Bill Carson has owned and operated the Orchard at Altapass since 1995, immersing himself in local history and lore and giving presentations that draw on skills developed during his earlier professional career. Bill was born and raised in Muncie, Indiana, and was a high school sophomore when the Hoosiers-inspired basketball season took place. He attended Purdue University and later worked for IBM on a wide array of ground-breaking projects including helping put men on the moon, developing air traffic control technology, and helping launch G.P.S. He honed his presentation skills pitching new technological ideas for IBM. “It was the beginning of my storytelling,” Bill says. “I had to present the information, and to be effective, I also had to be entertaining.”
When Bill retired, he and his wife moved to Little Switzerland. Bill, fascinated by weaving, decided to learn the craft. “Weaving is very digital,” he explains, “and I had spent a lot of my life working with digits.” Bill used books and learned traditional weaving with looms. When his sister purchased the Orchard at Altapass, he retired from weaving to operate the Orchard.
The Orchard at Altapass is an apple orchard and, under Carson, a cultural preserve along the Blue Ridge Parkway, an area rich in historical and cultural lore. Early settlers came through the area on the Yellow Mountain Trail, immigrant laborers built the Clinchfield Railroad’s famous Loops near the Orchard, and the trail to the Revolutionary War Battle of King’s Mountain, now the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail, passes through the Orchard. Bill was fascinated by the local history, and he sought out Profesor Harley Jolley at Mars Hill College and old-timers in the local community for stories and information. He discovered that one of his ancestors was a key figure in the Battle of King’s Mountain.
Bill runs the Orchard at Altapass as a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving local history and lore, heritage apple varieties, and traditional music, and storytelling through events hosted at the location. Bill gives frequent hayrides on the property, telling stories all the while, and he has a partnership with the Blue Ridge Parkway to help with the annual Overmountain Victory Celebration at the North Carolina Museum of Minerals, where he also tells stories. He has given programs in many of the local schools, and school children from all over the region come to the Orchard where Bill entertains.
Bill is an experienced presenter of local historical and cultural lore. His favorite venue is on a hayride through his apple orchard, but he has also travels to schools and festivals and entertains at other events.