Back to Homepage of Horace Kephart: Revealing an Enigma

Online Exhibit: Outdoor Life: Fishing

Men fishing below the Falls of the Tuckasegee River.

"...The Falls of the Tucksaseegee River, in Jackson County, are thought, by many, to surpass in beauty anything of the kind they have ever seen."

- Henry E. Colton, Mountain Scenery: The Scenery of the Mountains of Western North Carolina and Northwestern South Carolina (Raleigh, N.C.: W.L. Pomeroy; Philadelphia: Hayes & Zell, 1859).

The completion of Glenville Dam in 1940 diverted the waters of the river from the falls through tunnels to a powerhouse leaving the memory of the popular fishing spot to fade alongside the now century old photographs.

Upper Falls of the Tuckasegee River.

As an avid outdoorsman, Kephart developed a personal interest in fishing as well as incorporating the topic as part of his professional expertise as an author and advisor on camping and outdoor activities. Among his possessions were fishing equipment, notably a wide variety of lures.

While there are a variety of photographs in Kephart's album featuring fishing, the majority of these are not from the great Smoky Mountains. These 1904 photographs do portray a fishing trip to the High Falls of the Tuckasegee River in Jackson County, North Carolina. These falls had long been popular among travelers in the area and was included in regional travel guides.

Tackle Box with fishing lures.

."Fourteen miles south of Webster, the county-seat of Jackson, is the most stupendous waterfall of the mountains. It is said that on certain evenings, when the dead quiet, prophetic of a storm, dwells in the valley, the dull roar of the falls can be heard eight miles down the river. It is on the Tuckasegee, about 20 miles below its sources. . . . To approach it from the west bank, the traveler journeys up the Cullowhee road from Webster. It is a delightful ride, over a picturesque highway, to where the river is struck at Watson's. . . . On the left rises a gray, granite cliff, perfectly plumb with its base, 150 feet above the river. It is somewhat mantled with green vines and mosses, and a few shaggy cedars cling to its front. On the right, the cliff is less precipitous, and on it the forest and its undergrowth springs dense and rank. In front pours the water, a great sparking cloud. For 60 or 70 feet down, it is a perpendicular, unbroken sheet; then a projecting ledge catches and breaks it into two columns, to fall through the last 25 feet of space."

- Wilbur G. Zeigler and Ben S. Grosscup, The Heart of the Alleghanies, or Western North Carolina (Raleigh, N.C.: Alfred Williams & Co.; Cleveland, O.: William W. Williams, 1883).

Fishing lure book.From Camping and Woodcraft, volume 2, page 213:

"One time when some of us were bivouacking in the mountains, Bob announced that he was going to catch a mess of trout in the morning. He had a line and some flies, but I wondered how he would extemporize a rod stiff and elastic enough for fly fishing. It didn't bother him a bit. The only straight and slender stick he could find right there was a box elder seedling. He trimmed it, removed the bark, and spent about an hour roasting it over the campfire, drawing it back and forth in his hands, so as not to overheat and crack it, and to temper the heat just right, according to thickness of the point treated. When the sap was roasted out, he hung the rod up to cool, and when that was done he had a one piece trout rod with the necessary whippy action for fly fishing. Next morning he soon caught all we could eat."

Pork rind minnow and box.
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