Topton on the route

Motoring through the Mountains - 1930s: Topton

Cherokee County
Altitude: 2,700 feet

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The Bemis Lumber Company, under its subsidiary operation of the Graham County Railway, planned an extension of its rail line in order to develop its timber resources in Graham County. The January 24, 1928, issue of The Ruralite (Sylva, N.C.) noted that “[f]rom Topton to Robbinsville, the Graham County Railway is a common carrier, but from Robbinsville back into the mountains the line is for logging purposes exclusively.” As seen by this article, rail transport was provided to Robbinsville, the county seat of Graham County, but was not part of the county’s overall transportation system beyond Robbinsville. By the 1930s roads were becoming the primary means of passenger transport. The 1939 book North Carolina: A Guide to the Old North State cited Topton as the intersection of two main highways in western North Carolina, listed as US 129 and US 19, and commented that it was the junction leading from the Nantahala Gorge to the farming communities of Cherokee County via Red Marble Gap. The Asheville Citizen (Asheville, N.C.) would in fact comment in its June 7, 1931, issue that with the opening of a new road from Tennessee to Robbinsville “cars come from both directions and it is estimated that within the last week the travel has been increased five hundred per cent.” Previously travelers had funneled through the Topton route. Likewise, a brochure titled Asheville, Where to Go recommended in its list of suggested “Mountain Motor Trips from Asheville to Scenic Points in the Land of the Sky” that the traveler drive to Topton and make connection to the road that led to Point Lookout for a view of the Nantahala Gorge. Topton was also the turnoff for a 318 mile round trip route from Asheville, into Tennessee by way of Maryville, and return to Asheville by way of Newfound Gap in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Topton in the 1890s  |  Topton in the 1910s

To the West: Andrews


To the East: Nantahala

Return to the Map for the 1930s

Sources & Readings

  • Asheville Chamber of Commerce. Asheville, “In the Land of the Sky”: Where to Go, What to Do, What to See. Asheville Chamber of Commerce. N.d.
  • “Bemis Firm to Top Lumber Belt.” The Ruralite (Sylva, N.C.) January 24, 1928.
  • Cherokee County Historical Museum. A Pictorial History of Cherokee County. Murphy, N.C.: Cherokee County Historical Museum, 1995.
  • Federal Writers’ Project of the Federal Works Agency, Works Projects Administration. North Carolina: A Guide to the Old North State. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1939.
  • Freel, Margaret Walker. Our Heritage, The People of Cherokee County, North Carolina, 1540 – 1955. Asheville, N.C.: Miller Print. Co., 1956 [c1957].
  • Graham County Centennial, 1872 – 1972. Robbinsville, N.C.: Graham County Centennial 1972, Inc., 1972.
  • “Lakes and Mountains in Graham Attract Tourists.” Asheville Citizen (Asheville, N.C.) June 7, 1931.