled heroism in its de-
fense against intrusion. They successfully withstood neighbor-
ing tribes, but their contest with the whites' was a contest with
destiny, in which they yielded only after a long and bloody
struggle. The ancient nation of the mountains, expelled
from its home, crippled and enervated, but improved in
some respects, has found a home in- the less picturesque and
distant west ; but has left a dissevered and withered limb which,
like a fossil, merely reminds us of a bygone period of history.

If any one doubts that the Cherokees possessed an apprecia-
tive love of country and a genuine sympathy with nature, let him
turn to his map, and pronounce those Indian names which have
not been cruelly, almost criminally, displaced by English com-
mon-places. Let him remember too that there is a meaning in
their euphony, and a suggestiveness in their melody. It is a
grievous fault, the more grievous because it is irreparable, that
so many of the bold streams which thunder down forest slopes
and through echoing canons, have lost those designations
whose syllables glide from the tongue in harmony with the music
of the crystal currents. Of many natural features the names
are preserved, but their meanings have been lost.

East of the Blue Ridge, in North Carolina, very few geo-
graphical names of Indian origin have survived. In the valley
of the French Broad there is also a barrenness of prehistoric
nomenclature. From this circumstance it is argued, and the
argument is well sustained, that there was no permanent habi-
tation of Indians in these two localities. The villages were

1 8 The Native Mountaineers.

located in valley , and were known by the name of the streams.
In some instances, traditions became associated with the name,
and in them we have a key to an unwritten scroll. A village,
furthermore, gave to a region an importance which made its
name widely known, not only in the tribe but among traders
and other white adventurers, and thus made it a fixture. There
is the additional negative evidence of no permanent habitation,
in the fact that mention is no where made, in the annals of mili-
tary expeditions against the Indians, of villages east of the
Balsam mountains. Hunters and warriors penetrated the
forests for game, and carried the tomahawk to every frontier,
frequently making the Upper Catawba and French Broad
valleys their camping ground. While we know nothing about
the facts, the presumption is reasonable that at least all the
larger rivers and their tributaries were given names by the In-
dians, which perished with the change of race and ownership.

Catawba is not of Cherokee origin. The river takes its name
from the tribe which inhabited its valley until a recent date ;
South Carolina. It was a species of vandalism to substitute
French Broad for Agiqua and Tocheeostee, the former being
the name applied by the Erati, or "over the mountain"
Cherokees, to the lower valley, and the latter by the Ottari, or
" valley" towns, to the upper or North Carolina section below
Asheville. "Racing river" is a literal translation of the term
Tocheeostee. Above Asheville, where the stream is placid

Online LibraryWilbur Gleason ZeiglerThe heart of the Alleghanies; → online text (page 1 of 28)