Whatever I'm Thinking

Archive for the month “May, 2019”

The town of Sylva in the hills of Western Carolina

May 19, 2019

By far, the best birthday present I’ve ever had was a week-long trip to western North Carolina in May. The skies were blue, the mountains were green, and the sun was warm (and golden yellow).

We’ll start in the town of Sylva (population 2,000 or so), the county seat of Jackson County, North Carolina, named for President Andrew Jackson.

Nestled in a deep Appalachian valley, Sylva has two parallel main streets, an upper one and a lower one. The upper main street, actually called Main Street, holds several shops, cafes, and galleries. The lower main street, called Mill Street, seems like its storefronts are actually the back doors of the stores on the upper main street.

West Main Street, Sylva, North Carolina as it looked in May, 2008. Shops and galleries, coffee houses and microbreweries.
West Main Street looking east. The hill on the right is quite steep.

The old Jackson County Courthouse rises above the west end of Main Street, high up on a hill, towering over the town below.

Former Jackson County Courthouse, now the county public library
Jackson County Veterans Memorial lies at the base of the steps below the former courthouse

A statue of a Confederate soldier stands watch at the summit of some thirty or forty concrete steps rising above Main Street. In all my travels this is one of the best locations for a courthouse I’ve ever seen.

Former Jackson County Courthouse. Confederate statue at the front, golden statue of Lady Justice stands atop the cupola.

As you might imagine, the view from the top of the steps is spectacular.

The town of Sylva, North Carolina

Just makes you want to sit for a spell, doesn’t it?

Sylva Main Street from the old county courthouse. Confederate soldiers’ memorial is the foreground; the county veterans’ memorial is at the base of the steps.

Old Confederate statues generally honor the soldiers who served in that war while being silent of the war’s causes. As a born and bred Pennsylvanian I have no problem with such monuments, they are an important part of our history. If you want to tear them down, I suggest you instead erect your own memorial as you deem appropriate — and leave others’ memories alone.

The inscription on the back of the Confederate soldier’s memorial, Sylva.

The new county Justice Center and Administration Building is a mile out of town. It must have been cramped in that old courthouse since the new one the county built is a sprawling two-story structure with plenty of parking spaces around it.

Jackson County Justice and Administration Center, Sylva, North Carolina

Western Carolina University is located here in Sylva. I suppose it could be called “Western North Carolina University” but since North Carolina is larger and more populous than South Carolina, the North Carolinians apparently feel free to usurp the singular “Carolina” to use in their names. I copied that style for the title of this post.

Because that trip was just so memorable, I decided to add a few photos from the western Carolina mountains and countryside.

Horses in pasture near Trust, North Carolina

As if Great Smoky Mountains National Park didn’t have enough natural beauty, western Carolina is home to numerous waterfalls outside the park. Looking Glass Falls is one of the most photogenic of these cascades:

Looking Glass Falls, Pisgah National Forest, North Carolina
Looking Glass Falls, Pisgah National Forest, North Carolina

Here are two closeup shots from the base of the falls:

Looking Glass Falls, Pisgah National Forest, North Carolina
Looking Glass Falls, Pisgah National Forest, North Carolina

A convention of Monarch butterflies congregate near the base of the falls:

Monarch butterflies

All photos were taken by the author. Photos were taken between May 19-23, 2008.

A list of all photo posts from the American County Seats series in TimManBlog can be found here.

I’m trying to travel to all of America’s county courthouses, and each month a post about my visit to the most interesting county seats. It’s only a hobby — but donations are greatly appreciated to help defer my costs.


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