Waynesville on the route

Following Wagon Trails - 1890s: Waynesville

Haywood County
Altitude: 2,655 feet

The Haywood County Court House seen in this picture was the third court house built in Waynesville, N.C., and according to Haywood Homes and History was "an impressive brick Second Empire style building." Constructed in the early 1880s and in use by 1884, it along with a second county court house building, which dated from 1844, were mentioned in by Wilbur G. Zeigler and Ben S. Grosscup in The Heart of the Alleghanies (1883), wherein the authors noted the rapid changes in Waynesville between visits in the late 1870s and early 1880s.

"Waynesville, the county-seat of Haywood, is 2,756 feet above the ocean. Of the peaks in sight around it, five attain a height of 6,000 feet and upwards. Every mountain is clothed from base to summit with heavy woods. That chain arising in the south in lofty outlines, black with firs, is the Balsam. The Haywood mountains, bounding the northern line of vision, are, owing to their distance, arrayed in purple, and usually crowned with white masses of clouds, which at sunset turn to orange, run to molten gold and then blazing with scarlet resolve into darkness. The village occupies the most elevated portion of the plateau. Two parallel streets, crossed by four or five shorter ones, make up the general ground-work of the town. Interspersed with vacant, weed-grown lots, the dwellings and buildings, occupied by about 300 people, face on these winding thoroughfares. A few locust trees border the rough, stony walks. Apple and peach trees hang over thickly-planted gardens within the unpainted long board fences before many of the houses."

"The head-center for daily congregation seems to be the post-office. Its red-mud-splattered front and porch-posts whisper of a rainy season and stamping horses to the tourist who stands on the hard level road. The mosses on the porch roof also speak of dampness and age. Opposite the post-office, in 1882, was still standing, intact and in use, the county's venerable hall of justice. . . . ."

"However, the court days for the old hall are past. A new and imposing brick structure has just been erected at the north end of the village. That an air of enterprise is circulating is evident. Numerous new buildings, with fresh-painted or brick fronts have lately arisen in place, making striking contrasts with the old rookeries of fifty years existence standing here and there."

- Wilbur G. Zeigler and Ben S. Grosscup, The Heart of the Alleghanies (1883), pp. 285 - 286.

A handwritten caption on the reverse of this photograph identified it as the "Waynesville Dispensary [Drug Store]." A large stock of items appears in the shelving cabinets on either side of the store. The walls and ceiling lamp are decorated with posters and advertisements. In addition, a spittoon is seen on the right hand side of the floor near a stool, with two dogs lounging in the far back of the store. According to Haywood Homes and History, the store was authorized to sell alcohol for medicinal purposes, but with the coming of prohibition in Haywood County it closed in 1909.

The booklet for the Woman's Christian Temperance Union Southern Assembly and School of Methods, Waynesville, N.C., 1892 carried this picture of the Haywood White Sulphur Springs Hotel. The original photograph may be one produced by the photographic studio of Lindsey & Brown in Asheville, N.C., as the number on the image, "883," is the studio's catalog of postcards for sale as "Hotel at Waynesville." The earliest part of the building had been a home constructed by 1830 and which was enlarged and turned into a hotel in 1878 by W.W. Stringfield. Wilbur G. Zeigler and Ben S. Grosscup describe the original hotel in The Heart of the Alleghanies (1883). The structure burned in 1892 and a new, brick building, as seen in this photograph, took its place.

"The White Sulphur Springs Hotel is three-quarters of a mile from the village. It was by the stage line that we approached it in the summer of 1882. The mail-bags had been flung down to the good-natured-looking post-master, and several passengers distributed at the hotels on the village street, when we turned down a hill toward Richland creek, first passing several plain dwellings and two churches. One of the churches (the Episcopal) is a well-built little house of worship. The creek must be forded, and then follows a delightful stretch of road along its banks, until, after swinging by a house or two on knolls in fields, we passed through a frame gate into the grounds of the Sulphur Spring.

"The grounds are naturally adapted for a summer resort. A grand forest, principally of oaks, covers about eight acres of level ground, through which, with green sward on either hand, winds the road toward the hotel. The hotel is a large farmhouse, modeled and added to until its original proportions and design are lost. Near it, at the foot of a low wooded hill, is a line of cottages connected with the main structure simply by a graveled walk, which also leads to the Sulphur spring bubbling up in a stone basin within a small summer-house. There is a comfortable, healthy air abut the hotel and its surroundings."

- Wilbur G. Zeigler and Ben S. Grosscup, The Heart of the Alleghanies (1883), pp. 290 - 291.

When Wilbur G. Zeigler and Ben S. Grosscup began their travels in western North Carolina, as recounted in their book The Heart of the Alleghanies (1883), the railroad had not yet reached Waynesville, N.C. While the arrival of the railroad in Asheville, N.C., in 1880 had reduced reliance on coaches to that city, the authors note that stages still ran to other parts of western North Carolina. They relate the experience of talking a stagecoach ride through the mountains, and specifically the trip from Pigeon River, now known as Canton, N.C., to Waynesville. A "Jehu," as mentioned in the account, is a fast or reckless coach driver.

"Vainly the mountaineers beside the ancient stage-road, up the Blue Ridge from McDowell county into Buncombe, may listen for the old-time winding of the driver's bugle the rumbling of strong-spoked wheels, and the rattling of trace-chains; or wait to see the familiar outlines of four gray horses, hallooing reinsman and loaded Concord stage swinging round some bold cliff, and drawing nearer up the rich green avenue of the forest: the days of staging by this route into Asheville are over. But "Jehu" with his prancing steeds and swaying coach is not, in this region, a being of the past; for the whistle of the locomotive has only served to drive him further into the mountains."

"To those who are little familiar with stage-riding, there is in it something of pleasing novelty. . . ."

"One of the stage routes, now in operation, is from the present terminus of the Western North Carolina railroad at Pigeon River, to Waynesville, ten miles distant. If the time-table is the same it was when we last traveled over the new-laid rails from Asheville, up the Hominy valley, over dizzy trestle-works, and burst through a narrow mud-cut between the hills into the wide valley of the Pigeon; -- if it is this way, I say, the tourist will take a late dinner at a large brick farm-house beside the station, . . . ."

"There is nothing particularly enchanting about the landscape for the next ten miles. The road beneath is beaten hard, and as a floor. It is not always so agreeable riding over, however, for it is of red clay; and in winter, with snows, thaws, and rains, it becomes almost impassible. They tell of empty wagons being stalled in places during the inclement seasons. I have a vivid recollection of helping, one dark April night, to unload a light Jersey wagon, drawn by two stout horses, in order to release the hub-deep sunken wheels, and allow us to proceed on our way from Waynesville."

- Wilbur G. Zeigler and Ben S. Grosscup, The Heart of the Alleghanies (1883), pp. 279 - 281.

Over one hundred years ago tourists were drawn to this tranquil view of a picturesque mill and mountain setting. Featured as a postcard available from T.H. Lindsey’s photographic studio in Asheville, N.C., the view was also used in the 1892 brochure for the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union meeting in Waynesville, N.C., and in the souvenir booklet With Pen and Camera thro’ “The Land of the Sky.”

The North Carolina Historical Review (July 1997) identified this photograph as a Confederate veterans reunion that W.W. Stringfield, himself a veteran and the owner of the Haywood White Sulphur Springs Hotel, arranged in Waynesville, N.C., in the summer of 1889. The list of distinguished attendees was impressive, and a number of individuals in the photograph are marked with handwritten numbers (numerals) that are visible when the picture is enlarged. It included North Carolina Governor Daniel G. Fowle (#1) and past state governor Thomas J. Jarvis (#10), two former congressmen in the presence of Thomas L. Clingman (#6) and Robert B. Vance (#7), and Principal Chief Nimrod Jarrett Smith of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. Stringfield is visible to the right in front of the gathering (#12).

To the West: Hazelwood


To the East: Tuscola

Waynesville in the 1910s  |  Waynesville in the 1930s

Return to the Southern Railway Map for the 1890s

Sources & Readings

  • Farlow, Betsy, Dan Lane, and Duane Oliver. Haywood Homes and History. Hazelwood, N.C.: Oliver Scriptorium, 1993 (Waynesville, N.C.: D. Mills, Inc.).
  • Haywood County Heritage Book Committee, ed. Haywood County Heritage, North Carolina, 1994. Waynesville, N.C.: Published by the Haywood County Genealogical Society, in cooperation with Walsworth Publishing Co., 1994.
  • Jarrett, Dana L, ed. A Pictorial History of Haywood County. Asheville, N.C. Asheville Citizen-Times Pub. of North Carolina, 1994.
  • Lindsey, Thomas H. Lindsey’s Guide Book to Western North Carolina. Asheville, N.C.: Randolph - Kerr Printing Co., 1890.
  • Nelson, Louise K. Historic Waynesville & Haywood County, North Carolina: “What Was It Like?” Waynesville, N.C.: L.K. Nelson, 1999.
  • Starnes, Richard. “`The Stirring Strains of Dixie’: The Civil War and Southern Identity in Haywood County, North Carolina.” North Carolina Historical Review (July 1997), pp. 237 – 259.
  • United States, Department of Agriculture. Message from the President of the United States Transmitting a Report of the Secretary of Agriculture in Relation to the Forests, Rivers and Mountains of the Southern Appalachian Region. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1902.
  • Waldron, Holman D. (text). With Pen and Camera thro' the "Land of the Sky" -- Western North Carolina and the Asheville Plateau. Portland, Me.: Chisholm Bros., 1904.
  • Woman’s Christian Temperance Union Southern Assembly and School of Methods, Waynesville, N.C., 1892. Philadelphia, Penn: Levytype Co., 1892.
  • Zeigler, Wilbur G. and Ben S. Grosscup. The Heart of the Alleghanies; Or, Western North Carolina; Comprising Its Topography, History, Resources, People, Narratives, Incidents, and Pictures of Travel, adventures in Hunting and Fishing and Legends of Its Wilderness. Raleigh, N.C.: A. Williams & Co.; Cleveland, O.: W.W. Williams, 1883.