Learn About The History Of Asheville NC

History of Asheville

Asheville is a city located in Buncombe County, North Carolina.  It is the county seat and the largest city and business center in Western North Carolina.  The population is about 87,000. It is also home the US National Climatic Data Center which is the world’s largest archive of weather data.

The land Asheville currently sits on was part of the Cherokee Nation until the Spanish explorer de Soto came to the area in the mid 1500’s.  The town of Asheville began in 1784 when Colonel Samuel Davidson settled in the area. In 1790 the US Census counted 1,000 people in this area which did not include Native Americans. Buncombe became an official county in 1792 and the county seat was named “Morristown” in 1793 and the renamed “Asheville” after the North Carolina Governor Samuel Ashe.

By 1861 the population grew to about 2,500 and since it is in the mountains where there were no plantations, there were few people that owned slaves.  Troops from the area did contribute the Confederate States Army and also a smaller number to the Union Army.  There was a “Battle of Asheville” fought in April 1865. The Union forces were supposed to take Asheville if it could be done without significant loss.  They met resistance and withdrew into Tennessee. Later that month Union General Stoneman did capture Asheville.

In 1880 the first railroad was finished between Salisbury and Asheville. This allowed industrial growth to occur and textile and wood mills began to be set up.

Asheville also had electric street railway lines, which were the first in the state of North Carolina. They operated from 1889 until being replaced by buses in 1934.

The Biltmore House was built in 1895 and by the early part of the 1900’s, Asheville was the third largest city in North Carolina. It became a leading Art Deco architectural meca second only to Miami Beach, Florida.

The Great Depression hit the area very hard. Eight local banks failed and only Wachovia was able to stay open. Up until the depression, the city and county incurred over $56 million in bonded debts, which was the highest per capita debt in the nation.  The city never did default and paid the debts back over a fifty-year period. This caused economic growth to be very slow until about 1990.  Acton Family Chiropractic was established in 1979 and soon became the leading Chiropractic Clinic in Western North Carolina.

In the early 1980’s a referendum was voted on to destroy all of the buildings North of College Street to I-240 except for the Civic Center.  A new mall was to be built to revitalize the downtown area.  Thankfully the referendum was voted down, otherwise Asheville would have forever lost a lot of its funky charm.

Asheville is known nationally for many things. Rolling Stone magazine called it the “Freak Capital of the U.S.” in 2000. CBS News called it “a New Age Mecca” in 1996. It has been listed as a top place to live for many reasons by many publications in the past 20 years.  Some consider it to be “Beer City USA” because of the dozens of microbreweries all around town.  New Belgium Brewing Company and Sierra Nevada Brewing Company are the two largest in the area. Thousands of people come to Asheville just to enjoy the beer scene.


Besides beer and the Biltmore House and Gardens, people also come for the outdoors.  Some consider it the whitewater capital of the U.S.  Motorcycles, bicycles and hiking are very popular due to the abundance of mountainous geography and Pisgah National Forest.

The Blue Ridge Parkway runs right through the South part of Asheville.  It is considered the most scenic noncommercial road in the Eastern U.S.  The most popular season for leaf tourist is October when thousands comes to enjoy the beauty.