The History of DuPont State Forest
An amazing tale of generosity and outrage by author Danny Bernstein...
When you visit Asheville, North Carolina or it’s more peaceful country living neighbors of Brevard and Hendersonville you will hear about amazing waterfalls and trails that lead to majestic peaks. While the Pisgah National Forest, The Great Smoky Mountains National Park and several other nearby forests and parks do offer these amazing destinations, I have found that The DuPont State Recreational Forest offers the most waterfalls for your physical endurance buck.
Listen to our interview with author Danny Bernstein
Nestled away in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina just above of the South Carolina state line, DuPont offers three beautiful waterfalls all on one trail which includes Hooker Falls, Triple Falls and High Falls. The hike in is about a three-mile round trip journey along wide mountain paths that will get your blood pumping as you ascend a few ridges. It had been a few months since I had last made that hike, due to the pandemic, so when I returned in November the old trail leading to Hooker Falls along the Little River had been closed and rerouted around the ridge to the North. It was on that journey that I discover the Hooker-Moore Cemetery which with a little bit of study I quickly discovered the very tragic story of the Heath family, which I will share with you in a future blog and podcast.
It was my inquiries with the Forest Service about the Hooker-Moore Cemetery’s tragic past that led me to author Danny Bernstein and her book DuPont Forest: A History. Danny had dedicated years conducting interviews and collecting the stories that made up the history of the DuPont State Recreational Forest. Her book shares multiple accounts of the area first being settled by homesteaders and hotel entrepreneurs, to African American Pilgrims searching for a better life and how they found opportunity at a “Happy Place”. I don’t want to ruin the stories for you, like some loudmouth teen in a movie theater who cries out, “This is where he dies!” So, you’ll just have to read Danny’s book for yourself.
DuPont Forest: A History Danny Bernstein
However, the best story in my opinion was how the DuPont State Recreational Forest was assembled and made available for all of us to enjoy. That telling is a true living history because each time any of us venture out into the forest we are adding our own little page to the next chapter. Danny told me in Episode 8 of the Explore with RWD Podcast that the swath of land that later became the forest was originally purchased by the DuPont Company because they needed clean mountain water and air to produce their products.
As you would imagine, placing any industry in a natural area would worry the local residents but DuPont believed in being good stewards of the land and carved out lakes and trails for their employees and families to enjoy. One of the children of a company employee told Danny they clearly remembered their father dropping them off at the summer camp provided by DuPont giving children access to all types of fun outdoor activities, a far cry from Corporate America today.
Sadly, to quote Danny, “All good things must come to an end,” and DuPont sold off the plant to another company who quickly closed down operations. However, DuPont remained married to the community it once called home and took it upon themselves to dismantle the plant brick by brick to keep the surrounding natural world intact and undamaged.
Then was after several sales of land, and a 24 million dollar emanate domain purchase by the state of North Carolina to a housing developer, that the DuPont State Recreational Forest was born and named after the company who had been so dedicated to her and her neighboring communities. In Danny’s interview for our podcast, she shares a few more details of exactly how all of that transpired. However, the full story is in her book which is a fascinating and quick read.
Some of the other modern historical highlights from the forest takes us to Hollywood, because the Hunger Games and The Last of the Mohicans were both shot there. As a matter of fact, the middle falls of Triple Falls is clearly seen the Hunger Games and Bridal Veil Falls is obvious in The Last of the Mohicans. Both of these blockbusters chose the DuPont State Recreational Forest for their natural beauty but also because the DuPont facilities offered huge parking areas for crews to easily setup their base of operations at. So, you may see the DuPont Forest used again in future motion pictures because those parking areas are still in good working order.
Finally, there are so many other stories I would love to share about the forest with you, but you’ll just have to wait for future blogs and podcasts or listen to our interview with Danny Bernstein in Episode 8. Or better yet, purchase her book DuPont Forest: A History, I am sure you will love it, like I have.
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