The Tar Heel State
The Cherokee people held sway in North Carolina for many years. Their lands ranged throughout the mountains and they had trade with the Native Americans of the North Carolina coast as well. As the European settlers moved into the area, they pushed the native people out of the mountains until the Cherokee only had a small plot of land. When Enlgand finally established colonies in the New World, North Carolina – known then as the Province of Carolina – was one of the original thirteen colonies. Supporting the revolutionaries during the Revolutionary War, North Carolinians sent many of its sons north to fight in the war. In 1788 Raleigh, named for Sir Walter Raleigh, was established as the state capital.
As North Carolina was settled, the Scotch-Irish found a kinship to the land in the western half of the state. While the eastern parts of the state were heavy in growing plantation crops like tobacco and cotton, the western half consisted of lots of small subsistence farms that supported families and communities. With the industrial revolution in the late 19th and 20th century, Western North Carolina started to become more industrialized as people moved from the rural areas into cities like Asheville. Another boon to the area was the establishment of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The GSMNP started to bring lots of tourism dollars into the counties of the western third of the state.
With this influx of tourism, people from other areas and local started to change the economies of these small mountain towns. Resorts started to spring up in areas like Highlands, Cashiers and Blowing Rock. People began to come to the area to spend weeks during the summer and then to flock to the towns in the fall as the leaves changed color and brought vibrant landscapes to the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains. In the 21st century, the western counties of North Carolina have become a destination for people all over the country to come an enjoy reosrts, and family vacations in the Smokies.
- 9,656,401 population
- Highest Point – Mount Mitchell 6,684 ft
- Capital City – Raleigh