Graham County is North Carolina's last frontier. It lies against the Tennessee border. Most of the area is still forest land, some of it virgin timber. Ninety percent of its land has a slope of 30 degrees or more. It is Indian country - past and present. It was the last area in North Carolina to be entered by white settlers. Most counties would be happy to have just one large lake. Graham has four, each surpassing comeliness and usefulness. Its unpolluted streams rank among the most fishable in the South.
Here's an entire county embraced with the majestic beauty of the Nantahala National Forest, touching the southern edge of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park in Western North Carolina. For those who seek new horizons in adventures and recreation - vacation or retirement - Welcome to Graham County. Play, rest, and enjoy one of America's most fascinating and charming areas.
The Neighbors. . .
From basket weaving to beading, to thrown pottery and leaded glass, many crafters and artists call Graham County home. In 1994, a crafters guild was formed: the New Horizons Arts and Crafts Guild.
Many of the guild artists display their wares in the Graham County Chamber of Commerce.Little signs beside the road might lead one to handmade quilts, baskets, furniture, mountain honey, fresh cheese, hand thrown pottery and homemade preserves.
Graham's agriculture is as unconventional as the rest of the county's features. Of the 188,000 acres, 160,000 remain in forests, and only 6 percent of the county's area is described as capable of cultivation.
The Climate is temperate. The summers are mild, with cool nights and high rainfall. Winters are not usually severe, but include sharp cold spells. The average growing season is about 173 days. It should be remembered that in speaking of weather, the term "average" is used generally. There are extreme differences in altitude - ranging from 5,470 feet above sea level at Haw Knob down to 1,086 feet where Slickrock Creek flows into Calderwood Lake. At the higher elevations the temperature fluctuates radically the year round (as compared to the lowlands) and rainfall is more frequent and heavier. But almost all the people live along the stream valleys at lower altitudes: the higher ridges remain in a semi-wild state, with only a lonely cabin here or there breaking the forests.
The county's four lakes are attracting an increasing
number of fisherman, boaters and other vacationers. It also has thousands of acres of heavily wooded and scenic mountains, pure streams by the dozen, floral beauty, cool climate, fish and game, and an unspoiled countryside. In 1926, Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest was created, setting aside 3,800 acres of primitive forest as a perpetual natural museum. The Appalachian Trail extends the breadth of the county.
Cherokee Indians are native to the county. They make beautiful baskets, beaded items and carvings. The memorial house below Junaluska's grave often has displays of these items, some of which are for sale.
In addition to area shops which feature arts and crafts, several festivals provide visitors with a chance to sample local wares.
The Heritage Festival is held in Robbinsville the week of July 4th. The festival usually begins at 10 a.m., July 4, in one of the designate communities. Tributes to our war veterans, a parade, the duck race, a tribute at Junaluska's Grave and day-long activities throughout the county.
July 4th will also be celebrated at Fontana Village with a full slate of games, a parade and fireworks.
The Stecoah Valley Center usually sponsors two festivals each year: the Stecoah Festival on Labor Day weekend and a Harvest festival near the end of October. Stecoah Valley also hosts activities during the Heritage Festival on July 4.
Near the end of April the Robbinsville rescue Squad sponsors an annual "Ramp" festival. Full meals are available along with ramps which are a bitter herb that is stronger than either onions or garlic. The Family Fun Fest is generally celebrated in conjunction with the Ramp Festival. Children of all ages will find hands-on activities throughout the afternoon.