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Mitchell County Place Names

Bakersville and Spruce Pine are Mitchell County's only incorporated towns, but they only begin to reflect the outlying communities.

Tiny residential communities are scattered along the countryside; some so small, if you blink, you'll miss them. The following are some of the names of these quaint hamlets and how some of those extraordinary names came to be.

Altapass was the name given to the community that marked the highest point crossed by the Clinchfield Railroad before it began its descent down the Blue Ridge.

Bandana supposedly derives its name from the decision of a brakeman, told to find a suitable location for a station, marking the spot with his bandana. Another account says Bandana got its name some 20 years before, when a politician named Thomas Johnston campaigned in the area wearing a red bandana.

Buladean, formerly Magnetic City (for the vein of magnetic iron ore that surfaces there), is named for Beulah Dean, daughter of the community's first postmaster.

Estatoe owes its name to the princess of the Estatoe tribe. She fell in love with a brave from another tribe. When her tribe killed him for hunting on their land, she leaped off a cliff into the river. The community kept the name of the tribe, while Toe River's name is a contraction of it.

Glen Ayre was originally known as Brighton, but earned its current name after the Brighton post office closed in 1916; it then took the name of the Ayers family, many of whom still live in the area.

Hawk was so named for the abundance of hawks that were seen and apparently nested in that area.

Huntdale is said to have derived from a man whose wife, Dale, often ran away. When she disappeared, her husband would set off around the community to "hunt Dale."

Kona was an early mining area, and some say the community was named for the chemical composition of feldspar: K for potassium, O for oxygen, NA for sodium.

Ledger received its name after residents of the community, trying to substantiate their need for a post office, sent the authorities in Washington DC the ledger in which they had kept reocrds of the amount of mail that passed through the area. The authorities agreed that a post office was needed, and gave it a name: Ledger.

Little Switzerland received its name from Superior Court Judge Heriot Clarkson of Charlotte, who established a summer home there. Clarkson thought the scenery resembled that of the Swiss Jura Mountains.

Loafers Glory is probably Mitchell County's most famous named place. Located at the bend of the river about three miles north of Bakersville, Loafer's Glory was reputedly coined by the women of the community, who took a dim view of the men's habit of "lollygagging" on the porch of the community soter, rather than working. The community was a real "loafer's glory."

Penland bears the name of the Penland family. They were large landowners in the community.

Pigeon Roost is named for the flocks of carrier pigeons (some say they were passenger pigeons) that once roosted there.

Poplar, once known as "Hollar Poplar Creek," was named for an enormous hollow poplar tree that provided shelter for Confederate soldiers, and was later used as a barn to house a team of mules.

Red Hill earned its name when a family overfarmed one of the hillsides. When a flood came, it washed all the topsoil away, leaving a hill of red clay.

Relief is short for Hart's Relief, a popular medicine whose principal ingredient was alcohol. It was sold at Squire Peterson's Store in that community around 1870.

Roan Mountain may have earned its name in one of several ways. One explanation is that famed explorer Daniel Boone's roan horse became exhausted on one of Boone's trips across the mountain, so he left it there to graze on the mountain's lush grasses. Another is that the name comes from the roan color of the mountain itself, when viewed from a distance in the late afternoon. Thirdly, roan is a corruption of "Rowan," a tree species (also known as the mountain ash) that grows on Roan Mountain.

Tipton Hill is named after the community's first settler, John Tipton.

Wing is named after Professor Charles Hallet Wing, a professor of chemistry at the Boston Institute of Technology, who moved to the Ledger community in 1887, and established the first free public library in North Carolina. The library, which contained 15,000 volumes, was called the Goodwill Library, as all books were circulated free of charge.

© 2008 B.I.G.
    Source: Mitchell News-Journal, 2008 Information Please. Included here with permission.