Blue Ridge Country May/June 2020 - 15

OUR BLUE RIDGE TOWNS

A MUST-SEE: THE JOHN
C. CAMPBELL FOLK
SCHOOL
A few miles southeast of Murphy, in Brasstown, sits the 300-acre John C. Campbell Folk
School, where for 95 years people have come
to learn mountain art and crafts, music, dance
and storytelling in a beautiful, noncompetitive environment. Over 800 classes a year are
taught using the Danish folk school model,
which founders John C. and Olive Campbell
studied and brought to the North Carolina
mountains. You live and breathe mountain
culture at the Folk School.

ABOVE: Overlooking the town of Murphy, The Hunter Pyramid memorializes the area's
first white settler.
FACING PAGE LEFT: Mayor Rick Ramsey stands with a Porsche 911 GT3 RS in the
display room of Appalachian Driving Experience.
FACING PAGE RIGHT: Historian Billy Ray Palmer knows the deep story of the
mysterious Moon-Eyed People sculpture, unearthed in 1841.

ago. 'We don't usually see this kind of action,' they told
me."
Murphy's fast success with Main Street will also give
the town connections with other communities...something which Ramsey clearly prioritizes. His weekly radio
show with the mayor of Andrews provides listeners with
the latest information from both towns.
"Our two towns, well, there's a deep and longstanding rivalry. We're working to soften it some," Ramsey
says. (Clearly, they do: listening to them go back and
forth is better than Comedy Central.)
Ramsey is also working to give young Murphy residents a say in the way forward. His recent Young Adult
Roundtable resulted in a presentation to Town Council
and the Downtown Business Association. And one student participating in Tri-County Community College's
Early College program is working on redesigning the
downtown parking area.
The community college tailors its curriculum to upand-coming prospective employers (including gaming,
to provide trained employees for the nearby Harrah Casino.) And although the textile mills of yore are gone,
Murphy is home to one of the largest data centers east
of the Mississippi, and several manufacturing companies
employing hundreds.
We see the Harshaw Chapel, where Abraham Lincoln's alleged biological father is buried. We stop in the
Appalachian Driving Experience, where you can rent a

Rand-McNally lists the Folk School as one of
the top 30 "Best of the Road" U.S. destinations. Day visitors can visit the History Center,
take in a free concert, hike the trails, spend
money at the Crafts Shop, and visit the craft
studios. Or you can spend a long weekend
or a full week creating mountain beauty in
mountain beauty.
Visit folkschool.org for more information.

Porsche and drive the mountain roads. We drive up to
the 18-foot Hunter Pyramid-said to be the largest in
the eastern United States-built to memorialize the first
white settler in the area by his granddaughter. We see
the four-mile Murphy River Walk and Canoe Trail, with
its interpretive signs including the Cherokee legend of
the Great Leech, which waited in deep water for passersby and swept them into the river.
And in the Cherokee County Historical Museum
(housed in a Carnegie library and a designated Trail of
Tears interpretive center), retired history professor Billy
Ray Palmer shows us the carved soapstone effigy of the
Moon-Eyed people, unearthed in 1841 and thought to
represent a lost race of pre-Cherokee settlers in the area.
When we part, Mayor Ramsey hands me a train whistle, part of the 2018 Guinness Book of World Recordssetting event when more than 3,000 citizens gathered
to play "She'll Be Comin' Round the Mountain" in an
effort to restore train service between Andrews and Murphy.
"It's not if we'll get that train back-it's when,"
Ramsey says.
Murphy is a town with stories to spare: rich in history
and myth as well as opportunity and come-back spirit.
It's a place well worth the journey. Mayor Ramsey says
it best: "When we interview doctors to come to the Medical Center, here's what I tell 'em: 'There's no reason to
look any farther-you're already here.'"
MAY/JUNE 2020

15


http://www.folkschool.org

Blue Ridge Country May/June 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Blue Ridge Country May/June 2020

Blue Ridge Country May/June 2020 - Intro
Blue Ridge Country May/June 2020 - Cover1
Blue Ridge Country May/June 2020 - Cover2
Blue Ridge Country May/June 2020 - 3
Blue Ridge Country May/June 2020 - 4
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