BUILDING CULTURE: From the ancestors of the Ani Katuah to the first European settlers and later tobacco farmers, the evolution of human settlement and existence in the Southern Appalachians can be traced through the structure and buildings they erected to support their ways of life. The Rural Heritage Museum at Mars Hill University documents the evolution of built structures in its latest exhibit, Shelter on the Mountain, on display through May 28. Photo of an open cathedral-like hayloft of the 1951 gambrel-roof barn built by Delbert and Charlie Shelton in the Shelton Laurel community. By Earthsong Photography/ Don McGowan

Rural Heritage Museum highlights history of WNC barns

From the Ani Katuah to white settlers and tobacco farmers, barns and buildings have played a central role in defining the culture of the Southern Appalachians. Shelter on the Mountain: Barns and Building Traditions of the Southern Highlands traces the evolution of local building practices.

STRONG FOUNDATIONS: Madison County’s historic jailhouse, built in 1905, has withstood floods, demolition proposals and the eroding effects of more than a century of use. With the building currently involved in an upset bidding process, many Madison residents are anxious to see the old jail utilized to continue serving the community in some regard. Photo courtesy of Madison County Development Services

Murky future for Madison’s historic jailhouse

UPDATE [6/24/16]: Madison County Commissioners voted to accept the $99,800 bid for the old jailhouse property Thursday, June 23, at their monthly meeting by unanimous decision. Josh Copus, a local potter and founder of Clayspace Co-op, announced he and several partners are the purchasers on Facebook. Initial indications are the building will be utilized as […]

CROP ROTATIONS: Once a dominant crop across WNC, tobacco production in the mountains has all but disappeared in the wake of the Tobacco Transition Payment Program, commonly referred to as the "Tobacco Buyout," which did away with the long-standing federal quota system and changed the landscape of farming in the region. Photo via North Carolina Collection, Pack Memorial Public Library, Asheville, North Carolina

Smoke and mirrors: the death of tobacco in WNC

Few crops have been as central to North Carolina’s economy and culture — or as controversial — as tobacco. Historically, its high market value and the relative ease of growing it made tobacco a staple for many Western North Carolina farmers. As late as 2002, 1,995 mountain farms grew tobacco. The crop’s prevalence, however, was […]

NAMES OF THE FALLEN: Two granite markers in the vicinity of their gravesites bear the names of the 13 victims of the Shelton Laurel Massacre: James Shelton; David Shelton; James Shelton, Jr. ; Azariah Shelton; William Shelton; Rod Shelton; Jasper Chandler; Ellison King; Hellen Moore; [young] David Shelton; James Metcalfe; Wade Moore; and Joe Woods. Photo by Max Hunt

Blood in the valley: The Shelton Laurel Massacre’s haunting legacy

“Will the America of the future — will this vast, rich Union ever realize what itself cost back there, after all?” – Walt Whitman In January 1863, at the height of the Civil War, Confederate soldiers of the 64th North Carolina Regiment, composed mostly of men from the western counties, marched into Shelton Laurel. Their […]

XMAS SPIRIT: Local nonprofit Madison Has Heart will sell off hundreds of collectible holiday decorations and figurines on Saturday, Dec. 5 during its Christmas sale. Proceeds go towards supporting the organization in its efforts to provide heating assistance for Madison County residents. Image courtesy of Madison Has Heart.

Deck the halls: Madison Has Heart holds Dec. 5 Christmas sale of vintage collectibl­es at historic Walnut church

Wintertime in the mountains, with its temperature variances and extreme weather conditions, can be a harsh season for residents of western North Carolina. For those with limited financial means living in isolated areas of the region, the cost of simply heating one’s home can be difficult to manage. To help support those in need of […]

SHOOT AND SCORE: David Burris, front, makes his directorial debut with The World Made Straight. The North Carolina native says he was determined to shoot in WNC. "The type of atmosphere it creates for the actors and crew ... to know you’re performing on the actual ground where the story took place  — that’s immeasurable,” he says. Photo by Missy McLamb

Rash’s “The World Made Straight” becomes a very N.C.-centric film

Serena, which stars Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper, was filmed in the Czech Republic. Similarly, Civil War drama Cold Mountain, from the book by local author Charles Frazier, was filmed mostly in Romania. The World Made Straight, however, was a North Carolina production through and through, down to — and because of — its directors.

DOG DAYS: "Shu and Griffin Shaving Cheyenne," Paw Paw, Madison County, 2012. Photo by Rob Amberg

State of the Arts: Rob Amberg at Pink Dog Creative

For 41 years, photographer Rob Amberg has kept an acute documentary eye on Madison County. With his camera, he’s created an insightful, ongoing narrative that’s familiar yet analytical of every back road, kitchen and front porch in a bucolic landscape. Amberg’s intimate and personal views of the county’s residents have long been among his most […]

Land of Sky Regional Council hosts a community meeting

Land of Sky Regional Council is currently shepherding a 20-year planning process for the five county region of Buncombe, Henderson, Haywood, Madison and Transylvania called GroWNC. By looking at existing regional and local plans and extensive public input, this initiative strives to look for implementable action in the fields of Economic Development, Energy, Health, Housing, […]