CATAWBA VALLEY AND HIGHIANDS, BURKE COUNTY,
WESTERN NORTH CAROLINA
William Carson Ervin
Digitized by the Internet Archive
in 2011 with funding from
State Library of North Carolina
Norfh Carolina Sfafe Library
WESTERN NORTH CAROLINA
W. C. ERVIN.
Illustrated feom Photographs by FRED. W. TYLER, Morganton, N. C.
The Morganton Land and Improvement Co.
Burke County, North Carolina.
NEW YORK ENGRAVING AND PRINTING CO
320-322,"pEARL STREET, N. Y.
YORK ENGRAVING AND PRINTING CO
320-322"pEARL STREET, N. Y.
MAP OF BURKE COUNTY AND UPPER CATAWBA VALLEY.
LINVILLE FALLS— BUEKE COUXTY.
HAIL TO THE HIGHLANDS 4 !
Hail to the Highlands of North Carolina !
Grandest of States, let them ring with
Where now the " witling " who dares to
malign her ?
Where now the country that knows
not her fame ?
Hail to the Highlands! The land of
Land of the mountain, tne cliff, and
Health to their sons, and long life to
their daughters !
Peace to the homes where the moun-
taineers dwell !
Hail to the Highlands ! How fruitful
Boundless their forests, and priceless
their ores !
Healthful the zephyr that over them
Swept from the glen where the cata-
Hail to the Highlands ! Upon them is
Light that will fill them with wealth
and with power.
What of the noontide, if this be the
What will the fruit be, if this be the
By Way of Introduction.
This little brochure, descriptive of Burke County, North
Carolina, and of the upper valleys of the Catawba river, has
been published and a copy has been sent you, in order that
you may know something" of what we believe is the choicest
bit of "mother earth" in all of Sunny Dixie. It is not intended
to give in detail either a description of its scenery and environ-
ment or a catalogue of its products and resources ; but only to
present a few " Snap Shot" sketches that may lead you to
investigate the truth of the statements herein contained.
A country that has —
A perfect climate,
Vast mineral wealth,
Great forests of pine and the hard woods,
Immunity from droughts and blizzards and
Located on one of the greatest railway lines
in the country,
is an ideal spot for a home, and offers to capital a most in-
viting field for investment. Such a country is that briefly
described in this pamphlet, and of whose beauty the accom-
panying illustrations convey but a faint impression.
The Morganton Land and Improvement Company,
SOUTHWARD THE TIDE OF EMPIRE.
Of course, we do not know whether or not you are at all
interested in the Southland, in general, or the goodly com-
monwealth of North Carolina, in particular ; but the eyes of
the world are upon the South today, and you will probably
recall the fact that Chauncey M. Depew, who recently paid us
a visit, told his fellow alumni at Yale College that " The South
is the Bonanza of the Future " and that " // has the best climate
in the World," and a great many other complimentary things
that made us blush, but the truth of which we will have to
In October, 1895, a notable company of Chicago's leading
business men visited the Atlanta Exposition and various other
points in the South, and afterwards some of the party wrote to
the Manufacturers Record of Baltimore, giving their impres-
sions of the South, which were all most favorable. President
H. H. Higginbotham, of the World's Columbian Exposition,
said in that paper: — " The tide of immigration zvill hereafter be
in the direction of the waterfoivl in its flight from zone to zone."
President E. G. Keith, of the Metropolitan National Bank of
Chicago said: — "The tendency of immigration, which has been
pushing steadily Westward for tlie past fifty years, will be turned
by the attractive features of these regions to the South, and with
it prosperity to that section, which is warranted by the promising
resources and possibilities. ' '
In the same strain wrote N. G. Iglehart, Wm. K. Ackerman,
L. W. Noyes and C. H. Chappel, men whose judgment "goes"
in a city that beats the world for snap and enterprise.
THE OLD NORTH STATE.
Perhaps you have seen the statement in some of the school
books that " the chief products of North Carolina are tar, pitch
and turpentine," but as a matter of fact, the annual output of
one of North Carolina's tobacco factories, (and there are no
in the state) equals in value the product of all her turpentine
forests. North Carolina alone, of all the states, fills all the
blanks in the census covering field crops and products of the
mine and forest. No other state in all the list has such a va-
riety of soils and climate and scenery. Down in Columbus
county the palmetto tree shades the shores of placid lake Wac-
camaw, suggesting the latitude of the Everglades, and up in
Mitchell and Yancey and Watauga counties the dark, silent
forests of fir and beechwood and sugar maple will remind one
of the timber regions of the upper Penobscot. Sugar cane
grows in Louisiana and maple sugar is a New Hampshire
product, but North Carolina produces both. The alligator
basks in the Eastern sunshine and the snow-birds nest in the
Western shadows. Such is North Carolina in extent and in
variety of products.
THE COUNTY OF BURKE, AND THE TOWN OF
If Mr. Depew was right in calling the South the " Bonanza
of the future," then North Carolina is the Bonanza of the
South, and the famous county of Burke, away up here under
the mile-high peaks of the big Blue Ridge, is the richest, rarest
nugget in all the golden vein.
It lies three hundred and fifty miles from the sea-coast
and is still one hundred and fifty miles East of the Western-
most boundary of the state. The Western North Carolina
branch of the great Southern Railway cuts it in half as it spins
onward towards Asheville, fifty miles further in the mountain
shadows. To connect its county-seat with the town of Shelby
on the Seaboard Air-line system, twenty-three out of forty
miles of the Morganton & Shelby Railroad have been graded.
Here on the banks of the broad Catawba stands the ancient
borough of Morganton, that one of the old presidents of the
University of North Carolina, pronounced the most beautifully
located town in all the Appalachian system ; and which,
(because the State has located here two of its greatest and cost-
liest institutions, and because of the penchant of its citizens
for filling important State offices, time out of mind), has been
called "The Western Capital of North Carolina."
One third of the area of Burke County is mountainous, the
balance being low, rolling hills, thickly threaded with fertile
valleys. The position of Morganton, its county seat, is 35 ° and
45' north latitude and 81 ° 44' west longitude. To put it an-
other way, it has the same latitude as Yeddo in Japan, and
Teheran in Persia, and of Damascus, and the islands of Cyprus
A Morganton Suburban Residence Street.
and of Tunis and Algiers ; and longitudinally it is in line with
the centre of Hudson's Bay, and Cleveland Ohio and the Florida
Keys, and the city of Matanzas, in Cuba and is twenty five
miles further to Westward than Point Parina and Cape Blanco,
the most Western projections of the great South American
Pullman cars run direct from Jersey City to Morganton in
about sixteen hours over the Southern Railway, and if you are
travelling Northward you may take your supper in Morganton,
your breakfast in Washington, and, if you strike the right ferry
boat, lunch at your New York club by 12.30 sharp.
The county contains 379,347 acres of land, and has 16,000
inhabitants of whom sixteen per-cent. are colored. The town
of Morganton, founded in 17S4, celebrated its one hundred
anniversary with a population of 800. The census of 1890
showed that it contained 1557 people and a census taken by
the town in July 1895 showed a population of 2475, not count-
ing the thousand or so wards of the State in its great charities
located here. The town has handsome churches, good schools,
social and literary clubs, Masonic and Pythian Lodges, beau-
tiful residences and many cultivated and hospitable people.
Typical Morgantox Residences of the Old and the New Regime.
Its banking facilities are good, it has one of the best con-
structed electric light plants to be found in the country, a
model telephone system and an ice plant are being installed ;
and it has the largest steam tannery in the South, a cotton
mill, a smoking tobacco factory, a roller mill, printing establish-
ments, wood-working and building supply mills, newspapers,
and almost everything appendant and appurtenant to a well
A RESTFUL REALM OF BEAUTY.
Beautiful Country ! Well, come and see. If there is any-
where on the broad, green footstool a perfect blending of all
that makes a landscape inspiring and restful to eye and brain
and that satisfies that atavic yearning for beauteous woods
and fields and streams that every son and daughter of
Adam has felt sometime since the day when the first tenants
of Eden got notice to quit, it is in this same county of Burke,
where the Catawba sweeps seaward between the Eseeolas and
the South Mountains, mingling its waters with a score of
tributary streams, cold, clear and sparkling from the rugged
mountains to Northward or tawny and turbid from the gold
fields to Southward.
If we could take you with us for a five mile drive from
Morganton to one of the peaks of the South Mountains, you
would look down to the North and West on what appeared to
be a broad, level plain, half field and half forest, entirely
circumvallated by lofty forest-crowned mountains, save only
where to Eastward the great blue rampart is cleft by the
Catawba, rolling away to change its name to Santee down in
the "Palmetto State." You would be looking from an eleva-
tion 3000 feet above sea level and the wide, rolling plain
below would average 1500 feet above the tide. You would see
along the Northern and Western sky-line an unbroken succes-
sion of mountain peaks, sweeping across the whole breadth
of the State from Virginia to South Carolina. In the centre of
the line you would see that queer mass of stone, 4000 feet tall
by the yard stick, which the Cherokees called Attacoa, but
which the pale faces, who did not know what Attacoa meant,
called "Table Rock." And on either side of Attacoa, which
Indian tradition says was a sacrificial altar of the Manitou,
we would point out to you the sharp granite beak of
"Hawks Bill " and the dizzy precipice of "Short Off" where
the Linville has reft the Eseeolas in twain, and the long range
called none too euphoniously " Jonas Ridge," on whose " top-
most towering height " old " Uncle Ben " Barrier has his buck-
wheat fields and looks down serenely from his timothy
"meadows" on four states of this indissoluble union. To
Northward the lofty crest of the Blue Ridge, with its soft,
billowy outline, curves majestically through the smaller ranges,
with the hotels at Blowing Rock silhouetted against the sky ;
while the famous Yohnahlossee road, winding dizzily along
the crags and through the black fir forests, can be discerned,
though forty miles away by the stroke of the eagle's wing.
The hoary old " Grandfather," highest peak of the Blue Ridge,
(5940 feet) from whose foothills flow the headsprings of im-
portant tributaries of the Great Kanawha, the Tennessee, the
North Carolina State Library
Pee Dee and the Santee rivers, is a striking feature of the
landscape ; and we would see a bit of the treeless top of the
''Roan," (6,306 feet); and, sweeping round to the Southwest we
would behold, somber, shadowy, superb, the Titan uplifts of
the Black Mountain chain, with a full score of peaks as high as
Mount Washington, all dominated by " His Royal Highness,''
Mount Mitchell, who stands near 7000 feet "in his stockings"
and thrusts his gnarled balsam firs farther up towards the stars
than any neck of woods between the Rockies and the Atlantic.
Had Rasselas known this valley, the "Tah-ko-ee " land of
the Cherokees, the prize of many a prehistoric battle, the arena
of many a latter day struggle on hustings or forum — he would
never have sought for the hidden portal that opened on the
land of the unknown.
A GREAT NATURAL SANATORIUM
The question of climate is one of universal interest.
Climate has made one nation conquerors and another slaves ;
one people sluggish and bestial, another progressive, ambitious,
invincible. The desire for good health and long life is coex-
tensive with the human race. " All that a man hath will he
give for his life," said the Prince of Darkness when he scoffed
at the righteousness of the godly man of Uz. And what is life
without health ? And nowhere is health more universal than in
this wonderful Sanatorium which the Supreme Architect has
reared in the Catawba valley ; with its walls of beautiful blue
mountains and its roof of sunny skies and its floor a cunningly
wrought mosaic of green woods and brown fields and silvery
You will doubtless agree that what is wanted by North-
erner and Southerner alike in the way of climate is not the
enervating, humid air of the far South, or the icy blasts that
sweep across our higher mountains ; but a happy mean, with
just enough snap in the air to keep your energies strung up to
the right pitch and just enough of the warmth of the Southern
sun to keep away the damp that walketh in darkness and the
blizzard that wasteth at noonday ; a land where drought is a
straneer and where the out door air is a tonic and an elixir
from January till December. Such a land is the mountain-
encircled country of which the town of Morganton is the geo-
graphical and business centre. It is protected from the cold
winds of the North-West by a wall the Titans could not have
built, a mile high and a hundred miles long. This great
mountain barrier not only keeps out the blizzard of the winter
season, but, in summer, clouds form in the dense, unbroken
forests and sweep across the plain with pleasant showers, and
the great peaks send down at nightfall, even when the summer
days are warmest, the most delightful breezes to fan you to sleep.
And so it has come about that Morganton is attracting the
notice of the people of the North as a pleasant place to spend
the winter while the Southerners from the tide-water section
have been coming here to spend the summer for many genera-
tions, because there are no mosquitoes and because the nights
are always cool and refreshing.
HARKED WITH A WHITE STONE.
If you will take the "health maps" prepared by the U. S.
Census Department in 1870, you will see that Burke and por-
tions of three adjoining counties are marked in white to indicate
that they were absolutely free from lung and tliroat diseases. The
people of the county did not think much about this fact and
have never said much about it because they thought it was a
very natural condition of affairs, and it never occurred to them
that there were thousands and tens of thousands of people in
this broad land of ours to whom such a spot would be a city of
refuge and a haven of rest. The State of North Carolina
noticed this very significant fact, however, and so it bought
seven hundred acres of land just outside of the corporate limits
of Morganton and has erected here a magnificent hospital for
the insane. Its main building has a frontage 200 feet greater
than the Capitol at Washington and it accommodates 700
patients. It stands in a beautiful park of 100 acres and fronts
another great building on an opposite hill just completed by the
State as a school for the Deaf and Dumb, where 350 of the little
unfortunates will receive the best instruction and training to
be had anywhere in the United States.
Morganton would never have been chosen as the site of
these two great public charities in the face of the sharpest
competition from larger towns claiming equal climatic advant-
ages, had it not been demonstrated that none of the competing
points had the same fortunate environment. Results are
showing the wisdom of the State's choice, for while the average
death rate in the fifty-eight hospitals for the insane through-
out the United States has been, for the past ten years, eight per
cent, of the number admitted, the death rate at the Morganton
institution, for the same period, has averaged only four per cent.
Splendid management and unsurpassed climatic conditions
have both contributed to bringing about this remarkable result.
We might add that the men who manage and control some
of Morganton's most important interests came here from the
North in search of health, and, finding it, have made their
homes and transferred their investments to what they believe
to be the veritable "garden spot." Every year the Northern
colony increases, and there is still room and a hearty welcome
for many more.
The mean annual temperature for Morganton, as given by
the State Agricultural Department, is 5 6.8°, the mean for spring,
summer, autumn and winter being respectively 57. 2 , 73. 6°,
58. 1 °, and 42. 9 . By way of comparison it may be stated that
Venice has a mean annual temperature of 56.7 and a mean
winter temperature of 38. 6°, its summers being hotter and it's
winters colder than ours ; while the mean winter temperatures
of Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, Asheville and Pensacola are
28. 9 , 27. 4 , 34. 5 , 38 and 56.5 °, respectively. Between the
winter temperature of Chicago and that of Pensacola, there is
an average difference of twenty-nine degrees, while Morganton's
winter temperature of 42 ° is exactly midway between the two
extremes — the ideal winter climate.
The mean annual precipitation, as shown by the records of
twenty years, is 51.64 inches, so evenly distributed throughout
the year that the mean rainfall for no month exceeds 5.79 or
falls under 3.32 inches.
STREAMS AND WATER POWERS.
There are in the county, besides the Catawba, four rivers,
and creeks and smaller streams without number, which, rising
in the mountains on either side of the wide central valley, flow
between the hills through fertile fields to join the larger
stream. One of these streams, the Linville (the Eseeola of the
music-tongued Cherokees), literally tumbles into Burke from
the Mitchell county highlands with a sheer fall of eighty feet,
and then sweeps Catawba- ward for ten miles through a wild,
cliff-walled canon, resembling nothing else so much as the
chasms of the Saguenay; falling in eight miles fifteen hundred
feet and filling the mountain glens with ceaseless thunder.
Then it rushes madly along under the beetling crags of " Short
Off," and so out into the sunny fields, with its water as clear
and as sparkling and as cold and as pure as the world-famed
fountains of Vichy. The lower Linville valley has been
musical with the songs of the plough-boy since, when in 1766,
William Linville and his son, chasing a wounded elk through
the deep pools under " Short Off," were tomahawked and scalped
by the Indians and left their names to the crystal river whose
waters gave them sepulture. For a century past, too, men and
women have been travelling the trail that winds along the
bowlder-strewn crest of the Ese^eolas and have peered down the
dizzy precipices, some of them sheer one thousand feet, to see
the silvery thread of the river fretting down the canon, and
have visited the " Big Falls " where the river takes its first mad
plunge into the gulf; and many generations of fishermen have
lured the wily speckled trout from the seething caldron
beneath the cataract. But down the river from the falls to the
fields in all the days of the dominion of the white man, not a
score of them have ever gone, and they the hardiest and most
venturesome. A little party of engineers, looking out a path
for a railway, once made the trip, and the story goes that they
were forced to take their axes off the helves before they could
get them through the jungle of twisted kalmia and gnarled
rhododendron and great rock-anchored black firs and splintered
gneiss masses, wrenched by the Frost King from the overhang-
Upper, Creek, Wilson's Creek, Steele's Creek, Paddies
Creek, Laurel Creek, Irish Creek and both branches of what
is called the South Fork of the Catawba, in the south Moun-
tains, are all clear, beautiful streams, with many rapids and
waterfalls that will attract the tourist and furnish abundant
waterpower to run scores of great factories. No more fertile
valleys are to be found in Western North Carolina than along
these streams and on Johns River, Silver Creek, Lower Creek,
Muddy Creek and Hunting Creek, all in the county of
The transmission, storage and utilization of electrical
energy is every year being simplified and cheapened and
every year this subtle agency is being made to contribute more
largely to our comfort and convenience and pleasure. There
is waterpower enough in the cataracts and rapids on Linville
river, Upper Creek, and South Fork rivers alone to gridiron
the Catawba valley with electrical railways and dot it thickly
with nourishing manufacturing towns and to supply its in-
habitants with all the electrical luxuries and conveniences
of which Edison or Tesla have ever dreamed.
FIELD AND GARDEN.
Corn, wheat, oats and rye yield in Burke a good return to
the farmer, the first mentioned crop growing in the rich, loamy
soil along the streams almost as it does on the fresh prairie
lands of the North West, and having immunity from storms
of wind and parching drought and the blight of early frosts.
Clover and the grasses grow well in the strong clay soils, and
both sweet and Irish potatoes yield abundantly, 300 bushels
of the former and 250 of the latter vegetable per acre being
not an unusual crop. At the Hospital farm near Morganton
2100 bushels of sweet potatoes were grown on six acres, and
on six acres planted inside the corporate limits one of the
citizens of Morganton, in 1894, made a net profit of $600. Al-
though cotton is a staple crop in the adjoining counties of
Cleveland and Catawba, only a few bales are grown in Burke
in the extreme eastern and south-eastern edge of the county,
most of its area being too elevated for that crop. The most
valuable colors and weights of " golden tobacco" are grown,
and Burke county tobacco was awarded the first premium at
the Vienna Exposition. The farmers of the Catawba valley
enjoy good health, have everywhere an abundance of pure,
cold water for man and beast, and have a climate which allows
them to zvork out of doors every day in the year when it is not
raining. Every farm has an abundance of timber for fuel
and fencing. The farm mortgage and the crop lien are unknown
to them, and nowhere on earth will you find a more indepen-
dent class of people.
FRUIT CULTURE AND THE "THERMAL BELT.''
Apples, pears, plums, peaches and the grape grow as well
in Burke as anywhere in the South, and it has besides this
distinction : — In the South Mountains, which fill the Southern
third of the county with countless peaks, is what is called the
Typical South Mountain Cabin— in Thermal Belt.
'■ Thermal Belt." where over a considerable area orchards and
vinyards are rarely injured by the frosts, and where the apple,
the pear the peach, and the grape, attain a size and a per-
fection of shape and a delicacy of flavor that you have been
taught to believe only possible on the sun-kissed hills of
California. The " oldest inhabitants" of Burke, (and two of
them died during the month of March, 1895 aged 107 and
104 years, respectively,) attest the truth of the statement that
since the county was settled, when North Carolina extended
from the Atlantic to the Pacific and belonged to the " Lords
Proprietors," there was never a failure of the South Mountain
fruit crop, save once, and that was during the blizzard of
1894. In discussing the phenomena of this Thermal Belt, in a
very interesting publication entitled " The Hand Book of
North Carolina," prepared by the State Agricultural Depart-
ment, occurs, on page 46, the following paragraph : —
" The fact remains that within the limits of these frost
belts fruits never fail, and at the height of 1,500 to 2000
feet (hoar) frosts never fall. Such localities are found
along the face of the Blue Ridge in Burke and McDowell
counties and along the face of the South Mountains in
Burke. * * * * In the future this phenomenal section
must become of inestimable value ; for nowhere is there
such certain assurance of the security and maturity of
peaches and other tender fruit crops, or of the grape ; to
the successful cultivation of the grape the soil and the
general conditions of the climate offer numerous induce-
The area described in the " Hand Book/' as within the
" Thermal Belt," embraces also the Tryon Mountain, in Polk,
and the Brushy Mountains, in Caldwell and Alexander counties.
The people owning these valuable lands in Burke have, as a
rule, paid very little attention to fruit culture and have con-
tented themselves with supplying the local market, when
they should have been shipping immense quantities to the
cities. Land in this favored section can be bought to-day
at from $3 to $10 per acre, and a few years more will doubt-
less see the best of it owned by an intelligent class of fruit
growers, who will fill the mountain sides with orchards and
vinyards and obtain every year a full and sure return for
the capital and labor expended. Morganton people have
recently purchased several miles of these mountain tops,
within an hour's drive of the town, which they are opening
up with good roads. They will plant out orchards and vin-
yards and build summer cottages on the crest of " Denton's
Mountain," 2,Soo feet above the sea, where the views are fine,
and the water pure, and the breezes cool by night and by day.
Monazite is found in all the gold district, and is an im-
portant by-product of the mines. It is shipped to England and
Austria, where it is used in manufacturing the Wellsbach gas
hood. A few diamonds have been found in the county, and
aquamarines, amethysts, zircons, rubies, agates and garnets
both crystal and massive, are found, the latter in such
abundance that it has been shipped by the carload to be used
in manufacturing sand paper. Iron ore is found in many parts
of the county, though no attempt has ever been made to de-
velop any of the mines. There are outcroppings of magnetic
iron over a large territory in the South Mountains, five miles
South of Morganton. Limonite ores are found in the Eastern
part of the county near the South Fork of the Catawba,
and also on Paddies creek and Short Off mountain. There
is plenty of limestone for fluxing, on the North Fork of the
Catawba, near the two last mentioned ore banks. Magnetite
and hematite have been found on Steele's creek in the North-
ern part of the county, at no great distance from the great
magnetic iron mines at Cranberry, in the adjoining county
of Mitchell, which are free from phosphorous and sulphur
and which yield from 60 to 68 per cent of iron. Kaolin, cor-
undum and graphite have been found in the South Fork valley,
and there are large deposits of talc on Brown Mountain and on
Jonas' Ridge. The mineral wealth of the county is now at-
tracting wide attention, and the near future will witness a
wonderful development, especially in the gold mining districts,
where a good water supply, now practically secured, has
been the one desideratum to extensive and profitable opera-
VAST FOREST WEALTH.
One third of the County's area, 620 square miles, is still
virgin forest, and there are various timber tracts, owned by
firms and corporations, ranging in extent from 5,000 to 40,000
acres. The forests consist principally of oak, hickory, poplar
and yellow pine ; with white pine, chestnut, maple, locust,
birch and other hardwoods in the mountains. There are
strips of fir trees along the higher mountain streams and in
some sections wild cherry and mountain mahogany. Black
walnut and sycamore trees of large size grow along the
banks of the larger streams. The rock chestnut-oak, so
valuable for its tan bark, is found on all the mountain sides
and many thousands of dollars are annually paid out to the
Bceke Tanning Company's Plant, Morganton, N. 0.
ATTRACTIONS FOR THE BOTANIST.
The lover of wild flowers will find them nowhere else on
earth in greater profusiou than here ; so say distinguished
botanists like Bartram, the Michauxs, DeSchweinitz, Nutall,
Gray, Carey and Curtis, the latter of whom said that " in all
the elements which render forest scenery attractive, no portion
of the United States presents them in happier combination,
in greater perfection, or in larger extent than the mountains
of North Carolina." Along the rivers of Burke and in
the crevices of the beetling crags is the home of the splendid
rhododendi'on Catazubioisc, that festoons the cliffs as with a
brilliant garland of roses. The woods in Spring are all pink
and white with the bloom of the kalmia and of snowy white
and orange and yellow azalia, and fragrant with the odor of
the ever present calicanthus ; and, as the seasons change from
Spring to Autumn, are decked with all the flowers of this
latitude from the wild violet and the modest bloom of the
trailing arbutus in the shadow, to the saucy, high-headed
golden rod, disporting itself in the rays of the September
TO TOURIST, ARTIST AND SPORTSMAN.
We have said enough in the preceding pages to show that
the lover of Nature will find in the mountains and valleys of
Burke much to attract and interest him. There is in all the
Appalachians no territory of equal area that affords more wild
and rugged scenery than the region around Table Rock and
Linville Falls and canon. A turnpike road is now being con-
structed by citizens of Morganton leading through that beauti-
ful region to the famous summer resorts at Linville and at Blow-
ing Rock. Roads are also under construction that will make
the highest peaks of the South Mountains easily accessible
from Morganton by pleasant drives of an hour and a half's
duration. The town is so situated that its citizens can, if they
wish, spend the summer days in their offices in town, and their
evenings and nights at an elevation 3,000 feet above the sea, or
750 feet higher than Asheville, long noted as a summer resort.
While not claiming to be a " Sportsman's paradise," those
who are fond of gun and rod can find good sport in the fields
and forests and along the streams of Burke. There is good
quail shooting all along the Catawba and its tributaries. In
the wild mountains in the Northern end of the county black
bears, deer, wild turkeys and ruffed grouse are still found, not
abundantly, but frequently enough to interest the skillful
hunter. At certain seasons the rivers and ponds afford good
duck shooting, and the chestnut groves swarm with grey
squirrels in autumn.
Linville River, above the falls, and the head streams of
Upper Creek, and of Harper's Creek, just across the Caldwell
county line, abound with speckled brook trout, and camping
parties for the trout streams go out every fall and spring from
Mineral springs abound in the county. Connelly Springs,
on the Southern Railway, ten miles below Morganton is a
very popular Summer resort where the waters are fine and the
cuisine excellent. Glen Alpine Springs, in a deep gorge of
the South Mountains, twelve miles South of Morganton, is
beautifully situated and the water has wonderful curative
properties. Piedmont Springs, on the bank of crystal Upper
creek under the shades of Brown Mountain, is a picturesque
spot, once a very popular resort, but now the property of an
absentee landlord who has closed it to the public.
CHARACTER OF THE PEOPLE— THE WALDENSES.
Among the first settlers of the Catawba Highlands were
a score or more of colonists who had settled first in Penn-
sylvania, near Philadelphia, and in the counties of Chester and
York and Lancaster, and so many of them left relatives in
the " Keystone State" that one cannot pick up a paper from
that district without being struck with the number of family
names that are identical with those in the Catawba valley.
Adventurous, daring spirits they were, as the conditions and
manners of the day demanded. The hardy Scotch and English
and German Colonists who first came into this " No Man's
Land" from Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia were join-
ed by stragglers from the Scotch-Irish settlements on the
Cape Fear river in North Carolina ; and it is a remarkable
fact that, of the white population of Burke and adjoining
counties, fully ninety per cent are the descendants of these
A colony of Waldenses, the world famed Vaudois of the
Italian Alps, between 250 and 300 strong, have settled in
Burke in the past three years, on five thousand acres of land
located on both sides of the Southern Railway, eight miles
East of Morganton. Here they have established a little
village called Valdese, in which are located their church,
school and postoffice, and the home of their pastor, Rev.
Barth. Soulier, a scholarly Christian gentleman, who is entire-
ly devoted to the interests of his people. Outside of these
interesting, law abiding, industrious people there are not one
hundred foreigners in the county.
The "natives" are, as a rule, brave, hospitable and law-
abiding, and, being the descendants of men who rebelled
against the oppressor "on the other side of the pond," and
who gave up home and country rather than yield their
principles, they are the last people on earth to tolerate any
interference with civil or religious liberty. They ask no
questions of the stranger, contenting themselves if he observe
those fundamental precepts which the old law writers de-
clared contained " all the law and the prophets" — to live
honestly, hurt nobody, and render unto every man his due.
Alpine Cotton Mills, Morganton, N. C.
The abundance of waterpower, the proximity to the cotton
fields and the healthfulness of the climate contribute to make
Burke County an inviting field for the manufacturer of cotton
goods. The great forests of pine oak and various valuable
hard woods offer inducements to the manufacturer of furniture
and wood pulp paper and of an infinite variety of articles
made of wood. The location here of a great tannery, with a
capacity of 900 hides of heavy oak-tanned belting per week,
makes Morganton a most advantageous point for the manu-
facture of leather belting. With Asheville, one of the South 's
greatest resorts, only two hours away and with quick, direct
communication over the Southern Railway with the great
markets of Richmond, Washington, Baltimore Philadelphia
and New York, a fine field is furnished to the truck farmer,
the fruit grower, the dairyman and the poultry raiser. Wide
areas of the county are especially adapted to raising grapes
apples and pears for market. Experiments on the State
Hospital farm show that celery can be grown here as fine as
that which comes from Kalamazoo. On the same farm the
finest tube roses have been grown for shipment to Europe.
Strawberries, raspberries and other small fruits are grown of
the largest size and the finest flavor. Fruit and vegetable
canneries will soon become an important industry in the
The nurseryman will find here a good local market and will
be located in the centre of a territory where fruit culture is
now an important business and will at a day not far dis-
tant assume immense proportions. The mountains of the
Northern part of the county afford fine pasturage for cattle of
all kinds, and those well acquainted with the mountains say
that sheep keep fat on the range all the year round. There
are one hundred thousand acres of these ranges, in an un-
To sum it all up, — with abundant waterpower, cheap fuel,
cheap labor (because the cost of living is small), with proximity
to the cotton fields ; with fertile soil and a healthful climate,
the variety of industries that can be profitably pursued is well
night infinite, and need not be enumerated here.
OF HISTORIC INTEREST.
One of the most exquisite views to be had from the grand
old hills around Morganton is that of the broad, level acres of
" Quaker Meadow" farm just across the Catawba river. You
look down upon it from the wooded eminence on the South
bank of the stream. Just at your feet is the broad river.
outlined by old birch trees and sycamores and tangled mus-
cadine vines, and festoons of Virginia creeper and great flaring
poppies and kalmia jungles where the hills sweep down to the
water's brink. And just beyond lie the rich, level, loamy
bottom lands stretching back a straight mile to the forest-
crowned hills that seem to blend with the mountains beyond.
And you will see these fields, according to the season, sear and
brown with the stubble where the quail love to hide, or
carpeted with the soft green-sward of the wheat fields in early
spring time, or dotted thickly with conical ricks of aromatic
clover, or gleaming with the sheen of the harvest, or bearing
the tall, waving, tasselled Indian corn on many a goodly acre.
Away back in the dim past, tradition says, right in the
centre of the picture stood the most important town of the
peaceful Catawba Indians, and to this tradition color is given
by the fact that the ploughboy rarely runs his furrow twice
across the fields without turning up bits of Indian pottery
and arrow and spear heads and celts; and now and then,
along with all other kinds of stone implements, ponderous
stone battle axes that must have been wielded by a
race of giants. After the Indian town had been destroyed by
the warlike Cherokees, two Quakers, who hailed from nobody
knows where, came up the Catawba to trade with the Indians
and settled on the old town site which has from that day
borne the name of " Quaker Meadows." Here, at a later
period lived the McDowells, the men who led the brave
" Burke Boys" to fight with the soldiers of King George at
Pacolet and Musgrove's Mill and Thickety in South Carolina,
and who sent couriers in every direction to call the mount-
aineers together to check the advance of Ferguson. It was at
Quaker Meadow farm that the troops of the McDowells and of
Campbell and Shelby and Sevier and Cleveland and Winston
rendezvoused on the 30th of September, 1780, and it was under
the great " Council Oak/' still standing, that they held their
council of war before they marched away to crush the
British leader at Kings Mountain. Here the patriots returned
two weeks later with six hundred prisoners and the spoils of
battle and here, on the crest of a great hill that commands
the whole of the beautiful scenery, are the rude stones that
mark the graves of two of the "Heroes of Kings Mountain."
But we are not going to write a history of Burke county,
which, as Kipling would say, " is another story." The future
of this healthful, beautiful country is what we want to interest
you in. More capital and more men of pluck and intelligence
are needed to develop and beautify this favored land No
country offers more security and certainty of return for money
and energy intelligently expended.
If we have succeeded in interesting you sufficiently to
cause you to remember Burke county and Morganton when
you are seeking a Southern home or a Southern resort, we
will have attained the object which led to the publication of
this pamphlet. - •
SOME OUTSIDE TESTIHONY.
Morganton lies in the midst of mountains as beautiful as the eye ever rested upon and
filled with a wealth of mineral deposits, which include gold, iron, copper, zinc and mica.
Pulmonary or malarial diseases do not originate there, indeed it is a sanitarium for those
suffering from lung troubles. The general level of the plain is about i,soo feet above tide,
and, owing to the conformation of the surrounding heights, tornadoes are impossible and storms
insignificant, the great blasts passing high overhead. There are fine breezes from the mountains,
with cool, refreshing nights in summer, while the severe rigors of winter are unknown. —
Cambridge, (Mass.), Tribune.
Probably no where else in the world is there a finer climate than that of Western North
Carolina. This is the almost unvarying testimony of people who visit that section. Morganton,
N. C, situated foot of the mountains, is in one of the best parts of the State, in a country
rich in productive soil and agricultural capabilities, in timber, in water-powers, in beautiful
scenery, and pre-eminently rich in healthfulness and delightful climate. — Southern States
Magazine. Baltimore, Md.
When you reach Morganton the first thing you wish is, that your wife and children
were here too, to share with you the pure water, the cool and delightful mountain air, and
look upon the most beautiful scenery to be found anywhere on top of this green earth. — Raleigh,
(N. C) Daily News Observer.
North Carolina Slate Library
GC 917.5685 E73c
Ervin, W. C. (William Carson)
Catawba Valley and highlands : Burke Cou
3 3091 00209 8705
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«TED IN U.S.A.
Syracuse, N. Y.
Catawba Valley and highlands,
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Burke, County, -Wes'tern- Ijo^tfe
Catawba Valley and highlands, Burke
County, Western North Carolina