Although Native Americans never had
permanent villages within the boundaries of Transylvania County they certainly
travelled through the area, camping for extended periods of time while on
hunting expeditions. They also fished
the abundant streams and rivers and gathered berries and nuts.
Folk history tells of the Connestee
tribe having a village in this area. And
legend says that a heart-broken Cherokee maiden plunged to her death off
Connestee Falls. Folklore is full of
similar tales and although there is no evidence to support it, it does make a
As white settlers began moving to the area in
the late 1700s, North Carolina and Georgia engaged in a land dispute over the
exact location of the state boundary lines.
At stake was a piece of land, often referred as the “Orphan Strip”. Georgia claimed it as Walton County and North
Carolina claimed it as part of Buncombe County (today Transylvania County). Skirmishes broke out, folks were jailed but
“escaped”, there may have been one or more deaths, and law suits ran on for
years. While the facts concerning
exactly what happened during the “Walton War” vary, today Connestee Falls,
Dunn’s Rock and Eastatoe are all within the boundaries of this disputed
In the late 1880s The Carolina, Knoxville
& Western Railway planned to construct a rail line from Augusta, Georgia to
Knoxville, Tennessee through the mountains of western North Carolina. It would have run through the Connestee Falls
area. Deeds show right-of-ways granted
through Transylvania County. There remains
evidence of clearing for the proposed railway near the Connestee Falls main gate
and on to where a trestle would have crossed above Batson Falls as well as in
other places along the route. Rails were
never actually laid in Transylvania County and the project was abandoned by
The steep mountains and poor roads in the
area above the Dunn’s Rock valley kept Connestee from having many early
settlers. However, the little community
of Reba flourished from 1898-1907. There
was a post office, along with Carson Creek Baptist Church and Carson Creek
School. If The Carolina, Knoxville &
Western Railroad had been built the area would have been much different than
current Connestee Falls community began with the purchased of nearly 3000 acres
in 1971. Connestee Falls was developed
as a vacation community but over the years many property owners became
full-time residents. Originally there
was a small motel and restaurant at the entrance.
of the information for this article came from Ed Comer’s book, Shadows of
the Past, a history of the Reba community and early residents of the area.
Photograph above: Carson Creek School, 1907. Teacher, Bonnie Wilson. Children include Bagwell, Batson, Clark, Garren, Hubbard and Raines.
Left: Lewis Summey
built a mill at Connestee Falls after the Civil War. It is unusual in that it sat above the falls
and had an undershot wheel. It operated as a grist mill only. According to the
Summey family around 1900 he traded the mill for four fine horses and the
family moved to Brevard.