The historic small town of Brevard is the county seat of Transylvania County, also known as “the land of the waterfalls.” The community is surrounded by nature and the Pisgah National Forest.
Diverse Populations Weave a Unique Tapestry
The earliest inhabitants were Native Americans, but after the Revolutionary War, the area was opened to immigrant settlement. Pioneers came down the Great Wagon Road from Pennsylvania and Virginia or moved westward from the Carolina coast. They came to the wild western frontier to claim new lands, to purchase land for speculation, for adventure, or to escape the fever of the low country. Each of the diverse populations that came here contributed to the identity of the county, becoming a part of the Tapestry that is Transylvania.
Family Enterprise Built Early Economy
Before Transylvania became a county, manufacturing was a family enterprise. The Gillespie family operated a gunworks on East Fork; Jimmy Neill made fur hats at Oak Grove, and Fleming Whitmire built wagons in Middle Fork.
During the Civil War, the Davidson River Iron Works, operated by George Shuford, became an important source of military supply for the Confederate Army. Ore for the mill was mined on nearby Boylston Creek.
Post Civil War
After the Civil War, speculators bought land for as little as one dollar an acre from the war-impoverished native landholders who were not aware of its true value. Families who needed money to pay delinquent taxes and re-stock the farm sold thousands of acres which was used for timber harvesting and mining. Logging and tanning companies became the largest employers of the county until the 1930s, when the timber ran out.
Brevard and Transylvania County Today
Transylvania County has come full circle since its beginnings in 1861, with the land providing commerce and trade once again. The county’s blended heritage continues to grow with new arrivals. Each year the community welcomes the return of summer residents, tourists, and retirees. Students are educated at Brevard College, summer camps, and Brevard Music Center.
The arts uplift the spirit and the National Forests soothe the soul. Sporting activities abound, whether the interest is in hiking, camping, mountain biking, rock climbing, fishing, or just plain nature observation. People continue to contribute and enrich the community with their collective knowledge and experience. The fabric of the tapestry grows stronger with each new thread.
The White Squirrel
Not everyone who contributes to the tapestry of Transylvania is human. A white squirrel arrived in Brevard as a refugee from an overturned carnival truck and its descendents have made Transylvania home. A true rarity, the squirrels are not albinos and have dark eyes. This unique animal is protected by law.
The Transylvania HeritageMuseum, located in Brevard, features permanent and changing displays of heirlooms, artifacts, genealogical exhibits, vintage photographs, and other exhibits reflective of the history and heritage of Transylvania County. The Museum offers a variety of interactive programs and events throughout the year, including the annual Founders Day Fair on Saturday of Labor Day weekend.
The Cradle of Forestry is so-called because it literally is the birthplace of forest conservation in the United States. Exhibits, a movie, and nature paths make this an excellent educational and entertaining destination for families.
Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education offers unique indoor and outdoor exhibits and programs on the state’s wildlife and mountain habitats.
Brevard is also in close promixity to the only North Carolina State Park west of Asheville, Gorges State Park. Here visitors can enjoy the rugged mountain terrain with camping, hiking, fishing, boating and many more activities.
The Brevard Music Center is one of the oldest and finest summer music institutions in the country. Every summer, hundreds of young musicians from all over the world come to study and play side by side with professional musicians in the presentation of public concerts, staged operas, and musicals. The Center offers instruction in chamber music, piano, instrumental studies, composition, and voice.
Festivals & Events
White Squirrel Festival and Squirrel Box Derby Day, held Saturday & Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend. Nutty family fun celebrating the peaceful coexistence of our wildlife inhabitants, great outdoors, and rich mountain heritage. This music festival showcases original compositions written by musicians who have claimed an attachment to Transylvania County. The Squirrel Box Derby demonstrates the passage of great engineering with mountain daring to our younger generations.
Fourth of July Celebration. Catch the hometown spirit in the Heart of Brevard! Brevard h as a long-standing tradition of celebrating our national Independence Day as a community. An all-star pet show, classic car show, traditional mountain crafts, bicycle parade, reading of the Declaration of Independence are followed by an evening fireworks extravaganza.
Halloweenfest. Last Saturday in October. Where better to celebrate Halloween than in Tran-syl-va-nia County? Costume parade, downtown trick-or-treat, Count Dracula’s blood drive, great pumpkin roll keep kids of all ages in the Halloween spirit. The Old Time Music Competition draws musicians from several states to compete in individual categories (banjo, fiddle, dulcimer), as well as combining their talents to compete in the old time string band category.
Twilight Tour. First Saturday in December. Downtown takes a turn back in time celebrating Christmas mountain traditions. Horse-drawn carriages pass luminary-lighted sidewalks and strolling carolers accompany those touring downtown shops. The courthouse sparkles with lights and angelic voices entertain from the gazebo.
Brevard is southwest of Asheville and easily accessed via US Hwy. 64.