A place of natural beauty and allure, Macon County is an attractive destination for naturalists and gem enthusiasts. At one time, it was home to the Middle Cherokee. The towns of Cowee and Nikwasi were once important communities for Native Americans, and the Nikwasi Indian Mound remains in the county. Established in 1828, Macon County’s seat of government is Franklin, and the Nantahala National Forest remains the county’s most intricate natural resource.
A native of Jackson County, North Carolina, Gertrude D. McKee became the first woman to serve in the North Carolina Senate. Her terms were from 1931-33, 1937-39, and 1943-44. She was known as a “pioneer of welfare programs” in North Carolina that served as models for other Southern states.
Not the only incident in the turbulent wartime mountains, the Shelton Laurel Massacre of Madison County proved, writes historians John Inscoe and Gordon McKinney, that “guerrilla warfare blurred the lines between combatants and noncombatants and obscured the rules of war.” It also revealed that Confederate sympathizers were as willing as Union sympathizers to be bushwhackers and redefine mountain warfare.
Named after Joseph Caldwell, the first president of the University of North Carolina, Caldwell County was created in 1841 and formed out of Burke and Wilkes counties by the North Carolina legislature.
The home of Revolutionary War general William Lenoir, Fort Defiance was built in 1792 in what is now Caldwell County. Prior to Lenoir’s ownership, the house was built on a fort site that was used by British colonists.
Home to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Qualla Boundary, Swain County was formed in 1871 and rests in the mountains of North Carolina. The Eastern Band of Cherokee call the county their home, and the tribe’s cultural and historical influence is significant in Swain County. Tourism and the gaming industry (Harrah’s Casino) is the primary industry of the region.
Annexed from the Rutherford and Burke counties, McDowell County rests in the mountains of North Carolina. Once the gold producing center during the North Carolina gold rush, McDowell has various historic and cultural attractions throughout its forest-covered land. The Arrowhead Monument, the Carson House, and Andrew Geyser are visited annually by tourists from around the state.
The American Civil War was a tumultuous time. In the North Carolina mountains, in particular, the war offered opportunities for mountaineers to be unjustifiably violent. In some high country places, civility ended, outlaws ruled, and cruelty prevailed. The Fort Hamby Gang of Wilkes County provides an example.
Considered “The Father of Bluegrass Music,” Earl Scruggs was born and raised in the mountains of North Carolina – Cleveland County, to be exact. Mastering the banjo at an early age, Scruggs later joined Bill Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys and earned wide acclaim for his “Scruggs-Style Picking.” After his induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame, Scruggs retired with his wife to Madison, Tennessee.
A county in North Carolina’s “High Country,” Avery was established in 1911 and earned the county the distinction as the hundredth-county in the state. One of the highest counties in the eastern United States, Avery County is in the Blue Ridge Mountains and is home to the man-made Linn Cove Viaduct and the natural-wonder Grandfather Mountain. Year after year, numerous tourists visit Avery, bringing over $50 million into the county’s economy annually.