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Full text of "Catawba Valley and highlands : Burke County, Western North Carolina"

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William Carson Ervin 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2011 with funding from 
State Library of North Carolina 

Norfh Carolina Sfafe Library 

Catawba Valley^Highlands 





Illustrated feom Photographs by FRED. W. TYLER, Morganton, N. C. 


Copyrighted, 1896 

The Morganton Land and Improvement Co. 

Burke County, North Carolina. 



320-322,"pEARL STREET, N. Y. 



320-322"pEARL STREET, N. Y. 



Hail to the Highlands of North Carolina ! 
Grandest of States, let them ring with 
her name. 
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 
bright waters, 
Land of the mountain, tne cliff, and 
the dell. 
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 
their valleys, 
Boundless their forests, and priceless 
their ores ! 
Healthful the zephyr that over them 
Swept from the glen where the cata- 
ract roars. 

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 
morning ? 
What will the fruit be, if this be the 
flower ? 

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 — 

Fertile soil, 

Hospitable people, 

Magnificent scenery, 

A perfect climate, 

Vast mineral wealth, 

Abundant waterpower, 

Great forests of pine and the hard woods, 

Immunity from droughts and blizzards and 

unseasonable frosts, 
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. 

Very truly, 

The Morganton Land and Improvement Company, 

North Carolina. 


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. 


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 

III fr> 

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< n 

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. 


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 
regulated town. 


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. 


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 
streams ! 

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. 


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. 



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- 
ing cliffs. 


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. 


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. 


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- 


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 
"bark peelers." 

Bceke Tanning Company's Plant, Morganton, N. 0. 


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 


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 

MW^ttyX y.~* 



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. 


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 
early settlers. 

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 
Catawba Valley. 

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- 
broken body. 

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. 


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. - • 

~~^s~ " 


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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Syracuse, N. Y. 
Stockton, Colif. 






Catawba Valley and highlands, 

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Burke, County, -Wes'tern- Ijo^tfe 







Catawba Valley and highlands, Burke 
County, Western North Carolina 

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