Whittier on the route

Taking the Train: Whittier

Swain County
Altitude: 1,858 feet

Text excerpted from The Western North Carolina Section at a Glance, 1912 (pp. 40-41):

"Whittier is an incorporated town, situated on the line between Swain and Jackson Counties. A part of it lies in Charleston township, Swain County, and a part of Quallatown township, Jackson County. It is located in a little valley at the confluence of Connolly Creek and Crooked Creek with the Tuckasegee River. Large saw mills are located here, and there are several important hardwood lumbering establishments. Commercially it is of great importance to the surrounding country, which is devoted largely to lumbering, general farming, and truck farming. Immense quantities of cabbages are raised in the vicinity and shipped to northern and eastern markets."

The Whittier railway depot was a focal point for the community in more ways than serving as a freight and passenger station. Under its 1907 act of incorporation, the town’s limits were set at one half mile in all directions from the depot. When enlarged, the “Train Schedule” sign, seen at the far right of the building, appears to have a handwritten date of July 16, 1909. The “Whittier” sign over the doorway lists “Murphy 65.0 Miles” and “Asheville 58.6 Miles,” which corresponds to the 1912 railroad guide The Western North Carolina Section at a Glance. Another sign, above the two men at the corner of the building, reads “Western Union Telegraph & Cable Office,” while a second sign above the center windows of the building reads “Southern Express Company.” The “Train Schedule” does not seem to list a full timetable of arrivals and departures, which may be explained by the fact that the rail line had been blocked by a cave-in at the Cowee Tunnel near Dillsboro, N.C., in late June. In its July 30, 1909, issue, the Jackson County Journal (Sylva, N.C.) newspaper ran an article announcing resumption of regular train service.

The 1910 census for Whittier community in Swain County,
N.C., enumerated Weaver McLean, age 23, in the household
of Pinkney and Emma McLean. His occupation was listed as
"Operator Telegraph." The partial, reversed sign behind him
reads "Money Orders Sold Here."

"Passing from Whittier and following closely the valley of the Tuckasegee River towards the Southeast, the Railway reaches the first station in Jackson County at Wilmot, N.C."

Whittier in the 1890s

To the West: Bryson directions To the East: Wilmot

Whittier in the 1930s

Return to the Southern Railway Map for the 1910s

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

  • George, Michael. Southern Railway’s Murphy Branch. Collegedale, Tenn.: The College Press, 1996.
  • Jackson County Genealogical Society. Jackson County Heritage, North Carolina, 1992. Cullowhee, NC: JCGS, 1992 (Volume 1) and 2000 (Volume 2).
  • Swain County Genealogical and Historical Society. The Heritage of Swain County, North Carolina, 1988. Bryson City, N.C.: Swain County Historical and Genealogical Society, 1988.
  • Williams, Max R., ed. The History of Jackson County. Sesquicentennial ed. Sylva, NC: Jackson County Historical Association, 2001.