located at the confluence of the French Broad and Swannanoa Rivers.
rests in a central area of a high plateau bordered by the Blue Ridge, Great
Craggies and Black Mountains on the east and the Great Smokies chain of
the Appalachians on the west.
began with the visit of Spanish explorer Hernando DeSoto to Western North
Carolina In 1540.
Trade was first
established with the Cherokee Indians In 1643. Early trading paths followed
established Indian routes which crossed at Asheville's present location.
At the time of
the revolution, the English had established the limits of colonial expansion
westward to the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains. This assurance of territorial
Integrity aligned the Cherokee with the British.
on colonial settlements brought a force of colonists headed by General
Griffith Rutherford Into Western North Carolina In 1776, He destroyed Cherokee
villages and broke the power of the nation.
were largely Scotch-Irish Immigrants from Ulster in Northern Ireland, where
restrictive British tariffs had ruined the wool and weaving industries.
Samuel W. Davidson
and his family were the first to settle in Buncombe County on
Christian Creek In the Swannanoa Valley in 1784. He was later killed by
Indians. He is buried on Jones Mountain.
A permanent settlement
was established there in 1785 in what was then known as 'Eden Land.' In
later years Davy Crockett courted and wed Elizabeth Patton, a member of
a leading Swannanoa family.
The County of
Buncombe was established on December 5. 1791 by an act of the legislature,
initiated by William Davidson and Colonel David Vance. A log courthouse
was constructed in 1793 at a point which is now Pack Square.
A year later John
Burton obtained state grants of land for the establishment of a settlement
he called Morristown. He laid out 42 half-acre lots which sold for roughly
$2.50. Three years later, In 1797, it was incorporated and renamed Asheville
In honor of Governor Samuel Ashe.
and Presbyterian circuit riders brought religion to the settlers of the
Southern Appalachians In the early 1800s. Methodist Bishop Francis Asbury
was the most noted of these.
In 1840 Asheville's
population was 500; to 1860 - 1,100; 1880 - 2,610; 1890 - 10,237; 1900
- 14,694; 1930 - 50,193; 1970 - 57,681. The 1980 U.S. Census showed Asheville's
population to be 60,500. and the population of Buncombe County to be 162,000.
In 1828 a road
following the French Broad River was completed to East Tennessee. With
It wagons of settlers moving west began coming through Asheville, while
droves from Tennessee and Kentucky moved herds of cattle, sheep, hogs and
turkeys through to the population centers of South Carolina.
The town's growth
was further stimulated by the completion of the "Asheville and Greenville
Plank Road' in 1851. The wealthy and favored began to come ~o Asheville
aboard four and six horse stages. The city's reputation as a health resort
began to grow.
When the War Between
the States broke out. Asheville became a major Confederate military center.
The Buncombe Rifles, first company organized west of the Blue Ridge, marched
forth on April 18, 1861, with a flag made of silk dresses of the belles
of the town. Captain Zebulon Vance organized shortly thereafter the Rough
and Ready Guards. Of the ten companies of the 6Oth North Carolina Regiment,
seven of them were Buncombe County men. An early and flourishing industry
was the making of Enfield Rifles, prized by Confederate soldiers for their
In 1878, Asheville
and Western North Carolina acquired the descriptive phrase "The Land Of
The Sky" which derived from a well known book by M rs. Frances
Tiernan of Salisbury, writing under the name of Christian Reid. The nickname
quickly caught the attention of thousands and spread Buncombe's fame more
widely than ever.
When the railroad
broke through the Eastern continental divide in 1880, a new era was launched
for Asheville and Western North Carolina.
were built, including the Battery Park In 1889. From its vantage point
on "Stoney Hill," George W. Vanderbilt discovered what he described as
the most beautiful spot in the world. He purchased 145,000 acres and began
building one of the great country houses of the world, Biltmore House.
assemblies were established In the area. A grand opera house was built,
and a convention auditorium followed. In 1900, a newly organized chamber
of commerce, the "Asheville Board of Trade," launched national advertising,
and proclaimed the city to be one of the "leading convention cities In
A new wave of
luxury hotel construction began: the Langren in 1912, the unbelievable
Grove Park Inn In 1913, the new Kenilworth Inn in 1918 ... and with Battery
Park. The break of the land boom, followed by the great depression of the
early 1930s brought financial ruin to Asheville, from which It was slow
to recover. However, during this period two great natural attractions were
in the making: the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Blue Ridge
Parkway, which were to make the Asheville area the most visited recreational
area in the country.
At the present
time Asheville enjoys a broadly based economy supported by a thriving travel
industry, conventions, widely diversified Industry, forestry and agriculture.
In 1980, Buncombe
County's industries Include BASF, Square D., Gerber, Ball Corporation,
Beacon end Sybron/Taylor.
Asheville is the
junction point of two Interstate highways, 26 and 40. It is the hub of
five federal highways, two Appalachian development highways, five state
highways and the Blue Ridge Parkway.
serves Asheville. The modern Asheville Airport is served by Piedmont Airlines,
plus commuter airlines.
Consolidated Water District reservoir holds 6 billion gallons, and Is centered
In a remote timbered watershed covering 24 square miles.
Is served by a new $10,400.00 sewage disposal system.
In 1970, Asheville
earned the designation "All American City." A new Civic Center was completed
In early 1974.
famous native son is author Thomas Wolfe, whose boyhood home Is open to
the public as a memorial. Evangelist Billy Graham is Asheville's most world