A Land Apart

Western North Carolina – A Land Apart

THE NEW SETTLERS MOVE INTO THE MOUNTAINS

“It was, indeed, of all that mountain district of the west, ‘the place.’ It was a natural confluence of the hills, the junction of the four directions of the map – the appointed, the inevitable, place.”

– Thomas Wolfe, The Hills Beyond

LIFE IN THESE MOUNTAINS

From Native Americans and European explorers and settlers to the latest newcomers, many have lived and prospered in this mountain landscape. It was the mountains that largely defined how they lived. This exhibit is the story of the three families associated with this house in the 1800s – the Smiths, the McDowells, and the Garretts – and how their lives show the many ways the land shaped them and they shaped the land.

historical NC map

A LAND APART

By the late 1700s, the Eastern United States was already becoming thickly settled by immigrants. In 1790 North Carolina was the third most populous state in the Union, but only a tiny number lived in the mountainous western section. As late as the early 1800s, maps often showed Western North Carolina as an unknown and distant area, almost a footnote to the coastal plain and the piedmont. The mountains were a formidable barrier that slowed migration into the region for years.