Remembering the bee trees

I enjoyed the article covering the history of the Bee Tree Reservoir and the building of the dam that created the lake [“Like Water for Asheville: Bee Tree Reservoir Rides Again,” June 4], in which writer Margaret Williams quoted a cousin of mine, Cindy Medlock. As good as the article was, it could have been even more interesting with the input of my father, Gary Bartlett, who passed away in his sleep just before Memorial Day. I want to thank Ms. Williams for attempting to gain his input for the article, as I’m sure he would have enjoyed it.

The Bartletts were one of the first families to settle in the Bee Tree area (named for harvesting of honey from the many honeycombs built in hollow trees, hence the “bee tree”). We are descendents of Samuel Davidson, the first white settler in Buncombe County, who built his home in the Swannanoa valley.

My great-grandfather and grandfather both worked on the Bee Tree dam. My great-grandfather ran the huge water cannon that washed stone and mud from the mountainside; that [debris] now forms the core of the dam itself.

Dad was an amateur historian and well-known mountain storyteller. I have no doubt that he would have kept Ms. Williams enthralled (and her article could have filled an entire newspaper, as he could go on and on). His life was spent roaming these mountains, which probably led me to become a professional land surveyor. My father’s knowledge of the mountains and storytelling will be missed.

If you choose to do any follow-up work on the subject or want to delve deeper into the history of Bee Tree, I have a history of the area that my father wrote, spanning from 1785 to 1969.

— Brian T. Bartlett

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One thought on “Remembering the bee trees

  1. SLE

    I’m a also a professional land surveyor in Atlanta. During the 2007 drought many cities had to buy water. Atlanta’s mayor resorted to lawsuits and private wells ran dry. But Asheville did not seem to suffer during this time. Could that have been from all the repairs and improvements? And could your ancestors be thanked for that?

    Land Surveyor

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