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.