Public input is being sought for a memorial dedicated to the North Shore families in Swain County who had their land taken in the 1940s during the creation of Lake Fontana.
A design meeting will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 14, at United Community Bank in Bryson City.
The push for a memorial comes from two Swain County residents, Richard and Carolyn Allison, who say it’s time to honor the 600 families and gain some closure to the decades-long North Shore Road debate.
The Allisons moved to Whittier about four years ago, but they quickly saw how the heated debate over the North Shore Road had divided the county. They decided to spearhead efforts to create a memorial after recently completing a grantwriting course at Southwestern Community College.
The Allisons are seeking information from the community to come up with the 600 family names to put on a memorial wall, which they are calling a War Memorial. The name is sure to be an attention grabber.
“It gives something to mull over,” said Richard Allison.
Even though the North Shore families didn’t exactly fight in World War II, Lake Fontana was built to generate electricity for an aluminum plant that made airplane parts for the war.
After seeing their land taken away, North Shore residents seem to be suffering from Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, according to Allison.
“They lost not only their home, they lost loved ones who had to go into the service,” said Allison. “It’s important to get rid of this Post-traumatic Stress Disorder that has developed over all these years. They’re not just being ornery because they wanted something that was promised to them, it’s just because they have been stressed out.”
Lawrence Hyatt and Carolyn Allison will speak on Post-traumatic Stress Disorder at the meeting. While Richard Allison said a memorial might not fully relieve that stress, seeing North Shore families honored might be helpful.
Creation of the lake flooded a road that once led from Bryson City to Tennessee, passing through numerous rural communities along the way. In addition to losing their land, those who once lived in the area felt cheated by the government’s broken promise to rebuild the road.
Participants will divide into three groups to discuss what kind of mission statement should be etched onto the memorial wall and where it should be located. So far, the design calls for a granite and marble memorial with one large column flanked by two shorter columns of equal size over a base.
The cost would be about $4,900 and $1.25 more for each letter. It could be housed at the Swain County Administration building or in the North Shore area of the national park.