carol elizabeth pennell asheville native real estate broker pennell@beverly-hanks.com 828.273.7770

1874

12/25/2010

Edward King
“The Great South: Among the Mountains of Western North Carolina.”
Scribner’s Monthly Magazine
vol. 7, issue 5
Charles Scribner and Sons
New York, March 1874

Some days later, the judge enthusiastically pointed out to us the beauties of Asheville, the Mecca of the North Carolina mountaineer. We had journeyed thither down the valley of the Pigeon River, — a tranquil stream, with flour mills here and there, perched in cozy nooks along its banks. A thirty mile wagon ride from Waynesville, landed us at the great white “Eagle Hotel,” from whose doors the Asheville stages ply over all the roads west of the Blue Ridge. In the valley where Asheville lies the capricious “French Broad” receives into its noble channel the beautiful Swannanoa, pearl of North Carolinian rivers. Around the little city, which now boasts a population of twenty-five hundred people, — are grouped many noticeable hills; out of the valley of “Hommony Creek” somber Mount Pisgah rises like a frowning giant, and from the town the distant summits of the Balsam range may be faintly discerned. From “Beaucatcher Knob,” the site of a Confederate fort, over-hanging Asheville, the looker towards the southwest will see half a hundred peaks shooting skyward; while in the foreground lies the oddly shaped town, with the rich green fields along the French Broad beyond it. Asheville Court House stands nearly 2,250 feet above the level of the sea; and the climate of all the adjacent region is mild, dry, and full of salvation for consumptives. The hotels, and many of the cheery and comfortable farm-houses are in summer crowded with visitors from the East and West; and the local society is charmingly cordial and agreeable. Buncombe County, of which Asheville is the central and chief town, was named after Col. Edward Buncombe, a good revolutionary soldier and patriot, and its name has become familiar to us in the quaint saying so often used in the political world, “He’s only talking for Buncombe…” At Asheville, we were once more in a region of wooden and brick houses, banks, hotels and streets; and, although still some distance from any railroad, felt as if we had a hold upon the outer world.

The town has grown steadily and remarkably since the [Civil] war, and now has banks, good churches, well-furnished stores, three newspapers, and ample hotels; while in the vicinity the tobacco which grows so abundantly in Buncombe is prepared for the market, and great quantities of cheese are annually manufactured. Beautiful natural parks surround it; superb oaks cast their shadows on greenest of lawns, and noble maples, ash and walnuts border the romantic roadway. But a few miles from the town’s center are excellent white sulphur springs, from which a variety of exquisite views are to be had, and only nine miles north of the town are the so-called “Million Springs,” beautifully situated in a cave between two ranges of mountains, where sulphur and chalybeate waters may be had in profusion… The town of Asheville will in future be the railroad center of Western North Carolina, and must grow to be a large and flourishing city.

a wildly romantic and picturesque country. The valley of the French Broad River conforms with perfect accuracy to the general direction of an air line between the two cities. And what a valley it is! The forty-four miles from Asheville to Wolf Creek form one of the most delightful of mountain journeys. The rugged wagon road runs close to the river’s banks all the way to Warm Springs, a charming watering place a short distance from the Tennessee line. As you penetrate the valley the river grows more and more turbulent; its broad current now dashes into breakers and foaming flakes, as it beats against the myriads of rocks set in the channel bed.

In the valley of the French Broad there are many admirable mill sites, the river at Asheville being quite as large as the Merrimac at Lowell, in Massachusetts. The water power is generally superb, because most of the mountain streams, before they flow out into Tennessee, have a fall of a thousand feet. Timber is abundant, and when the railroad comes, it will run through finely timbered regions.

Four miles from Asheville, going north-eastward, towards the Black Mountains, we reached the river, and followed its placid current through a beautifully-cultivated valley.

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