Inscribed on the reverse simply “Grandfather Operation,” this undated photograph may reveal the effects of logging in and around the Grandfather Mountain area which is mentioned in an 1890 news item from Linville, N.C.
(Courtesy of Historic Boone archives, housed at Watauga County Public Library).
January 30, 1890
This edition of the Watauga Democrat featured a lengthy section entitled “Reminiscences and Cogitations,” part four in a series of installments which were submitted from Linville, N.C. In “News Items” of the day within the feature, it was reported that “(o)ur postmaster, H.C. Ricksecker, has erected a nice building for an ice-house, and is now looking for a ‘snap’ of weather which will enable him to fill his house with cold stuff.” In other Linville-area news, “(t)he ‘monarchs of the forest’ are falling all around us. The logs are drawn to the mills, and now the sawyers are pilling up lumber ‘mountain high.’ But it will all be wanted, and more too.” “LOOK OUT, WIDOWS,” proclaimed one subsection of this column. “Who shall say that Linville is not getting to be a big place? In big places all sorts of arts are exercised, including the arts of love-making,” opined the anonymous author, rather raffishly. This edition of the newspaper was issued a decade before the creation of Avery as North Carolina’s one-hundredth county, and news from the place – particularly of a booming logging industry – was evidently of great interest through the wider Watauga County area.
“Not having seen anything from my township I feel interested in writing a short letter for your valuable paper,” begins a letter under the heading “Stony Fork Views.” “I saw in a recent number of the DEMOCRAT an article concerning public roads, and my views differ with your on that subject,” submitted the letter-writer, signed as “A Subscriber, Stony Fork, Jan. 19.” The letter-writer submits, “I think we are now overburdened with taxes,” and notes that among local residents, “there are probably fifty men in the county who pay no tax at all, and are returned insolvent by the sheriff.” To take care of public works such as road-building, the Stony Fork resident suggests, “(t)hese men can and ought to be made to work on the roads,” asking “should the good citizens of the county bear all the labor of keeping up the roads and carry the burden of taxation also?” In closing, the paper’s correspondent writes, “I think a great deal of the DEMOCRAT and wish it a long and prosperous career in expounding the principles of Jefferson and Jackson.”
January 25, 1923
“Trunk Line Urged for Lost Province” reported on the possibility of a train through the High Country region, with a “direct line into the coal fields of the Ohio Valley” being the “primary goal” of a study commission meeting in Raleigh. Rather than seek to develop the so-call “Lost Province” by “the construction of a secondary branch into this territory,” the report of the commission indicated that Northwestern North Carolina would be better served if the state would “look toward the construction of a gauntlet that would ultimately open up a trunk line between the Virginia cities and the Knoxville-Asheville gateway.” One of three suggested routes “would traverse the northwestern portion of Wilkes county and the southern half of Ashe county and the northwest portion of Watauga.”
“England has Only 63 Murders in 1922” formed the headline of a short article, in which a British detective, regarded as a Sherlock Holmes-like figure, had “revealed some startling facts, comparing British and American crime figures.” Among such figures was the comparison of 3,500 murders in the United States with the 63 cited for the United Kingdom. In addition, “of the 63 all but eight were cleared up and the newspapers of England are demanding why they were not.”
January 28, 1974
“$58,625 Given Toward Recreational Complex” was the headline of an article authored by Ed Hutchins. The item reported that “a federal grant of $56,825 has been awarded to the Watauga County Parks and Recreation Department for purchase of land for a recreational complex for the county.” The plans for the total facility included “an indoor-outdoor swimming pool complex to include a 12 feet by 24 feet, a plain swimming pool 82 by 42 and a diving area 40 by 42 at a cost of $263,448.” The complex was also to have space for tennis courts, shuffleboard, a “tot lot,” basketball goals, and volleyball courts. The estimated cost for the entire recreational complex was $386,490. Future County Commission meeting were expected to discuss approval of the project and additional funding.
“Importance of Industry To Economy Pinpointed” relayed that “Ernie Hendrix, manager of Vermont American in Boone, told the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce at its membership meeting Tuesday that industry is important to Watauga County and its economy.” Mr. Hendrix told of 2,500 employees working for seven factories in Watauga County. These manufacturing sector employees earned $15 million dollars a year, which then “flows through the local businesses” as these wages are spent in the area, and “the plants spend $2.5 million for goods and services” directly in the local area. Hendrix cited a tripling in sales and in employee numbers within a decade, and was quoted as saying that “the type of jobs we want to create are like those we have today – those that cause little environmental problems.”
This column is prepared from the microfilm archives of the Watauga Democrat, which are available at the Watauga County Public Library in Boone.