Archived News

2023 A Look Back: Throwback Award

Artist Teresa Pennington has created a rendering of how  the new arch will look once installed. Artist Teresa Pennington has created a rendering of how the new arch will look once installed. Teresa Pennington illustration

Million-dollar mountaintop vacation homes, phony moonshine from corporate mega-distilleries, dime-a-dozen seedy strip malls — none of these things are Appalachian things, and if one of the hardy old Mountaineers of yore was magically transported through time to the present day, they’d hardly recognize the place. 

The Town of Waynesville, however, isn’t going to sit idly by and watch the rich cultural legacy of Southern Appalachia fade into a sepia-toned memory on some crinkled postcard.

Waynesville already has one of the most beautiful period downtowns in the whole region, and through various downtown associations has spent untold time and treasure to make it so. Antique decorative streetlights. Brick sidewalks. No visible power lines. There’s a reason people flock here for festivals throughout the year, and it ain’t the nudge gambling machines in smoky gas station backrooms. It’s the suspension of disbelief, the idea that if only for a moment, you can experience a feeling money simply can’t buy — the feeling that you’re back in a simpler time, in a small Smoky Mountain settlement. 

A few months ago, the town broke ground on the erection of a historic arch that once spanned North Main Street for decades but was torn down in the early 1970s.

news 2023

That groundbreaking followed more than two years of work by an army of dedicated volunteers, donors and elected officials who vowed to bring the arch back, and along with it, a flood of memories for older residents who still fondly recall its presence.

Although the arch is now located on the opposite end of town, when it’s completed later this year — it was funded completely by private donations, meaning nary a nickel of taxpayer money — it will go a long way towards preserving and enhancing the look and feel of a place that, if you squint your eyes just right, still holds just a little bit of that old mountain  magic.

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