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The Land Trust for the Little Tennessee has saved a key tract from development along the Little Tennessee River near Cowee Mound.

The Land Trust bought three acres that were being marketed for an RV park. The low-lying land, which sits between N.C. 28 and the river, has 900 feet of river frontage and lies directly across the river from the Cowee Mound.

“This is a great acquisition that will support a community vision of heritage-based development in this historic landscape,” said LTLT’s Sharon Fouts Taylor. “With some modest investment it can provide a safe place for people to pull of the highway, park, and view the river and the mound.”

The purchase was made possible by a gift from Fred and Alice Stanback of Salisbury, key philanthropists for land preservation in the mountains.

In 2007, Cowee Mound itself was protected by LTLT in partnership with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and the state, now augmented by the protection of a near-by parcel.

The ancient Cowee Mound was at the heart of the principal commercial and diplomatic town of the mountain Cherokee in the decades leading up to the American Revolution. A council house on the mound seated hundreds. In the mid-18th century, Cowee was at the geopolitical center of the South due to its position in the principal trade route through the southern mountains into the interior of the continent.

An 1837 map of Cowee shows a bridge crossing the river at the site of LTLT’s new purchase.

“When the river was low during the severe drought two years ago, large squared boulders that must have buttressed that bridge were clearly evident in the river channel between this parcel and the mound on the opposite bank,” said Paul Carlson, LTLT’s Executive Director. “The Little Tennessee River and the largely-intact historic landscape of northern Macon County are the greatest local assets we have for future economic development as well as for enhancing the fine quality of life we enjoy in this area.”

www.ltlt.org or 828.524.2711.

A 248-acre tract known as Rainbow Springs at the headwaters of the Nantahala River in Macon County has been protected through a conservation agreement between the long-time landowners and the Land Trust for the Little Tennessee.

The property owners, Myra Waldroop and her family, were honored with the Land Conservationist of the Year Award by the Land Trust for the Little Tennessee this month.

The tract is adjacent to Nantahala National Forest lands in the Standing Indian area and contains nearly 4,000 feet of the Nantahala River. It lies on either side of the Waterfall Scenic Byway, which runs from Rosman in Transylvania County to Murphy.

The property has been in the family since the 1850s, at first as a hunting and fishing retreat then a site for family vacations.

“Many family traditions live on,” said Myra. “With this long history, my family and I decided we wanted this property protected from development. The LTLT was our solution. We appreciate working with the folks at LTLT.”

During the 1920s and ‘30s, the Ritter Lumber Company operated in one of the meadows. A thriving lumber town included a post office, commissary, hotel and school. A railroad hauled lumber down the river to be shipped away. In 1948, Myra’s father, Carl Slagle, retired to Rainbow Springs, and later, Myra inherited a portion of the property where both of her daughters now live. The property is currently used for farming and sustainable timber harvest.

“The Waldroop Family conserved their land because of their love of the land and the heritage that the land represents,” said Sharon Taylor with LTLT.

The Land Trust for the Little Tennessee has taken the protection of the historic landscape one step further with the recent purchase of a century-old general store in the Cowee community in Macon County.

By Michael Beadle

Paul Carlson has plenty of maps to show you.

There are maps with stars. Color-coded maps of riverfront properties. Aerial photography maps. Maps of the past and maps of the future.

A cattle farm in Cherokee County known as Ridgefield Farm has been preserved for future generations thanks to a conservation agreement between the Whitmire family and the Land Trust for the Little Tennessee.

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