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The North Carolina Mountains

[This article appeared in Appleton’s Journal,October 15, 1870]

Lenoir, Caldwell County, N.C., August 20, 1870

To the Editor of the Journal

Let me say a few words more on the subject of the North Carolina mountains, and try to make them of “practical value” to those interested. Your correspondent from Cambridgeport, Mass., gives your readers directions how to reach Asheville; I would like to tell them how to get to Lenoir. I am willing to accede all that your correspondent claims for Asheville; but still, I think we have some advantages here that are not to be despised.

Take, then, a through ticket from New York to Salisbury, N.C., by way of Washington, Aquia Creek, Richmond, Danville and Greensborough. From Salisbury take the Western North Carolina Railroad; but to not go so far as Morgantown. Stop at Hickory Station. From thence it is only nineteen miles to our little mountain town. (Your correspondent is mistaken in regard to the distance from Morgantown to Asheville; instead of forty, it is full sixty miles, over a terrible road). From this point the finest localities of all this region are within easy distance. We hope yet to see this a centre from which tourists and artists may start out on their mountain excursions.

The small mountain–small that is, for this country, of which I spoke in my former letter– “Hibriton” had, before the war, a fine, graded road to the very top. Of course this road is now out of repair; but it is by no means a very bad one. I rode over it a short time ago, and found it much better than some roads that are more travelled. It is only five miles by carriage and, to walk by a shorter path, not much more than three form the middle of the town to the summit. I told you before of the exquisite view.

To go on to the “Grandfather” is only a little more than a day’s journey. Starting from Lenoir in the morning, you can go to the top of the Blue Ridge long before nightfall; some very fine lookouts, by the way, already rewarding the traveller. One especially, from a point called the “Blowing Rock,” is peculiarly interesting. A high bluff of rock juts out from the top of the mountain, and the formation of the valley below is such that a continual stream of air is every rushing up this precipice, and curving over thr rock at the top. It is a favorite amusement with visitors to throw their hats down in the yawning gulf beneath, and see them tossed back again by the ever ascending current of air. You realize how deep the valley is as you see the John’s River as it flows on through a heavily-timbered country, looking like a little brown snake crawling among huckleberry-bushes–so the great distance down dwarfs everything. Resting for the night at one of the several houses at which travellers can be entertained at a very cheap rate, in the morning you can start fresh and ascend the grand old “Grandfather.” This mountain, as seen from this side has the profile of a giant face–the forehead, nose, mouth and flowing beard strongly defined; and there it lieth, ever looking up to the sky in calm and passionless repose.

The very finest and most extensive views of all are to obtained from the “Roan.” The top of this mountain is perfectly bare; no trees are there as an obstruction on any side. It is between six and seven thousand feet high of imposing and peculiar formation, and covered with rich pastures. You can ride it on horseback; and there who desire to do so can remain during the night on the summit, as there is a fine spring of water there and plenty of food for the horses. This is a mountain that no tourist can afford to overlook. And the “Linville” with its magnificent falls, frowning rocks and wonderful ravines! The river dashes down, with two leeps, a distance of one hundred and twenty feet into a deep basin, and thence it runs on through a wild gorge for over thirteen miles. Oh, what a wealth of study and enjoyment is here for the artist and the lover of Nature! This scenery cannot be reached from Asheville without a long circuitous travel. Asheville lies, from here, far off on the other side of the Blue Ridge….

I cannot say a great deal about our hotel accommodations, still, I can always promise a comfortable bed, and good, substantial fare. Many of our families, reducted by the war, will receive boarders. The average price of broad is sixteen dollars per month.

We have many cultivated and refined people here, who are ready to extend a friendly greeting to any one who comes to enjoy with the the beauty which the beneficent All-Father has lavished on this lovely land. If the tide of travel should bring you this way, the demand will create the supply, and our roads, conveniences, and hotels, soon be equal to the needs of the public.

For the artists, I am particularly anxious that they could see this country. We have been gladdened, during the past few weeks by the presence among us of a French gentleman, a landscape artist of ability, unknown in America, but who will yet be heard from. His works, which are thoroughly studied, and distinguished for their depth and richness of color. He is talking of making Lenoir his permanent residence. To those who have an eye for color especially, this region has abundant charms; this indescribable atmosphere; has a golden glow– words can only utterly fail to give any idea of it alone can, and that only approximately.

An Artist’s Wife.