Lost Cove, A Yancey County Ghost Town


Photo by Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy

On July 18, the Orchard at Altapass will present its second Thursday Heritage Talk. Elaine McAlister Dellinger—researcher, archaeologist, and member of the Daughters of the American Revolution—will discuss Lost Cove, a ghost town deep in the Yancey County region of the Pisgah National Forest.

Photo by Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy

Once a sustainable town, Lost Cove is now a graveyard of abandoned homes, rusted cars, and crumbling gravestones. It has been said that it was established around the Civil War era and was a thriving agricultural community. Then, in the early 20th century, logging replaced farming, and the railroad brought workers. Lost Cove was off the beaten path, almost hidden in the forest, with no electricity or running water, but it was just this remoteness and because the town lay on the North Carolina/Tennessee border that an equally thriving moonshine industry began. Neither state law officials agreed on jurisdiction to collect tax revenues. So, none were, creating a haven for illegal spirits.

Eventually, the timber thinned and railroad service that brought passenger trains through the area stopped, leaving Lost Cove residents even more isolated. It was an arduous 8-mile walk just for basic supplies. Rough or non-existent roads led to shortages and the final exodus. The last known resident purportedly left in 1957.

Fire in 2007 destroyed most of what still stood, but some structures, memories, and history remain for the intrepid hiker (the only access).  Elaine Dellinger has spent the last several decades researching Yancey County history. She has written and edited several books on the county including “Images of America: Yancey County,” “Some Called Him Poppa, Some Called Him Daddy,” “Images of Yancey: Volumes One and Two,” and the Yancey County cemetery book series, co-authored with Gwen Bodford. Take a step back in time to hear her discoveries about Lost Cove, North Carolina, one of the most legendary ghost towns in the Eastern United States.

Dellinger’s discussion runs from 5 to 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 18, at the Orchard at Altapass, located at 1025 Orchard Road, Spruce Pine (mm 328.3 on the Blue Ridge Parkway). A $5 donation is suggested, but all are welcome. For more information about Heritage Thursday or any other of the many Orchard programs, please visit www.altapassorchard.org, Facebook, or call 828-765-9531.