Authors: Jonathan Howard Bennett & David Biddix
The highest peak in the eastern United States, Mount Mitchell towers 6,684 feet over its home in Yancey County, North Carolina. It has borne silent witness to great scientific and personal achievements, tragic loss of life, heated debates, and a host of controversies both great and small. Once considered forbidding and remote, it claimed the life of its namesake, Elisha Mitchell, when he fell to his death in an attempt to firmly establish the mountain’s height. In the early 1900s, entrepreneurs constructed a railroad, opening its old-growth forests to massive deforestation. This devastation stirred some of the earliest notions of environmentalism that led to Mount Mitchell’s establishment as North Carolina’s first state park. Today, it is a playground for tourists from around the world, offering some of the best hiking and views in the nation. Mount Mitchell showcases the rich history of the mountain along with the events and colorful characters that have shaped its story.
Jonathan Howard Bennett, a national park ranger on the Blue Ridge Parkway, graduated from Wake Forest University, where he studied history and archaeology. David Biddix is Director of Marketing at Western Piedmont Community College. Both are natives of the Toe River Valley and are instrumental in historic preservation projects in the area. Images for this book have been acquired from local families and historical archives.