Sliding into the parking lot of the Cold Mountain Corn Maze, the smell of campfire and old, fallen leaves fills the nostrils.
Soon, the sounds of screaming fill the ears.
Gary Mann was working as a mortgage banker in Philadelphia when he read Cold Mountain during a trip to the beach. The book, written by his second cousin Charles Frazier, made his heart ache for Haywood County.
“About the second day after reading it, I told my girlfriend I was moving back,” said Mann.
Mann, who grew up moving every three years because of his father’s work, attended Tuscola High School, and his mother’s family has lived in Ratcliffe Cove for a couple centuries.
Having decided to leave the mortgage industry and move back to his mountain home, Mann was in the market for a new line of work. Eager to get in some fishing while he figured it out, he pulled up the Waynesville Fly Shop’s website looking for flow schedules on local rivers controlled by dams. That’s when he noticed the business was for sale.
“It was basically a done deal when I saw that,” Mann said.
And that’s how Gary Mann, a local boy who had wandered in search of his fortune, came home to buy up a fly.
If you walk into the Waynesville Fly Shop, you’ll notice a long plastic folding table with a fly tying vice on it and three or four men sitting around talking. At any given time, you could be in the presence of more than 200 combined years of fly fishing experience. The table is the heart of the Waynesville Fly Shop, and in many ways it’s the heart of Haywood County’s fly-fishing scene.
Rex Wilson, 70, a regular at the shop, has been using dry flies to fish for trout since 1962, the year his father-in-law Gary Smith took him on a trip to the Davidson River. Back then you could fish Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, and after checking in and paying a buck, you were entitled to 10 fish.
Wilson and shop manager Doug Mitchell grew up fishing Haywood County in that era, when the mills were everyone’s line of work and fishing knowledge was kept close to the vest.
The two men now carry on the fly tying traditions of Frank Coffee and Benny Jo Craig, two men who standardized the region’s most distinctive fly-tying patterns.
“Way back it was kind of a secret how to tie flies,” Wilson said. “People wouldn’t just tell you.”
Wilson earned his stripes filling orders for Coffee, who sold to distributors in East Tennessee and Asheville. He remembers tying his first dozen and looking on nervously as Coffee went over each fly with his magnifying glass.
“I reckon I could use these,” Coffee had said.
Since then, Wilson has tied thousands of dozens of flies and is still the primary local source for the Coffee Stone Nymph — or sometimes referred locally as the “Dayco Nymph” in reference to the rubber factory in Waynesville where the materials for the fly originated.
“Rex won’t tell you this, but he is a master fly tier,” said Mann.
Mitchell, now 56, grew up in Hazelwood. He first went fly fishing on the West Fork of the Pigeon River as a 7-year-old with his uncle and has been fishing for everything from large and smallmouth bass to wild trout since then.
Mitchell ran guided trips for the shop’s previous owner, Matt Rosenthal, and was a regular at Roger Lowe’s fly shop in Waynesville before that. Lowe raised the bar for the fly fishing industry in Western North Carolina and served as an important generational link in the chain of mountain fly tying traditions.
Mitchell got hooked on tying flies at Tuscola High School, where his biology teacher Pat Powell initiated him to the mysteries of the art.
“My biology teacher was a fly fisherman and a fly tier, and I asked him to show me,” Mitchell said. “I might have flunked biology, but I passed fly tying.”
For Mitchell, being a mountain fisherman is about upholding a code and refining a skill that takes a lifetime to perfect.
“True mountain fisherman are so good with a dry fly, they can catch anything, but these are humble people,” Mitchell said. “They don’t go around telling people everything they know.”
Another regular at the Waynesville Fly Shop, Rodger McIntyre, was born and raised near Pine Bluff, Ark., and started work at the Canton Paper Mill in 1966. He floats Lake Junaluska with Mitchell regularly, and after 50 years, still marvels at the thrill of watching his quarry rise.
“It’s just seeing that little fish come up and take a dry fly. You see that once, and you’re hooked,” McIntyre said.
For McIntyre, the fly shop is a place you can act like a fisherman.
“You see what’s going on and you get new ideas,” McIntyre said.
Jason Van Dyke, 36, started fly fishing when he was 14 and runs guide trips for Waynesville Fly Shop. You can hear the reverence in Van Dyke’s voice when he talks about the other guys in the store.
“A lot of shops aren’t like this anymore. They don’t have a hometown feel. It’s a rare thing these days,” said Van Dyk, who likes to sit at the table and mine for knowledge about tying patterns, local hot spots and hatch schedules.
While the Waynesville Fly Shop may be the last best repository of local fishing knowledge, it’s also a community exchange for a host of fishermen who have come to the area later in life.
CFOT stands for Codgers Fishing on Tuesday, a group of men who frequent the shop and fish together every week. The group’s name is self-explanatory and owes its origin to the fact that member Dick Morgan has Tuesday off work.
William “Billy” Lamar III, 71, originally from the South Carolina low country, has been fishing “since Moby Dick was a minnow,” having gotten his first bamboo rod at the age of 6. Lamar is CFOT’s historian.
“We fish a little, but we kibitz a lot,” Lamar said.
Tom Hopkins, 69, another CFOT mainstay, started fly fishing for bluegills at 10 years old on Lake Schaeffer in northern Indiana. He met Lamar at the Waynesville Sub Shop and asked him about a fly-fishing pin in his hat. Lamar invited him fishing.
“I knew him for about 90 seconds, and he invited me into his world of fishing,” Hopkins said. “I’ve never had the nice, close relationships I’ve had since I moved here. I guess it’s a Southern thing, and I do appreciate that.”
Barney Neal, who recently moved up from Tampa Bay, Fla., full time, is the newest addition to the Tuesday fishing gang. Neal spent 35 years as a golf professional and picked up fly fishing last year after taking a few out of town guests on one of the shop’s guided tours of the Cherokee trophy waters. Now he fishes every week in good company.
“All of my fishing companions have at least 50 years of experience. How could I go wrong?” Neal said.
Lamar recently returned from a fly-fishing trip in Yellowstone National Park during which he fished the Lamar River, named for his ancestor Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus Lamar, a former U.S. Secretary of the Interior. The experience, while thrilling, didn’t hold a candle to his experiences in the wilds of Western North Carolina.
“I prefer living where I live and fishing where I fish,” Lamar said.
The reason, according to Lamar, is the community at the Waynesville Fly Shop.
“You know what this table really is?” Mitchell said. “It’s fishing out of water. More fish have been caught at this table than any stream in the mountains.”
“And the fish are getting bigger every day,” Lamar said.
The Waynesville Fly Shop offers guided tours on rivers throughout the region, fly tying materials, and all the goodies and gear that come with the sport of fly fishing. But it also offers knowledge and community to those with the patience to appreciate it.
“I think it’s one of the few industries left where you need people to tell you what’s going on,” Mann said. “Otherwise people would just go to the big box stores. The reason we’re competitive is because of the knowledge.”
For Mann, the effort of keeping a tradition alive is especially rewarding because he dropped everything for a chance to come home to his family tree.
“Having a deep-rooted history here just makes it mean much more to me personally,” Mann said. “It’s important for me to carry on the tradition of the fly patterns of the Smoky Mountains.”
The Haywood County Historical and Genealogical Society will meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 27 at the Shook House in Clyde. Following the business meeting, Ted Carr and Evelyn Coltman will present a program entitled, “The Best of the Cold Mountain Heritage Tour.” The tour, which was the sixth and final one of its kind, was held in June.
The presentation will include video clips from “The Best of Bethel” and parts of a DVD entitled, “Walking in the Footsteps of Those Who Came Before Us.” The video describes the Heritage Tour, and the DVD features interviews of local people such as Ted Darrell Inman discussing Inman’s Chapel, Tanna Timbes talking about Francis Mill, and Doris Cathey who discusses her home, all of which have been on the tour.
The last Cold Mountain Heritage Tour, sponsored by The Bethel Rural Community Organization, will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, June 26. This final tour includes some of the most popular and historic sites in Haywood County that have been featured in prior years and new sites that were not available before this year’s tour.
Tour guides will provide visitors on the tour detailed information about the architecture, the history, and the people whose lives gave meaning to the sites. The tour has entertained and informed local people about their own history and has also attracted hundreds of visitors each year from other states and regions who are intrigued by Cold Mountain heritage.
There will be a stop at the Bethel Presbyterian Church, built in 1885, and currently under restoration by the Bethel Rural Community Organization. On the tour is the Bethel Cemetery, the resting place of Pinkney Inman, the Civil War hero of Charles Frazier’s book and subsequent blockbuster movie, Cold Mountain.
The tour will again include the Inman Chapel and Cemetery where Charles Frazier made a surprise appearance last year. Another popular stop is the Blanton-Reece log cabin, one of the oldest structures in Haywood County. This cabin is unique because of its full dovetail corner connections, something that was not common at the time and may account for its preservation for nearly 200 years.
Points of interested that will be featured this year are the Cruso School and Lenoir-Devon Acres.
Cruso School was built in 1928 as a feeder elementary school for Bethel High School, the school closed just before consolidation in 1966. Today, Cruso Community Club utilizes the facility as a community center to promote its many programs: Old Crab Day, thrift shop fashion show and luncheon, quilt show, and Halloween Festival. It houses a mini-library, craft co-op, and a thrift shop. The Community Club has maintained the school building with historic integrity so that tour-goers can regain the feel of what it was like to attend school eighty years ago.
Lenoir Devon Acres is the location of one of the oldest land grants in Haywood County and is one of the county’s longest continuing working farms. The 100-acre farm was home to several generations of Lenoir family members, including Thomas Isaac Lenoir who was the first Captain of the Highlanders, Company F of the 25th Regiment of the North Carolina Volunteers of the Confederate Army. “Inman” of the Cold Mountain story served in this Civil War Company. Thomas Isaac Lenoir brought Devon cattle to the farm in the mid 1800s, and this same line of these gentle cattle is still living on the farm almost 160 years later. When the producers of the Cold Mountain movie were considering a location for the movie, this farm was where the movie was to be filmed until they moved production to Romania.
The Osborne Boundary Oak Tree, which has received some publicity lately, is also on the tour. It has served as a landmark in the Bethel Community since 1792. Dr. Doris Hammett has successfully fought twice to preserve this old oak tree, which is over 200 year old.
Another favorite on the tour is the Truss Bridge #79. This bridge is North Carolina’s oldest working bridge and Haywood County’s only remaining ornamental bridge. The bridge was manufactured in 1891 by the Phoenix Bridge Company and was moved to its present site in 1925 by men in the community who desired to have a passageway across the Pigeon River from Lake Logan Road to Love Joy Road.
Another new location to the tour is the Kinsland House, which dates back to around 1860 and has been remarkably preserved. New to the tour will be the opportunity to purchase the antiques and collectables displayed in the home, thanks to the generosity of the current owner Hugh Kuydendall. There will be a silent auction for the larger furniture items, such as antique beds, one is an original rope bed, and there is also a pie closet.
Tickets for the tour are $15 and can be purchased up to June 25 at Blue Ridge Books and ERA Sunburst Reality in Waynesville. In Bethel, they are available at Jukebox Junction and Riverhouse Acres Campground.
The day of the tour tickets can be purchased only at Bethel Presbyterian Church, the Cruso Community Club, and at the Blanton/Reece Log Cabin.
The tour is an all-day event and tour goers are encouraged to start early. Editions one through six of Legends, Tales & History of Cold Mountain, by local author, Evelyn Coltman will be available for purchase. The Bethel Rural Community Organization’s DVD will also be available, Walking In The Footsteps Of Those Who Came Before Us, which gives the oral history of the area by relatives of some of the original settlers.
By Michael Beadle
On a quiet perch atop Bethel Cemetery, two unmarked graves are all that’s left of a pair of Confederate soldiers who left Haywood County to fight a war far, far away, only to return and be shot down as intruders.
The graves of William Pinkney Inman and Johnny Swanger — it’s hard to say who’s body lies where — are located in front of the headstones of Joshua and Polly Inman, Pinkney’s parents. The real-life Pinkney was the inspiration for Charles Frazier’s best-selling fictional novel, Cold Mountain, about a war-weary, wounded soldier named Inman who journeys home to Haywood County to be with his true love.
Bethel Cemetery was one of 10 sites on this year’s annual Cold Mountain Heritage Tour, a weekend trek through Haywood homes, churches, farms, businesses and cemeteries teeming with rich history and local color. Guides at each site discussed the historical significance of these places while visitors were able to ask questions and learn more about the families, traditions and stories embedded in Haywood County’s past.
On Saturday, June 27, tour-goers were given an extra surprise this year at Inman’s Chapel, where author Charles Frazier greeted fans and recounted stories about his Inman ancestry and the book and movie that made this mountain community world famous. The chapel is referenced in Cold Mountain as the place where Inman and his love, Ada, first meet. Built in 1902 by one of Pinkney’s brothers, James Anderson Inman, it had fallen into disrepair after decades of no longer being in use.
However, a few years ago, Inman family members and community volunteers helped finish a restoration of the chapel. The massive effort included replacing rotted out chestnut beams and a weakened foundation, installing new wiring and lights, building new pew benches that fit the design of the original church, stripping off interior paneling and ceiling tiles to find the original wood, replacing the roof with metal shingles, and removing a sizable colony of bats.
“To get it saved was really important to a lot of people,” Frazier said. As an Inman descendent, he took pride in doing his part to repair the church, painting under the eaves of the exterior and helping match the funds that paid for the church’s restoration.
Frazier had not been to the chapel since the restoration was completed. He’s hoping to return for the Inman Chapel homecoming in mid-August. For now, he’s been working on his third novel (about a year away from sending to his editor). His second novel, Thirteen Moons, was a fictional account based on the life of Haywood County-born entrepreneur, legislator and Confederate colonel William Holland Thomas, who became an Indian agent helping the Cherokee to establish land claims in Western North Carolina that eventually became the Qualla Boundary for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.
Frazier has strong family roots in Haywood County. He’s the great great grandson of James Anderson Inman. Frazier spent his early summers under the shadow of Cold Mountain.
“I always just liked the name of that mountain,” he said, inspired by what little he could find about the story of his ancestor, Pinkney Inman, as well as the Chinese poems of Han-shan, whose named means “Cold Mountain.”
Frazier’s father, a longtime educator and principal, was educated at nearby Cecil Elementary School. His grandfather, Andrew MacDonald Frazier, was passing through the area after a logging job, walking to Waynesville, when he spotted a pretty young lady named Jessie, sitting on the front porch of a house. “Watch me,” he said to a friend, “I’m gonna marry that girl.” Frazier tells the story after viewing his grandparents’ gravestones — both stand behind Inman’s Chapel.
A few new touches to the chapel include wagon wheel frames for the entrance railing and hanging metal light fixtures that resemble candle holders. The sky-blue hue of the wooden ceiling has been restored, as James Anderson Inman would have included in the original design.
“It made him feel closer to God,” said Cheryl Inman Haney, a descendent of J.A. Inman and one of the Inman Chapel guides during the Cold Mountain Heritage Tour.
A newly released book by Cheryl’s sister, Phyllis Inman Barnett — At the Foot of Cold Mountain: Sunburst and the Universalists at Inman’s Chapel — features stories and photos of the Sunburst logging community, the Upper Pigeon Valley, and the history and legacy of Inman’s Chapel.
Unlike many Protestant denominations at the time that preached with brickbat fervor, the Universalists did not believe in an eternal hell, Barnett explained. They focused on community service. Thus, the missionaries at Inman’s Chapel kept a well-stocked library at the nearby Friendly House that also included adult education programs, a summer school, a day care clinic and North Carolina’s first free health clinic.
Despite such facts, Appalachia is still forced to dispel negative stereotypes of poverty and ignorance portrayed in movies and the media.
Quite to the contrary, Inman relatives would explain, in the early 1900s, the Sunburst logging community near Inman’s Chapel had a population in southern Haywood County rivaling that of nearby towns such as Canton and Waynesville, and trains stopping in the community brought books, culture and refinement that anyone in America might wish to have at that time.
Part of the Haywood history tour is not only to invite people to discover these sites, but to set some of the records straight, as history can often prove to be the tangled vines of speculation and opinion wrapped around fixed posts of dates and families.
Today, for example, William Pinkney Inman’s unmarked grave at Bethel Cemetery does not include a Confederate flag flapping at its side since he was considered a deserter. Many other unmarked graves just beyond Inman’s are those of slaves. Perhaps it’s fitting that Pinkney’s grave lies on a spot of earth where visitors may find perspective to see the mountains that define a man. To the south, one can catch a glimpse of Cold Mountain, the peak that inspired an award-winning story about Inman. In the opposite direction stands Big Stomp Mountain, where Inman and Swanger drew their last breaths, shot down by the Home Guard.
As local historians explain, Inman had seen plenty of war and was captured by the Union and sent to the Andersonville of the North — a crowded prison known as Camp Douglas in Chicago, Ill., where hundreds of Confederate inmates died of disease and starvation. In order to be set free, prisoners were required to take the Union Oath, swearing off allegiance to the Confederacy. This, apparently, is what Inman did.
As he and Swanger made their way home from Tennessee, supposedly in Yankee uniforms (the only clothes they had, since they had been prisoners), they were shot by the Home Guard, a band of local militiamen (sometimes viewed as vigilantes). The scene is portrayed in the Cold Mountain novel and later in the 2003 Academy Award-winning movie, starring Jude Law, Nicole Kidman and Renée Zellweger. When Inman’s father heard the news that his son had been killed just four miles from home, he set out in a horse and cart and carried his son’s body back to receive a proper burial. Joshua Inman would lose four of his six sons in the war.
In an effort to help preserve the history of Bethel Cemetery, Allison Cathey will be cataloguing all the grave stones in the cemetery and creating a grid map to record who is buried and where. Cathey plans to finish the project for her Girl Scout Gold Award by the end of the year.
This year’s Cold Mountain Heritage Tour, organized by the Bethel Rural Community Organization, also included stops at the J. Frank Mann Century Farm in North Hominy, the Hoey/Smathers House in Canton, Bethel Cemetery, Bethel Presbyterian Church, the Blanton-Reece Log Cabin, Inman’s Chapel and its cemetery, as well as several sites in Waynesville, including Mast General Store, the Masonic Lodge (currently The Gateway Club), the Way House (currently Persnickety’s and Women in the Moon), and Green Hill Cemetery. Local musicians provided entertainment at Riverhouse Acres Campground. The annual tour has also produced several booklets and a Cold Mountain Heritage DVD. For more information about the tour or to purchase Cold Mountain Heritage DVDs or booklets, go to www.bethelcomm.org/purpose.html.
By Ellen Cirino • Special To The Smoky Mountain News
The fifth Cold Mountain Heritage Tour, a self-driving tour to historic sites in and around the Haywood County community of Bethel that aren’t open for public access, will be held Saturday, June 27, and Sunday, June 28. The tour provides a unique opportunity for tourists and locals to experience some of the Appalachian mountain heritage in Haywood County.
The tour kicks off at 9 a.m. Saturday at North Hominy Community Club, located at 2670 Newfound Road just off Exit 33 on I-40. Guests will receive driving directions to each site on the tour.
The first stop is the private home of the Mann family who have graciously opened up their working century old farm. Tour guides as well as members of the Mann family will be explaining the farm’s history while showing guests the calf barn, milk processing house and where the first telephone in the community was located.
The next site on the tour is another private home whose original owners were Clyde Roark Hoey Jr. and his wife Bernice. Mr. Hoey was a North Carolina State Senator and it’s Governor from 1929 to 1933. The current owners, Gail and Doug Mull, will be showing the distinct Federalist style of their house as well as the many collectables throughout the home.
Other sites on the Saturday tour include the oldest remaining log cabin in Haywood County and four more historically significant locations. The last stop on Saturday’s tour is at the East Fork of the Pigeon River, of Pinkney Inman Hollywood fame. This location was one of the only landmarks that Inman could rely on as the end of his 300-mile trek home, through landscape that was devastated by the ravages of the Civil War. This historic setting is now the home of the Riverhouse Acres Campground and guests will be treated to an evening of entertainment by local musicians and folklorists. Food will also be available at a nominal cost.
Sunday’s tour begins at noon at the Gateway Club in Waynesville. This building, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, was originally built during the pre-Depression era as a home for Lodge #259 of the Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of North Carolinas.
Tour guests will also have the opportunity to purchase the 5th edition of Legends, Tales & History of Cold Mountain, written by local author Evelyn M. Coltman. This year’s book tells the history of farms, mercantile and people, detailing the history of Haywood County. “Walking In The Footsteps Of Those Who Came Before Us” is a two-hour CD available for purchase that features local descendents stories and versions of events that happened long ago.
Tickets may be purchased in advance at Zoolies, and Blue Ridge Books & News in Waynesville, Realty World/Heritage Realty in Maggie Valley, Jukebox Junction in Bethel. The two-day ticket for the whole tour is $25 and a one-day ticket is $15. Children under 12 are free. Tickets may also be purchased the day of the tour at the North Hominy Community Club and Blue Ridge Books and News.
The Bethel Rural Community Organization uses the proceeds of the ticket sales to help support farmland and historic preservation, MANNA food distribution, Bethel school activities, volunteer fire department, as well as benevolence to needy families and other worthy causes in the community. More information about the Cold Mountain Heritage Tour and the Bethel Rural Community Organization can be found at www.bethcomm.org.