Much of the North Carolina mountains were called “The Lost Province” before the 1920’s. There were few roads to the area and even fewer were paved. Only a handful of people made the mountains their home and for good reason, life was harsh and dangerous. Doctors were hard to find and many “white people” used indian “medicine men” when they became ill, because it was too hard to get sick people to a doctor in Asheville.
The Lost Province remained virtually inaccessible until tourism became popular after the Great Depression.
In September of 1935, men started working on a new road through the “High Country”. Much of the work progressed, after local men finished tending fields, crops and animals for the day. They would climb in a truck for extra work. The work consisted of crossing fences, climbing hills, descending mountains and digging what would become the Blue Ridge Parkway. Originally very unorganized and haphazard, this work continued to employ more people as the project grew. The last of the parkway, the Linn Cove Viaduct behind Grandfather Mountain, wasn’t opened until 1989.
The first telegraph lines went up in 1940, as did the first burley tobacco warehouse in Boone that November. Other modern conveniences also came up the mountain including city mail service to Boone in 1941. On the other hand, some things did not change in the area; Watauga County Sheriff’s deputies found and destroyed two large stills and illegal liquor operations in Blowing Rock the same year.
Moonshine operations have continued to present day. Many Highcountry families continue to produce illegal whiskey for sale, “to the right people”.
Grover Robbins Sr. opened “The Blowing Rock” in the 1930’s, drawing more tourists to the area and requiring additional roads. In 1935, Julian Morton improved an old road on Grandfather Mountain to a wooden observation tower and started charging admission, adding the “Mile-High Swinging Bridge” in 1952.
In 1960, 982 people made their home in Blowing Rock.
Small towns have continued to thrive on the tourism of those who want to enjoy the beauty of the area.
You too can enjoy the pristine wilderness, beautiful mountains, and pleasant people of The Lost Province, by planning a trip to the NC Mountains, where you are sure to have the experience of a lifetime.
The Banner Elk Bed and Breakfast family of inns
Innkeepers – Greg and Amy Gardner
Banner Elk, NC 28604
Also checkout www.BooneCabinRental.com for more Highcountry Rentals.