C e l o

Celo has been delighting visitors for many years, not only with its scenic
beauty but also with its unique community. We have included the story of the
community with this Tour Guide because it is such an impressive part of our
Just before you get to the Parkway on Hwy 80, you will pass a sign on Hwy 80 on the right that says
Black Mountain Campground. There are two waterfalls you can hike to, both short easy walks if
you want a refreshing break. Turn at the Campground sign and look for the first sign to Roaring
Fork Falls which will be your first left. The second waterfall, Setrock Creek Falls, is in the
campground itself which can be tricky to find. It will be a right turn to the campground on up the
road past Roaring Fork Falls.
We have put directions on most of the pages to help you find the blocks and plan your trip.
You can find Little Switzerland on the Blue Ridge Parkway between Highway 80 and Highway 226.
Turn left (North) if you enter the Parkway from Hwy 80, turn right (South) if you enter the Parkway
from Hwy 226.
In hunting for the Drunkard’s Path block you may encounter the old Emerald Mine off Crabtree Rd.
This is an impressive series of holes in the ground that you will want to investigate.
NOTE: While we try hard to keep the maps and Tour
Guides updated, blocks are going up all the time and
the maps and guides may not always be up-to-date. If
you spot a block not on the map, take a picture if you
can and email it to us so we can update the map and
guide both for the next printing and for the internet. (In
other words - become one of our volunteers!!)
This trail overlaps both the Arbuckle and
Spruce Pine trails.
Make sure you start with a full tank of gas.
Bridle Path
Snail Trail
OOAK Gallery
Quilt Trails
Gift Shop
Lower Browns
Creek Rd.
Over and
234 Buddha
Made from
bottle caps
2266 Chestnut
Mt. Rd.
Grindstaff Rd.
Apple Tree
Linda Sharpless
Pottery Studio
1280 Chestnut
Mtn. Rd.
Streams and
The Cove at
Celo Mountain
off Hickory
Springs Rd.
Firefly Farm
Grindstaff Rd.
210 Tanglewood
Bend Lane
off Hall’s
Chapel Rd.
Around the
268 Sully
off Grindstaff
Fire Dept.
Church Rd.
Orchard at
Altapass on
Blue Ridge
Painted Trillium
Gallery, Little
The Melon
Seven Mile
Ridge Rd.
North Carolina
Little Switzerland
Post Office
Dream Ship
North Carolina Lily
Pottery Studio
Hwy 80S
230 Grindstaff Rd.
Sarah House
Pottery Studio
315 Coventry
Lane off
Hwy 80S
Glass Quilt
717 Upper Brown’s
Creek Rd.
Books and Coffee Cups
Little Switzerland Bookstore
Toe River
Hwy 80S
Becky Gray
Pottery Studio
Branch Rd.
The Painted Trillium Gallery in Little Switzerland(Painted Trillium) is
open during spring, summer and fall.
Discover Roaring Fork Falls and Setrock Creek Falls (Turn at sign to
Black Mtn. Campground off Hwy 80 for both. First left takes you to Roaring
Fork, Setrock Creek is at the campground - both are easy walks...less than
a mile. (Roaring Fork is a level walk.)
The Orchard at Altapass sells apples and has a big gift shop and
weekend activities (head North on the Blue Ridge Parkway).
Head South on the Blue Ridge Parkway and visit Mt. Mitchell State Park.
Mt. Mitchell is in Yancey County and is the highest peak East of the
Mississippi. There is a restaurant and a gift shop in the park.
These blocks may take some hunting to find.
There is an old Emerald Mine you may want to
investigate with HUGE cave entrances off Crabtree
Creek Rd.
Horses are the attraction at Appalachian Therapeutic
Riding Center (Lower Browns Creek Rd.) (Bridle Path)
Firefly Farm (Harvest Sun) sells organic produce
(Grindstaff Rd.).
Mountain Farm (Dragonfly) sells lavender and goat
cheese and soap and has goats (Copperhead Bend).
Sarah House (Butterfly Bush) makes and sells
pottery (Coventry Lane off Hwy 80).
Linda Sharpless (Drunkard’s Trail) makes and sells
pottery (Chestnut Mtn Rd).
Becky Gray (Slave Chain) works in her studio but
does not sell from there. You can find her work at the Toe
River Gallery nearby on Hwy. 80 (where the Lily block is).
Susan Hayden(Over and Under) makes art from
recycled trash (Buddha Lane).
McWhirter Pottery (Clay’s Compromise) makes and
sells pottery (Hwy 80).
Estimated driving time: 3.5 hours
Pick up 80S off Hwy 19e East of Burnsvile,
or pick up Hwy 80S off the Blue Ridge Parkway
by Ernest Morgan
Celo (pronounced see-low) Community has
been an active part of Yancey County for the
past 58 years. Probably the oldest and most
successful land trust in America, Celo
Community was founded by Arthur E.
Morgan in 1937.
Arthur Morgan was the world's leading
flood control engineer, former President of
Antioch College, first chairman of the TVA,
and author of twenty books on a variety of
One of his major concerns was
community--he held that it was in the face-toface relationships of the small community
that the best qualities of human society
emerged, including the basis for healthy
In 1937, he was approached by Henry
Regnery, a wealthy textile manufacturer in
Chicago, who asked him for advice on
something socially useful he might do with
some of his money. Never lacking in ideas,
Arthur suggested that a tract of land be
purchased as a site for an “intentional
community”--a community in which people
come together with the intention of
cultivating community values. The location
should be in an area with a good climate,
congenial people, at least sone fertile soil, and
should not be too far removed from urban
After an extended search, he purchased a
tract of 1200 acres in the South Toe Valley.
Nine hundred acres of this, on the east side of
the South Toe River, was from the Erwin tract
and purchased at $20 an acre. The remainder
was on the west side of the River and
purchased from the Autrey family. Celo
Community was launched as a not-for-profit
corporation with a board of directors
composed of Arthur Morgan, Henry Regnery,
and Clarence Pickett, Executive Secretary of
the American Friends Service Committee
For the first few years there was rapid
after a few years it developed good self
government and converted itself into a land
trust. A land trust is a form of land tenure
designed to avoid the abuses often associated
with private land ownership, such as damage to
the environment, excessive rental charges, and
speculation. In the case of Celo Community
the corporation holds title to the land, and
members purchase “holdins” which carry most
of the privileges of outright ownership but
avoid land abuse and profiteering.
A distinctive feature of Celo Community is
a phenomenon characterized by Arthur Morgan
as “human uranium”. He said that a cubic yard
of granite contains enough uranium to blow up
a mountain, but the particles are inert because
they are separated. If they are brought together
in what is known as a "critical mass" they can
have great power. Thus with people, if persons
with common ideals and social concerns come
together, energy is created for cooperative
projects of all kinds. There have been many
such undertakings initiated by members of
Celo Community and joined by others in the
An early project was the Celo Health
Center, which opened in 1948 with Dr. Elpenor
Ohle, a recent graduate of Harvard Medical
School. Dr. Ohle retired after thirty years, to be
succeeded by Dr. Steven Hill, Dr. Judy
McGahey, and most recently, Dr. Woody
McKay and Dr. Dorothy Bobbe. The Health
Center serves many people throughout Yancey
County and stresses the concept that doctors
should not only treat their patients, but also
educate them to take greater responsibility for
their own health.
Probably because of the nearness of
Penland School of Crafts, some of whose
students and teachers settled in Celo, a number
of craftsmen have joined the community. As a
result, the largest single economic activity in
Celo Community is the work of craftsmen such
as potters, glass blowers, etc.
To help merchandise their products they
got together and opened a cooperative shop on
Route 80 where their items are displayed (Toe
River Crafts). A majority of the craftsmen
taking part in this activity are from outside the
Likewise there are several Quaker families
in the community and these families formed a
Friends Meeting, most of whose attenders are
from other parts of Yancey County.
A group of Celo Community people
launched a cooperative food store which has
been highly successful. Eighty percent of the
members of the food cooperative are from
outside the community.
“Cabin Fever University,” launched by
Celo Community members, operates through
the winter months and is a schedule of events
through which people share their knowledge
and skills and carry on special group activities
without any money changing hands--except $1
for the catalog. Much of its activity and
leadership comes from outside Celo
The support of the community has helped
members to start a number of enterprises.
Camp Celo, a Farm-Home Camp for boys and
girls ages 7-10 began in 1948 under the
leadership of Community members Doug and
Ruby Moody. Bob and Dot Barrus succeeded
them as owners of the camp, which is now run
by their son and daughter-in-law Gib and
Annie Barrus, and their daughter Barbara
Perrin. Called a “Farm-Home” camp, its
campers care for a variety of small animals as
well as engage in a full camp program of
activities. Camp leadership stresses
cooperation rather than competition among the
Another successful project, launched in
1962, was the Arthur Morgan School, initiated
by Arthur Morgan's daugter-in-law, Elizabeth
Morgan. It serves about 24 junior high school
students, both boarding and day, and stresses
the concepts of cooperation, mutual
responsibility, and sharing of work and
Camp Celo and the Arthur Morgan School
have been racially integrated since their
opening, which may have contributed to the
fact that Yancey County public schools were
among the first in the South to be integrated,
and without violence or serious conflict.
The Celo Inn, a charming bed-andbreakfast inn on the South Toe River, also
provides an intimate setting for occasional
musical and theatrical performances. It was
begun by community members Charles and
Suzannah Jones and is now carried on by
Nancy and Randy Raskin.
Under the wing of Celo Community and the
Celo Friends Meeting, the Rural Southern
Voice for Peace (RSVP) was initiated in 1981
by Herb and Marnie Walters. RSVP provides
training and a networking journal Voices for
grassroots efforts for justice, peace, and
environmental protection in rural areas of the
southeast. RSVP is well-known for initiating
the “Listening Project” which has helped build
bridges between diverse groups in many
Celo Community people also take an active
part in organizations originating elsewhere,
such as Music in the Mountains, the Toe River
Arts Council, Hospice, Western North Carolina
Alliance, Adopt-a-Highway, and Meals on
At the present time, Celo Community
includes some 34 family units, and accepts two
new trial member families each year. It has
become widely known and receives much
correspondence. At the present time it has a
waiting list of some 20 families hoping to
become members.
The community considers itself fortunate in
being located in Yancey County, and
undertakes to carry its full share of civic
Snail Trail
Location: One of A Kind Gallery, Micaville Loop, Micaville. Painted by Jane
Greene and Miriam Savard.
Story by Telia Tollison
The minute you drive up to One of a Kind Gallery, you realize you
have come upon a magical spot. There is a dragon standing guard at
the front door, and when you open that door, you are confronted by
a mélange of history and traditional arts and crafts. There are
handmade quilts, jewelry, pottery, pictures, sculpture, and even
some handmade furniture. There are serious pieces of art and the
whimsical—found art from obsolete items, such as a clock made
from old watch faces.
The art gallery has a long and colorful history. It began as the
commissary for Horace Clay Company, a big mining company at
Double Island. Workers were paid in script, which they used at the
company store. When the company closed its local operations in
1940, it either sold or gave the store to its manager, Clarence
Robinson; no one is quite clear about the transaction. Soon, J.L.
Robinson bought the store and turned it into the hub of the
Although the old store no longer carries “everything that people
might need,” it still has its original chestnut shelving (created in the
days before wormy was associated with the wood), oak floors and
walls, and the same tin ceiling and fixtures that the Horace Clay
Company installed. Eddie Robinson, J.L.'s nephew, pointed to a
support pole behind a counter with a band about head height. “Do
you know what that band's for?” he asked Rhonda Boone, J.L.'s
granddaughter. When she shook her head no, he explained there
was a hook on either side of the band from which they hung huge
bunches of bananas for sale. He pointed to a beautiful glass and oak
case filled with handmade jewelry. At one time, that case held
ladies' unmentionables, he informed us.
At J.L. Robinson's General Store, a customer could buy just about
anything. If someone asked for an item Lee didn't have, he'd have it
by Thursday when the supply truck came. There were hay bailing
wire, horseshoes and horseshoe nails, dress shoes, hats, and
women's dresses. They carried baby bottle nipples, which stretched
across the top of any bottle. Eddie Robinson saw many a baby
nipple stretched across Coca Cola bottles. There were ten items at
cost, including sugar, flour, and snuff. Lee made a penny per pack
of cigarettes, forty cents a pound on dry goods, and twenty cents
plus cost on food. You could buy dynamite caps at the back of the
first floor and feed for livestock.
Eddie and Rhonda met to swap stories about the general store for this narrative. Eddie worked there for
many years, and Rhonda and her sisters worked at the store part time while they were in school.
Rhonda remembered the sweet smell of feed in the feed room that Robinson added in the mid-40's and
having to go into the spooky basement to use the restroom. Both Eddie and Rhonda recall being
pinched in the soft under part of the arm when they did something wrong. Eddie laughed that anytime
he saw J.L. and someone tiptoeing toward the front door, he knew that his uncle was “helping” a person
leave by pinching the tender underarm.
Eddie probably knows as much about the store and its history as anyone. He surprised Rhonda by
informing her that there was a powder magazine in the basement where her grandfather stored dynamite
for sale. He then pointed to an area of ceiling where there was no patterned tin. “That's where your
granddaddy took down a wall. People used to not go behind the counter. The customer told a clerk what
he wanted, and the clerk would find it. I came in one day, and Uncle Lee had a saw out to cut a counter
in two.”
He also had many stories about the hard times in Yancey County. He said people really struggled, but
they managed to pay their bills to Mr. Robinson; he would let customers get what they needed on
credit. He told Eddie, “If the people paid their bills quickly, encourage them to take anything they want.
If they are slow to pay, let them take what they want, but don't encourage them.” As times grew better,
many adults whose parents shopped at Robinson's told the family, “My people would have starved if it
hadn't been for your granddaddy.” Customers who were unable to make it to the store had their
groceries delivered. Both Eddie and Rhonda remember driving up single-lane dirt roads to take
J. L. Robinson was an original and a character in the true sense of the word. He only had a 3rd grade
education, but he could do math in his head like a calculator. “You couldn't fool Uncle Lee.” Eddie
laughs about three teenagers who broke into the store to steal shoes. They put the new ones on and their
old shoes in the boxes. One joker said he'd sure like to see 'ole' Lee's face when he saw the old shoes. A
voice behind them growled, “Well, turn around then.” There stood J.L. with his hand on the pistol he
always carried. J.L. could have turned them over to the law, but he didn't, and the man who tells the
story said he never stole again.
The store kept 3 barrels of oil for sale: kerosene, motor oil, and floor oil. Lee insisted his own floors be
oiled almost every night. Eddie thinks to this day that Lee knew when the younger Robinson wanted to
leave early to go courting because that's when Eddie had to swab the floors. Before the elder Robinson
closed the store each night, he'd walk outside and look both ways on the road. If he saw car lights, he
would wait to close. More likely than not, those lights meant a customer. He generally opened up at
5:00 a.m. and closed when people stopped coming, somewhere between 7:30 and 9:00.
Eddie recalls getting out of high school (now Micaville Elementary School) at first bell so that he could
be ready to dip ice cream when everyone else got out. When the feldspar mill was in operation, J.L.
would come get Eddie out of school to cash tickets. Drivers would take a truckload of 'spar, generally
around 2240 pounds, to the mill and get a ticket for their load. Truckers would then bring their tickets
to the store to cash them. At the end of the week, the elder Robinson would turn in the tickets to the
mill for reimbursement and a tidy profit.
At one point in time the store carried fresh meat and ground its own sausage. They also made fresh
sandwiches that were very popular when the Taylor Togs Plant down the road was in operation. Rhonda
remembers fighting with her sisters about whose turn it was to work for granddaddy. Those sandwiches
were delicious, and there would be long lines of workers waiting for lunch. He was a hard taskmaster,
as his granddaughter recalled.
He was always on the lookout for ways to make money. One time a friend offered Robinson a filling
station and the acreage behind it. Robinson had the cash in his pocket to pay for it, but decided he
wanted to keep the cash to pay for stock. Soon afterwards, the acreage sold for a quarter of a million
dollars. Robinson swore that he'd never turn down the opportunity to buy property again. Because he
did business with everyone around, he had accumulated a lot of land by his death.
Later, his son ran the store until it closed in the 1980's, but he “never could do it right.” J.L. liked to go
to the store everyday, even after retirement. From his young days, he kept the keys to the store in his
back pocket behind his wallet. One time he went home, bathed and changed clothes, then returned to
the store. His son was looking for the keys to close up, but J.L. had left them home in his old pants. He
knew perfectly well where the keys were, but slyly urged Eddie to “let them hunt for them.”
A story that Eddie seemed particularly proud to recall happened about 1953 when they were rewiring
the school. A company from Asheville won the contract and had some 'colored fellas' working for
them. These guys kept peeping in the front door, until one of them finally got the courage to ask Uncle
Lee if he would mind fixing them some sandwiches and bringing them to the feed door so they buy
them. Uncle Lee said, “No. This is my store. If you want a sandwich, you come right on in just like
everybody else. And if you don't behave, I'll do you just like everybody else and take you across the
A story that both Rhonda and Eddie were a part of involved another local character, Fred, who had a
drinking problem. He would come to the store drunk, which J.L. didn't like. J.L. said, “Look here,
Fred. You can't come into the store drunk;” then he'd make Eddie or Rhonda take him home. The only
problem was that Fred took the back way and usually beat them back to the store.
Now, while J.L. Robinson was running his store, his wife Hettie loved to be outside. She had a huge
garden up the side of the mountain so remote that the only way to access it was by walking.
Sometimes, Rhonda would go with her to help, but Rhonda said her grandmother could out-work her
granddaughter any day. Hettie would much rather be using a hoe or shovel than doing housework.
When she wasn't outside gardening, she was inside canning.
When the store closed, it underwent several incarnations, but the property remains in the hands of the
Robinson family, a memorial to their grandfather. Currently, it is leased by Estela Shackelford, Kari
Weaver, and Lynda Gayle Banner, who have established the OOAK (One of a Kind) Art Gallery. When
they decided that they wanted to add a quilt square to the exterior, they contacted Rhonda and her
sister, Belinda Woody. After much discussion, everyone concluded that the perfect square would be a
variation of the very first quilt block erected, Snail’s Trail with its one curving trail. J.L. Robinson's
General Store has led many lives and thus deserved many trails, so the block has four trails that
intersect. Come, sit on the front porch and imagine the world of the past, then go inside and see what
artists are doing to honor their heritage.
Donna Sue Groves started the Quilt Trail movement in
Adams County, Ohio with the block she put on her barn to honor
her mother, Maxine. This is a picture of that block (Snail’s Trail)
on her barn. The Snail’s Trail block we put on the OOAK Gallery
was painted to match this original block. While they were at it, they
put up 20 other blocks, thus starting the Quilt Trail phenomenon
that has swept the country. Quilt Trails can now be found in 30
states and Canada.
Grandmother’s Dream
Location: 210 Tanglewood Hollow. Drafted and Painted by
Deborah Palmer. Installed by Rolf Holmquist.
Rolf Holmquist is a Swedish born artist currently living and
working in his log cabin home and studio located just above the
cabin where this block can be seen. He chose this block, which
was a gift from Katherine Hancock, to honor his grandmother,
and the colors are the colors of the flag of Sweden.
His passion for capturing the aged structures and rustic
landmarks of his beloved Appalachian mountain home can be
observed in many of his works. His unique birdhouses and
feeders are built of architectural recycled materials and then
painted and adorned with many objects, including curious plates,
spindles and hardware.
Rolf says, “In order to create my structures from authentic rural
materials, I dismantled an old, dilapidated barn that was beyond
restoration. I start with this weathered barn wood or old building
materials to make my birdhouses and feeders, and then add paint
and interesting found objects. Each is built with a specific bird in
mind and are fully functional with an easy clean-out door.”
Fascinated by nature all his life, birdhouses are just the latest in a
long line of artistic endeavors. Rolf graduated from Newark
School of Fine and Industrial Arts. His architectural structures
have been published in many Lark books from Sterling
Publication, including Beastly Abodes, The Ultimate Birdhouse
Book, Ecology Crafts for Kids, The Ultimate Mailbox Book, Dog
Crafts, The Ultimate Clock Book, Salvage Style for the Garden
and Decorating Porches and Decks.
Rolf has won over 100 awards from major Art and Invitational
Shows and his work is included in over 30 corporate collections.
Locally, Rolf’s work can be found at New Morning Gallery in
Asheville, The Design Gallery in Burnsville, the Toe River Arts
Council Galleries in Burnsville and Spruce Pine, Black Bear
Trading Company in Burnsville, Crabtree Creek Art and Floral
Gallery in Micaville and the Toe River Craft Gallery in Celo.
Rolf’s wife, Diane, is a quilter.
Streams and Mountains
Location: The Cove at Celo Mountain off Hickory Springs Rd. Designed by
Barbara Webster, Painted by Cheryl Hughes, Dot Dantzler and Carolyn
Bareford. Installed by Mountain Lifestyle Communities’ team.
Story by Mountain Lifestyle Communities
It is worth the hunt to find this
block because of the beautiful
and unique gate that marks the
entrance to the community.
The Cove at Celo Mountain IS streams and mountains.
Ayles Creek serves as the southern boundary of our
community and is the primary headwaters stream in the vast
watershed cradling The Cove at Celo Mountain. Many other
springs and streams flow through the property as they reach
toward the South Toe River which runs only a few miles east of
The Cove at Celo Mountain. The sounds of water bubbling
from underground springs, trickling over rocks and bounding
over boulders is nature’s background music forever playing
throughout our community.
Celo Mountain, referred to locally as The Knob, rises to
6237 feet, and is the northern anchor of the Black Mountain
Range. Celo casts its long shadow across our community as the
sun drops behind its peak each day. Spilling down the east face
of Celo is Joe Young Ridge and Little Mount Celo, both of
which form our southern viewscape. The Jump Off, Bowlen’s
Pyramid and Blue Rock Knob all radiate north of Celo,
completing the amphitheatre constructed over eons in which
our community has a center orchestra seat.
Native Americans waded these steams and scaled these
mountains. The earliest settlers built cabins along the
streambanks and in the shelter of the mountain’s rock
outcroppings. Their descendants have used these sterams to
water their crops and have long benefitted from the almost
limitless bounty of these mountains.
Streams and Mountains—God’s gift for us to enjoy,
nurture and protect. We pledge to hold true to all that is good in
this beautiful place.
Butterfly Bush
Location: 315 Coventry Lane off Hwy 80. Drafted by Barbara Webster,
painted by Sarah House, installed by Kevin Freeman.
Story by Maryallen Estes
Sarah House makes her living as a potter. When Sarah
responded to the question, “What was your main interest as a
child?” she stated: “My mom and I always rode horses. I was
riding a horse before I was born! My mother got her first horse
when she was three months pregnant with me.
I was always a good student---loved to read but didn't like
being told what to read.” She stated she got interested in pottery
at age thirteen when she tagged along with her parents to Wild
Acres Retreat where she “just hung out mostly” and did a “few
lumpy pots.”
This is the first block you will
encounter if you have started
from Hwy 19 and turned onto
80S. Look for Coventry Lane
on your left as you enter the
curvy road after passing the
straight flat part where the
big meadows are on the right
and the boxwoods and
storage buildings are on the
She attended Warren Wilson College where each student had a
job. Her job was studio assistant in the pottery studio. She
advised that she had to relearn everything about pottery.
However, her main training was at Haywood Community
College where she received her Associate Degree in
professional crafts. The courses were all inclusive and included
marketing, design, photography, business, kiln building, and
studio setups.
Her father was the manager at Wild Acres Retreat. Her mother
began making tiles in 1993 the same time Sarah became
interested in pottery.
In 2000, Sarah and her husband, Kevin, moved from Asheville
to Little Switzerland. That was the first time she had her own
garden. There, she planted five or six butterfly bushes----everyone a different color. Therefore, ever since, she's had a
love affair with butterfly bushes. She doesn't use images in her
pottery. She says of her pottery “it's all about colors”.
One of her pleasant distractions is her handsome year old son,
Kalen. When searching for a quilt design to adorn her studio,
Sarah chose the butterfly bush because not only did she favor it,
but there were no quilt designs to depict pottery. She actually
painted the design at home and stated it was a lot of fun.
At present Sarah divides her time between Kalen and the pots.
Visit Sarah’s website at www.skhpottery.com.
Clay’s Compromise
Location: McWhirter Pottery, Highway 80 south
Drafted by Barbara Webster, Painted by Carolyn Bareford, installed by
Willow Johnson and Wade Whitson
Story by Barbara McKinney
McWhirter Pottery is right
on Hwy 80 on the right just
past the fire department on
the left.
Jim and Kore McWhirter came to live in the Celo
Community of Yancey County in 1961. They began
McWhirter Pottery, the county's oldest pottery, in 1963; then
in 1970, close to South Toe Elementary School, they bought
land from a Mr. Shufford, approximately 6.5 acres, on which
they built their home. (Jim and John Peterson built the
house.) Pete, Jim and Kore's son, his wife Kim Peterson
McWhirter, and their sons Michael and Christopher now live
on the home place where Pete and Kim have continued the
family tradition of making pottery. Pete's signature marking
on much of his pottery is a white and yellow dogwood flower
taken from his father's drawings, and he continues to create
his versions of the "critters" or little animals his mother was
famous for incorporating into her pottery pieces.
Obviously, family continuity and heritage are important to the
McWhirters, so getting involved with the Quilt Trails project
and choosing a personal quilt square design appealed to Pete
and Kim. "I'm excited about being part of the project," Pete
said, "because it is a heritage based thing." Their star square,
titled "Clay's Compromise," is a blending of nature's colors:
the red of the clay body, the basis for the McWhirters' pottery,
with "forest green, sky blue, and a muted yellow tan,"
according to Pete, "so representative of the lovely area where
we live. We chose the name because we have to compromise
with the medium we use to get the results we want." The quilt
square hangs on the pottery studio begun by Pete's parents
decades ago and where second generation potters Pete and
Kim continue to do their renowned work.
In a Colby Martin piece for the 30 July 2008 Yancey Common
Times Journal, Pete remarked, "'I love the creative facet of
pottery [--t]hat you can start with nothing and make a useful
piece of artwork.'" In our 4 October 2008 interview, Pete
explained, "I am so fortunate to have a work that I enjoy and
will love doing until I die, as did my parents. People call me
an 'artist,' but I consider myself a heritage craftsman."
The McWhirter Studio is certainly representative of fine
talent, of the creative spirit, and the tradition of passing these
gifts from one generation to the next.
Glass Quilt
Location: Levin Glass Studio, 717 Upper Browns Creek Rd, off Hwy 80S.
Designed by Wanda Levin, Drafted by Barbara Webster, painted by
Carolyn Bareford, installed by Rob Levin.
From Micaville, go 4.2 miles down 80S. Turn right onto Upper Browns
Creek Road. Go 7/10 mile, look for Levin Glass Studio sign on left, and
turn left into driveway. The studio is a brown wood building set back
from the road amidst pine trees.
Rob Levin is one of many talented artists who have
chosen to settle in the Yancey County area. Rob
specializes in glassblowing and mixed-media
sculpture. Rob has taught workshops all around the
country, in New Zealand and in Ireland. His work is
in many public and private collections, including
the Corning Museum of Glass, the Museum of
American Glass, the Mint Museum in Charlotte, the
High Museum in Atlanta, the Museum of Arts &
Design in New York, and glass museums in Spain,
Germany and Denmark. He has received a Southern
Arts Federation/NEA Visual Arts Fellowship and
several North Carolina Arts Council Fellowships.
Rob and his wife, Wanda, a photographer and
Montessori teacher, moved to North Carolina in
1975, when Rob was invited to teach glassblowing
at Penland School. The following year, Rob was
given an Artist-in-Residence position at the school,
and their twin daughters, Molly & Hannah, were
born in 1978. In 1979, Rob & Wanda bought &
renovated their home on Upper Browns Creek Rd.,
and in 1980 built the glass studio and moved in.
Their property is at the base of Mt. Celo, part of the
Black Mountain chain that also includes Mt.
In 2000, Rob added on to the studio, expanding to
include a gallery, a photo room, and more work
space. Included in the wall of the studio is a stained
glass window that Wanda created from glass that
Rob had made. He blew the glass into flat sheets
and Wanda designed the window and cut out the
pieces. The colors are lavenders, oranges, and clear.
An unusual aspect of Rob's glass is that he makes
most of the colors he uses in his work. The Quilt
Block is taken from the colors and pattern of the
window and is hung on the outside wall of the
studio facing the road.
Rob loves the process of working with hot glass. He sums up his approach to working: “I
was originally attracted to hot glass because of its liquid qualities and
sense of immediacy. I have always tried to capture the elegance, fluidity,
and whimsy which I feel are inherent properties of glass. I have often
formulated my own glass, including the colors I use. The glass itself can be
a symbol of human characteristics: fragile, but durable; fluid, but hardedged. My work, whether more sculptural or functional in intent, has
maintained a certain continuity in terms of style. The approaches I use are
eclectic and personal at the same time -- sort of a blend of Late Venetian
and Early Neurotic.”
Rob is not only a talented visual artist, but also plays guitar in the popular local group, Hot
Duck Soup, as well as with Bandana Klezmer.
Visit Rob's website at www.robertlevin.com.
North Carolina Lily
Location: 230 Grindstaff Rd. Drafted and Painted by Carolyn Bareford,
Installed by Keith Beam.
Story by Colby Martin and Teaky Tollison
Dr. Fergus and Ruth Mandl Pope chose the North Carolina Lily for
their quilt pattern in honor of Mrs. Pope's mother, Madam Lili
Krause, the famous Hungarian pianist.
Madam Krause was a musical prodigy who taught piano at
the Budapest Academy of Music when she was only eight years old
and continued a full and varied career in music all of her life. One
could argue that her talent saved both her life and those of her
After Krause's marriage to Otto Mandl, they moved to
Northern Italy because Professor Mandl thought they would be safe
from Hitler in the Italian Alps. Soon, they were approached by the
Italian government and urged to declare themselves German. By
this time, her talent was so well known that she and her husband
could negotiate with other countries for asylum from Europe; they
were particularly attracted to New Zealand.
On their way, the family stopped in Java for 19 concerts,
but they ended up staying for 79. During this time, the Japanese
invaded the island, and Krause's family was torn apart. Lili Krause
was put into an underground cell away from her husband and
children. When she learned that Mandl was in the same compound,
she began singing Hungarian folk songs to let him know that she
was alive. Eventually, the children, Ruth (age 12) and Michael,
were also imprisoned and didn't know the status of their parents for
a whole year.
Ruth Mandl Pope recalls that the Japanese “prison camps
were like concentration camps. Michael built coffins and I worked
on a road gang. We would break down stonewalls with small
hammers and heap them up into piles. We lived in small
bungalows that would normally be suitable for four people. There
were 60 living in each home.”
At one point, Ruth and Michael managed a harrowing
escape through a sewer pipe. When they finally found the family
for whom they were searching, it was dark and raining. Ruth
fainted on their doorstep, so the family reluctantly took them in for
one night. Michael did not want to return to the camp, but Ruth
convinced him they could not survive otherwise.
Finally, the whole family was reunited in a family prison
camp. One of the Japanese commanders was familiar with Madam
Lili Krause, the concert pianist, and asked if there was anything
that he could do for her. She requested a piano and her family. She
was granted both.
The British liberated Java, and the Mandls finally arrived in
New Zealand. Madam Krause rebuilt her career. Ruth and Michael
attended school and sometimes toured with their parents. Professor
Mandl instilled Ruth with a love of literature and theatre. When the
Old Vic Theatre School of London came to New Zealand looking for talent, Ruth auditioned and
was accepted. In 1947 the whole family returned to Europe. While in London, Ruth met an
American, Dr. Fergus Pope, and they were married two years later in 1959.
One experience that Mandl and Pope had in common was that he was also a world
traveler. Before he met Ruth, he journeyed from London across the Sahara Desert to
Johannesburg, South Africa. He wanted to meet Dr. Albert Schweitzer. While there, he helped Dr.
Schweitzer build Leper Village. His trip inspired him to become a pediatrician. After six years of
training in Great Britain, he and Ruth returned to Albert Schweitzer Hospital for what they
thought would be their lifelong career, developing and running a Children's Under-Five Clinic
and a physician training program for young Gabonese males. The Gabonese Minister of
Education who had helped them find candidates was accused of revolutionary activities, and the
Popes were expelled from the country.
The Popes moved to the United States where Dr. Pope entered a pediatric residency at the
Mayo Clinic. Upon completion, the Popes agreed that they wanted to settle in a part of the United
States where there was a need for doctors. A response from Jay Edge of Burnsville led them to
their farm on the South Toe River where they built their home and a concert hall for Lili Krause.
Madam Krause lived with the Popes from their marriage onward.
Since moving to the Burnsville area in 1969, the Popes continued their humanitarian
efforts. Fergus Pope was the prime facilitator for several programs initiated by the Appalachian
Regional Commission, a federal program to help with public health services. He was instrumental
in the birth of the Child Development Project, Comprehensive Maternity Services for Region D,
and Health Management Agency for Region D, National Foundation March of Dimes for local
counties, and North Carolina Region D Health Maintenance Project. Additionally, Dr. Pope is the
founder-director of the first two rural primary care clinics in North Carolina in the health
departments of Yancey and Mitchell Counties. Mrs. Pope stared the first Montessori school in
Yancey County and is co-founder of the Music in the Mountains program. She still teaches yoga
classes at the Blue Ridge Fitness Center and Celo Health Center.
The Popes officially retired in 1998, but they now direct their energies toward the
protection of Celo Farm. The bottom fields are organically farmed, and upstream, the area is
home to beavers, otters, and a pair of blue heron. Dr. Pope pointed out, “Animals, nature, and
man live in harmony on Celo Farm, and that echoes Dr. Schweitzer's Ethic of 'Reverence of
The North Carolina Lily quilt pattern forms a perfect punctuation mark for an amazing family and
their life's journey.
Bridle Path
Location: Appalachian Therapeutic Riding, Lower Brown’s Creek Rd.
Lower Brown’s Creek will be
your first left after you pass
Poplar Grove store on Hwy
80S. Brown’s Creek Baptist
Church is on the corner and
Upper Brown’s Creek is
directly opposite on Hwy 80.
Follow Lower Brown’s Creek
until you see the sign for
ATRC on the left and turn left
onto Riding Rd. - a gravel
road, and follow it up the
mountain to the barns and
fields. There is a gate across
the road so you may need to
call ahead to make sure you
can get through. The number
to call is 828-675-5630.
The Appalachian Therapeutic Riding Center provides therapeutic
horseback riding for persons with physical, cognitive, and/or emotional
disabilities in a safe, structured environment.
It was started in 1986 when Lisa Mauney (pronounced
Mooney) and Sally McCoy were talking about it over a church supper
at Burnsville’s First Baptist Church. Lisa had horses and wanted to use
them for community service but wasn’t sure how to go about it. Sally
had experience working in a program in England that provided services
like ATRC now supplies. That conversation helped launch Appalachian
Therapeutic Riding Center.
They got a pilot grant from blue Ridge Mental Health and
started the program in Lisa’s backyard in Celo in 1986. That was the
same year they became a non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation.
ATRC is located on fifteen acres of land bought with Janerve
grant money in the beautiful South Toe River Valley just outside of
Burnsville, North Carolina. That same grant helped them build their
first building.
The program is currently funded by grants, donations, fees, and
the Yancey County United Fund.
In 1992 they built their indoor riding arena and since then
another addition to the arena and a barn have been built. All property,
buildings and animals belong to the center, not to individuals.
In 2006, ATRC became a premier accredited operating center
by North American Riding for the Handicapped Association or
ATRC has two instructors fully certified by the North American
Riding for the Handicapped Association. In addition, physical,
occupational, and speech therapists are often involved, either hands on
in the program or as consultants. Volunteers round out the staffing.
They currently have six horses, some donated, some purchased.
Lisa and Miika Rollet help the horses adapt to balls being thrown,
wheelchairs and walkers.
Lisa says the benefits for their clients include improved
posture, balance, mobility, flexibility, and muscle strength. It increases
confidence, self-esteem, attention span, concentration and improves
communication and speech development.
Lisa said “this program could not exist without the help of
many dedicated volunteers who lead horses, side walk with riders,
clean barns, and feed horses.”
They are closed in the winter but when they are open (February
- November) they have sessions 5 days a week.
There is a gate across the road so if you want to see the block, it
will help to call ahead to make sure the gate is open: 828-675-5630.
Visit their website at www.atrcriding.com or email them:
[email protected]
Over and Under
Location: 234 Buddha Lane. Created by Susan Hayden out of bottle caps.
Installed by Michael Rutkowsky.
Susan Hayden’s Story
When I first moved to the mountains of North Carolina from
New York a local man, Bill Young, asked me “Do you know the
difference between a yankee and a damn yankee?” I said no. He
said “A yankee goes home.” Ha, Ha, Ha. Well, I guess that makes
me a damn yankee Bill because I feel blessed to be here, this is
home and it felt like home since the first day I came here over 20
years ago.
However, this area is not for everyone and my then husband
decided his heart belonged back in New York. I got custody of
the dog (Patty) and the Makita drill and I've never ever regretted
staying in NC.
To get to Buddha Lane....from
Micaville take Highway 80 South
approx. 4 miles to Lower Browns
Creek. (After you see Poplar Grove
Gas Station it's the next main left turn
and you'll see Brown's Creek Baptist
Church on the corner. Upper Brown’s
Creek is on the opposite side of the
road.) Drive approx. 1½ miles. Lower
Brown's Creek turns to a gravel
road....at the row of mailboxes. You
will make the first right...on Buddha
Lane (there is a street sign)...the next
opportunity you have to do anything
bear to the right...following the pink
flamingos to the studio. 234 Buddha
This is an amazing, unique area rich with artists.....some of the
best in the country in everything from glass blowing to basket
making. Penland School of Crafts (the oldest and largest craft
school in the country) is 20 minutes from my home. I've taken
classes in everything. Wish I could say I was good at everything I
tried but alas, I failed miserably at watercolors, and....well there
were other failures I don't need to get into. But I'm hooked on
welding, which I learned at the local community college, and
love to work with scrap metal and recycled materials.
Another favorite class was at John C. Campbell Folk School in
Brasstown, NC with Bobby Hansson, author of the Fine Art of
the Tin Can. I applied to be Bobby's studio assistant or his 5th
wife....whichever came up first. He's creative, an amazing story
teller, a very colorful character in every sense of the word and a
perfect gentleman. (You'll find out I lie sometimes)
Maybe it's at this point I should say how happy I am that things
worked out the way they did. If my ex-husband stayed, back in
1994, I wouldn't have had the freedom to build the house of MY
dreams. My choices.....of land, of siding in black steel, my design
and my choice of art work and landscaping. Would he have let
me finish the shower in broken tile or cover cabinets in bottle
caps? No! My home is a reflection of me and me alone. Would I
have had the freedom to take welding classes and buy a MIG
welder and scrap metal which I have all around my studio? I
don't think so! Would I be featured on HGTV's Offbeat America
if I were still married? Nooo!
I've had the opportunity to do whatever I pleased and it's a
wonderful thing when it works out. So in a way I say thank you
Josh for leaving me and moving back to Long Island and leaving
me to flourish and play with all these wonderful creative people
in such a beautiful place. You were the best husband I've ever
had, no lie.
Today I have Stella dog and two zebra finches named Dot and Jim. I have a small home and studio
but BIG plans. I just obtained the website showmeyourtool.com to work on and I'm looking for a
location that I can work and have an area to display my work and a few friends. A folk art gallery
would fit in really well with the galleries we have here. I love the work of self taught artists,
outsider artists and anyone who's interested in working with recycled materials. I take the pieces
that you throw away or that you sell at a flea market or that you scrap or toss in the garbage and
they become my craft supplies.
I love folk art and other artists who work with found materials. I buy vintage whirligigs and locally
made art. It's everywhere in my home.
My ultimate commitment to recycling shows with the house I had built. I collected the doors and
windows since 1981 and built in the mountains of North Carolina in 1998 on the South Toe River.
Out of some necessity but mostly as a challenge I did the finish work out of broken pottery, broken
tiles and glass pieces in the bathroom, shower, mantle and kitchen counter. Cabinets in the kitchen
and living room I covered with bottle caps and I have enough caps to cover the entire floor in this
480+ square foot home. (Resale value? yeah I've heard of that but what's it got to do with ART?) A
small deck connecting my house to the studio was pressure treated wood from a deck replaced in
town and the steel siding on the peak of my studio was recycled from Biltmore Iron and Metal.
My work can be seen at my studio in Celo, NC and at the Toe River Arts Council shows and gift
shop in Burnsville and Spruce Pine. I do local craft fairs Fearrington Folk Art Show, the Valle
Crucis Country Fair, Weaverville Art in Autumn and the Bakersville Creek Walk along
with the Toe River Arts Council Studio Tours in June and December. Maybe you'll see my Tool
Bench at the Fuller Craft Museum in Brockton, Mass. in a show called Trashformations.
I would make what I do even if I never sold another piece ever. I believe that is the true definition
of a folk artist. I can buy craft supplies to work with but for me I want the challenge of using what
other people throw away. To give trash a new life.
Harvest Sun
Location: Firefly Farm 534 Grindstaff Rd. Drafted by Barbara Webster,
painted by Carolyn Bareford and Cheryl Hughes, installed by Scott
Story by Elizabeth Gibbs
The owners of Firefly Farm, Scott Paquin and Elizabeth Gibbs,
have a deep desire to continue the history of farming on this
piece of land that adjoins the South Toe River on Grindstaff
Road. The land was originally owned by Henry Grindstaff, who
developed a family farm in the 1920's. All the buildings date back
to Henry's time. Dr. Fergus Pope and his wife Ruth purchased the
property in 1968, and raised Christmas trees and cattle.
Scott has been farming this parcel since 2003. He originally
visited the area in 1985 to attend a class at Penland School. He
continues to be a semi-retired woodworker.
Scott and Elizabeth met on the farm in 2005 and discovered in
each other a great passion for growing, cooking and eating fresh
food. Elizabeth realized a desire to farm while managing a
farmers market in Durham. The Popes placed this land under
conservation easement to protect the beautiful South Toe River
that courses through the property. Scott and Elizabeth purchased
the farm in 2006 and began market farming together.
They chose the Harvest Sun block design, which faces the
southwestern sun, since a good harvest is their livelihood. The
barn on which the quilt block hangs faces southwest, so the
afternoon sun illuminates the block. Fireflies light the summer
night on the farm. Firefly Farm sells at three farmers markets,
including the Saturday Yancey County Farmers Market, to
restaurants and through a Community Supported Agriculture
program. You can find out more about what they grow at
From Lower Browns Creek Rd.,
look for Grindstaff Rd. Turn
onto Grindstaff and enjoy the
ride back to Hwy 80. You will
see Harvest Sun on the way.
Trip Around the World
Location: 268 Sully Lane. Drafted by Deborah Palmer, Painted by Betty and Jim
Wells, Installed by Jim Wells.
Story by Betty Wells
Betty was born in Rome, GA in the NW corner of the state near the
foothills of the Appalachians into a family that had lived in that area of
Floyd County for several generations. In fact, Betty was the first generation
to grow up entirely in the city off the farm. She attended Rome public
schools and was graduated from UGA. She returned to Rome to teach
several years before moving to FL in 1960. There, after Hurricane Donna
devastated the beachside of Daytona in September of the same fall, she met
Jim at a hurricane party hosted by mutual friends. They were married in
December of 1961.
Jim grew up in NE Ohio, one county south of Lake Erie. His family had a
small dairy farm and he is well acquainted with barns, having spent many
hours there doing all the milking AM and PM. He graduated from
Youngstown University, paying his own way with carpentry work in the
summers and took his master's degree from Westminster College in PA
during summers, after he began teaching in FL in 1957.
Look for Sully Lane off
Grindstaff Rd. which is off
Hwy 80.
Both were employed in education; Betty teaching secondary school English
in public schools and Jim teaching small business management at Daytona
Beach Community College. Together they have 63 years in the classroom.
Betty retired in 1984 and Jim in 1998.
The summer of their retirement they began their summer home in the Celo
area of the South Toe River and have since divided their time equally
between Ormond Beach, FL, and Burnsville. Retirement was long
anticipated and planned for and has been successful in every way for us.
Our oldest connection to Appalachia is the fact that Betty's paternal
grandparents lived in Limestone, TN, for many years and her father was
born there. Betty has three quilts that Grandmother Carper did entirely by
hand, and using original feed sacks for her fabric. Her favorite is the "Trip
Around the World" pattern, so that was the logical choice for our quilt
block which hangs on our house. Betty has also done quilting, one throw
entirely done by hand, two queen-sized ones, a number of other throws and
wall hangings, and smaller articles of decor. There is something imminently
satisfying about quilting, especially that done by hand.
Our history in Yancey County, though brief, goes back to 1978 when we
were invited by FL friends vacationing at Little Switzerland to play a new
golf course in their area. We had been checking out other WNC areas
(Highlands, Boone/Blowing Rock, Waynesville, West Jefferson, etc.) so we
decided to do it. We fell in love with the golf course because of its scenic
beauty, but principally because it was flat and we were walkers. Every year
until we built, we spent the month of July in a rented house at the golf
course and came to love the town and its people as well.
The first year that the new Town Center was operational, we gave free
ballroom dance lessons there for three months. When classes were over, our
students gave us a very generous check as thanks. Right away we decided
that we would spend it on something typical of mountain heritage and
culture. What better thing to do than to have a Quilt Trails block?? This
would be a daily and visible reminder of my grandmother's bequest and the
wonderful folks of Yancey County who have welcomed us so warmly.
The Dragonfly
Location: Mountain Farm in Celo on Copperhead Bend off Hall’s Chapel Rd.
Drafted by Linda Walker, Painted by Tina Leskovic and Sharon Denning.
Installed by Scottie Cole, Country Cablevision.
Mountain Farm is a 24-acre lavender, blueberry and dairy goat farm
in Celo. Their small herd, hormone and antibiotic free, includes four
kinds of goats. Pick-your-own blueberries ripen June and July.
Heavenly lavender blooms from June to September, and creates the
natural border for the new meditation labyrinth. When visiting their
farm you can bottle feed kids in season, hike the trails, picnic at the
pond, or sit in a chair in the lavender field and just inhale. They are
dedicated to preserving their land as a farm that provides safe,
natural and beautiful products, enthusiastically embracing
environmental methods to protect the woods, pastures and streams.
Turn onto Seven Mile Ridge
Rd. off of Hwy 80. Left after
crossing the bridge. Then
turn left onto Hall’s Chapel
Rd. Then look for
Copperhead Bend on your
left and signs for Mountain
This quilt block is intriguing
with its apparent circles. It is
made completely from the
unit below - all straight lines.
Their soaps bear a dragonfly design, and dragonflys dart about their
pond during the summer months, hence their choice of The
Dragonfly quilt block.
Marilyn Cade also teamed up with John Richards of Yummy Mud
Puddle to supply us with SOAP with quilt block patterns on it. John
made the molds and Marilyn makes the soap. You can buy the soap
at Marilyn’s shop on her farm or at the Quilt Trails Gift Shop.
Visit their website at www.mountainfarm.net.
Call toll free to reserve the Blueberry Cottage: 866-212-2100.
Melon Patch
Location: 2838 Seven Mile Ridge Rd., Burnsville (Celo area)
Drafted by Barbara Webster, painted by Carolyn Bareford. Colors were chosen
to match the heirloom wedding quilt. Installed by Bill Krause.
By Bill Krause
As you meander along the South Toe River up Seven Mile
Ridge passing native rhododendrons, hemlocks, wild
turkey and an occasional deer, you come to Bill and Carol
Krause’s place.
There you will find Carol’s art studio where she does
acrylic paintings on canvas, hand painted rocks, and
charcoal and pastel drawings. Bill dabbles in the arts
through photography and watercolor, and pen & ink
drawings on canvas.
Head up Seven Mile Ridge
Rd. and soon you will see this
block on the left.
Carol and Bill are members of TRAC and the Celo art
community. Their works are on display in craft shops and
galleries in the surrounding counties.
Looking at the quilt block it is easy to see why it is called
Melon Patch. Entering a melon patch is like walking into a
candy store. There are melons that taste like pineapple,
mango, or peach, easy to grow, producing luscious fruit in
one season.
Those green bowling balls that pass for watermelons or
the melons posing as cantaloupes in grocery stores don’t
begin to represent the world of melons.
Most varieties are not native to North America, but
became part of our common heritage when immigrants
brought the seeds here, hidden in suitcases or sewn into
clothing. These precious possessions spelled breakfast,
lunch, or dinner, and the comforts of home in an uncertain
New World.
Log Cabin Star
Location: Seven Mile Ridge Rd. Painted by Jane Greene, Miriam Savard
Story by Teleia Tollison
Imagine laughing children running in and out of an old log cabin high up
on Seven Mile Ridge, and adults from all over sitting on the lawn talking
and eating and catching up on the news. If you can see this picture, then
you know why Vada Hoilman chose to hang the quilt square, Log Cabin
Star, at the old home place. Every summer there is a Ballew family
reunion, and Vada wanted a commemorative of the good times that the
relatives have had on the family farm.
The farm has provided generations of Ballews with all kinds of memories,
both happy and sad. Dating back to the pre-Civil War era, the cabin was
built by Vada's great grandfather who was killed in the Civil War at
Chattanooga. As did so many other young men, he never came home, but
was buried in Tennessee. He left a sturdy cabin, which has housed a family
of givers. Vada's dad had a huge orchard with apples, cherries, peaches,
and plums. He was well known for his wonderful honey. He shared fruit
and honey with everybody, never choosing to sell any of it. Vada's mother
was a midwife and delivered many a baby in Yancey County, often
traveling through the night walking or on horseback. Mary Sante, the
mother of the world's greatest banjo player (Raymond Fairchild), was also
born there. Another notorious connection to the cabin was Bob Wilson, the
first hanging in Yancey County. Out drinking and hunting, Wilson ended
up killing a man. Before his death, he gave his little son (who became
Vada's aunt's husband) an orange and told him never to drink.
Vada remembers the long walk down Seven Mile Ridge to Lonnie Blue's
where she'd catch the bus to Micaville High School (now the elementary
school). When she was a child, families sent their children to school, went
to church, and worked on their farms. They went no place else, but
everyone was grateful for what they had.
Vada married Sherrill Hoilman in 1953 shortly after he retired from the air
force. In 1959 they built their home in Bakersville, where she still resides.
Sherrill worked for Mitchell County School System as head of
transportation. He kept all the school buses running. “He was a good man,”
she quietly remembers.
Vada went back to school and studied nursing. Following her mother's
footsteps, she assisted Dr. Jack Horner and Dr. Melvin Webb in delivering
babies at Williams Clinic (the doctors' clinic in Spruce Pine located where
the old town hall was). Maude Branel cooked for overnight patients and
would leave leftovers in the refrigerator for the staff. Vada laughed in
remembering Dr. Webb or Dr. Horner requesting that she heat up dinner
while waiting for a new mother to deliver during the night. Later, she
worked at the local hospital. When she retired from there, she worked at
Brian Center. In her free time, she used to help her sister quilt. Or as Vada modestly phrases it, her
sister did the quilting; she was just the “go-fer.” Together they created over a hundred quilts and
gave them all away to family and friends.
She has two children, sons who remained in North Carolina. Tony works at Deyton Elementary
School and Tommy works at Baxter's. She also has three granddaughters. Tony's daughter, Megan
McKinney is a nurse. Tommy also has a daughter, Catrina, who is studying nursing, and his other
daughter Courtney is studying missionary work in Lynchburg, Virginia. She has one greatgranddaughter, Addison.
Today, Vada is still active in her church. She loves company and enjoys cooking for her sons who
stop by frequently for one of Mama's home-cooked meals.
Slave Chain
Location: Hannah Branch Rd.. Drafted by Barbara Webster, painted by Avril
Wilson, Barbara Webster and Deborah Palmer. Installed by Richard Kennedy.
Becky Gray’s pottery studio is located on Hannah Branch Rd. in
the Celo community. The quilt block, Slave Chain, was chosen by
Becky to honor the slave Hannah for whom the road is named.
Becky’s studio is a stucco barn located on land that was once a
plantation of Col. James McDowell. The stream that flows by the
shop, Hannah Branch, is named after Hannah, one of the
McDowell slaves.
After you’ve found the three
blocks up Seven Mile Ridge
Rd., come back down and
instead of turning right to
cross the river, go straight
onto a gravel road and look
for Hannah Branch. This is
the Celo Community
compound. After you find
this block you might want to
go on up the road and find
Arthur Morgan School.
In 1969, by chance Becky took a course with Tom Suomalainen at
Penland. Becky said he does “Amazing, mystical clay
sculptures.” Becky said when she saw his sculpture it took her
back to her childhood when she was fascinated with archeology,
and she would make tombs and elaborate things out of clay as a
game. As she got older she forgot about it. Tom’s work took her
back to that space, only on an adult level. That was when she
realized she could do this thing she loved the most as a child. “It’s
never stopped being magical ever since.”
Becky met her husband, Richard, a builder and a photographer,
when he came to her first gallery opening at the New Morning
Gallery in 1975. They got married in 1982 and Becky then moved
to Celo.
You can see Becky’s interest in the mystical in her sculpture. Her
distinctive style is immediately recognizable once you become
familiar with her work.
While her studio is not open to the public, her work can be seen
and purchased at Toe River Crafts on Highway 80, the TRAC
Gallerys in Burnsville and Spruce Pine, The Design Gallery in
Burnsville, and the New Morning Gallery (in Asheville). Her
studio is open for the Studio Tour which the Toe River Arts
Council sponsors twice a year.
If you go to her studio to see her block, we ask that you not
disturb the working artist. If you want to meet her and talk with
her, visit her studio during the Studio Tour the first weekend in
December or the spring tour in May.
Lcoation: Toe River Crafts on Highway 80 in Celo
Drafted by Barbara Webster, painted by Dotty Morgan, Bethany and Iris
Rountree and Peggy Tibbits. Installed by Randy and Nancy Raskin with Hilary
Ragin and Molly Martin.
This is one of 6 flower blocks put up to honor the women who
founded the libraries in Yancey, Mitchell and Avery counties. This
block honors Ms. Dorothy Thomas who organized the
Avery/Mitchell/Yancey regional library system and served as the
first regional director. The block was made possible by a donation
from the members of the Celo community.
Follow Seven Mile Ridge Rd.
back out to Highway 80 and
turn left to continue towards
the Blue Ridge Parkway. Just
after you pass the Toe River
Craft Shop where this block is,
be sure to look to the right for
a truly in-your-face view of the
Black Mountains
You will never meet a person who knew Ms. Thomas who won't
go on about what a wonderful person she was. She was a
significant influence in the literary, academic, and career lives of
many, including the current Regional Library Director, Dr. Daniel
Barron. However, much of her life remains a mystery. We don't
know when this quiet person was born whose favorite season was
spring and whose favorite hymn was the Flower Carol which she
sang as a member of the Friends congregation in Celo. We know
that she was a native of Nova Scotia, educated at Wellesley and
Boston University. She was the catalyst to bring Avery, Mitchell,
and Yancey Counties together with the Town of Spruce Pine to
form the AMY Regional Library in 1961. Her quilt block is a
trillium pattern set in four to represent her love of spring and
flowers, the three counties she brought together, and the four
libraries that serve the people of the Toe River Valley.
The world with beauty fills, gold the green enhancing,
Flowers make glee among the hills, set the meadows dancing
“The Flower Carol” can be found in The Oxford Book of Carols
Location: 2266 Chestnut Mt. Rd.. Designed by Martin Webster. Painted by Kathy
Rose, Jane Greene, Carole Pearson, Margot Parker and Lana Brennan.
Story by Teleia Tollison
Inset story told by Jerry Fairchild
Sometimes it is easy to see the pattern of one's life. The quilt block of
Jerry and Trish Fairchild clearly reflects their pattern from the central
theme of fish in a skillet to the trillium in each corner of the square
for the Fairchilds' four lovely daughters: Bridgett, Shelly, Somer, and
Amber. Jerry and Trish have lived on the family farm off and on
since their marriage, and their block celebrates their history and
Jerry remembers:
“Murphy Creek is a small stream near where my Grandma and
Grandpa lived as far back as I can remember. It has been over 50
years since my grandmother Mary Sant Fairchild took her cane
fishing pole in the early morning and walked from the front porch of
their old two-room cabin down a winding dirt trail to one of our
special fishing holes to catch me a mess of fresh rainbow trout for
breakfast. Grandma knew that I liked to have fresh trout, scrambled
eggs, and her homemade buttered biscuits during the times I visited
her in my spring breaks from grade school down in Burke County in
the 1950's and early 1960's. Most of the time she would quietly leave
the cabin with pole in hand at the break of dawn, just so she could
return to have me waking with the smell of those wonderful aromas
coming from the food cooking on the old wood stove. Sometimes, I
pause outside our mountain home today, close my eyes, and can still
almost hear and smell those fish frying.
“The family would all awaken to the sweet smell of breakfast
cooking on the old wood stove that my grandma had tended through
the night to make sure that the fire didn't go cold. Four trout would
just fit into Grandma's iron skillet—one for Grandma, one for
Grandpa (Joseph Fairchild), one for my Uncle Raymond Fairchild,
and yes, a special one fried crisp, just for me.
“Sometimes, when I visited in the winter, I recall actually seeing
snow blow through some of the cracks in the old house. Grandpa and
Uncle Raymond would cram newspapers in the cracks to keep out the
snow and ice. Quilts would be piled so high on the bed at night that it
was hard to roll over because they were so heavy.
“Back in the 1960's when my grandparents first moved into the home
where Trish and I live today, I remember Grandpa grumbling about
all the traffic on the gravel lane in front of the house. (It was Seven
Mile Ridge Road back then, but now it is Chestnut Mountain Road.)
On a busy day, two or three vehicles would pass. In the old house,
however, about a mile or so down the river, a car would pass by only
on rare occasions. There really were no roads for cars at the old house, only walking trails in
and out of the cabin. It still remains that way.
“Trish and I have built a small beach in front of our home on the Murphy Creek bank where
our grandchildren often come to fish, play, swim, and roast hot dogs and marshmallows over
an open campfire. Our grandchildren, who are old enough, love to fish as much as my
grandma and I did back in my boyhood days. I sure wish that I had developed her special
techniques and skills in catching trout. She could get a fish to bite when no one else could. I
would pass the 'wand' to all my grandchildren. Even without my grandmother's magical skills,
I often take our grandchildren to the same spots to fish and talk about all the good times I had
back then growing up as a boy in these mountains as well as the good times I still have today
with my family around.
“Currently, the old family house belongs to FUI professor, historian and author Mr. Darden
Pyron from south Florida, a neighbor who is not only a gentleman but also a scholar. Trish and
I enjoy mountain life in my grandparents' new home, where the quilt square hangs to celebrate
at least five generations of Fairchilds.”
Jerry has been employed by Fluor Daniels for over 35 years and has had an opportunity to
work in more than 20 states. He was recently on assignment in Trinidad, West Indies, for over
three years and is currently working in Texas. His next site will be Carabobo, Venezuela. Trish
has quite literally been a homemaker, following Jerry around and raising their daughters in
numerous countries, including the three glorious years in Trinidad.
For 20 of their married years, they “left the lights on” in the home place but talked about
selling; then one day, it dawned on them just how much they loved their Murphy Creek home.
Now, they wouldn't part with it. Not only do they want to save the homestead for the next
generation of Fairchilds (seven grandchildren to date), but Trish also affirms that their land
provides a safe haven from an uncertain world with the cleanest air of any place they have
ever lived. The spring, which supplies the water for two homes on the property, has never run
dry and contains the sweetest tasting water she has ever drunk. Neither Trish nor Jerry ever got
over their love of the Blue Ridge Mountains and now consider it their duty to preserve their
heritage through the story of their quilt block and the nurturing of the land.
The Drunkard’s Trail Block
Location: 1280 Chestnut Mountain Rd. Drafted, painted and installed by Linda
This amazingly colorful block called Drunkard’s Trail, has to be
seen to be fully appreciated. It is installed on a purple barn making it
all the more fun to find.
Linda Sharpless chose this block for her studio barn because she
says that, well..., on weekends everyone drives around her curve and
throws out their beer cans and she has to spend every Monday
cleaning up.
Linda started throwing pots at age 13. Her father, a woodworking
teacher, taught industrial arts at a private Quaker boarding and day
school and Linda was exposed to gifted teachers.
You’re going to have to do
some hunting to find this
block. One way to find it is
off highway 19e. Turn onto
Crabtree Rd. and follow it
to Chestnut Mtn. Rd. where
you will turn right and
follow a very curvy road
until you see the block.
A second way to find it is to
take Seven Mile Ridge Rd.
up and over the mountain,
turning right to stay on
Seven Mile Ridge Rd. at the
top of the mountain. You
will go through at least 2
hairpin curves. At some
point it becomes Chestnut
Mtn. Rd.
At the age of 23, Linda moved here and built her own house on 12
acres in Mitchell County. She has been making her living with her
pots since the age of 20. Eighty percent of her sales are wholesale to
stores and galleries like Grovewood Gallery in Asheville and the
Home of the Perfect Christmas Tree shop in Spruce Pine. You can
also find her work at Toe River Crafts, Blue Water in Spruce Pine
and Little Switzerland Cafe.
Linda is on the TRAC Studio Tour twice a year which will give
everyone a chance to see her fabulous quilt block...and of course buy
some sensational pots.
Fireman’s Blanket
Location: Little Switzerland Fire Station, Chestnut Grove Church Rd., Little
Switzerland. Designed by Betty Altman, Painted by Caitley Symons, installed by
Jeff Phillips and Wade Whitson.
In 2002 the greater Little Switzerland community recognized the
need for a fire/rescue facility within the community itself. As well,
there was a strong desire to contribute something for the benefit of
future generations as was the case with those of the past who gave the
Church of The Resurrection and Geneva Hall. This fire house was
built through the efforts of residents and friends of the Little
Switzerland area and was opened in June, 2008, at which time
ownership was transferred to Parkway Fire and Rescue, Inc.
The ladies of this community wanted to honor their volunteer firemen
and their unselfish service, they so generously provide for the
protection of the Little Switzerland area. This quilt block represents
the gratitude all feel for these men and women. This quilt block will
serve as a visible connection between the community and the history
and tradition of the mountains.
Painted Trillium
Designed by Barbara Webster, (based on The Ozark Star, 1935 also known as
True America, 1956, both originally published in the Kansas Star.) Drafted by
Barbara Webster. Painted by Susan Bolick, Susan Crutchfield, Dot Dantzler,
Dot Gibbs, Katherine Hancock, Cheryl Hughes and Zach Skokos.
The Trillium Gallery began in June of 1985 with a few pieces of
handcrafted pottery and glass on display inside the Switzerland
Inn. One of the owners at the time, Joanne Jensen wanted to
bring attention to the wealth of talented crafts people in our area.
At this time many artists did not have an outlet to display their
work or did not have studios that were open to the public very
often. Eventually Joanne decided to sell the pieces on display,
moved into one of the shops on the property and made it official.
The Trillium Gallery was one of the first galleries to open in our
Look for this block on the back
of the building.
For many years the gallery carried only works of local artists.
With the increase in galleries carrying only local work, Joanne
decided to incorporate the works of national artists as well, all
handcrafted and made in the USA. What a success this has been!
Our customers love to see the work of artists from other regions
mixed with local artists work, the best of both worlds.
I fell in love with the gallery as a young girl. I began working at
the Inn as a waitress and always loved to go over and look at the
work of my favorite artist, Rodney Shaw. I actually saved
enough money to purchase a piece of his that I still own and
enjoy today. After several years away, I began working in the
gallery part-time, as I was a full time flight attendant at the time.
A few years later Mrs. Jensen decided to retire from the gallery,
and opportunity arose. After a crazy life of traveling, settling
down here sounded pretty good. Timing is everything and I was
fortunate enough to be able to invest in something I have always
Since, I became owner the Trillium has a bit more of a
contemporary feel but still incorporates the traditional favorites. I
love to have a piece that gets a real reaction either positive or
negative. That's what makes the gallery so interesting! We invite
you to come to Little Switzerland to see our unique collection,
have lunch at the Chalet Restaurant and enjoy the view!
North Carolina Bear Paw
Location: Little Switzerland Post Office
Designed by Betty Altman, Drafted and Painted by Betty Altman.
Installed by Bill Altman.
Story by Jean Law, Little Switzerland Postmistress
To visit the quaint village of Little Switzerland you can take
highway 226A from 226 at the Parkway Bridge or take the
Blue Ridge Parkway.
The drive is very scenic either route you take. In a short
while you will reach the unique village that has remained the
same since it began. The village is made up of the Little
Switzerland Inn, a general store, café, book store and the
Post Office which originally opened in 1912. Little
Switzerland is made up of approximately 1,000 acres. The
homes built here are still mainly summer homes for a great
variety of people.
Much of the land is still wild and undeveloped with a large
population of wildlife. People have found a lot of them are
bears and have to protect bird feeders, trash cans, small pets
and themselves. They see plenty of bear paws around and
know the critters are back.
About 25 years ago the Postmaster and his assistant, Jean
Law, began collecting Teddy Bears. The collection grew and
soon the Post Office became a local tourist attraction with
the bears being used to display new stamps. Jean came up
with new and unique displays to amuse the public. They
were featured with an article and pictures in a national
Teddy Bear magazine as well as in several local newspapers.
The road that turns up in front of the Post Office is called
Bear Wallow Road.
Because of this history with bears, the Bear Paw Quilt Block
was designed from Jean's suggestions and knowledge of the
bears, and thus, the Bear Paw Quilt Block now helps people
find the Little Switzerland Post Office...the hub of the
Books and Coffee Cups
Dream Ship
Books and Coffee Cups designed by Martin Webster, painted by Carolyn Bareford,
installed by Rick Gougeon.
Dream Ship, a traditional quilt block, painted by Carole Pearson and Karen King,
installed by Rick Gougeon.
The Little Switzerland Book Store has the current distinction of being the
only site on the trails with two quilt blocks.
Little Switzerland Book Store was originally opened in 1987 by Dr. Curtis
Johnson and was called the Grassy Mountain Bookstore. The café next
door was already open and being run by Jake Messner at that time. In 2006
Dr. Johnson sold the bookstore to Thomas Wright who then sold it to Rick
Gougeon in June 2010.
Books and Coffee Cups
Dream Ship
When it started it was just two rooms. Now it is about 5000 sq. ft. and
occupies three floors. They carry primarily used books, and will happily
take YOUR used books and give you a store credit which you can use to
buy more books. There is an art gallery in the third floor space which
contains all local arts and crafts for sale. There are 17 artists represented in
the gallery. All local artists are welcome to participate as long as their art
isn't duplicating something already in the gallery. The gallery doesn't
charge the artists to be in the space, but does take a 20% commission on all
sales. In addition to the art for sale, the bookstore also carries puppets,
Christmas ornaments, bookends, book stands and lots of other specialty
Additionally, there is a coffee shop inside the bookstore, complete with an
Espresso machine and regular coffee, pastries, candy, and deli-sandwiches.
You can get a cup of coffee and sit in the reading room in big antique
leather chairs or on a black velvet couch in front of a cozy fireplace and
read as long as you like. It's a wonderful cozy environment perfect for the
book lover, or aspiring writer. It is this combination of books and coffee
that inspired the Books and Coffee Cups quilt block which adorns the front
of the bookstore.
But there is ANOTHER quilt block on the side of the building called
Dream Ship. And that quilt block speaks to Rick Gougeons' real passion
which is making boats. Couture Boatworks can be found in one of the back
rooms of the building where Rick builds model boats, wood canoes, kayaks
and small wooden sailboats. Rick is from northern Michigan. He moved to
Charlotte to manage Coble Dairy. Soon he gravitated into real estate in
Charlotte. He got interested in the contracting end of real estate so he took
a contracting course to get his license. He then opened a home building
business called Craftsman Homes and Realty. He started building vacation
homes and second homes in Mitchell, Avery and Yancey Counties, but
predominately in Little Switzerland and Spruce Pine. But when he isn't
building homes, you will find him at Couture Boatworks building boats.
Rick's daughter, Moira Hutchings runs the bookstore. She went to UNCA where she
obtained a Bachelors Degree in Biology. Her husband teaches Special Education at
Bowman Middle School in Bakersville.
The bookstore is open 8-5 7 days a week from April to mid December. Closed January-end
of March. (828)765-9070 www.lsbooksandbeans.webs.com
The Apple Tree Block
Location: The Orchard at Altapass on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Drafted by Barbara
Webster, painted by Anita Langan, installed by Rolf Holmquist.
Story by Bill Carson
The Orchard lies along the crest of the Blue Ridge, the Eastern Continental
Divide. The gap on the east side, McKinney Gap, is the lowest passage
through the Blue Ridge for a hundred miles. Two rivers, the North Toe to
the north and the North Fork of the Catawba to the south lie close beneath
McKinney Gap on either side of the Divide. Geography has determined the
history of the Orchard.
This one is easy to find. Get
on the Blue Ridge Parkway
heading North and you will
eventually come to the
Orchard at Altapass. The
block is on the gift shop
building and you can see it
from the Parkway.
This is a fun place to stop.
Something to delight the
whole family.
Its early history is speculative. Buffalo and elk established a trail along the
Blue Ridge Crest here, followed by pre-history peoples (a recent arrowhead
find dates back 9000 yrs), Cherokee Indians and later, European settlers.
Bright's Trace followed the game trail through the low gap in the ridge and
was the early path for settlement of the land west of the Blue Ridge: the
river valleys of the Watauga, Nolachucky, Holstein. The Blue Ridge itself
became the Indian Territory boundary, at least for the British authorities.
Crossing the Divide was illegal from 1762 onward. Indians were
encouraged to attack settlers there, and were paid for scalps.
Just as settlers ignored the British line, so did the Indians. Scalps sold to the
British could not reveal where they had been taken. Raids across the line
were common. The last one occurred in nearby Turkey Cove in 1776.
On September 29, 1780, the location that is now the orchard saw the
passage of the Overmountain Men, coming from settlements in Indian
Territory, across Bright's Trace and the Blue Ridge to defeat the British at
King's Mountain and change the course of the Revolutionary War. There is
delicious irony in the defeat of the British by militia they had forced into
existence for self-defense against the British instigated Indians. Each year
reenactors honor the original soldiers by marching along the route. The
Orchard has a living history day to mark the passage every September 29.
The first person to settle here was Charlie McKinney. In the 1790's he made
his home here. He left his mark indelibly: in the course of his 85 years, he
collected 4 wives and had 48 children. The wives lived in four separate
houses along the trail, and attended church as a family group of five, plus
children. He died in 1856 and his unmarked cemetery lies on a beautiful and
peaceful spur off the Blue Ridge at the orchard. Thanks to this remarkable
patriarch, McKinney is a common name hereabouts. Legends and stories
about his circumstances are an important part of the Orchard history.
During the rail-building era of the late 1800's, the geography dictated this
site would be perfect for a railroad. Although several bankruptcies delayed
it, 1908 saw the completion of the Clinchfield Railroad. The last piece was
the Clinchfield loops, consisting of 18 tunnels in 13 miles of track and built
beside and below the orchard. It was the 'engineering wonder of the 20th
When the Blue Ridge Parkway chose its path, it too followed the ancient buffalo track and came
through the middle of the Orchard, dividing it in half. That required a condemnation process, a
court fight that eventually reached the NC Supreme Court. The momentum for the Orchard was
lost, and it began to decline. Neighbors despaired the loss and braced for the expected
development of this beautiful place. The wild growth of the trees became sadness for Parkway
travelers who had seen it in better times.
When it was offered for sale in 1994, Kit Trubey bought the land and her brother Bill Carson
with his wife Judy started the preservation of the place, including its apples and its memories.
The preservation project is underway today, with hayrides, music, story telling, butterfly
tagging, free mountain music on weekends, and a store to sell ice cream, fudge, country
products and local crafts. The half of the Orchard that lies above the Blue Ridge Parkway has
been sold to the Parkway, to assure its perpetual preservation. The remaining land will be
protected by conservation easement. The history of the Orchard continues.