Downtown Canton is a snapshot of a classic mill town, with many of the unique and beautiful bungalows and buildings once built for mill workers and managers still intact. The downtown district is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and its crown jewel is the Imperial Hotel, which is now home to the Sid’s on Main restaurant. Originally crafted as a stately home, it is currently being renovated to its former glory.
Historic murals also dot the downtown landscape, offering interesting viewing for a stroll down Main Street, while a stop into one of the street’s barber shops or cafes will give you a chance to rub elbows with the locals.
Clyde, a hamlet that lies between Canton and Waynesville, can boast as its own the oldest structure in Haywood County. The Shook-Smathers House, home to the Shook Museum, was built around 1820, with additions and renovations made for decades producing the finished product we see today. The home’s attic chapel played host to many storied circuit preachers over the years, many of whom have left their mark in the unique collection of signatures that decorate the chapel’s walls.
The town is also home to “The Big Gun,” a local landmark and war memorial that is the defining feature of the small downtown landscape. Another memorial, made from steel taken from the World Trade Center, is slated to open in Clyde in 2011, commemorating the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks. Clyde was given two of only around 1,000 piece of steel salvaged from the site to be used in memorials.
• Blue Ridge Parkway
• Canton Area Historical Museum and Visitor Center — Step into the town’s history, starting with its early settlement, and see what has shaped modern Canton at 36 Park St. 828.646.3412.
• Colonial Theatre — The historic Colonial Theatre was built in 1932 and renovated in 1992 and again in 2006 giving the town a multi-use facility with state of the art film, video and sound equipment. Concerts are held most weekends. 828.235.2760.
• Mt. Pisgah — This mountain is visible from the area around Canton. Located at Milepost 408.6 on the Blue Ridge Parkway, a short, strenuous hike leads to a viewing platform with 360-degree views. Also a hotel, restaurant and campground located nearby.
• Old Pressley Sapphire Mine — Flume for sapphires and other gems. One of world’s largest blue sapphires was discovered here, earning the mine a place in the Guinness Book of World Records. Open seven days a week. Exit 33 off Interstate 40. 240 Pressley Mine Rd. 828.648.6320.
• Pigeon River Scenic Walking Trail — A walking trail that covers a mile and a half of the scenic Pigeon River in Canton. Benches line the trail for those looking to relax and take in the native flora or feed local wildlife, while a boat ramp is available for fishing and canoeing.