Whittier on the route

Motoring through the Mountains - 1930s: Whittier

Swain County
Altitude: 1,858 feet

For years Whittier had thrived as a community along the Murphy Branch of the Southern Railway. The town, however, suffered economic setbacks in its major economic sectors, notably logging operations, and with the onset of the Great Depression in 1930. An article entitled “Introduce Bill to Repeal Whittier Incorporation” in the January 19, 1933, issue of the Jackson County Journal (Sylva, N.C.) indicated that the “introduction of this bill came as a result of a petition presented by the citizens of Whittier, which was reported to have been signed by all except one citizen of the town.” Later that month, on January 26, the General Assembly passed an act to repeal the town’s 1907 charter.

The comment in the article to Col. Raymond Robins refers to a prominent prohibitionist who suddenly and mysteriously disappeared in 1932. Robins was a national figure who had made an appointment to meet with President Herbert Hoover in early September 1932. Instead, he disappeared and a nation-wide investigation began into his whereabouts. Finally, in mid-November, Carl Byrd Fisher, a 13-year-old boy in Whittier, N.C., recognized Robins from a picture in the Grit, a nationally distributed newspaper with a strong following in rural areas of the country. Robins arrived in Whittier by bus from Asheville, N.C., and spent considerable time hiking in the surrounding forests. After he was identified and taken to a medical facility, speculation on his disappearance centered on amnesia.

Take a side trip to Cherokee >>>

Whittier in the 1890s  |  Whittier in the 1910s

To the West: Bryson


To the East: Wilmot

Return to the Map for the 1930s

Sources & Readings

  • Bell, Corydon. “A History of Champion Papers.” [S.l.]: Champion Papers, 1963.
  • Chater, Melville. “Motor-Coaching through North Carolina.” National Geographic Magazine. May 1926. pp. 475 – 523.
  • Cotham, Steve. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Charleston, S.C.: Arcadia Publishing, 2006.
  • 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.
  • “Glimpses of the Plant of the Champion Fibre Co., Canton, North Carolina. Souvenir of the Visit of the Cincinnati Commercial Club, May 1922.” [S.l.: s.n., n.d.]
  • “Introduce Bill to Repeal Whittier Incorporation.” Jackson County Journal (Sylva, N.C.) January 19, 1933
  • Salzman, Neil V. Reform and Revolution: The Life and Times of Raymond Robins. Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press, 1991.
  • “Town of Whittier Is Abolished by Assembly Bill.” The Ruralite, January 31, 1933.
  • Williams, Max R., ed. The History of Jackson County. Sesquicentennial ed. Sylva, NC: Jackson County Historical Association, 2001.