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Archive for April, 2010

Legendary Outdoorsman Lived and Worked in Bryson City

Much has been written about Horace Kephart’s camps in the wilds of Deep Creek and Hazel Creek, but relatively little is mentioned about his time in Bryson City. Yet it was in his Everett Street office that he completed his novel “Smoky Mountain Magic” in 1929, two years before his tragic death. Kephart’s manuscript was preserved by his heirs and finally published — just last year — by Great Smoky Mountains Association. Fittingly, the book’s proceeds benefit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which Kephart helped to create.

Although written eighty years ago, “Smoky Mountain Magic” has received positive reviews. In Smoky Mountain News, Gary Carden wrote “Is Kephart’s novel entertaining? Yes, it is. … What better topic than a journey into a forbidden realm, complete with witches, robber barons, noble savages and a winsome lady, all wrapped in a cloak of mystery and myth?”

Great Smoky Mountains Association has produced an excellent video about Kephart (below) and how his love of Deep Creek comes to life in the pages of “Smoky Mountain Magic”. The five-minute film is partly narrated by Libby Kephart Hargrave, the author’s great-granddaughter.

Kephart’s Bryson City office — he called it ‘”my den” — was on the second floor of the Waldroup Building (above) overlooking the Tuckaseigee River, with a view of his beloved Smoky Mountains. In 1929, the smaller barber shop building had not yet been added, and a flight of outside stairs led to the second floor balcony. Part of that balcony — Kephart’s porch — still remains behind the barber shop and can be seen from the bridge.

Horace Kephart Days, April 30 — May 2
Next weekend marks the second annual celebration of Horace Kephart Days with special events, hikes, music, speakers and storytelling in various locations around Bryson City and Deep Creek. You can find more information at HoraceKephart.com.

Previous Postcards devoted to Horace Kephart: January 2009 and January 2010.

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A Different Kind of ‘Bank Rescue’ For Bryson City

One of Bryson City’s oldest landmarks has been rescued from near obscurity to become the town’s newest showplace — the Bryson City Cork & Bean Wine Bar and Coffee House.

Owner Ron LaRocque, shown above with Rollon and Sherry Smith, completely renovated the historic Bryson City Bank, restoring many of its original architectural features. Even the original walk-in bank vault was converted into a wine vault where customers can peruse the restaurant’s selections.

Located at 16 Everett Street next to the old Courthouse, the structure was built in 1904 to house Swain County’s first bank. It was established by Stanley Black with just $5000 and was notable for having survived the Great Depression. Once it outgrew the space, the bank moved in the ’60s. Most recently, the building housed the Swain County Chamber of Commerce from 1987 to 2008.

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The Perfect Group Outing — Rafting on the Nantahala

Whitewater rafting is great fun. But it’s even more fun with a group of friends. That’s especially true on the Nantahala where a few short stretches of smooth water provide breaks from the rapids and a chance for friendly banter between rafters.

Each year, more than 200,000 paddlers ride the eight mile course that snakes through the scenic Gorge. With its Class II and III rapids, the “Nanty” is a family river, suitable for just about every generation (children must be at least seven years old or at least 60 pounds). Yet it’s challenging enough to have been chosen as the site for the upcoming 2013 World Kayaking Freestyle Championships.

National Geographic Adventure and ABC’s Good Morning America’s “Vacationland” series named the Nantahala River the number one place to spend a wet and wild vacation in the US.

Trips can be scheduled with a number of Nantahala outfitters. A variety of trips are offered and each company seems to add its own personal touch. All outfitters provide approved life jackets and most provide a wet suit and/or paddling jackets during the cooler months.

Photo courtesy of Adventurous Fast Rivers Rafting

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Bryson City Artist Turns Cornshucks Into Wildflowers

The most surprising thing about Lori Anderson’s exquisite wildflowers is not her attention to detail, it’s the materials she uses to craft her perfect reproductions. Each flower is made of cornshucks — a flame azalea (pictured), a dwarf crested iris, a flowering dogwood and many others — all native to the Smokies.

Flame AzaleaRecently accepted into the Southern Highlands Craft Guild, on Saturday Lori was demonstrating her craft at The Cottage Craftsman (above) in Bryson City, where her work is for sale. And she’ll be at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park’s Annual Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage, April 21st thru 25th.

It’s the beginning of the wildflower season in the Smokies. For a blooming calendar, visit the Hiking page of the Bryson City Online Travel Guide.

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