Recesses in nature: Bryson City group sets up new caving club

By Michael Beadle

There are still dark corners in this world yet to be explored.

The road ends here

If Congressman Charles Taylor is defeated in two weeks, it could spell the end of plans to build a road through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park outside Bryson City.

What is the North Shore Road?

The North Shore Road is proposed to go through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park from Bryson City to Tennessee along the north shore of Lake Fontana. The area was not always backcountry, however. It was once home to mining and logging towns and farming communities until the construction of Lake Fontana to generate hydropower for the World War II effort.

The lake flooded some communities and isolated others by flooding the only road in and out. With a war on, the government could not afford to build a new road on higher ground. So more than 200 families living in the suddenly isolated region were forced to evacuate. The land was ceded to the park service.

At the time, the government promised to rebuild the road. It signed a legal contract pledging to do so, but hasn’t yet. Families who sacrificed their homes for the war effort believe the government should uphold its promise.


What is the cash settlement?

A group of Swain County residents fed up with the long-standing debate developed an idea several years ago for the federal government to pay a cash settlement in lieu of building the road.

Their premise: like it or not, the road will never be built. Congress will never appropriate and the funds, and even if it did, lawsuits by environmental groups would stop it from happening anyway. So they began lobbying for a cash settlement of $52 million for Swain County, an idea that has gained wide popularity.

The $52 million price for a cash settlement is the accumulated interest on the cost of the road. At the time the road was flooded in 1943, the county owed $694,000 for its construction. Even though the road was flooded, the county spent another 30 years paying off the debt on the worthless road. The cash settlement would compensate the county for the loss of the road.

How do you stand on the North Shore Road issue?

Charles Taylor: The federal government should live up to its 60-year-old commitment to Swain County residents and complete the North Shore Road.

All aboard! Bryson City celebrates railroad history and firefighter pride this weekend with Railfest and Fireman’s Day

By Michael Beadle

Take to the rails through Western North Carolina, and you’re bound to hear some history.

In the late 19th century, tracks were being laid from Asheville to Murphy by a group of convicts working on a portion of the railroad at the mouth of a tunnel at the Tuckasegee River. When a barge carrying these prisoners tipped over, 19 convicts weighed down by their iron shackles drowned. Today, when the tunnel drips, folks like to say it’s the tears of those convicts — just one part of the long history of railroads in Western North Carolina.

Bryson City conserves 750 acres bordering Smokies

The town of Bryson City finalized a conservation easement this month that will protect a 750-acre tract known as Lands Creek that’s adjacent to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Swain County.

Bryson City developing first zoning plan

An influx of growth has prompted Bryson City leaders to address land-use planning with hopes of drafting the town’s first development ordinance by January 2007.

Metal building in downtown Bryson raises eyebrows

A metal building recently erected on Main Street in Bryson City has sparked discussion over what can be done to preserve the town’s historic character while still remaining business-friendly.

Cashiers plant cuts 80 jobs; some go to Bryson, Canton

By Sarah Kucharski • Staff Writer

Approximately 80 workers will be laid off from Cashier’s Consolidated Metco plastics plant beginning in January in the largest downsizing in Jackson County since the Ashley Company furniture plant closed in 2002.

Watershed decision was right on target

Bryson City leaders avoided the temptation to sell off their watershed land for development, instead opting to follow through with an earlier commitment to conserve the pristine property. It was the right decision and one that will pay a long-term benefit for town residents and all of Swain County.

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