Bryson City, NC

Bryson City NC is located in Swain County...

2018 Best Guide to Bryson City, NC

November 10, 2015

Bryson City NC is the county seat of Swain County in western North Carolina, near Cherokee NC. Located on the other side of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park from Gatlinburg TN and Pigeon Forge TN, it is home to the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad.

With about 1,350 people living in about 2 square miles, Bryson City sits on the Tuckasegee River near the Deep Creek confluenceand is graced by mountains on all sides - The Great Smoky Mountains, Cowee Mountains, and Plott Balsams. The Nantahala National Forest is nearby, while the Cherokee Indian Reservation rests on the east side of the town.

Things are slow here, and Bryson City isn't what you would expect for a town so centrally located in western North Carolina. Tourism is minimal, what with the depot station for the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad. Most of the action, if you will, is downtown near the Main Street and Everett Street intersections. This is where U.S. Highway 19 intersects the roads from Murphy and Cherokee.

History of Bryson City NC

Bryson City was home to the native Cherokee for thousands of years, with their eldest village of Kituhwa situated just near the town on the Tuckasegee River. That village is no longer around as it was destroyed during the American Revolution by American soldiers.

In 1818 Chief Big Bear obtained a 640-acre plot for the area of what is now Bryson City. He sold portions of it over the next several years. Land disputes ensued, and The Shuler family in turn sold parts of the land.

Eventually, a small village of "Big Bear" (named after the chief) grew in the area. It was a 640 acre land reserve owned by Cherokee Indian Chief Big Bear, who sold a portion of it to Darling Belk and John Love around 1820. This land found its way to James and Diana Shular, and then Colonel Thaddeus Bryson and Alfred Cline.

In 1871, parts of Jackson County and Macon County were relieved to the creation of the new Swain county. The newly appointed commissioners of the county met at Bear Springs, at Cline's Store - which was owned by Lucy Ann Cline. Cline sold several acres of land for the county seat.

Known as "Charleston", the new seat of Swain County entailed a Main Street intersecting "Everett" street (named for the first Sherriff of Swain County. By 1872, the first jail was operational, and in 1874, the courthouse was completed.

In 1889 the town changed names to its current Bryson City status, in honor Colonel Bryson - who had been heavily involved in many of the first critical processes in the town's creation and upstart. The town folk also realized there would be a certain amount of confusion with the town Charleston in South Carolina.

The railroad came to town in 1884 courtesy the Western North Carolina Railroad, followed by a bank in 1904, and completion of the new courthouse in 1908. The creation of the adjoining Great Smoky Mountains National Park in the early 1930s brought increased business to the town of Bryson City and Swain County in general. The park entails Deep Creek (camping and hiking trails) to the north, with a main entrance on the east of Bryson City, while the Blue Ridge Parkway entrance is at the south.

As the automobile increased in popularity, the railroad (now owned by Southern Railway) would cease its passenger service in 1948. And, in 1985, Northfolk Southern's freight division halted operations through Bryson City. The tracks were purchased by the Great Smoky Mountains Railway, which created a tourist attraction with the main stop in Bryson City.

Much of today's revenue for Bryson City comes from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, formed in 1933. Campgrounds and hiking trails produced much of the early income for the town, and still do.

In 1944, the Fontana Dam project was completed by the Tennessee Valley Authority. Much of the hydro-electric power it produced supplied much need electricity to the Alcoa Aluminum plant, which created aircraft panels for the war effort. The arrival of the Dam brought water levels above a primary connection road between remote Smoky Mountains and the North Shore area. Accordingly, the Government initiated work on a replacement highway in 1948. After 25 years of "construction", only 7 miles had been completed, infuriating the town. Still incomplete, it has become known as the "Road to Nowhere" (pictured).

Notable People from Bryson City NC

Congressman Heath Shular, a retired professional football player got his start at local Swain High School, where he took the team to two state championships. 

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Things to Do in Bryson City

There are some interesting things to do in Bryson City NC. Whether you want to go biking, boating, fishing, horseback riding, kayaking, whitewater rafting or golfing, the world of nature is at your fingertips here. Centrally located to the Great Smoky Mountains, Cherokee NC, and the Nantahala National Forest, Bryson City also offers plenty of nearby attractions.

Here's a nice pic of Bryson City, courtesy

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Bryson City Home Page

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