UNION DAYS: Approximately 90 workers and organizers of the Amalgamated Association of Street and Electric Railway Employees of America, Local Div. No. 128 pose for a picture in April 1913. Despite North Carolina’s status as one of the least unionized states in the country, current-day local union chapters such as ATU 128, have a long history of organizing and advocating for workers’ rights in the Southern Highlands. Photo via the Norh Carolina Collection, Pack Memorial Library, Asheville North Carolina

Labor pains: WNC unions at a crossroads

In Western North Carolina and across the country, labor unions seem to be a dying breed these days, and many local residents don’t seem overly concerned about it. Yet WNC’s complex history of unionization stretches back to the late 19th century. From high-profile labor disputes and the emergence of “right to work” laws to the […]

LOST IN THE FLAMES: Catholic Hill School operated for 25 years, opening in 1892. A fire destroyed the property in 1917, claiming seven lives.

Tuesday History: Catholic Hill School and the fire of 1917

Catholic Hill School — Asheville’s first school building constructed to serve the African-American community — was built in 1892. The three-story brick building held classes for students in the first through ninth grades. On Friday, Nov. 16, 1917, the school’s furnace malfunctioned. Fire consumed the building, and seven students perished in the flames. In 1923, Stephens-Lee […]

EXPLORING THE PAST: Interns at Xpress will research Asheville's rich history.

Calling (college) students of history for new summer internship

Put on those latex gloves, we’ve got primary source material to look into! Mountain Xpress has announced a summer internship for college students interested in local history. Summer interns will have the opportunity to research Asheville’s historic citizens, buildings, events, triumphs and tragedies. In addition, you will learn of, and develop contacts with, local historians and […]

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.

"He who will address you today is no stranger," began Malcolm P. Calhoun in his introduction of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. to the Montreat congregation. "You have known him, perhaps from afar, but for many years. You know that he shares our concerns, when he moves among men, preaching that you cannot serve God and hate men."

Tuesday History: Martin Luther King’s historic Montreat speech, part I

In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, we bring you our regularly scheduled Tuesday History post, one day early. On Aug. 21, 1965, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. addressed an audience of nearly 3,000 people in Montreat Conference Center’s Anderson Auditorium. King, the keynote speaker for the Presbyterian Church’s annual Christian Action Conference, […]

ROCK STARS: For 70 years, the Mineral Research Laboratory in Asheville’s South Slope neighborhood has worked with mining companies around the world to come up with efficient ways to harvest and process minerals, as well as educate the public on North Carolina’s mineral resources. Utilizing its unique pilot plant (above), the lab has the capability to provide data on the cost and scale of operations for companies to use in commercial enterprises. Photo by Max Hunt

Minerals Research Lab cooks up cutting-edge solutions

For 70 years, the Minerals Research Laboratory on Coxe Avenue has collaborated with mining companies and educational institutions to develop more efficient processes for extracting the state’s mineral resources as well as ways to reuse potentially harmful byproducts.

STRANGE MEDICINE: In 1918, "Doctor" John Brinkley implanted goat testes into the first of many patients who sought treatment for impotence.

Tuesday History: John Brinkley, the goat gland king

The John R. Brinkley historic marker in Jackson County, N.C. reads: “Medical maverick, radio and advertising pioneer, candidate for governor of Kansas. Boyhood home stood across the river.” While “medical maverick” touches on Brinkley’s unorthodox role within the world of medicine, it doesn’t address the duplicity of his practice — namely, a scam that involved the implantation […]

WILLING SUBMISSION TO GOD: Local Muslims gather every Friday for fellowship, a short sermon and salah (pictured here), the act of wor- ship that combines physical, mental and spiritual elements — reciting verses and praying along with different postures. Photo by Able Allen

Diverse Muslim community finds common ground in Asheville

“You could say I was hungry for the truth without even realizing I was searching for it,” says Western North Carolina native Joseph (Yusuf) Gantt, “and that led to a journey of maybe 10 or 15 years in which I finally recognized Islam. It satisfied my hunger.” Two of Gantt’s family members, his mother and […]