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 […]

SERVING OUR SERVICEMEN & WOMEN: Photos taken while at ABCCM'a Veterans Restoration Quarters in Asheville NC, where they have a comprehensive restoration program that addressees the needs of homeless veterans.

Brothers in arms: Local nonprofits give back to WNC veterans

With Veterans Day fast approaching, the customary forms of American celebration will be prominently on display: parades through city streets, moments of silence briefly interrupting broadcast media, solemn ceremonies at landmarks across the country, special discounts at restaurants and shops. Beyond those symbolic gestures, however, stands a large and growing need to support the many […]

GLIMPSE OF THE PAST: In anticipation of North Carolina’s centennial exhibit on the state’s involvement in World War I, which opens next April, the Department of Cultural and Natural Resource’s Western Office in Asheville is currently hosting an exhibit on WNC’s local heroes and experiences during the “Great War.” Photo by Max Hunt

In the trenches: Research explores WNC’s role in World War I

Though the battles were fought half a world away, WWI had a profound and lasting impact on Western North Carolina. As the state gears up for a big centennial retrospective on North Carolina’s involvement in the Great War, local researchers have worked to bring WNC residents’ stories and experiences to contemporary audiences.

RIDING THE RAILS: A Frieght rider waves from the front of a passing car just north of Marshall, North Carolina. He is one of an untold number of men and women traversing the country in the shadows of rail cars — despite substantial  legal and personal risks — in search of adventure, work or a new horizon. Photo by Max Hunt

Off the beaten track: Freight trains, freedom and the traveling culture

Americans love to celebrate the iconic “hobo” lifestyle, yet we’re often quick to stereotype or judge the modern-day iteration of the traveler. Despite the risk of legal repercussions and personal injury, contemporary traveling culture continues to attract people from all walks of life to the rails and the road in search of the next horizon.

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 […]

ECHOES FROM THE PAST: As part of North Carolina's proposed Civil War History Center, projected to be completed by 2020 in Fayetteville, story collectors are traversing the state in search of families' oral traditions from the Civil War years. Image via N.C. Civil War History Center.

Confrontin­g history: “Our State, Our Stories” initiative calls for Civil War family narratives

In an effort to record the varied Civil War experiences passed down through N.C. familes, regional historians across the state are collecting narratives as part of the “Our State, Our Stories” Initiative. The stories gathered will be included in a new, state of the art North Carolina Civil War History Center in Fayetteville, scheduled to be completed by 2020.

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 […]