There’s something alluring about a ghost town in the middle of the forest, where stone chimneys and building remnants hearken back to more vibrant days. You can almost imagine that the stones in fallen walls whisper stories about the families who once lived here.
In mid-December 2012, SAHC purchased a 95-acre portion of historic “Lost Cove” in the remote and rugged Nolichucky Gorge, an in-holding in the Pisgah National Forest. Nestled near the border between North Carolina and Tennessee, the secluded Lost Cove is a ghost town with a colorful history of self-sufficient families, railroad crews, timber, and moonshine.
“The opportunity to save this significant part of Lost Cove was very important and welcome to those of us who live in its vicinity, who know personally of its special natural and historical significance and have long hoped it would one day be protected,” said David Ramsey, SAHC Trustee.
Lost cove is one of the most legendary ghost towns in the Eastern United States. The community was most likely founded during the Civil War era, although a few accounts hint that two families from a Daniel Boone expedition originally settled the area. Lost Cove grew into a self-sustaining, thriving agricultural community until the railroad brought timber and railroad jobs around 1910.
Located on the boundary of Yancey & Mitchell Counties in NC, very near Unicoi County in Tennessee, Lost Cove became notorious for moonshining as early as 1898. Its remoteness and location along the state boundary made it difficult for tax collectors to penetrate. However, the cove’s isolation, as well as economic necessity, eventually led to the community’s demise. The last family moved out in 1957.
“ ‘Lost Cove’ is a phrase every Unicoi County kid hears pretty early in his/her life. It has long fired our imaginations, made us curious about our mountain surroundings and our history and inspired many of us to dig deeper into – and ultimately care more about – our Appalachian heritage,” continued Ramsey. “To me, this effort is one more example of the amazing and extremely important conservation work of the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy.”
The property recently purchased by the SAHC fronts on the Nolichucky River, a Significant National Heritage Area. It is visible from this popular rafting river as well as a portion of the Appalachian Trail. Four streams originate on the property and flow into the Nolichucky, and populations of federally endangered plants have been noted on (or near) the property.
“The offering of this property for sale presented a unique opportunity to protect an incredible recreational, environmental, and historical asset,” said Carl Silverstein, SAHC Executive Director.
SAHC purchased the tract with the intent that it will eventually be added to the Pisgah National Forest. We plan to lead guided group hikes to Lost Cove in spring or early summer 2013 – look for more details in the future!