To the Editor:
Readers may well be approaching exhaustion with this ongoing exchange regarding circumstances surrounding Horace Kephart’s arrival at Hazel Creek, but since his death the Kephart saga has been misrepresented to a degree rivaling the pervasive stereotyping and inaccuracies found in Our Southern Highlanders (OSH). We feel it important to delineate some factual verities.
Bryson City will soon have another feather in the cap proving its worth as an outdoors Mecca. If all goes well, the town will get its name added as a Mountain Heritage Trout Water City by the time summer rolls around again.
“Trout fishermen come and they stay a while,” said N.C. Rep. Joe Sam Queen, D-Waynesville, who filed the original bill calling for the trout city designation. “They stay in your bed and breakfast, they eat at your restaurants and often they bring their other family members.”
George Ellison’s response to Gwen Breese’s letter regarding his article on Horace Kephart and his condition when he arrived at Hazel Creek states, correctly, that as someone who is working on a biography of Horace Kephart, he is “obligated to examine, as best I can, each episode in Kephart’s life in the light of available evidence.” We wholeheartedly agree with that obligation. However, the information and supposed evidence which Ellison offers in an effort to describe Calhoun’s story of the meeting with and “drying out” of Kephart as nothing more than the equivalent of a “tall tale spun by Mark Twain” is at best open to serious question and at worst highly suspect. Here are some of the reasons why this rewriting of history is so fraught with problems.
Heading west out of Bryson City, just before the highway narrows into a twisting two-lane road, a small, ramshackle hut watches over the crossroads of Southern Appalachia — a last stop before descending into the remote Nantahala Gorge ahead, or the desolate beauty of Fontana Lake to the right.
The shack, wedged between junk cars and a rundown trailer, has seen better days, on a property that has seen better years. But, upon closer inspection, a friendly face sits behind a counter filled with knickknacks and the wafting smell of boiled peanuts.
“Well, I just love boiled peanuts,” 71-year-old Tommy Von smiled. “I had to make a living somehow.”
A new logo will soon chug onto the marketing landscape of Bryson City following the Swain County Tourism Development Authority and the Swain County Chamber of Commerce’s approval of a design meant to emphasize the town’s most unique aspect — the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad.
Most of lands surrounding Bryson City are publicly held forest and park land, making the town a staging area of sorts for hikers — the Appalachian Trail runs nearby — cyclists, campers, horseback riders and river rats.
Bryson City is about to get a second bike shop with the grand opening of Tsali Cycles on May 23. Local cyclists Rob Acton, Chris Royce and Brad Gerard are teaming up to head the business.
Despite the automated security system that speaks up every time a door is opened and the whiteboard grid tracking points for the shelter’s behavior management program, “institutional” is the last word that comes to mind when you enter Hawthorn Heights in Bryson City. Midday sunshine brightens the dining room’s white tile floors and family-style wooden table and chairs, and a few rooms over, couches circle a fireplace and television stand crammed with movies and Wii games. A large porch juts out from the stone building, the perfect place to play cards or read a book on a warm afternoon.
Plenty of green is popping up in Bryson City, but it’s not all due to the growing season. Green wayfinding signs now scattered throughout town point to landmarks ranging from the Road to Nowhere to the Swain County Courthouse. It’s the culmination of a year-long project to make in-town navigation easier and streets more attractive.
The last day of federal court in Bryson City will be Dec. 31.