The Blue Ridge Heritage Trail • About The Blue Ridge Heritage Trail interpretive sign & historical marker at The Mast Farm Inn of Historic Valle Crucis, North Carolina. The United States Congress & The President of The United States designated the mountains of North Carolina the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area in recognition of their natural abundance and richly varied cultural history. The Trail is a collection of special places throughout the North Carolina mountains and foothills that embody the remarkable history and culture of the region.
As of Tuesday, October 6th, 2015, a new interpretive wayside sign greets visitors to The Mast Farm Inn in Historic Valle Crucis, North Carolina, and is one of 69 such signs being installed on the new Blue Ridge Heritage Trail. The Trail is a collection of special places throughout the North Carolina mountains and foothills that embody the remarkable history and culture of the region, and is an initiative of the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area Partnership.
At each location, the sign tells the stories of the people and places that have shaped the distinctive heritage of the 25 westernmost counties in North Carolina. The Mast Farm Inn sign tells the story about President Woodrow Wilson, Josephine “Aunt Josie” Mast, and The Loom House
In addition to the signs, the Trail is enhanced with the installation of interactive kiosks in five NC Welcome Centers that greet visitors to the region, plus a map brochure and website to help them get around the region and learn more about each site.
This initiative is designed to inform visitors, students, and residents alike about the many natural and cultural heritage attractions in the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area. The goal is to encourage people to discover places they may not know about. It is not a “Point A to Point B” trail, but rather featured stops throughout the region. People can enjoy a single stop or piece together several sites by theme, town, region or activity to create their own personalized “trail.”
The Blue Ridge Heritage Trail is a project of the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area Partnership and was supported by Federal Highway Transportation Enhancement funding administered through the North Carolina Department of Transportation and Haywood County, NC.
President Woodrow Wilson, Josephine “Aunt Josie” Mast, and The Loom House
A family farm since the late 1700s, and a world-renowned country inn since the late 1800s. The Mast Farm Inn is still engaged in organic micro-farming, award-winning fine-dining catering, is a member of Historic Hotels of America®, and on the National Register of Historic Places.
The first house, a two-room log cabin, was built between 1810 and 1812 and remains today as the oldest inhabitable log cabin in North Carolina. Now the center of The Mast Farm Inn, the cabin is called the Loom House. Here, “Aunt Josie” Mast created coverlets, rugs and handbags, some of which are in the Smithsonian today.
Mrs. Woodrow Wilson chose Josephine Mast to weave a giant rug for the “Blue Mountain Room,” President Woodrow Wilson’s bedroom at The White House. “Josephine’s most noteworthy accomplishment was her hand weaving. Her woven items reflect Josephine Mast’s ability to spin, weave, and understand pattern drafting. Money from the sale of her weaving supplemented the family farm’s income, and brought Josie local fame and national renown.” ~ Kathleen Curtis Wilson
Josephine wove continually from the 1880s to the early 1930s, using patterns and weaving techniques typical of other nineteenth and early twentieth century Appalachian handweavers. “Aunt Josie was a remarkable woman. A slender, vigorous, gray-haired little figure filled with energy and warmth, she ran her part of the farm – the vegetable garden, the dairy and the house, with its dozen or so paying guests – with almost careless competence. She mothered the people of the countryside. In her spare time she relaxed by going into the loom house and weaving.” ~ David Yates
About The Blue Ridge National Heritage Area
The United States Congress & The President of The United States designated the mountains of North Carolina the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area in recognition of their natural abundance and richly varied cultural history. The Blue Ridge National Heritage Area organization works to preserve, interpret and celebrate this heritage for the enjoyment of residents and visitors alike. The Blue Ridge National Heritage Area includes the Cherokee Qualla Boundary and 25 Western North Carolina counties. The Blue Ridge National Heritage Area has great significance, not only to historical North Carolina, but also to the history of our nation. The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina are among the oldest mountains on Earth. The landscape is full of superlatives: the highest mountain (Mount Mitchell), deepest gorge (Linville Gorge), and highest waterfall (Whitewater Falls) in the eastern United States; the oldest river in North America (the New River); and the two most visited National Park lands in the country (the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park). The region is also blessed with a stunning diversity of plant and animal life; more, in fact, than the whole of Europe. But there is more to the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area than just its mountains, for out of those mountains grew a rich cultural heritage as well. The birthplace of the Cherokee’s advanced early civilization, the region, is, today, home to the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians which continues to preserve many facets of traditional Cherokee culture. Beginning in the eighteenth century European and African settlers moved into the mountains. The relative isolation of mountain life helped these settlers nourish and preserve many traditions, especially handmade crafts. The mountains also proved a fertile meeting ground for European and African music traditions, and over time these traditions melded to create the unique music of Appalachia. The area has become the center of handmade art and craft in America, with a rich legacy of both traditional and contemporary craft schools and over 4,000 working craftspeople. A land of mountain wilderness, waterfalls, Cherokee tradition, string bands, and craft studios, the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area is truly a region with a “personality” like no other.
About The Blue Ridge Heritage Trail
As of October 7, 2015, four of the 69 interpretive signs on the new Blue Ridge Heritage Trail were installed in Watauga County: The Mast Farm Inn, The Mast General Store, Horn in the West & Hickory Ridge, and Tweetsie Railroad. The Trail is a collection of special places throughout the North Carolina mountains and foothills that embody the remarkable history and culture of the region. Words and photographs tell an illuminating story about each site and illustrate many aspects of the region’s natural and cultural heritage including that of the Cherokee, traditional music, agriculture, and craft. Signs will be located along main walkways at historic, natural and scenic sites, attractions, towns and cities, in some state parks, along the Blue Ridge Parkway, in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and at five NC Welcome Centers within the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area. The Trail is not a “Point A to Point B” trail, but rather many stops throughout the region. People can enjoy a single stop or piece together several sites by theme or region. QR codes on each sign will enable people with smart phones to locate other nearby sites. The goal is to encourage people, both visitors and residents, to discover places they may not know about. For example, most travelers know about Cherokee, but may not know how extensive the Cherokee nation’s land once was. They can learn more on signs being installed in the far western part of the region, in places like Robbinsville, Andrews, and Hayesville. In addition to the signs, the Trail will be enhanced with the installation of five interactive kiosks in NC Welcome Centers at entry points to the BRNHA. The kiosks will help visitors to WNC or people passing through the state discover someplace interesting to explore along the way, encouraging a nearby stop or adding a scenic route. An accompanying map brochure and website helps visitors get around the region and learn more about each site.
About The Mast Farm Inn
Historic Lodging, Gourmet Catering, Memorable Weddings. The Mast Farm Inn is an award-winning & world renowned Historic Hotels of America® boutique hotel and Select Registry® country inn, specializing in historic lodging, gourmet special event catering, elopements and weddings, in Historic Valle Crucis, North Carolina. The Inn was inducted in June 2012 into Historic Hotels of America®, the official travel organization of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Historic Hotels of America was founded in 1989 by the National Trust with 32 charter members. Members of National Trust Historic Hotels of America represent the heritage and development of America. The Mast Farm Inn is one of less than 235 hotels and resorts throughout the country that is recognized by Historic Hotels of America for preserving and maintaining its historic integrity, architecture and ambiance. There are eight Historic Hotels of America® hotels in the state of North Carolina, among which Pinehurst Resort, Old Edwards Inn and Spa, The Graylyn Estate, The Dunhill & The Grove Park Inn. The Mast Farm Inn is situated in Valle Crucis, North Carolina. Valle Crucis is pronounced Valley-Crew-Sis and in Latin means Valley Of The Cross, so named for the rivers and streams which cross our valley. We are on the Watauga River in a beautiful mountain valley a little under a mile long, by about a quarter mile wide, surrounded by mountains, forests, rivers and streams, and our population is eight hundred.The majestic scenic beauty of Valle Crucis continuously mesmerizes residents and draws visitors from throughout the world. As designated by The North Carolina Legislature, Valle Crucis is North Carolina’s first rural historic district, and the entire community is officially listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Our location, history, geography, climate, and authentically friendly people, all contribute to making it quite simply a treasure… a natural sanctuary & haven of peaceful calm. We are not just in the sticks… we are in the twigs. That is partially true. First and foremost, we speak of some altogether mighty nifty twigs. While you have the impression you stepped back in time and are in the middle of rural nowhere, in fact some of the most vital, diverse and attractive small mountain villages in the United States are within 10 miles, as is the Blue Ridge Parkway, the second most visited National Park in America. Even a brief glimpse of the quantity and variety of nature and outdoor activities in our area will leave you breathless. A two to six hour drive from most major metropolitan areas in the southeastern United States, the major airports servicing this area, Charlotte International, Raleigh-Durham International Airport, and Asheville, NC, are about 2 hours driving time. See “A Snapshot History of The Mast Farm Inn” by clicking here.