Camp Catawba: Finding more to the story of an extraordinary WNC summer camp

This week’s Xpress cover story takes a graphic stroll down memory lane to tell the tale of Camp Catawba, a refuge for refugees near Blowing Rock that became an incubator of young artists. For those wanting to know more about the camp, there’s a growing wealth of information online.

To begin with, Wikipedia’s entry on Catawba is accurate and thorough, offering a good overview.

The site of the camp, which operated from 1944 to 1970, is now owned by the Blue Ridge Parkway. A few years ago, the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation, which has committed to preserving Catawba’s history, produced a lovely short documentary on the camp:

A former Catawba camper and counselor, Chuck Miller, has long served as the camp’s chief historian. In 1973, he authored a hard-to-find history of the camp called A Catawba Assembly, and later donated his research materials to Appalachian State University, which keeps them in a special library collection. Some of the photos in the collection have been digitized, and can be viewed here. (The link is to the collection’s extensive finding aid; search on that page for “Link to image” to find the available pictures.)

Another website pays tribute to Tui St. George Tucker, Catawba’s iconoclastic music director. The site, maintained by former camper Robert Jurgrau, is rich with photos, poems and musical scores composed by Tui.

Lastly, while Catawba closed 41 years ago, physical vestiges of the camp remain, preserved by neglect. See what Catawba looks like today, as its chestnut-bark-clad buildings gently decay, with this selection of images on photo-sharing site flickr.

 

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About Jon Elliston
An Asheville-based mountain journalist: Former Mountain Xpress managing editor. Investigations and open government editor at Carolina Public Press. Senior contributing editor at WNC magazine.

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2 thoughts on “Camp Catawba: Finding more to the story of an extraordinary WNC summer camp

  1. Jeff Fobes

    Thanks, Jon, for adding these details, the video and the links, which fill out and enliven last week’s cover story.

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