Above are two views of Mount Pisgah and the Rat with floral gardens in the foreground. One is from Lake Ashnoca and the other is from the grounds of Asheville School. Lake Ashnoca has long been drained. It was also on the grounds of Asheville School. Both views have colorful, summer blooms in the foregrounds.
Now, I pride myself for having a good visual memory for post card images. As a general rule, I look up any unfamiliar post card views before I bid on cards for the NC Collection. And as the good book says, “Pride goeth before the fall.” I recently purchased what I thought was a new, similar view because of the caption at the bottom of the card.
I had no idea where Camp Laurel was and thought it might be on the Asheville School grounds. I should have known better: the mountain is not as distant as the other two cards picture it. This morning I decided to see what I could find on newspapers.com.
The first mention of Camp Laurel was in a short column in the Asheville Citizen-Times on 15 May 1921.
The O’Kelley clan has long lived (and still does!) at the foot of Mount Pisgah. Roughly the camp must have stood right about where Highway 151 makes a sharp turn to climb up the mountain towards the Parkway. In another article from May of 1922 featured “In the Realm of Women” column I learned that Mr. and Mrs. Howell chaperoned a group of girls from Asheville High School on a trip from Saturday until Tuesday.
My favorite article that I found concerning Camp Laurel appeared in the September 9, 1925 issue of the Asheville Citizen-Times. The owner of the camp, Mr. O’Kelley, stated that the newspaper had erroneously reported that Jack Gaston was injured at Camp Laurel. It seems that Mr. Gaston had suffered an injury to the jugular vein in his neck. Mr. O’Kelley want to make it clear that the incident happened a half mile from Camp Laurel. The injury was caused by a glass lamp said to have been thrown by a woman!
A more laudatory story appeared in the December 3, 1933 edition of the Citizen. I was particularly surprised at the comparison made by “many globe-trotters” of Mount Pisgah to Mount Fujiyama in Japan. Surprised and pleased. I looked at Fujiyama in the distance many times as a school-age kid when my family lived overseas. And look at Mount Pisgah every day from my home in Hominy Valley.
I bought the post card and then I found the NC Collection already has a copy. Oh well, it will go to one of my nephews. I’ve started taking more care in looking up images, just in case my visual memory fails me. At least it sent me looking for information on Camp Laurel!
Terry Taylor, Board Member of Friends of the NC Room