The first popularly elected Senator of North Carolina, Lee S. Overman served in the U.S. Senate for almost thirty years. Overman, born in Salisbury, graduated from Trinity College in 1874, and later served as secretary to both Governor Vance and Jarvis. Elected to the Senate in 1903, Overman remained an ardent Democrat, supporting President Wilson during the height of World War I and supporting the creation of the Department of Labor.
Located in the western mountains of North Carolina in Boone, Appalachian State University was once a school dedicated to prepare teachers. Appalachian, or then Watagua Academy, was formed by the Dougherty brothers in 1899. Appalachian experienced great growth by the 1940s, and it was inducted into the University of North Carolina school system in the 1970s. Appalachian State University currently enrolls over 17,000 students, offering over 140 undergraduate and graduate programs.
Located in Hickory, North Carolina, Lenoir-Rhyne University was founded in 1891 as Highland Academy by four Lutheran ministers. Since its inception the school has grown to a student body of 1,900 students, and Lenoir-Rhyne continues its affiliation with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
Located in the western mountains of Buncombe County, North Carolina, UNC-Asheville remains the only distinctly labeled liberal arts university in the state. Asheville-Buncombe College, the precursor to the modern university, dates back to the late 1920s. After a significant increase in local and state funding during the late 1950s, UNC-Asheville relocated to its present location, and its student population greatly increased. Today, nearly 3,700 students attend the university.
A western mountain county, Jackson is known for its interesting natural and physical characteristics, particularly the Great Smoky Mountains, the Tuskasegee River, and the Nantahala National Forest. Formed in 1851, Jackson’s county seat is the town of Sylva, and other communities include Cashiers, Glenville, and Balsam.
Sacred to the Cherokee, Judaculla Rock has long remained a tourist attraction, but also a mystery to archeologists and geologists. Located in Jackson County, the large soapstone exhibits intricate carvings that Cherokee believe were imprinted by the god of all Game Animals, Judaculla or Tsu’kalu. Yet, historians and archeologists have proposed different theories regarding the rock’s meaning.
Located in Mitchell County, the Penland School of Crafts has long been heralded as a haven for young craftsmen and women from around the world. Since its inception in the late 1920s, Penland has offered courses ranging from weaving to glassworking to silversmithing. Today, 1,200 people attend the school annually, and a vibrant, local crafts culture surrounds the school.
Stoneman’s Raid has been described as the final blow to the Confederacy during the Civil War. From March until April 1865, Major General George Stoneman led a Union army into North Carolina and Virginia with the order to destroy Confederate structures and railways. The raid caused utter destruction in western North Carolina, and the task of rebuilding the many buildings and railroads proved to be a struggle through Reconstruction.
General Griffith Rutherford led a short but destructive march against the mountain-dwelling Cherokee in September 1776. Although casualties were relatively low on both sides, Rutherford’s army razed over thirty important Cherokee communities causing tribesmen and women to flee the mountains and start life anew elsewhere. Some historians claim that had the Cherokee recovered and fought with the British during the Revolutionary War, the conclusion may have been different.
Home to the prominent crafts school, the Penland School of Crafts, Mitchell County holds an important place in North Carolina mountain culture. The county was established in 1861, and its county seat is Bakersville. Mitchell County has long remained a source of over fifty precious metals and other minerals.