Altitude: 1,550 feet
"From a purely scenic viewpoint this is one of the most beautiful places on the Murphy Division of the Southern Railway. Within easy driving, or even walking, distance are some of the most picturesque spots in this section of the State. Over an excellent road it is only three miles to the crest of Silers Meadows, 5,700 feet high, whence a view may be obtained of all the Great Smoky Mountains that is wondrously beautiful. Extensive lumbering operations are conducted in the immediate vicinity of the station, but the great forests which cover the hills and mountains nearby seem scarcely to have been touched. In the Spring the sides of the mountains are ablaze with rhododendron and azalea blossoms, the spectacle being one of the most beautiful it is possible to imagine."
The Siler’s Meadow, or Siler’s Bald, mentioned in the railroad guide is a prominent feature in the Great Smoky Mountains. A “bald” is a grassy area on the upper part of a mountain, and this feature was frequently mentioned in the literature on Southern Appalachia. According to the North Carolina Gazetteer, Siler’s Bald, located on the state line between North Carolina and Tennessee, was “named for Jesse Richardson Siler (1793 – 1876) of Franklin, who owned this mountain and kept large herds of cattle on it.” In his journals, the author and outdoor enthusiast Horace Kephart noted that,
“The cabin at Siler’s meadow cost about $40. Shingles and clapboards riven from mountain oaks one mile below, and 1000 ft. less altitude, had to be carried up on men’s backs. A stout man could carry 25 shingles (60 lbs.) at a load."
"From this point the Railway begins rapidly to ascend in altitude. In conformity with the topography of the country it makes a graceful curve, almost in the form of a horseshoe, between the small stations of Noland, three miles beyond Forney, and Epps Springs. These stations are less than a mile apart, the surrounding country being particularly noted for the exquisite beauty of its scenery."
Joseph Hyde Pratt, in his report The Mining Industry in North Carolina During 1907 with Special Report on the Mineral Waters (1908), commented on Epps Spring:
“This spring is located at the foot of East Canebrake Knob, about 5 miles west of Bryson City and 150 yards up Canebrake Branch from Epps Springs, a station on the Murphy branch of the Southern Railway. There is a small hotel, containing 12 rooms, that has been built for the accommodation of guests, which is within 50 yards of this spring, and has running water. There are 500 acres of ground belonging to the spring property, which is largely covered with timber, as oak, popular, chestnut and some pine. Although there have been but little improvements made on this property, it offers a favorable location for building up a mineral spring resort, . . . . Canebreak Branch offers sufficient power to develop electricity for lighting the hotel.
“The water from Epps Spring gushes out from the rock on the west side of a steep hill and is within 30 feet of Canebrake Branch, but well above it. …”
|To the West: Bushnell||To the East: Bryson|
Text excerpted from 1912 travel guide, The Western North Carolina Section at a Glance. Issued by the Passenger Traffic Department, Southern Railway, Premier Carrier of the South, Washington, D.C., 1912.
Sources & Readings