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Tryon Daily Bulletin

If these hills could talk

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Publisher’s Note

Betty Ramsey

In the Tryon Daily Bulletin we reserve lots of space for the people and organizations in our area doing good things. However, as a newspaper we have an obligation to our readers to report the news without bias or exclusion, the good, the bad, and sometimes the downright ugly. If a crime is committed, a business closes or our elected officials disappoint, that is news and it is our obligation to report it. Our staff, however, does not enjoy reporting negative news. Our families, children, friends and neighbors, are all impacted by crimes, tough economic times and the decisions of our leaders. We do take great joy in telling the good news of our area, and while we publish the good news all year long, we have made an extra effort in our first edition of “Progress – If These Hills Could Talk.” “Progress” is filled with stories of who we are, the rich history of our community and what makes our area a great place to live. We hope you enjoy the publication as much as we have enjoyed creating it and will look forward to February each year and our annual “Progress” edition.

Tryon Daily Bulletin 16 N. Trade St. Tryon, N.C. 28782 828-859-9151

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Editor’s Note If these hills could talk … Oh, the stories they would tell. In the nooks and crannies of Our Area, the Carolina Foothills, lives an abundance of stories. Growing up I’d always hear my grandmother use the phrase, “Well, if these walls could talk.” It makes me think now, living beneath our lush hills, “What if these hills could talk?” What would be the stories they’d have to share? The Tryon Daily Bulletin staff knows the possibilities are endless. Here within these pages we’ve attempted to capture just a small sampling of the hundreds of stories we know are out there. You all provide us with so much potential content with your unique hobbies, entrepreneurial spirit and love of the beautiful mountains we live in. In this “Progress” edition we’ve featured articles about the legends and lore of Our Area, the creation of the Save Our Slopes organization, the reasons artists gravitate to the Foothills, the infamous Green River Narrows Race and world travelers. We only wish we could have packed more into these pages – more personality features, more photos from local artists and more unique facts. But that just means we know we have even more content to use in future publications and next year in the second annual edition of “Progress.” - Samantha Hurst

Staff Betty Ramsey - Publisher Samantha Hurst

- Editor

Barbara Tilly - Managing Editor Leah Justice - Reporter Gwen Ring - Graphic Designer Fulton Hampton - Marketing Consultant Nicholas Holmberg - Marketing Consultant Jeremy Wood - Marketing Consultant Tony Elder - Pressroom Manager Jeff Allison - Pressroom Operator Nick Elder - Pressroom Operator Jonathan Burrell - Pressroom Operator Jessy Taylor - Customer Service

90 years and still going strong! Since 1922, we have been serving the banking needs of Western North Carolina. Stop by and see what we can do for you! 160 West Mills Street, Columbus or 108 East Main Street, Saluda


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Cover and contents page photo: Mill Spring Sunset. Photo by Turner HD Media, Mill Spring, N.C.


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8 Scenes of our area 10 Hollywood in the Foothills 12 Legends & Lore 14 Born of the railroad 18 Save our Slopes 20 Artist haven 25 The Dark Corner 29 Places to heal

Adawehi, CooperRiis

& Pavillon

35 The mighty Green River 38 Faces

The hitchhiker

Polk County’s Green Team

Hanna O’Brien

Kari Malkki

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1. Esso Gas Station. Landrum, S.C. Photo by Eric Mack. 2. Pearson Falls. Saluda, N.C. Photo by Chris Bartol. 3. Bright’s Creek. Mill Spring, N.C. Photo by Eric Mack. 4. Dog. Photo by Doug Dickerson. 5. Dogwoods. Photo by Al Hart. 6. Barn. Mill Spring, N.C. Photo by Kirk Gollwitzer. 7. Polk County Courthouse. Columbus, N.C. Photo by Leah Justice. 8. White Oak Mountain. Columbus, N.C. Photo by Eric Mack.



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Hollywood in the

FOOTHILLS Decades of drawing celebrities. By Barbara Tilly

Lithograph of William Gillette as Sherlock Holmes in his drama, “Sherlock Holmes,” 1900. Source:

Oak Hall Hotel was a landmark in Tryon for decades. It was located near the Lanier Library, on the hill above downtown. Photo by James A. Johnson.

The cover of “I Think of You,” one of Perry Como’s many albums. Como built a vacation home in Saluda in the 1980s. Source:

When comedian Pam Stone decided she didn’t want to turn 40 in Los Angeles, she turned her gaze toward the southeast. Best known for her role as Coach Judy on the hit ABC sit-com “Coach,” Stone grew up in Marietta, Ga., riding horses and dreaming of competing in international horse shows. After 15 years of living in L.A., struggling to fit riding in the cracks between her performing obligations, she decided it was time to make a change. She was already familiar with the Thermal Belt area, having bought property in Campobello in 1987 when a stand-up tour brought her to Greenville, S.C. So, after considering Kentucky (too cold) and Ocala, Fla. (too hot), she decided Campobello was just right and in 1999 bought the farm where she now lives. Stone, who has had a radio show on The Link in Charlotte since 2002, said it didn’t take her long to find additional performing opportunities after she moved here. “People said, ‘Perry Como used to live here, but he passed,’” she said, “so I became the ‘go-to girl’ for benefits.” She did her first benefit in the area for Habitat at Polk County High School in 1998, before she even had moved here full-time. And although she’s had to cut back greatly on the benefits she does, she hasn’t quit entirely. Recently, she performed a free hour of comedy for returning veterans at the VFW post headquarters in Spartanburg, S.C. Stone and singer Como, who built a vacation home in Saluda in the 1980s, are not the only celebrities who have favored the area. Internationally known jazz singer Nina Simone was born Eunice Waymon in Tryon, and Pat Hingle, noted for playing Commissioner Gordon in the “Batman” movies, got his first acting experience in a Saluda School play. Hingle’s grandfather was an engineer on a helper engine that pushed trains up the Saluda Grade. William Gillette, most famous for his iconic stage portrayal of Sherlock Holmes, lived in Tryon from 1891-1910. He built his home, Thousand Pines, on a 900acre estate that later became the foundation for the present-day Tryon neighbor-

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Above: Comedian Pam Stone relaxes at her Campobello farm with Bonnie and Rosie, who were the inspiration for her recent book, “Rats! Rats! Rats!” Photo by Barbara Tilly. Left: Pam Stone, whose “I’m Just Saying” column appears in the Bulletin, recently published a collection of her columns called “I Love Me a Turkey Butt Samwich: Finding a Farm Life after Hollywood.”

One of the original Three Stooges, Ken Lackey, made his home in the area in the 1960s and 70s.

hood called Gillette Woods. One of the original Three Stooges, Ken Lackey, made his home in the area in the 1960s and 70s. He directed several productions for Tryon Little Theater, including “The Desk Set” in 1969 and “Forty Carats” in 1973. Lackey was also a driving force behind the creation of the Community Chorus. In 1973, he suggested to the Tryon Rotary Club that a choral group be formed to perform a fundraising concert, and the chorus was born. Poet Sidney Lanier died in a house in Lynn; the house still stands on Hwy. 108 and is marked with a historical plaque. A few other notable celebrities who have lived in or visited the Foothills often include Ernest Hemingway, David Niven and F. Scott Fitzgerald, who spent an extended visit at the Oak Hall Hotel in Tryon in February 1935. The hotel was located on the hill above Trade Street, near where the Tryon Fine Arts Center is today. According to Polk County native Garland Goodwin, the roster of notables who stayed at Oak Hall or lived there was impressive. “The widows of President Coolidge and General George Marshall lived there for years,” Goodwin said in one of his “Remember When” columns in the Bulletin (Oct. 20, 2011). “The Rotary and Kiwanis Clubs met there every week, and Kiwanian Howard Greene had to go early because a short visit with the aforementioned ladies was mandatory. Mrs. Marshall was sure that former Army Ranger Greene was one of her husband’s buddies.” Stone, who writes a column for the Bulletin called “I’m Just Saying” and has recently published a collection of her columns called “I Love Me a Turkey Butt Samwich,” said living on her Campobello farm has given her lots of material. “That’s the whole point of living in the south,” Stone said. “You don’t have to make up material, it just happens. All I do is take notes and do a bit of tweaking.”

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A closer look at what makes our area special.

Hidden Gems Bradley Falls.

Consisting of Big Bradley and Little Bradley Falls. Exit 59 off of I-26 in Saluda.

Pearson Falls.

Off Hwy 176 between Tryon and Saluda.

Shunkawauken Falls.

On White Oak Mountain Dr. in Columbus.

Poinsett Bridge.

The oldest intact bridge in S.C. From U.S. Hwy. 25 N., 2 miles northwest of S.C. Hwy. 11, turn onto Old U.S. Hwy. 25. Travel 3.2 miles and turn right onto Callahan Mountain Road. Travel 2.2 miles and bridge is on left.

Klickety-Klack covered bridge.

Hwy S.C. 11, 2.3 miles from junction S.C. 14 in the heart of Gowensville. A gift from Don Spann and constructed by Spann and Troy Coffey.

Campbell’s covered bridge. 1214 Pleasant Hill Rd. in Landrum.

Polk County History Museum. 60 Walker St. in Columbus.

Mill Spring Ag Center.

Serves as a resource center for agricultural development, farmland preservation, education, community service and business development. 156 School Rd. in Mill Spring.


Rockhouse Vineyards and Winery. 1525 Turner Rd., Tryon. Green Creek Winery. 413 Gilbert Rd., Columbus.

Local farm stands.

Visit for a full list of farms.


Bradley Falls in Saluda. Photo by Eric Mack.

Ann Shepherd lived on Wildcat Spur in the mountains near Sunny View, just a few miles north of Deep Gap. Shepherd was born on Oct. 31, 1844. Historical association president Anna Pack Conner read from a North Carolina historical article about the legend that said Shepherd was a witch. The article called Shepherd “a real mean old woman” who wanted to “become a witch.” It says she threw a cat into the river and it floated upstream. Another tale said that Shepherd would take a broom and draw a circle and anyone who went into the circle would be surrounded by cats and prevented from leaving. There are also tales of lights appearing and spooking horses on the road beside Shepherd’s ridge. Source: article by Leah Justice and Williard Pace’s book “Witch Ann.”

Poinsett Bridge located in the Dark Corner, is the oldest surviving bridge in South Carolina. Rumor has it that a slave was once hung under the bridge and his ghost still haunts the area. Poinsett Bridge has been named to the National Register of Historic Places. Pine Crest Inn. Psychics say an energy vortex may be responsible for the otherworldly occurrences at the inn in Tryon. The furniture reportedly mysteriously moves around in the guest rooms and common areas. For example, a former innkeeper said he once woke up and found his dresser blocking the door and clothes scattered around the room., source:

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Unique Facts January 20 - Polk County was founded in 1855. 21 - Record low temperature for Polk County at -8 degrees, 1985. (minus 8) February 1 - City of Saluda was incorporated, 1881. 1 - First women to serve on a Polk County jury, 1944. 2 - Town of Columbus was incorporated, 1857. 2 - The Tryon Fine Arts Center was dedicated, 1969. March 11 - Town of Tryon was incorporated, 1885. 13 - WNC blizzard occurred in 1993. 16 - Arbor Day in North Carolina, 2012. April 14 - Polk County Community Foundation was incorporated, 1976. 15 - Current St. Luke’s Hospital was dedicated, 1972. 22 - General Stoneman’s U.S. Cavalry fought southern troops at Howard’s Gap, 1865. May 24 - Original Polk County Public Library opened, 1960. 25 - First diesel engine train crosses the Saluda Grade, 1949. June 22 - Record high temperature for Polk County at 105 degrees, 1964. July 4 - First train crosses the Saluda Grade, 1878. 16 - Colonial Governor Tryon extends Carolina border to Tryon Peak, 1767. 16 - Great WNC Flood occurred in 1916. 20 - Polk County 4-H Foundation was incorporated, 1964. August 20 - Groundbreaking for the Polk County High School, 1990. September 1 - Record daily rainfall for Polk County was 6.38 inches, 1979. 7 - Southern poet Sidney Lanier died in Lynn, 1881. October 29 - I-26 “missing link” was dedicated between Columbus and Saluda in 1976.

Calf Rock. Mr. C. O. Hearon spoke of the rock between the double bridges up the mountain just before you get to Melrose Park. I don’t think this rock cliff had a name until it got its present name. Baxter Johnson told me he remembered his Uncle Joe Johnson telling about the cow with a young calf on the side of the mountain above the cliff. The calf fell off over this cliff into Pacolet River. The cow, like all other cows, a fool about her calf, started to follow the calf and she went over the cliff too. Both were killed. This has been called Calf Rock ever since. Source: 50 Years Ago in Saluda, NC by Herbert E. Pace Legend behind Pea Ridge. A feller walked across the land and stated, “It’s so poor it won’t sprout peas.” Hence Pea Ridge’s name. Source: Polk County History, Richard H. Palner

Top photo: Polk County Doughboy In Columbus. Dedicated to those who did not return from WWI. Bottom photo: A time capsule buried in Stearns Park in Columbus by local students in 1992, to be opened in 2092. Photos by Leah Justice.

November 6 - Pearson’s Falls opened to the public, 1931. 19 - Foothills Equestrian Nature Center (FENCE) was incorporated, 1984. December 4 - Record snowfall for Polk County, 18 inches, 1971. 5 - Last scheduled passenger train travels through Polk County, 1968. 9 - Last scheduled freight train travels through Polk County, 2001.

Madstone. William Asbury Ruff found a madstone when he was about 9 years old in 1873, about 10 miles southwest of Lake Lure, on Cane Creek. William and his father found the madstone to be medically useful. It was used to counteract the poison from the bite of an animal, such as a dog, black widow spider, rattlesnake or copperhead snake. In order to use the stone you first had to boil it in sweet milk. Then you would put it on an open wound or a cut in the skin. If there was a poison, it would stick, draw all the poison out and then fall loose. You would then boil the stone again to take the poison out. – Lawrence Robinson Jr. , grandson of William, the stone’s finder.

A man holds a madstone. Photo submitted by Dean Campbell.

Born of the


Railroads arrival creates area towns. By Leah Justice

The tracks through downtown Saluda. Photo by Leah Justice.

From an engineering and railroading perspective the Southern Railway’s Saluda Grade was one of the scariest and most daunting sections of main line anywhere in the country. –

The turn of the century was known as a bustling time for Landrum, Saluda and Tryon with passenger trains passing through. The railroad is the main reason each town sprang forth, especially Saluda and Tryon, where previously only nearby settlements had formed. Many famous people were known to ride the train and make stops in Tryon, including F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald and Dorothy Dix. People used to stop in Tryon and were greeted by locals giving passengers grapes and wine from local vineyards. Shortly after the Civil War, Captain Charles William Pearson surveyed this region for what was originally known as Southern Railway to extend the railroad from Spartanburg, S.C. to Asheville. Talk first began in 1836 of the railroad going through what is now Polk County’s seat in Columbus, but there were problems. Farmers complained that the noise would upset the cows and there were also concerns that the terrain would not hold the weight, which was also an issue when I-26 was built. The bond issue did not pass. The next plan was for the track to go to Melrose, then east toward where I-26 is currently located, but again the terrain was a problem. The final plan took the track through Melrose and directly to Saluda. “From an engineering and railroading perspective the Southern Railway’s Saluda Grade was one of the scariest and most daunting sections of main line anywhere in the country,” said “The line was originally constructed in the 1870s to connect Spartanburg, South Carolina and Asheville, North Carolina through the Blue Ridge Mountain range but with no suitable grade available in southern North Carolina engineers were forced to lay a grade between 4 percent and 5 percent. Unable to ever find a

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Engine from the Tennessee Coal, Iron and Railroad Company. Inspecting Pacolet River Trestle repairs after 1916 flood. Photo courtesy Top of the Mountain, a fundraising calendar to benefit The Saluda Fire and Rescue Ladies Auxiliary.

A helper engine and its crew. Photo courtesy Top of the Mountain, a fundraising calendar to benefit The Saluda Fire and Rescue Ladies Auxiliary.

better grade in later years the line remained in operation until late 2001 as the steepest main line railroad anywhere in the United States.” State convicts helped to build the track, which was a first in North Carolina. The convicts stayed in a stockade at Horse Shoe Curve Road near Tryon and a second camp was located further up the grade east of Big Fall Creek. When passenger trains began to arrive in Tryon, there were 24 homes, the depot and three stores; a general store, livery stable and a pharmacy. The railroad was completed in 1878 and on July 4, 1879 the first train chugged up the three-mile grade from Melrose to Pace’s Gap. At that time, eight passenger trains passed through the area on a daily basis, most of which were the Carolina Special that was routed between Charleston, S.C. and Cincinnati with whistle stops in Columbia, Spartanburg, Tryon, Saluda, Hendersonville and Asheville. The trains had to stop in Tryon to pick up a pusher engine, or what the locals called the “helper,” to push the last car of the passenger trains up to Saluda from Melrose Junction. The helper was picked up in Tryon on trips up the mountain and brought back to Tryon from Saluda on trips down the mountain. Saluda’s depot was originally located in the middle of downtown, but was later moved further up the tracks because the end of the trains hung over the mountain. Saluda’s depot has been relocated downtown and now serves as shops. Saluda’s Charlene Pace has a few railroad stories as both her late husband, J.B. Pace and her son, Curtis Pace both worked for the railroad, mostly contract work repairing the tracks.

Passenger train no. 9, in route from Jacksonville, Fla. to Asheville, N.C., climbs Saluda Mountain. Made during WWII, this photo shows soldiers waving from the Pullman car. Photo courtesy Top of the Mountain, a fundraising calendar to benefit The Saluda Fire and Rescue Ladies Auxiliary.

The wreck was said to have dumped 1,000 tons of coal down the mountain. – Polk County News Journal

J.B. Pace first worked for the railroad in 1949 and later did contract work when he ran a heavy equipment business. Charlene said she was told that the only two areas that had to have a helper train were Saluda and Old Fort. When J.B. worked for the railroad the engines were steam and later they changed to diesels. J.B. worked the last two wrecks that occurred at Melrose, both in 1964. On Sept. 21, 1964, a train was stopped in a massive pile-up with 69 cars, according to old newspaper articles from the Polk County News Journal. Both men in the caboose jumped when they noticed the train was gaining speed. “By the time the first two units hit the safety track they were going so fast they cleared the top of the hill,” said the article. The wreck was said to have dumped 1,000 tons of coal down the mountain.

Charlene also tells of a story she heard from the 1930s. She said R.L. Savage was a signalman and electrical worker for the railroad and was working when a train load of cattle wrecked close to the tunnels. “It killed all the cattle except one calf,” Charlene said, “and that night Savage led that one calf home through town and he kept it for years.” Another wreck occurred around 1940 when the train went over the safety track. A fireman was pinned into the firebox when the coal shifted. The engineer had jumped and dug through the coal with his hands until they were bleeding trying to dig out the fireman, but it was too late, Charlene said. The fireman died. “There’s been a lot of tragedies on Saluda Mountain,” she said. Charlene also said the safety tracks came in 1903 when engineer Pitt Belue had to jump a train and broke

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Mallet Ls-2 class no. 4052 2-8-8-2, ran up safety track no. 1, killing the fireman when it plunged over the end. Photograph circa 1940. Photo courtesy Top of the Mountain, a fundraising calendar to benefit The Saluda Fire and Rescue Ladies Auxiliary.

Saluda, Tryon and Landrum are here because of the railroad.

An historic marker explains the Saluda Grade. Photo by Leah Justice.

his leg. She said while he was in the hospital he had the idea for safety tracks and called Southern Railway with the idea to stop all the wrecks. No passengers were ever killed in wrecks along the Polk County/Landrum route. “Saluda, Tryon and Landrum are here because of the railroad,” Charlene said. “Until that time there were settlements and inns, but nothing in Saluda. When the railroad came, Tryon was known as Tryon City. During the Depression many of the townsmen worked on the railroad, so they still had a job. The railroad has been good to Saluda.” Today, Norfolk Southern has finally given up on the route and while officially mothballed (not abandoned)

it likely will never see freight trains again, according to American-rails. com. Trains ran the route for about 125 years that included 50 hairpin turns, among those was what was known as “Slaughterhouse Curve.” The first diesel engine crossed the Saluda Grade on May 25, 1949. On December 5, 1968 the last passenger train traveled through Landrum and Polk County and on Dec. 9, 2001 the last freight train traveled through Landrum and Polk County. There have been many discussions locally of turning the railway into a trail system, but so far, those discussions have gone nowhere as railroad owner Norfolk Southern has not abandoned the line.

SAVEOUR Progress 18

Protecting Polk’s mountains 1,200 strong. By Leah Justice


Polk County resident Lisa Krolak said she remembers it like it was yesterday. It was the spring 2007 and she was driving to work along U.S. 74 and looked up and saw the trees on the mountain being cut down. She is talking about Chocolate Drop Mountain, in Columbus, when development for a subdivision first occurred. “My heart sank,” Krolak said. “I watched for the next few days as grading equipment made its way up and down the mountain. I was amazed the bulldozer did not topple over backward because it was so steep. All I could think about was how could this happen and what could I do to keep this from happening in other parts of the county.” And Save Our Slopes (SOS) was born. A group of concerned residents began meeting and in May 2007 Save Our Slopes was officially formed. Krolak said the organization’s purpose was simply to advocate for the citizens who want to keep Polk pristine. The group began sponsoring booths at local festivals and the very first one during the Fabulous Fourth of July festival in Columbus drew 650 “frustrated and some very angry citizens,” who joined, Krolak said. The group continued to sign up several hundred people at every local festival, including the Green Creek Heritage Festival and the Columbus Farm Day festival. Bumper stickers were handed out, SOS T-shirts were sold and the group began talking about environmental issues within the county. Since then, SOS has been involved and helped steer the county on environmental issues and supported

ordinances to help protect the ridgelines and water sources. Krolak said the early days of the organization were filled with learning about the ordinances at both town and county levels. Once SOS discovered Chocolate Drop had been annexed into the Town of Columbus, SOS began researching plans for another development in the town, Foster Creek Preserve. “The name fooled us,” said Krolak. “It was not a nature preserve, but 1,000 acres on Houston Road that spans White Oak and Little White Oak that was voluntarily annexed by the Town of Columbus at the request of the developer.” SOS began working with the town, which enacted a nine-month moratorium on development to allow the town’s planning board and planner to develop ordinances such as for sedimentation and erosion control, facilities and dark sky, and to enhance the town’s subdivision ordinance. After Polk County had experienced a few years of hard drought, SOS followed and supported Polk commissioners enacting a 7-acre minimum for major subdivisions. SOS also followed and supported the county’s development of a local sedimenta-

Lisa Krolak (right) speaks to residents about the Save Our Slopes group. Photo submitted.

tion control ordinance, which was approved but has not yet been enacted because of the economy and costs to enforce it locally. SOS has also worked closely with the county during processes such as enacting a mountain and ridgeline protection ordinance. “All the while, SOS members were attending the various county and Columbus town meetings and planning board meetings to support the various endeavors,” Krolak said. “The SOS members have been very passionate about the purpose and have put in many long hours studying, learning, attending meetings and educating the public at the festival booths.” Krolak credits one of the original SOS members, the late Eric Gass,

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Seeing Chocolate Drop Mountain (above) being cleared for a subdivision was one of hometown hero Lisa Krolak’s reasons to start Save Our Slopes. Image source: www.

who lived at the bottom of Chocolate Drop Mountain. “Eric was always there supporting (SOS) with a willing heart and thoughtful comments,” Krolak said. “He passed away just a few short months ago. His strong and passionate, yet even keel approach to advocacy will be a part of the SOS legacy and he is dearly missed.” Other local efforts that have been supported by SOS include Polk County’s creating a Vision Committee to create a comprehensive land use plan, which has been adopted. From the Vision 20/20 land use plan, the county created a Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) Committee. Some SOS members are members, with other SOS members attending UDO meetings to keep up to date on the issues. SOS members have also become members of the county planning board. The next quest for SOS is to tackle problems with kudzu in Polk County. Within the past few years, SOS has become active in trying to eradicate kudzu with other local groups

such as the Pacolet Area Conservancy (PAC), the Saluda Community Land Trust and Gillette Woods Homeowners’ Association. “Kudzu kills trees that support forests and mountains,” Krolak said. “SOS has undertaken the kudzu project at the Polk County Library. It will be a maintenance project for a number of years until it is eventually under control and even then, it will have to be monitored.” Krolak said the future of SOS would be to continue to work with Polk County residents and to be an advocate of mountain and environmental issues. “Through smart growth and development, we can keep Polk County green and beautiful and a cherished place we call home,” Krolak said. For more information and to become a member of SOS, call Krolak at 828279-9643 or email

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Artist haven for more than 100 years Cultural heritage still thriving today. By Barbara Tilly

Top left: Ben Seymour plays a tune on one of the many dulcimers he’s constructed in his backyard workshop. Photo by Samantha Hurst. Top right: The Toy House was built by Eleanor Vance and Charlotte Yale on Howard Street in Tryon to serve as the home of their well-known crafts production business, Tryon Toy-Makers and Wood-Carvers. The building is now the Tryon Toy-Makers House Museum. Photo by Barbara Tilly. Bottom left: Art Trek Tryon participants from the 2011 event. Photo submitted. Bottom right: Jay Lichty of Tryon building one of his custom guitars. Photo submitted.

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Top left: Photo of the New Year’s Eve ball drop by Elaine Pearsons. Top right: The Upstairs Artspace held a preview party Friday, July 29 for an exhibit featuring work by local artists who participated in Art Trek Tryon. The free studio tour was held July 29-30 and included painting, sculpture, photography, pottery, metalwork, fiber art, furniture, woodturning and carving and mixed media. Photo submitted by Wyndy Morehead. Bottom left: Artwork by Keith Spencer. Photo submitted.

When Columbus artist Elaine Pearsons photographed the 2010 Art Trek Tryon studio tour, an annual event during which dozens of area artists open their studios to visitors, she said she was amazed by how many wonderful artists there are in Polk County. “There’s an art vortex here,” Pearsons said. “I was floored by the quality, creativity, beauty and finesse of the work.” Tryon and the surrounding areas have a long history of attracting and supporting the arts, especially visual artists, who had begun congregating in the region as early as the 1890s. “For 50 years before World War II, Tryon was North Carolina’s most vital community of visual artists,” said art historian Michael J. McCue in his book “Tryon Artists 1892-1942.” Emma Payne Erskine (1854-1924), who was an artist as well as the daughter of a famous artist in Chicago, was instrumental in promoting Tryon as an artistic community. According to McCue in a lecture he gave at Tryon’s Skyuka Fine Art gallery in 2011, Erskine sold her artwork to help benefit the building of the Lanier Library in Tryon, which soon became a venue for showing artwork as well as a library. Other early artists making their homes in Tryon or coming for extended visits included Lois Wilcox, whose father ran the Mimosa Inn in Lynn; Amelia Watson, whose patron was actor William Gillette; Lawrence Mazzanovich and George C. Aid, who was best known for his portraits in French chalk. In the 1930s, McCue said in “Tryon Artists,” Tryon was somewhat insulated from the Great Depression by the continuing influx of well-to-do people. Its art scene was also separated from its surroundings, being more tied to northern cities such as Chicago, Detroit and New York. It was also an unusually liberal culture for women for the era, McCue said - nearly half the artists participating in the community were women.

For 50 years before World War II, Tryon was North Carolina’s most vital community of visual artists. – Michael McCue

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The number of galleries, especially in Tryon and Saluda, is a testament to the vitality of Polk County’s art community.

Fiber artist Martine House works on a piece in her studio at her home in Columbus. Photo by Barbara Tilly.

During that time, Eleanor Vance and Charlotte Yale built the Toy House in Tryon, where they developed the well-known Tryon Toy-Makers and Wood-Carvers. Eleanor Roosevelt, who was known for her lifelong support of handicrafts and who endorsed crafts production as a means of economic relief during the Depression, reportedly visited the Toy House at least twice. The Toy House, located on Howard Street in downtown Tryon, is now the Tryon Toy-Makers House Museum. Photographer Margaret Morley, painter Homer Ellertson, sculptor Harold Perry Erskine and painter Laurence Doubleday were a few of the other notable artists who came to the Tryon area in the early decades of the 20th century. Doubleday was also an architect and built “Roirama,” his family home, in the Gillette Woods area of Tryon. The area’s tradition of drawing artists here from elsewhere still continues today. Pearsons, for example, grew up in Cape Cod, Mass. A photographer since childhood, she lived in Boston and Los Angeles before coming to Polk County, where she developed her trademark photo-altering and enhancing techniques, which she calls “point-o-graphy.” Fiber artist Martine House has roots even farther away. A native of France, House met her husband, John House, in Germany, where he was stationed with the U.S. Air Force. The two moved to Polk County in 1993. Here, her work, which began with quilting, soon developed into finely detailed and embellished three-dimensional fiber art.

Martine House holds one of her smaller embellished fiber paintings. Photo by Barbara Tilly.

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An old photo of Roirama, the home Laurence Doubleday built for his family in Tryon. Photo submitted.

On the Diagonal. Photo by Elaine Pearsons.

One of the benefits of living in this area for House is her membership in the Southern Highland Craft Guild. Among other things, having been accepted into the guild allows her to show and sell her art at the popular Folk Art Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway. House’s work is currently featured at the center’s Focus Gallery. The number of galleries, especially in Tryon and Saluda, is a testament to the vitality of Polk County’s art community, as is the number of studios scattered throughout the region. Some are easily found, while others are tucked away in hidden corners. “I got a completely new back-roads tour of Saluda trying to find Dale McEntire’s studio,” Pearsons said. “Artists are everywhere here.”

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the dark corner

Dark Corner residents say area’s heritage rich, not seedy. By Samantha Hurst

Progress 26 Bootleggers of The Dark Corner. Below: The front of the Morrow home after its renovation. Photos submitted by Dean Campbell.

Above: Volunteers clean up Howard Cematary. Right: More remnants of an old distillery site.

Just as a thick, soupy fog can mask the intricate beauties of the foothills on a darkened winter morning, many Dark Corner residents believe seedy tales of the area have shrouded its past, preventing the good of its people from peeking through. “For a long, long time it [the Dark Corner] was a very elusive place. Most people, even if they lived in the middle of it, would tell you it was ‘just a little further down the road,’” said Dean Campbell, a native of the area known to many as the “Squire of the Dark Corner.” The Dark Corner is an area that starts in Spartanburg County, S.C. and reaches into the extreme northeastern part of Greenville County, S.C. Glassy Mountain stands as the nucleus of what is considered the true Dark Corner and Campbell says he believes the area’s settlers stopped to settle beneath Hogback Mountain because of its distinct characteristics and the feeling it gave them of home. The main settlers were Scots-Irish people who immigrated here by way of Charleston, while those with roots in the borderline of England moved here from Pennsylvania. People have long considered the area the Dark Corner because of its moonshining history, and at one time Cliffs Valley was covered in distillery sites, but there are other reasons for the moniker. Some say it had to do with the burgeoning forests and how the thick foliage let little to no sunlight in beneath. Campbell said the Dark Corner really got its name, however,

For a long, long time it [the Dark Corner] was a very elusive place. – Dean Campbell

from nullificationists. After the Civil War a political rally was held at old muster grounds off Dill Rd. At some point in the talk someone said the people here were “in the dark” because they voted against the nullification of the state. Campbell says the area’s history is about more than the strongwilled immigrants or lawlessness. Sure, residents often carried guns with them, much as people think of the Wild West. Yes, there were family feuds and a killing outside a church. Moonshine stills filled the darkest of corners just as stories portray. But is this all there is to tell of the Dark Corner? Descendants of those who first settled the area, and those who live there now, think not. “Yes, we were some of the worst aspects of Appalachian lore, but while that was going on so many good things were taking place as well,” Campbell said. Many of the area’s settlers and natives worked hard to ensure its residents were not in the dark but well-educated and people of high moral character.

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Left: A local resident’s dog finds his way to a grouping of former distillery sites. (photo submitted) Above: The Gowensville Community Center once served as a school for the community. Photo submitted by Dean Campbell.

The people who have lived here all of their lives are very willing to share stories ... It is such a historically rich area and I just think it’s a gem of a place to live. – Ellen Henderson

In 1858, Rev. Thomas J. Earle opened Gowensville Seminary. The school brought in students who often boarded with Earle or other local families as they attended courses in reading, English, Latin, mathematics or geography. The aim was for these students to go on to major universities and earn bachelor of arts or science degrees in two years (much like a community college today). The seminary also kept an emphasis on the Bible as the students’ guiding force. Rev. Earle was called to serve as pastor at Gowensville Baptist in 1856. He remained there until his death in 1889, but along the way he pastored a handful of other churches. Also emphasizing Christian moral values along with educational training was Willard Industrial School, or “Mrs. Shankle’s.” On 100 acres, male students were taught about agriculture in order to help carry on or improve family farms and bring in money from products like cotton. Many of the local students, unable to afford shoes or clothing, were often helped with these necessities as well as receiving free textbooks from which to learn. It was important for these students to learn a variety of skills to help them and their families through challenging times, Campbell said. Teaching the students about the land only added to what Campbell thinks is one of the highest attributes of people in the area. “There is an ingrained connection between the people and the land,” Campbell said. “There is a real connection between the creator and the land; we never feel like we own it.” In 1872, while the railroad was creating the towns of Landrum, Saluda and Tryon, it by-passed Gowensville, once a bustling town, and headed on to Campobello. This yet again cut off potential work for many of those living in the Dark Corner. Franklin Good, 77, lived his whole life in the Dark Corner except for three years in school and a stint in the military. He came back home and worked as an insurance agent for years, but that was later into the 20th century when things had begun to pick back up economically. He said back in the early parts of the 20th century, there wasn’t much else for people to do in the Dark Corner but run alcohol. He said many tried farming, but often a bad crop would destroy all a family had, and working in the textile mills meant traveling all the way to Spartanburg. “The bootleggers were good people and they were good neigh-

bors,” Good said. “They were good as some of the regular church people … they got a badrap, though.” Campbell agrees that many of the men who made moonshine did so to take care of their families and they had “a firm conviction that they had a God-given right to this ‘water of life,’” Campbell said. Good remembers the heart of the people who he grew up knowing – many of them bootleggers. He said during the flu epidemic in 1917 and 1918 everyone in the community banded together. “If somebody got sick the people in Dark Corner would go in and take care of one another,” Good said. “They weren’t really that bad … they were good people. In a bind they would help you out.” Even to “newcomers” this sentiment continues to ring true. Ellen Henderson and her husband, Tom, moved to Gowensville 14 years ago. They had visited a number of times to see a family member whose daughter rode horses and whose husband foxhunted. Before they knew it the Hendersons purchased 15 acres, bought a historic home, moved it to their new property and restored it. “I loved the mountains – just seeing the mountains made my spirit rise,” Ellen Henderson said. “And the people that we met have been very warm and accepting. It just feels like home.” Henderson remarked that she and her husband love attending Gowensville Baptist Church, where three generations of a family worship next to retirees who have moved there or families that have moved to Glassy. “The people are very independent in the same way their Scotch-Irish ancestors were, but I think they are also very generous,” Ellen Henderson said. “If you treat people with respect they will treat you with respect.“ So-called newcomers like the Hendersons and natives like Campbell and Good are just glad the history is still alive to tell. Campbell said Dr. Landrum’s collection of historical facts from 1877 kept the area’s history alive because he was still able to converse with those people who lived it. Now newcomers to the area can learn from the rich stories he preserved and that natives continue to tell. “The people who have lived here all of their lives are very willing to share stories – stories from people who attended school in the community center and about the various family connections,” Ellen Henderson said. “It is such a historically rich area and I just think it’s a gem of a place to live.”

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places to heal The Foothills serve as a serene place to deal with life’s struggles. By Samantha Hurst


I just saw and felt an image of what it looked like and where I was supposed to come, and this was it.” - Jackie Woods

Meditation courses are just one example of the many diverse activities going on at the intentional living community of Adawehi each day. But meditation is what led founder Jackie Woods to build the community on 126 acres just off Highway 108 here in Polk County. “I just saw and felt an image of what it looked like and where I was supposed to come,” Woods said, “and this was it.” Woods said Adawehi is a Cherokee name for the spirit of healing, and while the organization is not Native American-based, the land has Cherokee origins. Woods moved here 14 years ago from Atlanta. She said settling in wasn’t easy because a lot of people were unsure of the organization’s goals. She said at one time many people in Atlanta were weary of healing workshops and intentional communities as well; that is, until they began delving more into what a place like Adawehi was really about. “Our mission here at Adawehi is to raise the consciousness of the planet by supporting personal growth students in discovering who they are as heart beings. As individuals discover and uncover their true essence, their light goes out to touch others,” says the Adawehi website. Terri Morrin moved to Adawehi around 2003. She first heard of Woods while living in Greenville, S.C. through a close friend who had worked with Woods to heal some personal wounds. Morrin found herself struggling through her own life issues several years later and her friend suggested she give Woods a call. A successful businesswoman and self-described “logical person,” Morrin was skeptical, but willing. “You know when your life feels like it has hit rock bottom - I was will-

ing to do anything to change things,” Morrin said. So, Morrin drove to Atlanta to meet Woods and talk through the issues in her life. At that time Woods was only giving private sessions but over time she realized people needed more group support and began offering larger workshops. Those larger workshops translated into a desire for a community focused on healing. “We’re all previous dabblers in self healing – going to workshops and reading books is good, but the support of other people searching and seeking and healing each other is so much better,” Morrin said. Morrin said she asked herself before moving to Adawehi if she was really ready to completely alter her life, but she said she felt it was the logical next step. The community, Woods said, promotes health in a holistic nature by focusing on body, mind, emotions and spirit. Workshops are held at Adawehi every four months on these very topics. Woods said workshop sessions about the mind remind attendees that their brains have been programmed by society to have an image of how their lives should look, but that they can create their own images for their life. When it comes to emotions, Woods teaches people to see that having feelings isn’t a bad thing. What matters, she said, is what people do with those emotions and how they let them affect their lives. Healing the physical nature of one’s self is also important, Woods said, but Adawehi teaches that preventive means are better than reactive means of healing the body.

And everyone finds different paths within the communal living system to heal all four of those aspects. On site there are medical treatments such as chiropractic therapy, massage, colon therapy and a nutritionist. Most residents help in the garden or buy groceries at Beneficial Foods. There are meditation classes, craft and art classes, martial arts and book clubs. Residents also don’t have to participate in those things that don’t interest them, Morrin said. She participates in yoga and purchases most of her groceries at Beneficial Foods, but she doesn’t necessarily jump in on drum circles. She said that is one thing that makes the community so special – it is not one size fits all. “But it fit me – it was a fresh start and a chance to live with people who had the same true and committed focus on healing,” Morrin said. Morrin said the community wasn’t, however, completely what she expected – in fact it’s more real and honest than she imagined. “Healing doesn’t always feel good. You have to look at stuff you don’t always want to look at,” Morrin said. “I was really good at presenting myself as, ‘I’ve got it together and I’m happy and I’m successful.’ But here at Adawehi you don’t get away with that.” Other community members don’t allow you to get away with not being honest about what you are living with each day, Morrin said. But now that she lives there she says, “I couldn’t imagine living in a regular neighborhood.” She said at Adawehi - at home - she gets to reconnect, to refuel. In the end, the goal as a community is not to simply focus on the health of the individual, but on the health of the group as a whole, Woods said. Community members are encouraged to have fun, to engage in healthy conversation and to build friendships and camaraderie. “These people wanted to be a part of a community that was all about health,” Woods said. “People came because they liked the idea of being with people who strive to live healthy and think healthy.” Apparently others have caught on, because every year since its inception Adawehi has grown with the construction of a new facility – be it a new home, the Beneficial Foods store or new administrative offices. “I think more and more people are looking for different ways to live,” Morrin said. “They don’t know what they are looking for but they are looking.”


A young woman in her late 20s strolls along a wooded path, while a man in his early 50s guides himself along a labyrinth; both reflect on the day. These two people are on similar journeys – journeys to heal the broken parts of them and follow a new path toward dreams they have for their lives. They both had to make pit stops at CooperRiis Healing Community along the way to those dreams. A spectrum of people find their way to the healing farm of CooperRiis, situated on the rolling hills of 94 acres in Mill Spring. Residents at the farm range from 18-67 in age. They come to the farm to heal from addictions, to heal from emotional pain, to heal from

Top: Residents and visitors to Adawehi spend time dancing the night away during a social evening. Above: Cindy Walker and her grandson watch as a harpist performs for residents and visitors. Left page: Adults and youth prepare seed starters to get ready for the community’s yearly garden. Photos by Rachel Wyatt.

lifetimes of struggle. “People come here totally disconnected from themselves,” said Outreach and Admissions Coordinator Stephanie McMahon. “But being here enables them to feel safe enough to do the hard work.” The CooperRiis’ Mill Spring campus has space for 36 residents, with about 20 staff members. Walking on campus, however, you wouldn’t know the difference between staff and resident because CooperRiis aims to single out no one. McMahon said residents who come for help at CooperRiis often fall under one of three categories: one group of people is usually lower functioning and present with a dual diagnosis, often with more cognitive issues; the second group often lives with an illness such as bipolar dis

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“People come here totally disconnected from themselves. But being here enables them to feel safe enough to do the hard work.” – Stephanie McMahon

CooperRiis offers three lodges for residents and staff to live in on campus. Photo submitted. Below: The animal crew at the farm tapped this lambs legs every day to prevent them from being deformed. Photos submitted.

order; and the third group is dealing with depression or anxiety. This last group typically stays four to five months. The other two groups might often need longer stays to deal with deeper-rooted problems, McMahon said. But no one person’s struggles are the same, she pointed out. “A lot of our patients have not been able to sustain jobs or continue going to school, so part of the work we do here is to help them get back into that routine – getting out of bed in the morning, staying engaged,” McMahon said. “Just eating lunch in the dining hall can be a big step for some of our residents.” The staff and volunteers at CooperRiis work to create a sense of home so residents feel safe during their stay. Each resident lives in his or her own private room, but the rooms are connected to centralized common areas such as living rooms and decks. The lodges also accommodate a workout room and a library. The residents are regularly surrounded by examples of family. Many of the staff members who live on site do so with their spouses and children. This creates a sense of normalization for residents, administrators say. Each resident follows a similar plan for their day – they rise for breakfast and gather for a morning meeting. Many participate in a morning session of yoga or a game of basketball, then they head off in various directions to take part in life skills projects. Residents are asked to devote 20 hours a week to life skills, which they work on with campus crewmembers. Regardless of how broken a per-

son feels, McMahon said, the staff works to help them find ways they can contribute around the farm. Doing so takes up much of their time day to day along with appointments with psychiatrists or other staff members. “We try to make the work they do here purposeful work so that what they do they do with their hands – things like this can be very therapeutic,” McMahon said. This means heading to the garden midday to help pluck weeds from the garden or spread new seeds. It can also mean working in the woodshop to construct new coops for the chickens or building fencing. Other residents still spend parts of their day learning to help prepare food in the campus’ professional kitchen. Amidst these tasks, residents meet in group therapy sessions, individ-

ually with psychiatrists and psychologists or with other professionals as needed. Therapy is also often carried out in targeted therapy groups so that people with similar experiences learn from one another about how to manage their mental illness. But overall, a mental illness diagnosis is not what CooperRiis focuses on. Instead, all residents are asked about their dreams instead of their diagnoses. Staff members work to find out foremost what a person wants for himself or herself, so that they can help those people on the right path to those life goals. Forty percent of CooperRiis patients go into a community program after their initial time at CooperRiis, McMahon said. These community programs involve the residents living with two or three other residents who have graduated from the main program, and at least one staff member. Some of these individuals eventually graduate further into a portion of the community program where they live on their own or with other residents but with no staff supervision. During the entire community program the residents do have access and appointments with their regular doctors and therapists at CooperRiis. A separate 60 percent of residents return to their hometowns, to their jobs or to school.


CooperRiis offers respite for those who hit bumps along the way to recovery; some come back to the farm for a weekend or a few weeks as they face whatever challenges became too much for them. The goal is for the residents who leave to be able to meet the challenges they will face when they return to their former lives. CooperRiis is modeled after the therapeutic communities of Gould Farm and Spring Lake Ranch, in practice since 1913 and 1933, respectively. Founders Lisbeth (Riis) and Don Cooper, after a long struggle to help one of their own family members, decided there had to be a better option for families to help loved ones find recovery than through the typical mental health system. So, in 2000 the couple formed a not-for-profit and began construction the next year. Residents now come to CooperRiis through referrals from 38 states and four countries. Most residents are referred to CooperRiis by hospitals or doctors and 50 percent of them receive scholarships to help cover the cost of their stay. According to the CooperRiis website, “The Cooper’s passion to seek better solutions for families facing similar challenges is ongoing and their dream is to see at least one CooperRiis in every state of the nation.”

The natural beauty of Polk County and the Upstate provide a unique venue for people seeking recovery from addictions. For many of the clients who seek treatment for drug and alcohol addiction, a change of pace is exactly what’s needed, and that’s one of many reasons people find their way to Pavillon Treatment Center, tucked into the rural hills of the Sunny View. “Sometimes we all need a quiet place to work through tough moments in our lives,” said Barbara Schlosser, Pavillon’s marketing coordinator. “What we try to provide at Pavillon is a place for people to get the very best treatment possible in a setting that is calming and conducive to recovery.” Clients are assisted in their recovery from addiction by teams of medical professionals including a medical director, physicians, addiction psychiatrist, psychologist, certified substance abuse counselors, mental health counselors, nurses, a health and wellness counselor, a spiriA bench beside the pond at Pavillon in Sunny View allows residents a quiet moment to reflect. Page 29: A tual counselor and continuing care managers. beautiful old tree on the campus of Pavillon Treatment Center offers a spot for people to gather and talk or sit quietly alone as they work through struggles in their lives. Photo submitted. And while many programs may last just a month, Schlosser said Pavillon’s primary residential program runs its course over a minimum of six weeks. All of Paviltivity is highly beneficial to many people with addictions because lon’s inpatient drug and alcohol treatment programs range from it makes them feel better physically from the inside out but can six weeks to more than 90 days when needed. also elevate and improve their mental state. During the program, patients are treated for other conditions, They are also encouraged to gather in several campus common such as depression, bipolar disorder or post-traumatic stress, as areas to strum on guitars or talk about books they’ve read. In mulwell as issues such as insomnia. tiple campus spots, in fact, patients can gather to discuss life in Also during the minimum 90 days individuals are encouraged to general. take deep looks at their lives as a means of finding ways to recover “There is treatment and then there is Pavillon. I will be forever from a variety of directions – emphasizing mind, body and spirit. grateful to my counselors and therapists for helping me get my life Patients are encouraged to take advantage of on-site hiking trails, back, not the life I had, but the one I was meant to live,” former volleyball courts, yoga, massage and meditation classes. When patient Sara said on the facility’s website. patients come to Pavillon the wellness coordinator works with Another program at Pavillon focuses on professionals overthem to create a fitness plan for them. Schlosser said physical acwhelmed by the demands of balancing high-profile careers and

The rear view of one of Pavillon’s main buildings shows off its beauty in the spring. (photo submitted)

There is treatment and then there is Pavillon. – Former Pavillion patient Sara

personal lives. Schlosser said addictions don’t discriminate based on age, sex or economic status. She said patients at Pavillon have been successful surgeons, pilots and CEOs or even stay-at-home moms. In relation to families, Schlosser said bringing children and other family members in to talk about his or her loved ones’ illness only further supports the patient’s recovery. “Recovery works best when all members of the family are involved,” Schlosser said. “So, we work to find ways to keep these families connected. Many times the family members need to talk through pain that has affected their lives from their loved one’s addiction as well.” Pavillon even provides a free, public children’s program for children of parents with addictions. The program works with kids ages 6 to 14 to talk about their parents’ or loved ones’ disease in an environment that feels safe. Children’s coordinator Rachael Haynes-Wood said the children groups talk a lot about the Men’s extended care house. Here patients can live for longer stays at Pavillon as they seek treatment and seven Cs: I didn’t Cause it, I can’t Cure it, recovery. Photo submitted. I can’t Control it, I can take better Care of myself by Communicating my feelings, making healthy Choices and Celebrating myself. try. Several times a year the staff also hosts alumni meetings Schlosser said the family program helps family members unwhere some alumni return to the campus to discuss how their derstand the changes that will have to occur in a person’s life lives have progressed since they left and how they are living a once they return to their homes and jobs. It also provides a new life in recovery. support system once that transition is made, Schlosser said. While patients come to Pavillon from all over the country it is But Pavillon makes a point of not sending clients back home particularly convenient for those not wanting to be too far from without a connection to the center. Through a strong alumni home as many come referred by doctors from places all around support network, staff members at Pavillon stay connected the southeast. through phone calls and emails with clients around the coun-

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The mighty

green river

World-class whitewater hidden in Green River Gorge. By Barbara Tilly

A paddler is nearly hidden by the spray as he navigates a rapid on the Green River. Photo by Kim O’Leary.

Drivers on I-26 near Saluda cross a bridge over the Green River Gorge. All that can be seen from the bridge is treetops dropping off rapidly on both sides leading to a steep, thickly wooded valley far below. Most travelers, and even many area residents, don’t know that the river in the depths of that valley offers a whitewater experience that draws paddlers from all over the world. Once a year, on the first Saturday in November, hundreds of kayakers and many more hundreds of spectators hike through the gorge to the river for the Green River Narrows Race, one of the most respected and

competitive creek races in the world. The November 2011 race drew more than 120 competitors, doing more than 140 race runs down the race course section of the river, which drops approximately 250 feet over six-tenths of a mile. This section is strictly for expert paddlers, including non-stop rapids rated class V+, the highest level defined by the International Scale of River Difficulty. For most competitors, the race is more about having a clean run and improving their time than it is about winning. The top racers, includ

“I’m going to be in better shape before I do this again. But it was a great day.”

Top: Some of the approximately 1,000 spectators at the 2011 Green River Narrows Race watch for the next racer to navigate the notorious Gorilla rapid. Paddlers who complete a good run through Gorilla are said to have “spanked the Monkey.” Photo by Barbara Tilly. Bottom: A competitor takes a chute on the Green River during the 2011 Narrows race. Photo by Randy Tilly.

ing the top three in the 2011 Long Boat K1 Class, run the course in less than 4 minutes and 30 seconds (see the table of 2011 results), but times for most competitors are more than 5 minutes, up to about 14 minutes for the OC1 class. Even for spectators, the Green River Narrows Race can be daunting. The challenge begins with finding a parking spot. Only a few trails lead into the Narrows area, and in 2011 there was an estimated crowd of 1,000 spectators, which makes for a large number of cars crowding into a small area. Obviously, it’s important to arrive early hours before the noon start for the race. A hiker in good condition moving at a fast clip can make the hike to the river in about half an hour, but that’s not generally possible on race day because of the hundreds of people trying make the same climb. In addition, parts of the trail are so steep that ropes are provided so hikers can lower themselves down or pull themselves up the incline, which slows progress considerably. It’s best to allow at least an hour for the hike in either direction. Down at the river, the hike becomes a rock-climbing exercise as spectators navigate the large boulders and steep slopes to find a good vantage point to watch the action on the river. Many people congregate near Gorilla, one of the best-known rapids on the course, but there are other good spots all along the river. Even before the race begins, the views are dramatic: mists rising from churning waters thundering over huge rocks and through tight chutes, the golds, greens and rich browns of late fall coloring the steep hills and the bright colors of the kayaks as paddlers take prerace runs. Many paddlers come on race day to try the river themselves and then stay to watch the racers. Jack Schmidt, from Columbus, Ohio, and Radley Miller from Morgantown, W.V. were two of the “fun runners” in 2011. Schmidt said it was his first time down the Green River. “I skipped Go Left and Gorilla,” he said. “This was a big step up for me, but it was fun.” Miller was somewhat more experienced on the Green. “It was my fifth time down the river,” he said. At noon, the horns begin blowing up and down the river as the actual race begins. Racers start from the river right side of the long pool below the rapid known as Bride of Frankenstein and finish about five minutes and a half mile later on the river left side of the pool below Rapid Transit. The racers take off in one-minute intervals, starting with long boats (the “open” division) and then moving on to short boats under 9 feet. The action is breathtaking. Spectators watch tensely as paddlers guide their kayaks in split-second maneuvers around rocks, through narrow chutes and over waterfalls, cheering as each racer completes a rapid. The slightest mistake or hesitation can be disastrous and frequently is.

In 2011, at the rapid called Go Left and Die, one racer ended up in the left channel of the river, which forces the kayak into a large tree lying across the river. Without a second’s delay, the paddler climbed out of the kayak onto the tree to avoid being swept under the tree. Spectators along the banks, many of whom carry ropes and wear pfds, quickly helped the racer to the shore and caught the kayak before it disappeared downstream. They tied ropes to the kayak and, with help from five or six more spectators, fought the current and eventually succeeded in pulling the kayak up on the rocks. Although that racer wasn’t hurt, others often are. Gorilla is one of the most dangerous rapids. Racers going over Gorilla often flip, and several rescuers stand in the water, tied by lines to the shore, ready to help them flip back over if necessary. Toward the end of the race in 2011, one competitor ended up going down Gorilla backwards and was injured. Farther downriver, rescuers pulled him from the river, wrapped him in a heat blanket, and placed him on an open boat for support. A group of rescuers then hiked, carrying the boat, up from the gorge nearly to the road, the closest location where an EMS vehicle could reach. At the end of the day, the crowd slowly struggled back up the steep trail out of the gorge, grabbing tree roots, limbs and ropes to help them up the steepest section. One hiker, a middle-aged man who came with his young son, smiled ruefully as he rested beside the trail. “I’m going to be in better shape before I do this again,” he said. “But it was a great day.”

2011 Green River Narrows race results Women Long boat 1. AdrieneLevknecht - 04:57 2. Laura Farrell - 05:44 3. Katie Dean - 0:06:29 Short boat 1. Adriene Levknecht - 05:19 2. Kat Levitt - 06:23 Men Long boat C1 class 1. Jay Ditty - 05:19 2. Bradley McMillan - 05:34 3. Dane Jackson - 05:41

Short boat C1 class 1. Jordan Poffenberger - 05:44 OC1 1. Eli Helbert - 10:01 2. EricDeguil - 14:34 Short boat K1 class 1. Eric Deguil - 04:47 2. Isaac Levinson - 04:55 3. Pat Keller - 04:58 Long boat K1 class 1. Isaac Levinson - 04:22 2. Andrew Holcombe - 04:26 3. Eric Deguil - 04:34

Jack Schmidt, from Columbus, Ohio, and Radley Miller from Morgantown, W.V. were two of the “fun runners” in 2011. Photo by Kim O’Leary.

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the hitchhiker

Dan Dworkin hitches a ride back to the place that taught him the most about life. By Samantha Hurst

“Fiji was like Mars, especially for a city boy. What it did was show me another way of living that was all about cooperation, not competition.” Dan Dworkin and Peni, the lead carpenter of the Habitat Global Village building project in Fiji. Dworkin traveled back to Fiji 42 years after he first traveled there with the Peace Corps. Photo submitted.

Dan Dworkin considers himself a hitchhiker in life. Though he’s stayed put in our area for quite some time – 10 years – in the past he often followed the current of life instead of imposing his own course. “My dad, fresh back from the Seabees in WWII, picked up hitchhikers in uniform all the time when I was a kid, and I thought it was the best thing in the world,” Dworkin said. Dworkin grew up in Quincy, Mass. When he attended college at the University of Texas and pursued a degree in history, he had no clue what he’d do with his education. Fate, however, seemed to have it planned for him. In the late ‘60s, while pursuing a master’s degree in history at UNC Chapel Hill, Dworkin watched as his peers found themselves drafted into the jungle that was the Vietnam War. Dworkin, meanwhile, volunteered for a different jungle - service as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Fiji Islands. Dworkin spent three months in training and two years in Fiji teaching; he says the islands fundamentally changed him. “It opened me up to new possibilities in life more than any other experience,” he said. “Fiji was like Mars, especially for a city boy. What it did was show me another way of living that was all about cooperation, not competition.” He was in the first group of Peace Corps volunteers to enter Fiji and the jungle provided challenges beyond expectation. It rains about 240” a year in Fiji; many places, including Dworkin’s village, were accessible only by boat, horse or on foot. Dworkin savored life in those far-reaching areas of Fiji, going home with his students to their villages on the weekend. There Dworkin would help them plant tapioca and taro, gather wild yams and spear fish in the river.

When Dworkin’s time in Fiji came to an end, he returned to Massachusetts and a $5,000-a-year job in a residential school for learning disabled children. After two years, he moved to Maine and homesteaded, drawn to a simple lifestyle similar to the one he had loved in Fiji. He helped create a learning disabilities program in a local public school. Yet, Dworkin still craved working with his hands. Life led him to carpentry under the tutelage of a neighbor he called “a sincere Christian who lived his beliefs.” He learned how to repair roofs, lay foundations and retrofit houses and barns. In January, 1978, following a divorce, the winds moved the hitchhiker in Dworkin to hit the road again on his way to Alaska, but a blizzard redirected him southward toward Miami. From there he taught school in Virginia Beach, where he met his wife of 32 years, Mary Ellen Rogerson. Dworkin has allowed life to carry him into work on scallop boats, on tugboats as a cook/deckhand and on high-rise construction, all adding variety to his life experiences. After retiring from teaching in 2000, Dworkin took to the road as a truck driver, which he said, was both exciting and challenging. “Long-haul truck driving turned out to be a lot like hitchhiking; you never knew when or where you were going to go,” Dworkin said. Dworkin and Rogerson moved here a decade ago to be closer to Rogerson’s family and to take advantage of the richness of life they found among the people inhabiting the foothills of the Carolinas. “While in Fiji I found I liked living an essential life, close to the earth where you cooperate with your neighbor,” Dworkin said. “I think it’s partly why I am here - the philanthropy, the people willing to help one

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Above: Dworkin, right, with the bus driver who took the Peace Corp alumni around the island. (photo submitted) Right: Dworkin, far right, and fellow Peace Corps alumnus Lew Jones, who served in Fiji with Dworkin in the late 60s. Photo submitted.

another; the spirit of cooperation is palpable in this area.” He said in many ways living here reminds him of life in Fiji in the way that people bond together for common causes. Dworkin traveled back to Fiji last year to build a Habitat house and to revisit, after 42 years, the village that had so changed his worldview. He said that while some things had definitely changed, the way of life in Fiji and the Fijians’ ability to embrace life as it unfolds had not changed. “I didn’t go to Fiji for my comfort,” Dworkin said in an email to the leader of the Fiji Habitat project. “All the challenges were an integral part of the experience; they made it what it was. They provided me many excellent opportunities to exercise my ideal of acceptance of life’s twists and turns.”

Business Directory


polk’s kids think green By Gwen Ring

A sustainable future isn’t a new concern. Where we lead to and what we leave behind is a consistent thought in our community. Each generation that comes about has the same question: is what they’re doing now to create a better environment going to be carried on by those succeeding them? The Green Team at Polk County High School (PCHS) is working hard to carry this question forward, as it’s more of a question with a movement rather than an answer. PCHS’ Green Team was started in 2007 with a group of four students whose goal is to educate the school population and community about one’s imprint on the environment. Today’s team is doing just that. Between the number of initiatives taken, and just around 25 – 30 members doing so, one would think this was each student’s full time job. Team members Ben Stockdale, Matthew Walker and Samantha Metcalf described just a few of the projects taking place this year. The team has started the low flow toilet project this year. It introduces the installation of Sloan Dual-Flush Flushometers throughout PCHS. The Flushometers are handles that can retrofit current toilet handles. They are designed to have a choice flush, downward flush for solid waste and upward flush for liquid waste. The upward flush would reduce a standard 1.6 gallons per flush (gpf ) to 1.1 gpf. The handles would decrease the school’s water usage by 30 percent, reducing the water and sewage bill as well. The students are able to obtain funding for this venture from a Polk County Community Foundation grant. The money saved from installing these Flushometers goes towards other community projects, such as possibly installing the handles in the middle school. Walker also spoke separately about the school’s biodiesel initiative as well. Several Green Team members also work with teacher Tawana Weicker on collecting leftover cooking oil from the cafeteria and local restaurants to turn into biodiesel to fuel the school’s activity buses. Walker said they hope to fuel all school buses by biodiesel one day. Students are also working with Weicker on methods to use the oil as glycerin for soaps throughout the school’s bathrooms. Not only does the team meet as a group but they’re also learning ways to incorporate the green initiative into their classroom, getting the whole school involved. In their ag mechanics classes they’re learning the process for filtering soybean oil and turning it into biodiesel. In the special education classes students are assisting in labeling bottles filled with biodiesel. The agriculture program, which includes many Green Team members, continues to work on, its rain barrel program, collecting rain water to water the schools plants. Along with carrying out previous initiatives from past team mem-

“(The) goal was to educate the school population and community about ones imprint on the environment.”

Top: Polk County High School’s Green Team. Photo submitted. Above: Students get a glimpse at a biodiesel production lab. Photo submitted by Tawana Weicker.

bers, such as fundraising events, recycling initiatives and the county’s mobile recycling units, the Green Team continues its progressive ideas with an initiative to have motion sensor lights throughout the school, so when classes are empty, lights turn off, cutting down on the school’s electric bill and conserving energy. This Green Team is setting out to inspire not only their school, but the community they grow in, passing on the movement of creating a better tomorrow by what they’re doing today.

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Hanna O’Brien (right) with her mom, Dee. Photo by Leah Justice.

“I just thought for God to give somebody that much will and ability was amazing.” Hanna O’Brien (center, purple jacket) rides four-wheelers with friends and family. Photo submitted.


hanna o’brien

Fifteen-year old soccer player, drama and AB honor role student Hanna O’Brien has big dreams to help others. She wants to one day invent prosthetics to help amputees have the ability to play sports. And if anyone knows prosthetics, it’s Hanna, who’s had four different types since she was 9 months old. Hanna was born at 27 weeks at a weight of 3 pounds, 13 ounces. She stayed in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at Greenville Memorial Hospital for six weeks and came home on a heart monitor, breathing treatments and being fed through a tube. Her chances of living, much less living a “normal” life, were slim. Doctors told her parents, Chip and Dee O’Brien of Sunny View, that she might have kidney trouble and suffer from mental disabilities. Hanna was a twin, but sometime during the pregnancy she suffered from amniotic band syndrome, which caused her to be born with one leg and just a few fingers. Hanna has three fingers on one hand and a thumb on the other, but none of that seems to stop her. Dee said the word “handicap” is not in her family’s vocabulary or that of anyone who knows Hanna. “I’ve always told Hanna there are so many people that are missing so much more than her,” Dee said. “Some people have hard hearts. Those types of deficits are much more disabling.” Hanna is a freshman at Polk County High School and loves soccer, takes drama, makes the honor roll, has run cross country and took dance as a child. Hanna ran the White Oak Mountain annual run as a seventh grader. When Hanna ran cross-country, Dee said she remembers her first race and what she thought as she watched her remarkable daughter cross the finish line. “She wasn’t the first but definitely not the last,” Dee said. “Just the look on her face. I just thought for God to give somebody that much will and ability

By Leah Justice

was amazing.” Hanna received her first prosthetic leg when she was 9 months old, first walked at 12 months, first rode a bicycle and started playing soccer at 4 years old. In her spare time, she rides four-wheelers with friends and her little brother, Gabe. “It has nothing to do with the legs,” Hanna said. “If I had two legs I would be the same person. I think it’s because of how I was raised. I was raised to do what you like and just live life.” Hanna said she wants to work in the medical field, specifically with prosthetics. “I would like to help someone who needs prosthetics to do athletics,” she said. “I know what works and what doesn’t work. I want to work up (in the field) until I can invent something.” Hanna’s close friends and family say she is a blessing to them. Lisa Moser said experiencing daily routines with Hanna, trusting her to give her children a ride on a four-wheeler or having the privilege of seeing the prosthetic fit her for her new leg, “are only glimpses into the beautiful person of Hanna.” “She continues to daily encourage and inspire me more than most,” Moser said. “I love her!” Hanna’s best friend, Graci Moser, said regarding Hanna’s not having a leg: “I’ve never really noticed it, to be honest. Hanna’s just Hanna.” Dee said Hanna is truly a gift to her and she knows she has both of her children for very specific reasons. “I know that God is real and sovereign,” said Dee. “I know that God makes you specifically in His image and he has a plan. I never thought I’d be sitting here talking to (a reporter) about Hanna at 15 years old. I know God gave me both my children for very specific reasons. I know God gave me Hanna for a reason and my job is to make people look at her and see her for the beauty that she is.”


By Samantha Hurst

kari malkki

Senior Kari Malkki has a wide perspective on the world. The high school senior from Saluda did, after all spend the earliest years of her life living in Africa, Norway and Miami, to name a few stops along the way. “I wouldn’t give that up for anything. I prefer to go from place to place and see everything,” Kari said about living in so many places early in life. Her mother, Rita Malkki, said she believes the opportunities her job in public health presented for her and her daughter to live in different places of the world gave Kari a unique understanding of different cultures. “I think she really does realize that there are so many different ways to interact with the world,” Rita Malkki said. “I think she’s also seen that this is very rewarding work and it makes us very happy to improve the lives of people in all sorts of cultures.” Rita’s own parents immigrated to America from Finland. Kari’s father is from Uganda. Although she was born in Atlanta, Kari spent much of her youth in Mozambique, a stint in Eritrea, Africa, Norway and then Miami, before she and her mother found their way to North Carolina. They have lived in North Carolina for six years now and though Kari made it clear that she has loved her time in Saluda and at Polk County High School, she said growing up in Mozambique was an experience none other could ever replace. “It’s a completely different atmosphere – I think people are more grateful and happy with what they have in life,” she said. Malkki said so many people have skewed views of what Africa is like, assuming it to be dangerous, but she said, “It wasn’t like that at all.” “Mozambique was a wonderful place to grow up because it was safer than a lot of people think,” Malkki said. Malkki lived in Nampula, Mozambique from 3-5 years old. She said while living there she attended a preschool her mother started in their garage and played in a circular park with homes surrounding it. Many of the families living in the community were expatriates like her mother from all over the world. Malkki said her best friends were Irish, Dutch, Moroccan and Mozambican. “Just awareness is something I wish I could give to everybody,” Malkki said. “It’s frustrating to me sometimes that people have no idea what it is like and they picture Africa in a way that is so twisted. People have these stereotypical pictures of places they have never been –and it’s not their fault because all they know is what they have been told or see on TV.” Rita Malkki said one of the greatest benefits she saw was her daughter quickly picking up a second language. During preschool, her Mozambican teacher taught students in both Portuguese and English. In fact, she remembers learning to write in Mozambique, Portuguese and English. “She was completely fluent in Portuguese after the first six months of living there,” Rita Malkki said of her daughter. “And there are tons of studies that show how much that opens your brain up to becoming a language learner.” Rita said she looks forward to seeing her daughter getting to travel back to another Portuguese-speaking country to see how much of the language she maintained. “When I’m in Finland I can pick up a lot of what people are saying, so I think if she went back to Mozambique I think she could pick up a lot of it back into her head,” Rita said.

Meg Rogers of the Thermal Belt Friendship Council presents a $500 scholarship to Polk County High School Senior Kari Malkki for her essay on how her life promotes diversity. Photo by Samantha Hurst.

The Malkkis are planning a trip to Brazil in celebration of Kari’s graduation from high school. Kari has currently applied to eight different schools with hopes to get accepted to a school in the Northeast where her mother is originally from. Another of Kari’s dreams is to study abroad for a substantial amount of her college career. “I definitely want to get out there to make an impact and definitely something international. Even though I know there are things that you can work to improve in the U.S., [international work] is just something that means a lot to me.” Malkki stays very involved as president of Key Club, vice president of Saga (students for awareness – raising money for Heifer International and Doctors without Borders), has played soccer and ran cross country, assists with the adult ESL class at Tryon Elementary and the A+tutoring program. She even won a scholarship for college through the Thermal Belt Friendship Council for an essay she wrote regarding how her life exemplifies embracing diversity. In her essay she wrote, “To the world around me, I’ve been black, white and somehow Latino; rich, poor and somewhere in between; a city girl, a redneck and a part of a village connected by red-dirt roads. “Never have I found a place where I blend in, but in all of these places I’ve manage to fit in, and to learn from the communities of which I become a part. Differences in color, class, sexual orientation or faith are issues I have grown up disregarding, and to create a world in which equality and social justice prevail, this is a perspective that everyone must share.” Malkki received a $500 scholarship from the Thermal Belt Friendship Council. She hopes to hear back from colleges in March.

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Wishing You Well Flowers and balloons bring smiles to our patients, but at St. Luke’s Hospital, we deliver more . . . Since 1929, St. Luke’s Hospital has been here, caring for our friends and neighbors in the Carolina Foothills. As a small community hospital, we ll a huge need, providing access to lifesaving emergency care, outstanding surgical care, and attentive, compassionate acute medical care. St. Luke’s Hospital is proud to offer the latest in diagnostic imaging, outcomes-based rehabilitation, respectful geriatric-psychiatric care, hyperbaric and chronic wound care, in-home services, state-of-the-art orthopaedic care and more. St. Luke’s Hospital remains committed to providing quality care… a safe, comfortable and caring atmosphere… medical services right here in our community. Flowers and balloons are nice, but at St. Luke’s, we deliver far more— exceptional care, close to home.

Columbus, North Carolina | 828.894.2408 |


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