North Carolina’s Jumping Off Place
by Donna Rhodes | PHoto courtesy of Highlands Historical Society
At the end of the Civil War, there were no roads to Highlands. There were few settlers on the Plateau, and the area was devoted largely to Native American hunting grounds. The land had not been fully explored or publicly mapped.
But behind the scenes, the Union hired a cartographer to prepare a war map of the region to keep the Rebels from holing up in the hills and waging a guerrilla war. That map turned out to be an indispensable aid to Sherman and his burn-and-conquer strategy.
The first post-Civil War road, aside from an animal path or Indian trail, was the Glade Mountain Road from Walhalla to Webster. It went through Whiteside Cove and Cashiers Valley. The byway was a bumpy, rutted wagon road that climbed the mountains on the north side of Walhalla. It forded the Chattooga River, swung around Glade Mountain, and passed the home of Col. John and Sarah Alley (now Lombard’s Lodge) in Whiteside Cove on its way to Cashiers Valley.
The Glades Road today is hardly passable even by Jeep. Woodrow Wilson traveled this road as early as 1879. He summered at John R. Thompson’s boarding house in Horse Cove. The President complained the road was a poor excuse for transport, intimating, he could endure it, but “for delicate ladies and children it was trying in the extreme.” He dubbed the road, “North Carolina’s jumping-off place.”
To learn more about our state’s happy trails and jumping off places, read Ran P. Shaffner’s “Heart of the Blue Ridge.” It’s borrowable at local libraries or purchase-able through the Highlands Historical Society at highlandshistory.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. The Highlands Historical Society will be open for visits beginning Memorial Day weekend.