Catawba Grapes and Scenic Views of Old Charlotte Highway in Cane Creek: 52 Weeks 52 Communities

It’s hard to say exactly where the Cane Creek community begins and ends. Maybe the area between the Limestone and Fairview fire districts? Is it a mile-wide corridor along the entire length of Cane Creek stretching plumb from South Asheville nearly to Gerton? It’s really hard to say, but however you want to describe the geography of the Cane Creek Community, one thing became clear while writing this blog post. We don’t have many special collections materials related to Cane Creek. Sure, we have a lot of resources for those interested in the community, but when it comes to the really cool stuff— big boxes of letters, photos, scrapbooks, manuscripts and diaries – Cane Creek isn’t very well represented among the stacks.

Cane Creek? Excerpt of “Official map of Buncombe County, 1964” MAP512. 

That doesn’t mean, though, that we don’t have any resources related to the area, or that we haven’t taken the time to dig up some interesting bits of Cane Creek history for this week’s edition of 52 Weeks, 52 Communities.

When I first started digging for Cane Creek related resources, one theme became very clear, very quickly. Part of what might be considered the greater Cane Creek Community is famous for one thing in particular. As the Midwestern states of Kansas and Nebraska are often called “flyover states,” Cane Creek, too, has somewhat of a reputation as a gateway between Asheville and Fairview, two more popular vacationing destinations in the 20th century. Our photograph and postcard collection features a hefty number of photos depicting scenes of US 74-A (Old Charlotte Highway) described as “On the road from Asheville to Fairview.” If you take that drive today, it may not be apparent that you’re driving the same stretch of road, as 74-A  has undergone significant changes since these photos were first developed.

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Cane Creek also has another very important claim to fame in the field of agriculture (shout-out to Friend of the North Carolina Room Vance Pollock for this awesome tip!). Along the banks of Cane Creek is where Capt. Clayton (after some digging, I suspect this is Lambert Clayton, the father of well-known architect Ephraim Clayton) first discovered the coveted Catawba Variety of the Fox Grape.

fox grape
The North Carolina Hand-book, 1889. pack

The Catawba variety took off across the nation. Unlike most grapes in the Southeast, the Catawba variety thrived in various, extreme weather conditions and was perfect for wine making. Growers had been less than successful with the large-scale cultivation of scuppernong varieties, and the Catawba Fox Grape appeared to solve that issue. The variety made its way into grocery stores and even patent medicines around the nation.  By the end of the 19th century, the Catawba grapes could be found as far away as Vermont. A long way off from Cane Creek.

An advertisement for wine made from Catawba grapes in a VT newspaper, ca. 1871.

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There are some other spare items in the North Carolina Collection that relate to the Cane Creek area as well, including materials related to Tweed’s Chapel, and some interviews conducted as part of our Fairview Community History Project (we’ll talk more about that in a few weeks).

As always, we’re looking for more items from rural communities like Cane Creek to add to our collection. If you have stories to share, or items you might like to donate (or loan for scanning), get in touch! We want to hear from you!

We love sharing our collections with you! We especially like when they get a good workout from researchers, the curious, and even the stray interior designer or stylist! These images and collections are as much yours as they are the library’s. That’s what public libraries are all about!

Come on in and take a look. You never know what you might find!

As a reminder, this post is a part of our 52 Weeks, 52 Communities Series. In this series, we are covering a different Buncombe County community each week. Do you have materials related to Cane Creek you’d like to let us know about? Do you, your parents or grandparents have a good story to tell? Please let us know!!! We want to hear from you! The North Carolina Room is Buncombe County’s Public Archive, we want to help preserve and make accessible the history and culture of Asheville and Buncombe County for all its residents.

This post was authored by Katherine Calhoun Cutshall, a librarian working in the North Carolina Room at Pack Memorial Library.






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