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Wednesday, 28 January 2009 16:42

Bicentennial celebration of a mountain community

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By Christi Marsico • Staff Writer

An exhibit focusing on the history of Haywood County is now on display at Western’s Mountain Heritage Center.

Illustrating the rich culture of the Appalachian regions, the Mountain Heritage Center — located on the campus of Western Carolina University — offers innovative perspectives of mountain societies though exhibitions, publications, educational programs and demonstrations.

With more than 30,000 visitors a year, Curator Trevor Jones says the museum offers a feel of the culture and history of the area — the Appalachian people.

While the center’s permanent exhibit is the “Migration of the Scotch-Irish People,” the newest exhibit, “Haywood County: Portrait of a Mountain Community,” shares how county’s character has changed and developed over the last 200 years.

The exhibit was created to celebrate Haywood County’s bicentennial, combining the efforts of the Mountain Heritage Center, Haywood County Historical Society, the Haywood County Library, and the community.

In late summer the exhibit will find a permanent home in the remodeled Haywood County Courthouse.

Photographs depicting, agriculture, tourism and industry are the exhibit’s main focus, and were chosen due to their diversity.

“The strength of local communities is its identity, which says a lot about Haywood and its history,” said Wood.

The exhibit will feature five sections on 10 panels, highlighting the “high spots” of the county’s past.

There will be audiovisual component featuring snippets of interviews and historic scenes of the past.

“This is an overview and introduction that invites others to come along and view history,” Wood said.

There is also a book being written about the history of Haywood County due to be finished by July.

The book has been a two-year project in the making, culminating the county’s resources as community members have gathered at the library bringing photographs, stories, newspaper clippings among other information.

The last Haywood County history book was written in the 1930s, according to Curtis Wood, curator of the Haywood County exhibit.

Wood, a former history professor at WCU, is also the editor of Haywood County’s historical book.

“This is the first book written in 70 years, and a lot has happened,” Wood said. “Individual efforts have pulled together the history of the area with great cooperation.”

For more information call 828.227.7129 or visit www.wcu.edu/mhc.

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