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   Save the date:  October 10, 2020  Bethel Half Marathon and 5k Race               

BRCO News and Events

The WNC Communities Organization  held it 70th Honors Award Ceremony on November 2, 2019 at the Biltmore's Double Tree Hilton Hotel.  Out of more than sixty organizations throughout western North Carolina, BRCO was one of only three to win the "Community of Distinction" award-the most prestigious that is given.  BRCO was also awarded the President's Award for 25 years of Honors Participation.  

All general meetings begin at 6:30 p.m. with a pot luck supper, followed by a program and business meeting.


January 14

March 10

May  12

July  14

September 8

November 10

2020 Meeting Dates

BRCO Releases Sunburst and Other Logging Operations in the Bethel & Cold Mountain Region DVD

Bethel Rural Community Organization (BRCO) is releasing its five-year-in-the-making Sunburst and Other Logging Operations in the Bethel & Cold Mountain Region DVD on December 12. Copies are available at Blue Ridge Books, through the BRCO website at www.bethelrural.org, or by calling 828-648-3226. Douglas Chambers (dougchambers.net) is the videographer/editor. Evelyn Coltman is the producer and Craig S. Messer is the narrator. Sponsors include the following: Carol Litchfield, Evergreen Packaging, Blue Rooster Southern Grill, Lake Logan Conference Center, Peak Dentistry, Nancy Armstrong/Jim Lynn, Evelyn and Richard Coltman, and Maria and Carroll Jones. The production is dedicated to the memory of Horace M. Green. Sunburst was one of the largest and most significant logging villages in the region during the early 20th Century with ties to the founding of Champion Paper and Fiber Company, now Evergreen Packaging. The historic village was situated in the area where Lake Logan exists today. The Sunburst documentary consists of four parts: Origins of Sunburst, Life in Sunburst, Logging Lifestyle and The End of Sunburst, and Sunburst’s Legacy. The DVD also includes segments on logging before and after Sunburst as well as special features. Collecting historical data about the iconic logging industry that carved pathways through the early 20th Century Western North Carolina mountains as well as detailing current wood products operations, BRCO has created an impressive documentary worthy of attention by historians and scholars while also being of interest to the anyone interested in local history. Twenty participants, including two with life experience connections to Sunburst, appear on the DVD: Lorna Ashe, Phyllis Barnett, Wayne Carson, Rose Earnest, Horace M. Green, Zac Guy, Cheryl Haney, Danny Heatherly, Harold Heatherly, Carroll Jones, Gerald Ledford, Mike McLean, Susan Merrill, Ann Melton, Lewis Oats, Jr., Bruce Pace, Pat Powell, Sam Powell, Mark Rogers, and Maude Rogers. Musical group Possum on A Whale provides 14 songs for the video. Wide-ranging oral and documented historical accounts include topics such as business and social life in the village and logging camps, the Biltmore Forestry School, the association with Inman Chapel, African American involvement, train and rail history relating to the village and logging operation, as well as the Champion connection to the story. In addition, Zac Guy with Appalachian Antique Hardwoods details his family history with the wood products industry. Harold Heatherly, Carroll Jones, Pat, and Sam Powell take the viewer to the East Fork of the Pigeon River, the Lenoir’s Creek Farm, and the heights of Cold Mountain to discuss the Lenoir and Powell family logging operations. Danny Heatherly details how his family connection with the Powell family hardwood lumber business led to his own current innovative wood-product company in Bethel: BarkClad. BRCO is recognized for its affinity for collecting history as well as for the professionalism of its documentation. The NC Society of Historians has presented BRCO’s Historic Preservation Committee with three state history awards for its Legends, Tales & History of Cold Mountain, Books 1-6 by Evelyn Coltman, Walking in the Footsteps of Those Who Came Before Us DVD, and From New College to Springdale DVD. In addition, the Historic Preservation Committee developed the Cold Mountain Heritage Driving Tour CD as well as The Sunburst Sessions CD by Possum on a Whale. The CDs and DVDs are all produced by Douglas Chambers Productions and are available through BRCO’s website.

Bethel Rural Community Organization Receives National Register of Historic Places Designation for Truss Bridge #79

Thanks to the research and vigilance of BRCO President and Historic Preservation Committee member, Carroll Jones, Truss Bridge #79 is finally receiving its due as a National Register of Historic Places designated site. Haywood’s metal truss is the only remaining example of the Phoenix-column truss bridge technology in North Carolina and, with its decorative star-shaped tie-rods and iron finials, is the only one in the state with decorative elements. The bridge is the only survivor of this type of nineteenth century bridge in the United States. The bridge is BRCO’s second success in obtaining National Register site status. The Keeper of the National Register awarded Francis Mill the National Register designation as a result of a BRCO grant, application, and oversight in 2013. Located on Lake Logan Road since approximately 1925, the bridge was originally situated over the East Fork of the Pigeon River not too distant from Jukebox Junction. Bill Terrell assisted Jones in locating the original bridge abutments built by Wood Brothers & Company, and Carol Litchfield researched county records to determine the original May 1891, date for authorization by the commissioners. Dean & Westbrook Engineers built the bridge. Jones conducted the remainder of the diligent and time-consuming research that led to the National Register appointment. According to oral tradition, the bridge was dismantled by two state-supplied bridge workers and, with help from horses and community volunteers, transported to its current location where local citizens offered right of way. Approximately twenty local men worked around their jobs and chores to make time to dig the holes, pour the concrete casings made from river sand, and haul the floor of the bridge across the river by horses, and then hoist it into position. Workers screwed the rivets into place by hand. For almost one hundred years the bridge served the community with its six-ton capacity that limited its use for heavy loads but was adequate for vehicles and light farm loads, servicing approximately 100 vehicles per day, according to a 2009 evaluation. The North Carolina Department of Transportation determined that the bridge was inadequate to serve the needs of heavier traffic and debated dismantling the bridge when NCDOT made plans for a nearby updated bridge. This consideration by NCODT spurred two separate efforts to save the bridge. When plans called for the NCDOT to close the bridge and cease maintenance in 2002, local people led by county activist Philan Medford joined to request that the bridge be saved and maintained. Bethel Rural Community Organization held several community-based meetings in 2007, including two with NCDOT, to encourage the governmental agency to keep the bridge and restore it. NCDOT listened and complied by restoring and painting the bridge in 2013. Today, Truss Bridge #79 is designated as a pedestrian bridge. Sources: Walking in the Footsteps, Legends Books 1 and 6

Pictured (l to r)  Carol Litchfield, Ted Carr, Frances Adamson, artist Nick DePaolo, Bill Terrell, artist Stephani Grimes, Evelyn Coltman Carroll Jones and seated Nancy Armstrong.

BRCO's Historic Preservation Committee Unveils Two New Art Prints Available for Sale

At the September BRCO general meeting, the Historic Preservation Committee, presented two new art prints-Nick DePaola's painting of the historic Woodrow Post Office and Stephanie Grimes' scratch painting of the now extinct passenger pigeons.

Artist Nick DePaolo had only a historic photo of one end of the Woodrow Train Station from which he used to create an artistic rendering of the 1914-1927 structure that served as a depot for the T & NC Railroad in Bethel.

Artist Stephanie Grimes traveled to the Cincinnati Zoo to photograph a male and female stuffed passenger pigeon bearing the likeness of the birds that are considered by some to have been the most prolific birds ever to have inhabited the planet. Before their extinction in 1914, the passenger pigeon roosted in oak and chestnut trees during their migratory passage through Bethel. Grimes utilizes a unique artistic technique known as “scratchboard” in which etching tools are used delicately to score the likeness on a dark kaolin surface. The new art prints are on sale through our on-line catalog or by mail order.

BRCO's Historic Preservation Committee Presents the 2019 Pigeon Valley Historic Preservation Award to Cheryl Inman Haney

On Tuesday evening, September 10, BRCO's Historic Preservation Committee presented the 2019 Pigeon Valley Historic Preservation Award to Cheryl Inman Haney for her more than thirty-year journey of preserving Bethel history.  The award is presented annually to recognize outstanding historic conservation achievements by an individual .

Pictured:  kneeling (l to r) Carol Litchfield, Nancy Armstrong, Frances Adamson; standing (l to r) Ted Carr, Weaver Haney, Jeanine Haney, Harry Haney, Cheryl Inman Haney, Carroll Jones, Evelyn Coltman and Bill Terrell

BRCO's Wins 2019 Community of Distinction AWARD

The Historic Preservation Committee, along with Douglas Chambers as videographer/director/editor and Evelyn Coltman as producer, has received a state history award for our Sunburst and Other Logging Operations in the Bethel & Cold Mountain Region DVD. Carroll Jones also received a book award from the NC Society of Historians for his book, Thomson’s Pulp Mill: Building the Champion Fibre Company at Canton, North Carolina —1905 to 1908. Here are the words of the judges regarding the Sunburst DVD: "We enjoyed every aspect of this DVD. It was replete with the most amazing historical data regarding the logging industry, locations of area lumberyards, and some of the most hardworking industrious people the region could boast. Everybody associated with this project should be commended for a job well done! The video was superb, the music toe-tapping and expertly performed, the content holds a superior rating. It was quite surprising to learn when the film ended that we had been educated in such a profound manner about a subject we often take for granted about a profession that has gained new respect by our panel…" This is BRCO’s Historic Preservation Committee’s third state history award.

BRCO's Historic Preservation Committee wins state award for Sunburst and Other Logging Operations in the Bethel & Cold Mountain Region DVD

pictured l to r:  Evelyn Coltman, Carroll Jones, Nancy Armstrong, Ted Carr, Frances Adamson, Susan Baxley, Carol Litchfield, Douglas Chambers

BRCO President Carroll Jones Honored

At the November BRCO general meeting, Evelyn Coltman, Chair of the Historic Preservation Committee, presented Carrol Jones a framed print of Truss Bridge #79.  Carroll was recognized for his dedication and diligence in researching and writing the application that resulted in Truss Bridge #79 receiving the National Register of Historic Places designation.  


Tom Kolaski, BRCO Board Vice Chair presented Carroll  a Certificate of Appreciation in recognition of and thanks for his dedication and service to BRCO as President.