Back to Homepage of Horace Kephart: Revealing an Enigma

Online Exhibit: Great Smoky Mountains: Tributes

Kephart Tribute including temporary grave marker and naming of Mount Kephart.

The life of Horace Kephart ended unexpectedly in a 1931 automobile accident. While the National Park he campaigned to create was not yet a reality, it was already clear that despite the obstacles to its, the park would come to the mountains he had grown to love. Of the many individuals involved in creating the park, Kephart was already recognized as a leader in the movement during his later years and is currently sometimes credited with actually founding the park.

Since Kephart's contributions came largely through his literary talents, the North Carolina Literary and Historical Commission urged that a mountain in the coming park be named after Kephart. In 1928 Mount Kephart in the proposed park was officially named, an honor rarely given to living individuals. Kephart greatly appreciated this gesture, and hoped that his remains would ultimately be placed within the park. However the park Kephart helped to create had already become larger than the individuals it represented. The decision was made not to allow anyone to be buried within the park. Thus Kephart ultimately become one of the many individuals to be excluded from the park boundary where they once lived.

It is fitting that his final tribute emphasized the outdoor life that he promoted. Towards the end of this life, Kephart had been granted a lifetime membership in the Boy Scouts of America and served as a national advisor to the organization. Following his death, it was the Boy Scouts who prepared a simple wooden marker to commemorate his life and accomplishments while a permanent memorial could be planned.

Horace Kephart remains best known for his involvement with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the people who once lived there. But his love for outdoor activities such as camping, fishing, and hunting stretch back far beyond his arrival in the mountains he came to call home. His passion for the outdoors led him to western North Carolina. And that young people adopting that same passion were among the first to memorialize his passing provides a most fitting tribute for this advocate of outdoor sports and recreation.

Will. C Barnes to Horace Kephart, February 14, 1929.

February 14, 1929

North Carolina
Mount Kephart

Dr. Horace Kephart,
Bryson City, North Carolina.

Dear Doctor Kephart:

Due to carelessness on my part, you were not officially advised of the action of the U. S. Geographic Board as of October 3, 1928, in naming for you a peak in the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina.

The board seldom approves naming features for living men - for very obvious reasons - unless in unusual cases, which merit the honor. In this case the board felt the name was fully merited, due to your distinguished services to the public in connection with this peak. I congratulate you on this honor.

I inclose herewith a copy of the decisions of the board of that date for your information.

Very sincerely yours,

Will C. Barnes,


Kephart to Will C. Barnes, February 16, 1929.

Bryson City, N. C.
Feb. 16, 1929.

North Carolina
Mount Kephart

Mr. Will C. Barnes, Secretary
United States Geographic Board
Washington, D. C.

Dear Mr. Barnes:-

I have received your notification that the peak 1 1/2 miles northeast of Clingman's Dome, in the Great Smoky Mountains, has been named for me by the United States Geographic Board.

The honor thus conferred on me is deeply appreciated. For twenty-five years I have lived in these Smoky Mountains, and my dust, I hope, will some day mingle with them. It therefore gives me a special pleasure to know that my name is also identified with them.

Please express to your Board my sincere thanks for the high honor it has bestowed on me.

Very sincerely yours,

R. P. Holland to Horace Kpehart, February 20, 1929.

February 20, 1929

Mr. Horace Kephart,
Bryson City, N. C.

Dear Mr. Kephart:

Have yours of the 16th. Congratulations that you have a namesake. If anybody in this world is entitled to have one of the peaks of the Great Smokies names after him, you're the man.

Sometime I'm coming down in that country and catch some trout from the streams of Mount Kephart.

Sincerely yours,

R. P. Holland


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