A dozen years ago an October evening walk through downtown Murphy, NC convinced me that we would enjoy the later part of our lives right up here in the corner of GA, NC, TN. The surrounding mountains and the sense of a peaceful small town was right up our alley.
As we began looking in the area, Murphy became our “home base.” Easy access to everything and anywhere we wanted to be made it the perfect place to stay, and we discovered so much! Situated at the confluence of the Hiwassee and Valley rivers, make the River Walk one of its most beautiful natural attractions. A 3.4 mile looped trail that features a lake and is good for all skill levels. The trail offers a number of activity options. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.
Without leaving town you can enjoy the Murphy Art Walk. On the first Friday of each month between May and December between 5-8 PM, just watch for the yellow flags outside a business. You may find local art, an artist, a musician, you just never know!
As most of you know by now I am a history buff and this area never disappoints. Murphy certainly did not. Originally named Huntington in 1835, when the post office began operations, a politician named Archibald Murphey made enough of an impact to have the name changed in his honor, even if they did misspell it.
Interestingly enough the local Cherokee called it Tlanusi-yi. Translated, this means Leech Place. Based on a legend of a giant size leech known as Tlanusi that resided there.
In 1836, the American Army erected Fort Butler on the present site of Murphy. This fort was utilized as a place to collect the Cherokee Indians that were being moved to their main encampment at Fort Cass. This is now the present location of Charleston, Tennessee. This forced removal of the Indians was the result of the Indian Removal Act of 1830 or as we know it, the Trail of Tears. The Cherokee County Historical Museum is housed in a historic Carnegie Library building in downtown Murphy. It is worth half a day to see the artifacts amassed there.
During the Civil War (1860-1865), Cherokee County men fought for both the Union and the Confederacy. No major battles took place in Cherokee County, but several minor conflicts occurred late in the war; the county courthouse, in one instance, was burned by Union raiders.
In 1855, North Carolina granted the Western North Carolina Railroad Company a charter to construct a railroad to serve the western counties. However, the Civil War halted construction. Construction resumed after the war, but in 1866 the Western North Carolina Railroad Company went bankrupt, so the rail line stopped in Morganton. In 1877, the railroad company restarted and extended the track to Asheville. Finally in 1888, 33 years after they started, the first railroad reached Cherokee County at the Murphy Depot. The railroad greatly changed the lifestyle of western North Carolinians. It connected the east and west and allowed more people to move to the mountains. Also, the region’s natural resources, such as lumber and iron ore, could be easily transported.
Once the highway systems began to take shape, visiting the national forests in our area became an American pastime. The Nantahala National Forest lies in the mountain and valleys of southwestern North Carolina. The Forest is divided into three Districts, Cheoah in Robbinsville, NC, Tusquitee in Murphy, NC, and the Nantahala in Franklin, NC. All district names come from the Cherokee language. Tusquitee is a Cherokee Indian word meaning “Where the water-dogs laughed”. It is bordered on the north by Fires Creek Bear Reserve. Fires Creek is a designated bear sanctuary, and as development in surrounding areas limits their habitat, still more black bears will be driven into this protected territory.
The most unusual geological feature in Fires Creek is the “bowls” or basins occurring atop Potrock Bald (reached via the Trail Ridge Trail from Bristol Horse Camp). Local legend says these unique depressions, of uncertain origin, were used by the Cherokee, perhaps for cooking. A similar (and more easily reached) formation is the Indian Wash Pot on the bank of Fires Creek near Leatherwood Falls. Supposedly, the Indians used it to heat water for bathing, though it’s now filled in with leaves and debris.
So no matter if you want to spend an evening at the casino, a day hiking or just want to drink in some local history. Time spent in Murphy, NC will not disappoint!
As always, thanks for spending some time with us today and as always
WELCOME TO THE MOUNTAINS!