The Gloucester Township covers approximately 57 square
mile in northwest portion of Transylvania County. It is roughly triangular in shape with
Hogback and Eastatoe townships to the south, Cathey’s Creek and Brevard
townships to the east and Jackson and Haywood counties on the west.
The Blue Ridge Parkway runs inside the far northeastern
edge of the township for about two-and-a half-miles. Highway 215 passes through Gloucester
Township from Hwy 64 outside of Rosman to the Blue Ridge Parkway.
|Jesse McCall was one of Vanderbilt’s foresters. The McCall family
lived in one of the forest lodged located in the Gloucester township.
In the late 1800s George Vanderbilt purchased thousands
of acres in Western North Carolina for his country estate. His land stretched as far as Gloucester
Township in Transylvania County. Later Joseph Silversteen’s
Gloucester Lumber Company logged much of the former Vanderbilt lands and
surrounding area. Silversteen built an
extensive rail network into the area to haul timber to his mill at Rosman. The main line ran along the North Fork of the
French Broad River nearly to Devil’s Courthouse, with numerous spurs along
Diamond, Lamance, Tucker, Shoal, Indian, and Courthouse creeks.
|A Gloucester Lumber crew constructing a railroad trestle
in the Silversteen area.
The largest community within the township, and the only one
with a post office, is Balsam Grove. The
Balsam Grove School was among the last rural schools in the county to close
when students were sent to Rosman beginning with the 1957-58 school year. Today the community of Balsam Grove includes
an active community center, volunteer fire department, and McCall’s Grocery and
The Silversteen community roughly includes the area around
Silversteen, Macedonia and Kitchens Loop roads.
By the 1840s enough families had settled in the area to establish the
Macedonia Baptist Church. In the early-to-mid 1900s many local men worked in the
logging industry to help support their families. Silversteen donated property to build a
large, three-room school that served the community for over 30 years before
consolidation. The school and community became known as Silversteen and
the name remains today.
Gloucester Township was also the home of the Rosman
Satellite Tracking and Data Acquisition Facility, locally known as the Tracking Station,
from 1963-1995. Since 1999 it has been
the Pisgah Astronomic Research Institute (PARI)
offering hands-on educational and
research opportunities for a broad cross-section of users in science,
technology, engineering and math.
Gloucester is the third largest township in land area in
Transylvania County but is the most sparsely populated. Much of the Gloucester Township is part of the
Pisgah National Forest.
Photographs and information for this column are provided
by the Rowell Bosse North Carolina Room, Transylvania County Library.
Visit the NC Room during regular library hours (Monday-Friday) to learn more
about our history and see additional photographs. For more information,
comments, or suggestions contact Marcy at [email protected]