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Dave Minneman, heroic portrait

Started by Rob Neufeld in Local History Aug 25.

East Asheville history and sites

Started by Rob Neufeld in Local History Feb 27.

The German experience settling WNC 1 Reply

Started by Rob Neufeld in Local History. Last reply by Scott Dockery Feb 16.



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Cherokee and WNC music and dance events

Two Big Cultural Events in December in Hendersonville & Ashevillefrom press releaseThe Center for Cultural Preservation, WNC’s cultural history and documentary film center, presents, Cherokee Music and Dance on Thursday, December 7, 7 p.m., Blue Ridge Community College’s Thomas Auditorium.  Tickets are $5. The screening of A Great American Tapestry will be held on December 2, 2 p.m., at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, Reuter Center, UNC Asheville.  Tickets for that event are…See More
Spellbound posted events
Nov 9
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Battery Park Hill through the ages

Battery Park through the Years by Rob NeufeldPHOTO CAPTIONS: 1) Present-day view of Battery Park Apartments from…See More
Nov 6
Mark de Castrique posted a blog post
Oct 13
Rob Neufeld's discussion was featured

Dave Minneman, heroic portrait

Dave Minneman and a sense of justiceby Rob NeufeldPHOTO CAPTION: Dave Minneman doing research at Pack Memorial Library.  Photo by author.            “One of the biggest things I did as a kid, in order to escape my father,” Asheville resident Dave Minneman says of his 1960s and 70s rural Indiana childhood, “was…See More
Oct 8
Julia Nunnally Duncan posted an event

Julia Nunnally Duncan at MACA Authors' Booth

October 14, 2017 from 9:30am to 1:30pm
Julia Nunnally Duncan will be signing her new books A Part of Me and A Place That Was Home at the Mountain Glory Festival in downtown Marion on Saturday, October 14, from 9:30-1:30. She will be located at the MACA Authors' booth on Main Street.See More
Oct 7
Rob Neufeld posted a blog post

Sample 8 Great Smokies Writers at Malaprop’s, Oct. 15

Writers in UNC Asheville’s Great Smokies Writing Program (GSWP)read atMalaprop's Bookstore/Café, 55 Haywood St., Asheville, 3 p.m., Sun.,Oct. 15 Elizabeth Lutyens, editor of the GSWP’s Great Smokies Review, leads the Prose Master Class and will host the reading. ·        Ellen Carr, who works in the financial industry, will read excerpts from her novel of uneasy relationships, Unmanned. ·        Sarah Carter, an artist and photographer who will publish an excerpt of her novel, Jolene, Joe-Pye,…See More
Oct 6
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

Ellington in Asheville--a survey

The Douglas Ellington effect: An Appreciationby Rob NeufeldIMAGE: Douglas Ellington’s original drawing for a City Hall-County Courthouse Art Deco complex.            “Dear Douglas,” Kenneth Ellington wrote his brother, the 38-year old Pittsburgh architect, on May 6, 1925, “I know things are…See More
Oct 6
Mark de Castrique posted a blog post

How To Kill Your Reader

Danger is a crucial element in a mystery novel. A killer is on the loose and no one is safe. But sometimes the killer can be the writer, and the victim, the reader.I'm talking about when the author turns into a preacher and the story becomes a sermon. Now I am not against using a mystery novel for social commentary. Writing doesn't happen in a moral vacuum, and, after all, isn't a mystery a morality play? As fellow North Carolina author Margaret Maron said there is no topic that can't be dealt…See More
Oct 5
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Hidden Scars - A Sam Blackman Mystery

Sam Blackman and Nakayla Robertson investigate a 70-year-old death that unleashes a killer.
Oct 3
Mark de Castrique posted a discussion

Black Mountain College as Backdrop for Mystery

My new book, HIDDEN SCARS, is released Oct 3rd.  D.G. Martin notes the star of the story is Black Mountain College. More
Oct 3
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

Upcoming book--Sacred Sites for Secular Times

Sacred Sites for Secular Times: 50 Commemorative Experiences in Western North Carolina by Rob Neufeld              Among the many sites dedicated to history, there are some—both overbooked and overlooked—that provide full and moving experiences.  They involve a physical component, connecting to landscape; an imaginative one, entering other times and minds; and an interactive one, maintaining relevance.             The entries in this book help create full experiences through descriptive…See More
Sep 25
Susan Weinberg posted events
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Susan Weinberg shared their event on Facebook
Sep 22
Kathryn Hall posted a blog post

Aim for Beauty

In honor of my blog Plant Whatever Brings You Joy's 10th Blogiversary I've posted a chapter from my book Plant Whatever Brings You Joy: Blessed Wisdom from the Garden. This particular chapter was also excerpted in Fairview's GreenPrints magazine, which was greatly appreciated. Read more here:…See More
Sep 11

Sunburst, a logging village, harbored a community

by Rob Neufeld


            Benjamin Blaylock, age fourteen, was working in a field two miles south of Canton on a June day in 1907 when a flying rock hit him in the head and killed him.

            The rock had come from a blasting operation of the Pigeon River Railway. 

            Two years earlier, Champion Coated Paper Company president Peter Thomson had engaged local attorney George Smathers to buy timber tracts along the Upper Pigeon.  Log transport, it was determined, could not be accomplished by wagon or water.

            A road bed had to be carved through the mountains with dynamite.  Reuben Robertson, Thomson’s son-in-law, went with Smathers to get right-of-ways from property owners. 

            Captain Terrrell in Bethel demanded a fair price for lost property.  Captain Ledbetter, a corn distributor, feared losing his market, and refused to yield.  In his “Memories of Champion Fibre Company,” Robertson recalls having to use “the railroad right of eminent domain in order to cross (Ledbetter’s) property.”

            Difficulties in buying tracts in the Balsam Mountains led Champion to move Sunburst, its logging community, four miles downriver to a new location, called “bastard Sunburst” by some locals.  Here, for a dozen years, a model village served as the home for five hundred residents and the gathering place for workers coming from logging camps in the region.

            Author Charles Frazier’s grandfather, Andrew Frazier, left South Carolina to work at Sunburst, which had gone into full operation after the railroad had reached it in 1913.  Getting his mail at the Lavinia Post Office one day, he spotted the postmistress’ daughter, Jessie Inman.  “He decided right away he was going to marry her,” recounts Phyllis Inman Barnett in her book, At the Foot of Cold Mountain.

            The post office, one mile north of Sunburst, was near Inman’s Chapel, established by Jessie’s grandfather, James Anderson Inman, a Universalist preacher.

            Homes in the backwoods logging camps were modules moved around by trains.  In Sunburst, the buildings were permanent, and had indoor plumbing and electricity.

            Barnett’s mother and aunt were born in Sunburst.

            Dr. Sam Stringfield served Sunburst and the camps, pumping a speeder—a bicycle that ran on the rails—to get to injured loggers at any time of the night or day.

           Joe Gaddy gave bootleggers rides to a moonshining factory in Canada, Jackson County by driving a locomotive to Camp 19.

            Mrs. Georgie MacAfee, an African American resident of Sunburst, slept in the kitchen of her parents’ house, and got up at 6 a.m. to make way for the workers boarding upstairs, who wanted breakfast.

           Tink Gibson, a mentally disabled man, went around with a hammer in his pocket, and would hit you if he felt you insulted him.  He was afraid of water, and you could scare him away with a glass of it.  He made deliveries of mail and moonshine on request, and froze to death one night on a trip to Canada.

           The schoolhouse became so popular, Mrs. Frank Battles had to move her first grade class to a room under the town jail.  She kept an eye on her children in the yard to make sure they didn’t get run over by nearby train cars.

           Activity in Sunburst ceased after the clear-cutting of the mountains and a bad fire.  Champion flooded the abandoned buildings by building a dam to control water flow for its downriver mill.  The dam created Lake Logan, now the site of the Lake Logan Episcopal Center.



The information for this article was derived from At the Foot of Cold Mountain by Phyllis Inman Barnett (2008); Sonoma—Valley of the Moon: Sunburst by Hugh K. Terrell’s eight grade class, Bethel Junior High School (1978); and Past, Present, Future: How the Lake Logan Episcopal Center Came to Be.



Homes and buildings surround the log pond at the Sunburst mill and village in Haywood County, c. 1915.

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