The Nantahala River
A History & Guide
Most everyone who comes to western North Carolina has heard of the Nantahala, but few know its history. Long before it was a mecca for rafters and thrill seekers, it was traveled by naturalists and explorers from William Bartram to John C. Frémont. After the Cherokees were driven out, settlers arrived and began exporting the wealth of the mountains in the form of timber, talc and minerals. Tourists arrived on the Western Turnpike soon after, and the railroad brought more around 1890. The federal government began purchasing land for the new Nantahala National Forest, and the need for aluminum to fight World War II precipitated the construction of Fontana Lake and Nantahala Lake. Local author Lance Holland has crafted an enlightening and entertaining narrative history of this unique region.