Western North Carolina history

Western North Carolina history
The remarkable rise and fall of the Goat Gland King, Jackson County’s “Dr.” John Brinkley

Even a century later, the Great Flood of 1916’s watery depths haunt Western North Carolina

For Page Ives Lemel, running a 100-year-old girls’ camp has always been a family affair

An expansive account of Grandfather Mountain’s unique history and offerings

The WNC Sports Hall of Fame and its organizers build a legacy, and a future, for mountain athletes

Martin Luther King Jr. visited WNC at two turning points that shaped the civil rights struggle

A new series of signs highlights the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area’s cultural cornerstones

At Hart Square in Catawba County, a man with a passion for historic structures keeps the past alive

A new book by Steve Inskeep illuminates the personalities behind a tragedy for the Cherokee

UNC Asheville students document life 100 years ago, when the United States was on the brink of war

Throughout Western North Carolina sit dozens of public schools abandoned by time, consolidation, and changing demographics. In their heyday, they were community epicenters and veritable second homes for thousands of students. Today, some are boarded up, while others await imminent demolition and replacement by new state-of-the-art facilities. But there are also a handful of old schoolhouses tucked away in various corners of the mountains that have found new purpose as community centers, concert venues, historical beacons, and artists’ studios. Here’s a look at the past and present of eight of them.

Hugging the banks of the North Toe River, surrounded by blue-tinged mountains, the rural Mitchell County town of Spruce Pine holds a rich history, one with tales of trains and commerce, a hoard of minerals, and a nationally recognized theater. After falling in love with the community and learning of its heritage, Boone-based events planner Elizabeth Hempfling decided to pay homage. “I wanted to do something that portrayed love, but wanted it to be unique and to mean something,” she says. Hempfling staged a photo project that offers period recreations of Spruce Pine’s past, from the early 1900s to the 1950s, as well as snapshots of the thriving community today. In all, some 30 local residents pooled resources and time to stage, style, and snap pictures over four days. The result is a nostalgic portrayal of the town’s story, told with passion and reverence.