National Geographic : 1941 Aug
Tarheelia on Parade copy by hand with great rapidity and rarely bothered about revision. Substance, he held, was more important than form. Thirty-five years ago the site of Kannap olis, north of Charlotte, was farmland. Now it holds an unincorporated town of 25,000 people, built around one of the world's larg est household-cotton textile mills (page 207). One plant of the Cannon Mills here consumes 500 bales of cotton daily. Towels are the principal product, but you see machines turn out a wide assortment of cotton goods, from tiny baby bibs to sheets and pillowcases. The highlands of western North Carolina rise sharply out of the Piedmont. Some 80 peaks are more than 5,000 feet. More than 40 top 6,000. Highways have made them accessible to the motorist, while hiking trails and bridle paths plunge even deeper into their forested heights. The mountain cabin is rapidly disappearing from the valleys and coves. Many mountain eers who eked out a living on their corn and "tater" patches have gone to the mills in the Piedmont. Others are supplementing their incomes working on the highways or setting up makeshift roadside shops where they sell gay hand-hooked rugs, hand-made chairs, and antiques (Plate V). Now and then you see a mountaineer carry ing a sack of flour on his shoulder in true mountain style (page 198), but more often now meal is bought at a crossroads store. Asheville is the only city of more than 50, 000 population in western North Carolina. Highways radiating from here reach every village nestling in the hills (Plate I). Vacationists and health seekers have sought Asheville's bracing climate for more than a century, but the real development of the city was inspired by two "furriners," as the mountaineers called lowlanders or natives of another State. They were George W. Van derbilt, a New York capitalist who arrived in 1889, and E. W. Grove, St. Louis manu facturer, who came a year later. Vanderbilt founded Biltmore Village, one of Asheville's lovely residential districts, and developed Biltmore Estate, which was opened to the public in 1930 (Plate VIII and p. 222). The house covers four acres. Inside its hand-tooled Indiana limestone walls is an array of art objects collected from five con tinents. Halls and rooms are adorned with priceless tapestries, paintings, and engrav ings. On the ceiling of the walnut-paneled library is a canvas by Tiepolo, the last out standing artist of the Venetian school. Above a hand-carved black marble fireplace hangs an Italian tapestry of the 17th century. The dining-room walls are of tooled Spanish leather. Chests, vases, works in ivory and bronze, and wood carvings also are among the gems of the art world on display. Chessmen Used by Checkmated Napoleon The chess table and set of chessmen are said to have been owned by Napoleon and used by him during his exile on St. Helena. The graceful grand spiral stairway of the mansion, with its hand-wrought bronze rail ing, fits the grandeur of the Biltmore interior. Five hundred people are employed here, most of them at the Biltmore dairy farm. The Biltmore herd of 1,000 purebred Jerseys is one of the largest in the United States. Grove developed the other side of the city. He built the residential section bearing his name and Grove Park Inn on the slopes of Sunset Mountain. The inn's massive walls are of native boulders rising to a red-tiled roof. Two fireplaces reach from the floor 35 feet to the ceiling and are 30 feet wide at their bases. I drove over the Blue Ridge Parkway from the North Carolina-Virginia border to Little Switzerland, except for a short detour. Aver aging more than 2,500 feet above sea level, it is largely a mountain-crest highway, but now and then it sweeps around the higher peaks, thus avoiding steep grades. The parkway offers every type of eastern mountain scenery. There are numerous look outs overlooking the Piedmont, where verdant forests and the clustered rooftops of villages and towns fleck the checkerboard of rolling farmlands. At times, however, you are com pletely surrounded by mountains rising and falling as far as you can see. Crossroads go over or under the parkway. Trucks are banned. There are no roadside signs. Service stations and other accommoda tions will be available at frequent intervals but invisible from the right-of-way. Grandfather Mountain is so beloved by the natives of the mountains that children will tell you they have three grandfathers (page 183). Seen from the parking area near its sum mit, from the veranda of an inn at Little Switzerland, or from the garden of a cottage at Linville, the panorama of the western Caro lina mountains is a challenge to any writer. Shifting clouds and shadows often change the view with every tick of your watch. As the natives say, "The mount'ns is never the same." In ten minutes I have seen Grandfather in many moods. Momentarily his smile changes to a frown, low-hanging clouds supply him with a set of chin whiskers, cover his pate with a shock of hair, or completely hide him.