Friday, December 24, 2010

Cherokee County, NC

The last week of October, George and I drove to Murphy, NC, our vacationing home base for a few days. We were excited to see a new (to us) part of the state, as well as a town where most people from home replied, "Murphy, where's that?!"

We stayed in a nice Holiday Inn Express, a place George and I would both recommend to others. It had nice amenities for the price (including an indoor swimming pool and hot tub, as well as a hardy complimentary breakfast.) The staff was very helpful and courteous, to boot, and we enjoyed getting new tourist ideas from them every morning over breakfast. The weather while we were there was mostly overcast, with rain sometimes, but we still had a great time! The fall leaves at the lower elevations were about at their peak.

Murphy's the county seat of Cherokee County, and is the westernmost county seat in the state. Wikipedia tells me that Murphy is closer to the capitals of six other states than it is to our own state capital of Raleigh! (Can you guess which states?) Murphy is named for Archibald Murphey, a North Carolina politician. Murphy was incorporated as the county seat of Cherokee County in 1851, but it already had a rich history by then, especially with the Cherokee Nation. Parts of Qualla Boundary are located in Cherokee County. This area was part of the Trail of Tears.

One small claim to fame for Murphy is that Eric Rudolph, the Atlanta Olympics bomber, was arrested in Murphy after being in hiding for about five years!

Murphy and Cherokee County have many postive things going for it, though, and we have an amazing time in the area! George and I visited six North Carolina counties during our stay in Murphy, and I'll be writing about all of them soon. I'm starting with our host county of Cherokee.

Hiwassee Dam

One of the first places we visited in Cherokee County was Hiwassee Dam, a dam that's part of the Tennessee Valley Authority or TVA. I thought it was very cool to see, as well as to drive over (on North Carolina State Highway 1314). Construction on Hiwassee Dam began in 1936, and it opened in 1940.

Lenderman Cemetery, Cherokee  County
Speaking of driving over Hiwassee Dam, George talked me into driving beyond Hiwassee Dam on the two-lane road, and with his eagle eyes spotted this cemetery sign while I was watching the curvy mountain road. Now, George wasn't looking for this cemetery, and neither was I, but he encouraged me to turn around and check it out. Turns out I'm related to the Lendermans in this Lenderman Cemetery!

Fields of the Wood
On the way back from Hiwassee Dam, we stopped at Fields of the Wood. In the photo on the left, you see the Ten Commandments on the side of the mountain. There are several other religious momuments in this "Bible park" near Murphy. Admission is free, and it is definitely something to see if you're in the area. When we were there, it seemed pretty run down and sad looking, physically. There were signs around, telling about the park's history and development, which made it more interesting. Otherwise, it looked kind of gaudy in a simple way (big religious monuments, but no neon lights). All of this really made me think about religion and "spreading the Word." Fields of the Wood has been a question/answer on "Jeopardy" because of the big Ten Commandments on the hillside.

Cherokee County Courthouse
Here's the top of the Cherokee County Courthouse. Renovation and expansion of the Cherokee County Courthouse started a couple of weeks before we arrived. It was constructed of marble quarried from the community of Marble, right there in Cherokee County. Murphy also made "Jeopardy" because it's one of only three towns to have an all-marble courthouse (but the only one where the marble came from the same county!).

Cherokee County Historical Museum
 George and I also enjoyed touring the nearby Cherokee County Historical Museum. I enjoyed talking with the docent, a Cherokee County native. The museum included a lot about the Cherokee Nation and a model of the inside of an old log cabin.

Harshaw Chapel and Cemetery, Murphy
Being the taphophile that I am, I couldn't leave Murphy without stopping by the Harshaw Chapel and Cemetery. It's been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1984.

Joseph C. Campbell Folk School
In the eastern part of Cherokee County, we visited the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown. We didn't explore the campus much, but we did enjoy browsing around in the Craft Shop, where we were verrry tempted by some of the crafts!

I took many more pictures of Cherokee County, which I've posted to my Flickr account here. Enjoy!

Cherokee County is a gem in North Carolina, with a rich history, beautiful scenery, and interesting things to do! We're already talking about going back!


John Poltrock said...
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John Poltrock said...

What an awesome article you wrote! That's really neat you're going to all the counties in NC. We live in Murphy and are Realtors. I love your post - great content and you saw a lot of things while you were here! :)

We wish you safe travels.

John Poltrock - The Poltrock Team at REMAX