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A visit to Runion

Plemmons, Jan C

A Visit to Runion A Ghost Town of Western North Carolina is a narrative and pictorial history of a sawmill village dating from the late 1800's until 1925. The coming of the railroad brought northern investors to the mountains to purchase timber and mining rights. Putnam was the first sawmill and logging operation established in this location but it went into bankruptcy and sat idle for five years. Harriet Betts (Arrow Shirt Factory) of Troy, NY purchased the mill, the railroad and additional acreage for the timber and founded the Laurel River Logging Company putting her son Anson Betts in charge. They doubled the size of the original mill, converted the mill to electric and expanded the railroad. They built a church/school, provided family housing for their employees that at one time numbered 1200 people and even had a baseball team that played their games on an island in the French Broad River. Southern Railroad put in sidings and built a depot and changed the original name of Putnam to Runion. After the flood of 1916 and WW I the mill went into decline and changed hands many times before closing in 1925. In 1991 the US Department of Agriculture Forest Service purchased the Runion site and it is listed in the Pisgah National Forest division as the Laurel River Trail, #310, a 3.6 mile hike.


Jan C. Plemmons

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