N~32 Swannanoa Gap
Posted by: PersonsMD
N 35° 37.257 W 082° 16.371
17S E 384731 N 3942653
Quick Description: Located between Old Fort and Black Mountain, North Carolina, this marker notes a major transportation route used by early people to cross the Blue Ridge Mountains and the associated history of the area.
Location: North Carolina, United States
Date Posted: 5/13/2011 3:37:29 PM
Waymark Code: WMBF2V
The text of the marker reads:
“N 32 Swannanoa Gap – Used by Indians and pioneers in crossing Blue Ridge. General Rutherford’s expedition against the Cherokee passed here. September 1776. Archives and Highway Departments”
In the Cherokee language, “Swannanoa” translates to "Beautiful."
The historical record of the area indicates that the Swannanoa Gap Trail was the first road into Buncombe from the east, and led from Old Fort in McDowell county to the head of the Swannanoa river and Bee Tree creek where the first settlers stopped about 1782. How long after this it was before a wagon road was built through this gap does not appear; but it is recorded that the Bairds brought their first wagon through Saluda gap, some miles to the southwest, in 1793. Even that, however, at that date was probably only a very poor wagon road. But a wagon road was finally built through the gap Rutherford and his men had passed through in 1776 to subdue the Cherokees.
The old road through this gap did not cross, as it has often been stated to have done, at the place where the Long or Swannanoa Tunnel is. In later years the stage road did cross at that place. But the old road crossed a half a mile further south. To travel it one would not, as in the case of the later road, leave Old Fort and pass up Mill Creek three miles to where Henry station, so long the head of the railroad, stood. They would leave Old Fort and go across the creek directly west for about a mile before going into the mountains. Then he would turn to the right, ascend the mountain, cross it at about one half mile south of Swannanoa tunnel, and thence pass down the mountain until the road joined the later road above Black Mountain station.
The area of the Swannanoa Gap was also the location of one of the last Confederate battle victories of the United States Civil War. On April 20, 1865 nearly three thousand of the Union General George Stoneman’s light cavalrymen led by General Alvan C. Gillem, proceeded from Morganton to Asheville. This was 11 days AFTER General Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox as the news of the surrender had not reached Ashville. Upon hearing of the advancing army, Confederate General James G. Martin gathered 600 Asheville troops and marched to Swannanoa Gap. Here the two armies met and the Confederate soldiers forced a hasty retreat after blocking passage through the Swannanoa Gap.
Other sources used:
The book: “A popular History of Western North Carolina: Mountains, Heroes & Hootnoggers” by Rob Neufeld.
The book: “Western North Carolina: a history (1730-1913) By John Preston Arthur.
Marker Name: N 32 Swannanoa Gap
Marker Type: Roadside
Required Waymark Photo: yes
Related Web Link: Not listed
Local North Carolina markers without State Number Designation: Not listed
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