• Laurel Contributor

Rails & Tales

by Ashley Stewart

At the end of the 19th Century, and the beginning of the 20th, rail expansion into Western North Carolina transformed the region.

Previously relying on subsistence agriculture, the economy of WNC began to revolve around lumber, tourism and mining. Without the innovation and use of railroads, the Plateau would not be what it is today.

On Thursday, June 20, join Cashiers Historical Society at the Canyon Kitchen in Lonesome Valley for the 15th Annual Jan Wyatt Symposium, titled “Rails and Tales.”

The symposium has a stellar line-up of speakers including Ray Rapp, the Dean Emeritus at Mars Hill University and the Chair of the Western North Carolina Rail Committee. His session is titled “Trains and the Transformation of Western North Carolina.” Other speakers include Jerry Ledford, a descendant of the Carr Lumber founders, and Fred McConnel, part-time Cashiers resident and full time railroad buff.

After lunch at the Canyon Kitchen, the symposium departs for two special experiences. Jim Hodges will share his model railroad layout that captures the operation of modern railroads in great detail. There will also be a guided exhibition in Colonel John’s Cabin on the CHS campus of the technological developments that enabled the railroads to come to our region.

Ralph Hicks will show a working model railroad in the Cabin on the weekends before and after the symposium. On Wednesday evening, June 19, symposium sponsors are invited to join CHS for a very special private opening reception picnic at historic Mountain Top Farm.

You can become a sponsor of the symposium. Individuals can become a “Fireman” for $150, and couples for $250. Firemen will receive a ticket to the Picnic and the Symposium. Individuals, couples and businesses can become “Conductors” for $500, and will receive four tickets to each event. You can become an “Engineer” for $1,000 and receive eight tickets to each event.

If you’d like to become a sponsor, contact Sadler Poe at sadlerpoe@comcast.net or call (404) 831-0026. For more information, visit cashiershistoricalsociety.org.

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