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Pisgah National Forest gate, likely 1930s

Note: This is part of a history series on popular tourism activities in Transylvania County. A corresponding display is on the second floor of the Transylvania County Library May – July 2024.

People travel in vehicles to see more and go further. Scenic routes wind through parts of the countryside that might be otherwise unseen. Prior to the invention of the automobile, tourists arrived in the western NC mountains via carriage or train.

1931 Howard Wilkerson and Ford Sport Roadster

The Blue Ridge Parkway’s creation began in 1936 and achieved final completion in 1987. Throughout this time, the western NC mountains became a gateway to this popular, scenic drive at high elevations. Numerous hiking trails and campsites originate near the Parkway, drawing numerous visitors and locals to enjoy the route. As the byway has become more and more utilized, it has developed concurrently.

The 1950s heralded a new era of “motor tourism” that took America by storm. Transylvania County capitalized on this trend and supported motor tourists with numerous tire stores, gas stations, auto repair shops, and motor hotels which peppered Brevard’s downtown.

1961 Taylor’s Esso Shop

Today RVs, campers, cars, trucks, motorcycles, and road bicycles are all ways to enjoy the scenic roads and by-ways of the western North Carolina region. Brevard hosts motorcyclists at their leisure, annual road races like the by-gone Tour DuPont, cruise-ins with classic cars, and BMW enthusiast meet-ups.

The good roads and beautiful scenery in Transylvania County ensure that tourists will continue to take the wheel and steer it towards the mountains of western North Carolina.

Photographs and information for this column are provided by the Rowell Bosse North Carolina Room, Transylvania County Library. This article was written by Local History Librarian Laura Sperry. Sources available upon request. For more information, comments, or suggestions, contact NC Room staff at [email protected] or 828-884-1820. 

Tour DuPont 1995
Brevard Motor Lodge sign, 1991

Motorcyclists, 2000

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212 S Gaston St, Brevard, NC 28712