Reporter Gave Black Mountain Its First Boost
by G. A. Burgin
March 11, 1954
The first boost Black Mountain had was from a newspaper reporter by the name of Tillman R. Gains. He wrote many articles on this part of the country and had it published in several papers; it attracted many people to these parts. He had a camp up on Lakey Gap road and named it Rivers Head Park after three noted rivers that rise near by they are Swannanoa River, Broad River and Catawba River. They all head up on Blue Ridge. Waters of Broad River and Catawba River go into the Atlantic Ocean and Swannanoa River goes into the Gulf of Mexico.
Next is the building that Charley Vance built. The house that N. C. Shuford just recently sold Vance bought the land from the Kerlees down to Flat Creek. Charley Vance was the son of Governor Zeb. Vance.
Next the Cauble house across the highway in front of the Monte Vista Hotel. George Walker built a nice house on the corner of Cherry and Sutton Street. It seemed that he built on some other man's land and he moved it up behind the present A&P store. Next is the house occupied by Will Creasman, it was built by a Mrs. Dillhopper on Cherry street and built that retaining wall on Cherry street. Next to the Champlains; they bought the hill and made a road and built a home that Dr. Richardson lives in now; and dug a well that is one hundred and six feet deep.
Miss Emma Disoway built a big rambling boarding house on Disoway Street. Right across Lakey Gap road, the property that A. G. Callison now owns a Miss Thomas built a nice residence and she started a school there. The house that Mr. Callison lives in was built for her schoolhouse. Black Mountain was struck with an epidemic of typhoid fever and her teacher, Miss Plumer, contracted it. They believed in divine healing and would not have a doctor and she died. It ruined Miss Thomas' school and she sold out and left here.
Mason and Dixon put up a lumber factory and pin mill where Lakey street ends up against railroad on east side. They paid their help seventy-five cents per day. Merchants began to drop in to Black Mountain. J. A. Mears put up a store on Sutton Street near corner where it turns up hill. He and W. W. Melton put up first meat market in Black Mountain. E. W. Queen put up store on Sutton Street near Junior Lodge hall. At that time Gustivino was doing big works over at the foot of Lakey's Gap. He had several hundred acres of land around there. The Christian church has bought a large boundary of it to make an Assembly ground. They have a fine place well watered and hard surfaced road to it. Gustivino had a brick and tile factory and also a sawmill. He kept a lot of horses and cattle. He worked a lot of men and paid them seventy-five cents per day for ten hours; it was little but it helped Black Mountain.
A. M. Dula came over from Old Fort and put up a store right across the street in front of Mrs. Evans building, and married Miss Cora Stepp, daughter of G. W. Stepp. There was a company that built a pipe factory near where the Builder and Supply Company is now. They bought laurel grubs and sawed blocks to make pipes. J. J. Allred put a store on Black Mountain Avenue. Savages Brothers put up a store on Sutton Street. Huffman and Kent put up a store on Cherry Street and John G. McGraw was manager. Yates and McGuire put up a brick building where J. L. Potter has his feed store.
Next to the schools; all of Black Mountain Township except North Fork school voted bonds to build a better building and built the grammar school building and sold the first building to Mrs. Phillips and she converted it into the Monte Vista Hotel, later built an annex to it out of brick. The school board had to have more rooms and the precinct voted bonds and built the high school building. Everybody thought that would be all the room they would ever need; be we have got ahead already. Buncombe County annexed Broad River Township, it belonged to McDowell County, Buncombe County built a good road through Broad River and they did away with all schools in Broad River and transferred the children in buses to Black Mountain School. North Fork school was stopped and the children transferred to Black Mountain School.
Next P. M. Mashburn built the road up on Miami Mountain, and built a club house up there and it attracted many people up there, but the road went down and the forest fires burned the building down.
J. M. McKay (McKoy) built the brick building on Black Mountain avenue near railroad on east side moved their store in it. They soon retired and went out of business and C. C. Hipps put up a first class dry goods store in the McKoy building. J. W. McKoy built the brick building on west side of Black Mountain avenue, and had a funeral home in there for several years.
They incorporated the town and the town board went up on the motor road on Rocky Branch and put up an intake and piped the water up on that hill south of the railroad; Black Mountain got water and a sewage system.
L. K. (T. K.) Brown was the first mayor of Black Mountain. The city hall was behind the ice plant, it was a small building, one big room, jail cell below.
Black Mountain Township was the first township in state to go for surfaced roads; they voted bonds to build eight miles of McCadam road on all leading roads in Black Mountain, leading out to be equally divided with each road. Dr. Cotton, Champ Burnett and W. C. Hall were the supervisors of the work.
Black Mountain firemen were organized. Robert Currier was chief; they had poor things to work with, but they did a lot of good and they have built up to a first class fire station and equipment on State Street. Town Board moved the City Hall up on State Street that would be a credit to any town. The board put a big dam up south of Ridgecrest to give more water to the town of Black Mountain. The town paved the streets and sidewalks. The landowners on each side bore two-thirds of expense and town one-third; town built the club house and golf course. Lee Hiltz built the theater on State Street, operated by Laddie Terrell.
The Commonwealth Bank, I think that J. W. McKoy was president and A. A. Hegaman was cashier. The Peoples Bank was organized and the town was too weak to have two banks and it played out. The Commonwealth Bank had two failures and depositors got all their money back both times.
Dr. Landis and Dr. Terrell put up first drug store in Black Mountain where the Key City Drug store is now.
The first hardware store in Black Mountain was put up by a man by the name of Dixon; he sold out to Broadfoot and Pemberton and it burned down; it was on Cherry Street.
R. L. Woodard formed the Black Mountain Hardware Company in John Thomas store house at where Woodcock's Ford place is now.
T. J. Owenby put up first lumberyard in Black Mountain. Black Mountain Lumber Company was formed and bought him out.
Today's industries are knitting mill, laundry, dry cleaners, ice plant, Woodcock's Ford Motor garage, Black Mountain Lumber company, Builders Supply Lumber company, McMurray Chevrolet, plumbing shops, electric shops, filling stations and garages, too numerous to mention; first class dry good stores, two dime stores, watch repair shop, photo studios, first class grocery stores, first class meat markets, just on the outside a freezer locker. Three first class drug stores with well-qualified druggists. The North Western Bank is going strong, a first class furniture store, several cafes, two good dentists, Dr. Brake and Dr. Love. Two good lawyers, W. C. Honeycutt and R. E. Finch; four good doctors, Drs. Knoefel, Cooley, Miller and Richardson.
Fraternal orders - Masons, Eastern Star, Junior Order, Jaycees, Lions Club. Next is the churches - Episcopal, Presbyterian, Methodist, Missionary Baptist, Church of God, Christian Church, Free Will Baptist.
On the edge of Black Mountain on north side is the Mountain View Baptist church, Montreat Assembly grounds, home of the Presbyterians. On east side is Kerlee Baptist church; Ridgecrest is the Southern Baptist Sunday School Assembly. On the south is the Christian Assembly grounds. Southwest is the Y. M. C. A.; on the west Catholic Church. The Free Will Baptist Assembly grounds are at Cragmont and Tabernacle church the old church in the Black Mountain Township.
The people of Black Mountain should be good people with all of these religious influences over them. They are as fine as you would find anywhere. I have lived to see Black Mountain come from a wide place in the road to one of the finest in W. N. C.