The last Cold Mountain Heritage Tour, sponsored by The Bethel Rural Community Organization, will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, June 26. This final tour includes some of the most popular and historic sites in Haywood County that have been featured in prior years and new sites that were not available before this year’s tour.
Tour guides will provide visitors on the tour detailed information about the architecture, the history, and the people whose lives gave meaning to the sites. The tour has entertained and informed local people about their own history and has also attracted hundreds of visitors each year from other states and regions who are intrigued by Cold Mountain heritage.
There will be a stop at the Bethel Presbyterian Church, built in 1885, and currently under restoration by the Bethel Rural Community Organization. On the tour is the Bethel Cemetery, the resting place of Pinkney Inman, the Civil War hero of Charles Frazier’s book and subsequent blockbuster movie, Cold Mountain.
The tour will again include the Inman Chapel and Cemetery where Charles Frazier made a surprise appearance last year. Another popular stop is the Blanton-Reece log cabin, one of the oldest structures in Haywood County. This cabin is unique because of its full dovetail corner connections, something that was not common at the time and may account for its preservation for nearly 200 years.
Points of interested that will be featured this year are the Cruso School and Lenoir-Devon Acres.
Cruso School was built in 1928 as a feeder elementary school for Bethel High School, the school closed just before consolidation in 1966. Today, Cruso Community Club utilizes the facility as a community center to promote its many programs: Old Crab Day, thrift shop fashion show and luncheon, quilt show, and Halloween Festival. It houses a mini-library, craft co-op, and a thrift shop. The Community Club has maintained the school building with historic integrity so that tour-goers can regain the feel of what it was like to attend school eighty years ago.
Lenoir Devon Acres is the location of one of the oldest land grants in Haywood County and is one of the county’s longest continuing working farms. The 100-acre farm was home to several generations of Lenoir family members, including Thomas Isaac Lenoir who was the first Captain of the Highlanders, Company F of the 25th Regiment of the North Carolina Volunteers of the Confederate Army. “Inman” of the Cold Mountain story served in this Civil War Company. Thomas Isaac Lenoir brought Devon cattle to the farm in the mid 1800s, and this same line of these gentle cattle is still living on the farm almost 160 years later. When the producers of the Cold Mountain movie were considering a location for the movie, this farm was where the movie was to be filmed until they moved production to Romania.
The Osborne Boundary Oak Tree, which has received some publicity lately, is also on the tour. It has served as a landmark in the Bethel Community since 1792. Dr. Doris Hammett has successfully fought twice to preserve this old oak tree, which is over 200 year old.
Another favorite on the tour is the Truss Bridge #79. This bridge is North Carolina’s oldest working bridge and Haywood County’s only remaining ornamental bridge. The bridge was manufactured in 1891 by the Phoenix Bridge Company and was moved to its present site in 1925 by men in the community who desired to have a passageway across the Pigeon River from Lake Logan Road to Love Joy Road.
Another new location to the tour is the Kinsland House, which dates back to around 1860 and has been remarkably preserved. New to the tour will be the opportunity to purchase the antiques and collectables displayed in the home, thanks to the generosity of the current owner Hugh Kuydendall. There will be a silent auction for the larger furniture items, such as antique beds, one is an original rope bed, and there is also a pie closet.
Tickets for the tour are $15 and can be purchased up to June 25 at Blue Ridge Books and ERA Sunburst Reality in Waynesville. In Bethel, they are available at Jukebox Junction and Riverhouse Acres Campground.
The day of the tour tickets can be purchased only at Bethel Presbyterian Church, the Cruso Community Club, and at the Blanton/Reece Log Cabin.
The tour is an all-day event and tour goers are encouraged to start early. Editions one through six of Legends, Tales & History of Cold Mountain, by local author, Evelyn Coltman will be available for purchase. The Bethel Rural Community Organization’s DVD will also be available, Walking In The Footsteps Of Those Who Came Before Us, which gives the oral history of the area by relatives of some of the original settlers.