At the beginning of the 20th century, many Americans moved from farm to town, changing from agricultural employment to jobs in factories and retail shops. Along with these new occupations came a new idea called "vacation." Ready access to automobiles made leisure travel, once reserved for affluent citizens, increasingly feasible and affordable for working class people. With its cool climate and outstanding scenery, the mountain region of North Carolina became a welcome refuge and ideal tourist destination for weary workers and their families. Western North Carolina, often touted in promotional materials as the "land of the sky," hosts Mount Mitchell-the highest mountain east of the Mississippi River-hundreds of waterfalls, some of the world's oldest mountains and rivers, and abundant wildlife. The well-known Blue Ridge Parkway, numerous inns, lodges, hotels, campgrounds, and restaurants were constructed to serve the region's growing number of visitors.
Early Tourism in Western North Carolina celebrates the rise of tourism from 1900 to 1950 in the Blue Ridge and Appalachian mountains of North Carolina. Sites featured include the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway, Grandfather Mountain, Blowing Rock, Asheville, Mount Mitchell, Chimney Rock, the Biltmore Estate, and the Cherokee Indian Reservation.