Walk Through History with Swannanoa Valley Museum

Karrigan Monk
Black Mountain News
The June Walk Through History tour will explore the history of Lake Tomahawk as a Works Project Administration project.

Starting in April, the Swannanoa Valley Museum and History Center will host a series of walking tours that explore historic sites throughout the Swannanoa Valley. This will be the third year of the series.

Executive Director LeAnne Johnson said participants can expect to learn about the area in new ways in the Walk Through History series.

“They’ll learn unique and interesting history about the Valley,” Johnson said. “It’s a very localized history.”

The tours will take place monthly, from April to September on a Wednesday morning from 10:30 a.m. to noon. There will be no tour in July.

Each tour will be led by a local historian who has extensive knowledge on the subject, according to Johnson.

Johnson said the tours are meant to be accessible to anyone who would like to participate.

“The Walk Through History series is meant for people who don’t want to hike, but prefer more low-key, less strenuous activity,” Johnson said. “That’s why we create the Walk Through History, which takes you to different historical spots throughout the Valley that are easily accessible to everyone.”

The first Walk Through History tour will explore Thomas Chapel, Black Mountain's first church for Black residents.

The first tour, taking place April 12, will take participants to Thomas Chapel, which is believed to be the first church in Black Mountain for freed Black people. Though the church has been housed in three different buildings, it currently sits on Cragmont Road and has since 1922. The building was restored in 2012.

The May tour will weave through the historic Grovemont-on-Swannanoa planned community. The original community was planned for 500 acres and was developed in 1924. Now overgrown, the tour will explore the current 2.35 acre site.

Participants will learn the history of Lake Tomahawk in June, which includes its creation as a Great Depression-era Works Progress Administration project in 1936.

The August walking tour will take place at the Warren Wilson Native American archaeology site where participants will learn about the Cherokee people who once lived in the Valley.

The final tour in September will explore the history of Blue Ridge Assembly and its founder, Dr. Willis D. Weatherford Sr.

Tickets for each event can be purchased online or by calling the museum. Museum members can secure tickets for $25, while general admission tickets are $35.

Johnson said she is looking forward to this year’s Walking Through History series, and her favorite part is meeting new people and seeing them get excited about history.

“I just enjoy meeting the people when they come in and they’re learning new history about the place they live, and they get really excited about it,” Johnson said. “I just love to see that.”