Flashback: Black Camp Gap in the late 1800s

By Vicki Hyatt | Aug 20, 2014

Dorothy McGaha of Jonathan Creek provided this photo of Black Camp Gap, a logging community near the present-day Maggie Valley. McGaha’s grandparents, Asbury and Affie Bradley, ran the camp. In the late 1800s, logging camps were common in Haywood County as timber companies bought large tracts of land to stake claim to the rich hardwood forests in the region.

Before the railroad arrived, timber was only marketed locally, according to “Haywood County: Portrait of a Mountain Community.” But in the early part of the 20th century, large-scale logging replaced the seasonal work of farmers who used timber to supplement their family income.

The invention of the Shay locomotive, with its gear-driven engine that could use lighter rails and operate in mountainous areas, made timber extraction in remote areas possible.

Those working in logging camps stayed in crude housing erected onsite, which enabled companies to have laborers for long hours day in and day out.                                                                     While not all the individuals in the Black Camp Gap photo can be identified, McGaha knew most of them.

Some of those in the photo include Grover Caldwell, Glenn Campbell, Edd Bennet, Stock Garlen, Sam Evans, Asbury Bradley, Sam Bradley, Marry Bradley, Affie Bradley, Vennie Bradley, Dick Bradley, Elizabeth Bradley, Sam Evans, Frank Mehaffie and Clayton Finger.

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