August 11, 2023 We got a late start to the morning waking up at 8:30, so we were slow to get moving. I have had some trouble with sore calf muscles for the last 2 days and was feeling a little light-headed yesterday while we were at Biltmore mansion. After talking with my brother, Doctor Randy, I was told that I was probably dehydrated. I suspected that, so I made sure to hydrate a lot this morning. I took it a little slower and after a couple of hours I was feeling much better. Bob had a bunch of business calls to make and by 12:00 we were ready to go to downtown Asheville. Bob’s sister, Mary, suggested we do the Urban Trail. After some research, we found out that the Urban Trail is a 1.7 mile walking tour of the city’s history where you visit 30 trail stations to learn about the historical moments and achievements of individuals connected to Asheville. Some could compare it to a scavenger hunt of sorts. The website allows you to read descriptions of each station and use an interactive map of all locations. It also provides an audio tour where you can listen to the descriptions of each station or get a printed version. It says it takes about 2 hours to tour the 30 stations, longer if you stop at a restaurant or shop. It sounded like something interesting to do. Bob had to pick up a prescription at Walmart, so we would make that stop on the way back. We left at 12:30 for the 20-minute drive downtown. We parked near Pack Square where our walking tour would begin and we would find Station #1. The first 7 Stations were pretty close together and on the same block. Station #1 – The “Walk Into History” plaque is in the location where the first log courthouse in the city stood in 1893.
Station #2 called “Crossroads” is where Native Americans and drovers who herded livestock across the mountains from Tennessee traveled taking turkeys, pigs, and cows to market.
We couldn’t locate Station #3. I think there were some homeless people hanging around the area where it was located, so we didn’t want to bother them. Station #4 “O. Henry” This station recognizes former resident Sydney Porter, aka O. Henry, who wrote Gift of the Magi and visual cues from his book are shown here. He is buried in Asheville’s Riverside Cemetery.
Station #5 “Immortal Image” draws attention to the stone carving on the Drhumor Building (1895). The face of a local merchant who stopped by to watch the stone carvers working is included in the carving.
Station #6 “Elizabeth Blackwell” is a bench with shows medicinal herbs honoring resident, Elizabeth Blackwell, the first female in the country to receive a medical degree starting her studies here. She formed the world’s first 4-year medical college for women in 1857. On the base of the oval frame, I saw that people were putting coins there. Maybe they made a wish.
Station #7 “Deco Masterpiece” recognizes the 1929 S & W Building . A studio in Venice, Italy shipped the finished mosaic back to Asheville. The architecture on this building was amazing from top to bottom.
We stayed in the same 2-block area and most of the stations were easy to recognize. Some were a little more obscure and we had to look harder to find them. Station #24 “Time Remembered” shows where a time capsule is buried. It won’t be opened until 2047. It was placed during Asheville’s bicentennial 1997-98.
Station #25 “Ellington’s Dream” depicts Douglas Ellington’s concept of 2 buildings of the government sitting side-by-side. In reality, only the City Building followed the plan. Feathers in the plaque honor the Cherokee Indians in these mountains.
The art deco of the City Hall building designed by Douglas Ellington reflects the textures of the mountains and the pink soil of North Carolina.
Station #26 “Past and Promise” represents the promise of youth and memories of times past when children played in the Square as seen by this little girl getting a drink from the water fountain.
Station #27 “Monument Corner” is represented by the carving tools and a work in progress. The tombstone shop sat on this corner where the first skyscraper, the Jackson Building (1926), in Asheville now sits.
The skies darkened and it looked like the rain was moving in, so we called an end to our tour. As we left the parking lot, we stumbled onto Station #19 “Dixieland” which was located right across from the gate we stopped at to pay for parking. Dixieland is a bronze version of novelist, Thomas Wolfe’s shoes laid out in front of his mother’s boarding house. He lived in the house until leaving Asheville in 1924.
Along our walk today, we saw some other interesting features around the area. This sculpture was very well done of musicians playing makeshift instruments from days long ago.
The Asheville Music Hall is a live music venue that brings in local and touring acts from all over.
The Western North Carolina Veteran’s Memorial caught our eye because of the statue of the woman sitting there.
We walked through Pack Square Park where there is a band shell and splash pad. The Buncombe County Courthouse and City Hall buildings make for a very beautiful background in the park.
We headed back towards the campground as dark clouds came over the mountains and raindrops fell. We stopped at Walmart for Bob’s prescription and a few groceries, but the rain had stopped by then. It still held off until we pulled into the campground and then the rain came again. We got all the groceries into the bus without getting too wet. It didn’t rain long and then the sun popped out. Auggie and I sat outside under the awning and Bob decided to wash the lower portion of the bus under the slides (don’t tell the campground). We really dread going south from here with the weather being as hot as it has been. It has been so wonderful these last 3 weeks being in the mountains where it’s cooler. We had burgers on the grill and relaxed watching a movie. Tomorrow we have our friends, Nancy and Nick, stopping by from Newland, NC about 75 minutes from the campground to spend the afternoon with us. We are looking forward to seeing them. It’s been awhile. Tomorrow night is the peak of the Perseid meteor shower, but we went outside to check it out tonight to see what we could see. The skies were mostly clear and good for viewing, but too many campers had their RV lights on. We’ll check again tomorrow night and find a darker area.