In the 20th century, the railroad helped shape Dillsboro’s evolution. Passenger trains traveled daily through the town, enroute to and from Asheville and Murphy. Freight headed for Franklin was also taken through the town.
With its cool summer temperature, Dillsboro became a tourist destination early on. It has long attracted those seeking the peace and comfort found in the mountains.
More recently, the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad operated out of Dillsboro. For two decades the train served as the town’s main driver. Its presence assured that crowds of customers would routinely stroll the town’s streets and frequent their stores.
When the train moved to Bryson City and the national economy soured, Dillsboro struggled to find its footing. Buoyed by its long-vibrant arts community, the town is now working to forge its path into the future.
But, on Sept. 6, Dillsboro’s attention will turn to its storied past. The town will celebrate its 125th anniversary with a day filled with era-specific faire, as well as the town’s current offerings.
The celebration will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in downtown Dillsboro. There will be vendors, craft demonstrations, exhibits and historical presentations.
The Smoky Mountain Quilt Guild will be there knitting, rug hooking and quilting. The Sons of the Confederacy will camp out on Friday night before the celebration and will be in full dress on Saturday. Area choirs will perform throughout the day at Jarrett Memorial Baptist Church, and the church will serve tomato biscuits as long as they last.
The celebration will also include cakes walks, fresh lemonade and the release of A Historic Guide to Dillsboro, a book produced by Western Carolina University students.
Want to go?
Dillsboro’s 125th anniversary celebration will be held 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 6.