Around Town: Black Mountain explores its haunted history with walking tours

GHOSTLY GATHERING: The Haunted History walking tours in downtown Black Mountain will include a stop at bookstore Sassafras on Sutton, formerly a livery stable and motor company, which suffered damage from a major downtown fire in 1912. Photo courtesy of Swannanoa Valley Museum & History Center

Pal the German shepherd has been dead for more than 50 years, but some folks in Black Mountain swear he isn’t really gone.

“Pal would deliver groceries to his owners in town,” says K. LeAnne Johnson, director of the
Swannanoa Valley Museum & History Center. “Sometimes he can be seen on his way to pick up and deliver the groceries in the early mornings or late evenings.”

That’s one of several family-friendly ghost stories visitors will hear about during the museum’s Haunted History walking tours in downtown Black Mountain Friday-Saturday, Oct. 22-23. Tours start at 5 p.m. and take place every half-hour until 8:30 p.m.

“Halloween is always a great way to tell myths, legends and haunted history of a time,” Johnson says. “These kinds of oral traditions really bring a town to life.”

Tours will leave from the museum, 223 W. State St., with ghostly guides taking visitors to such notable spots as The Inn Around the Corner, a former livery stable and the McKoy Building, which served as an emergency hospital for victims of the Spanish flu in 1920.

In previous years, the tour has been hosted at various historic sites in the Swannanoa Valley. Organizers decided to focus on the downtown historic district this year to allow for outside social distancing. Masks are encouraged but not required.

Each tour is limited to 20 attendees per tour and lasts about two hours.

The event is a fundraiser for the museum. Tickets are $25 for museum members, $30 for nonmembers.

To register or to find out more, go to

Lost and found

No one knows what happened to Tommy Hodges, a student who disappeared from the rolls of Biltmore Forest School in 1908. But every year for more than two decades, various writers have concocted tales, complete with mysterious strangers, real historical figures and twist endings, to explain the young man’s fate.

FIND Outdoors will present its annual outdoor drama The Legend of Tommy Hodges Friday-Saturday, Oct. 22-23, at 6:30 and 8 p.m. Each show will be limited to 50 participants.

The performances take place along the 1-mile Biltmore Campus Trail at the Cradle of Forestry, U.S. 276 in the Pisgah National Forest (11250 Pisgah Highway, Pisgah Forest). “Audience members are led around the trail and watch scenes at each of the seven historical buildings,” says Stephanie Bradley, Cradle of Forestry education manager and one of the show’s writers.

The cast is made up of Cradle of Forestry resident hosts, and audience members are invited to dress up in early 20th-century clothing to immerse themselves in the event and take part in the story.

Admission to the show is $14 for ages 13 and older, $7 for 12 and younger. Half-price tickets are also available for Cradle Annual Pass, America the Beautiful and Golden Age Passport holders. For more information, visit

Extinction event

Daniel McClendon loves dinosaurs.

“They are just fantastic and ridiculous,” says the Asheville-based visual artist. “Almost incomprehensible, despite knowing they actually lived on this very earth.”

That’s why dinosaurs are a recurring motif in INVINCIBLE, McClendon’s new exhibit featuring 13 paintings influenced by his feelings about COVID-19 and its aftermath. “What better to represent some obscene destructive force of nature like the pandemic?”

INVINCIBLE will be on display at McClendon’s Lift Studios daily from Saturday, Oct. 23, through Wednesday, Nov. 24, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. or by appointment. An opening reception for the show will be Saturday, Oct. 23, 7-10 p.m. at the studio.

“I see the work as humor, fear and beauty wrapped into one big ball of yarn,” he says. “I do harbor hopes that my work can shake something awake in an audience. I hope it instigates a desire to participate for a moment and maybe self-reflect. To what end, I don’t know.”

The Lift Studios is at 349 Depot St. in the River Arts District. Proof of COVID-19 vaccination and masks are required at the studio. For more information, go to

A touching moment

The Junior League of Asheville’s Touch-a-Truck Family Festival returns to Asheville Outlets Saturday, Oct. 23, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. A quiet hour with no sirens or horns will take place 11 a.m.-noon.

The festival will give kids (and adults, for that matter) the chance to see, touch and learn about firetrucks, police cars, utility trucks, construction equipment and other types of vehicles. Guests will get to meet the drivers and people who operate these vehicles.

“It’s a great place for kids to learn about what to do in an emergency,” says Elizabeth Slosiarek, vice president of fund development for the Junior League. “I know it helped my children be less afraid of the emergency responders when we were in an accident on the interstate. Getting checked out in the back of an ambulance was less scary because, ‘It’s just like Touch-a-Truck.’”

Each child will be given a bag of candy upon exiting the event. Other activities include balloon animals, fairy hair and Halloween treats. Kids are encouraged to wear costumes.

Asheville Outlets is at 800 Brevard Road. Tickets are $5 per person for ages 3 and up. For more information, visit

If you Rebuild it, they will come

Asheville Americana duo Zoe & Cloyd will celebrate the release of their fourth studio album, Rebuild, at Isis Music Hall Saturday, Oct. 23, at 8:30 p.m.

“The pandemic has touched everyone in some way, and Rebuild emerged during this time period,” says co-songwriter John Cloyd Miller, in a press release. “It is a theme that runs through the whole album, whether it’s the idea of rebuilding ourselves, our relationships and our societies, or something more subtle such as connections to place and our acceptance of change.”

Isis Music Hall is at 743 Haywood Road. Tickets are $20, and masks and proof of vaccination are required at the event. For more information, go to

Holt honored

Four-time Grammy winner David Holt is the recipient of this year’s Bascom Lamar Lunsford Award, given annually since 1980 to a person who has made major contributions to the folk, music or dance traditions of the Southern mountains.

The award usually is presented during the Bascom Lamar Lunsford Mountain Music Festival at Mars Hill University, but with this year’s festival canceled due to COVID-19, there won’t be an in-person presentation ceremony.

Holt is a musician, storyteller and historian and was the host of the long-running PBS series “Folkways.” He is the current host of “David Holt’s State of Music,” also on PBS. He founded the Appalachian Music Program at Warren Wilson College in 1975.

“I am so honored to be selected for this award,” Holt states in a press release. “It really means a lot to me. Bascom certainly was a great influence on my music, and I always felt a kinship in trying to spread the good word of mountain music.”

For more information, visit


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About Justin McGuire
Justin McGuire is a UNC Chapel Hill graduate with more than 30 years of experience as a writer and editor. His work has appeared in The Sporting News, the (Rock Hill, SC) Herald and various other publications. Follow me @jmcguireMLB

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