View Full Version : Heading for Proctor, NC

Mike Woodfin
09-21-2011, 06:09 PM
Gonna take a trip to Fontana Dam Marina and catch a water shuttle over to the old Proctor Ghost Town site. That is the only way to get there unless you want to hike 5-10 miles from the other side.

Mike Woodfin
09-23-2011, 02:19 PM
Proctor, a town of nearly 2000 people at it's peak, was a lumber town built by Ritter Lumber.

After the lumber played out the war effort forced the residents to leave their homes to make way for the Fontana reservoir in 1943. It was hard to argue against the authorities at that time.

Although the TVA never used this 44,000 acres of Swain County as part of the Fontana project, they did not offer to return it to the original owners. Instead they gave it to the National Park Service and it became the southern most part of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Allegedly the original plans for the park was the plan to have the Tennessee River as it's southern border. Of course, no one informed all the towns and property owners that existed on the north side of the river. Gone are Proctor, Almond, Fontana, Japan, Forney, Judson, and several other towns.

Another interesting sideline is the controversy of the "Road to Nowhere" that was promised in 1943 so the residents could get to their land and the gravesites of their ancestors. This controversy will disappear as well as many of the family members concerned pass away.

Mike Woodfin
10-14-2011, 01:55 PM
Once you board the pontoon boat at the Fontana Marina, $50.00 round trip, you travel across gorgeous blue green water that is crystal clear near the shore. Making the turn up Hazel creek the arm doesn't resemble a creek at all since it is all of 60 feet deep with a V shaped bottom

As the creek winds and gets smaller the first artifact you come to is one of the old bridges, that is usually underwater. For sometime it was in place on however the park service has removed it and thrown it up on the bank.


They drop you off near the bridge and you walk the Lakeshore trail, which follows the old road, into the townsite of Proctor. The camping area is on the left and immediate left sat the old school. Of course demolished and gone. You can make out the area where it sat. We didn't explore the site to see if we could find any bricks or foundations.


As you round the bend you come to the existing bridge across Hazel Creek. Across the bridge sat the Calhoun General Store on the riverbank and across Calico Street was the Cafe and Ice Cream Store (now a horse holding area)


Struttin Steet was the name of the street before you cross the bridge at the map placard.


To the left up Calico Street you find the only intact structure, the Calhoun house. This was the store owners home. You have to use your imagination when looking at the street to see the boardwalk that bordered the entire street and the picket fence that strung the entire road.


Mike Woodfin
10-14-2011, 02:09 PM
As you stand and read the placard map at the bridge you can turn around and see the supports for the original bridge on the ground along Struttin Street. This street continues along the river. Do not be fooled into following the trail up the ridge. If you do you are leaving town. Struttin Street ran along the river with the train tracks along several rows of homes and businesses which we found many remains. I could have filled a pickup truck with old buckets.


If you can follow along for a while you might be able to find the site of the Ritter Commisary and Offices. There also was a boardwalk all along this street as well.

Back to the bridge, if you cross and go to the left you will hike to the cemetaries. To the right along Calico Street you pass more areas where homes used to stand on the left. You can find the spot where the second bridge once crossed Hazel Creek and went up the overgrown Club House Hill Road. On this road was the clubhouse and the boarding house. We were not able, due to time contraints to explore up this road this trip.


Mike Woodfin
10-14-2011, 02:12 PM
Continuing along the road you walk down into the mill site where the only remaining structures are some valve houses, saw supports, and the huge Dry Kiln. You find many artifacts in the undergrowth, an old tub, wood stove, an old car or truck that disintigrated where it sat


Mike Woodfin
10-14-2011, 02:22 PM
This picture is a mountain top shot of the Ritter Mill area with the Club House Hill Road near the top showing the old boarding house. The patrons took their dinners in the Club House (not shown). The Dry Kiln area that you can explore are in the bottom right corner. The road you are on is the old RR grade that runs along the bottom just out of the picture.


Dave A
10-14-2011, 07:23 PM
Thanks for the post. I am guessing that the existing bridge was built to allow people to cross the creek as they explore the old town site? Otherwise there would not seem to be any reason for a bridge, as there are no vehicles there?

Is there a park ranger presence at the site? The one remaining home seemed to be in very good condition, so is it used for some current purpose?

Mike Woodfin
10-15-2011, 08:36 AM
The bridge is just about the end of the Lakeshore Trail that comes out of Bryson City and travels along the southern border of the park.

The house is kept up, so to speak, as a temporary headquarters for the park service when they take the annual trip for the families up to all the abandoned graveyards. They have a yearly grave decoration day in July. There is a bus and a couple of vehicles kept in the area. Many of the families are elderly now so they need lots of assistance.

The house also can be a shelter during rough weather for hikers and horseback riders. There are no bathroom facilities.

Hikers pick up the pontoon shuttle near the low water bridge for the trip to Fontana Village.

All the artifacts are still there because there really is no way to get in or out via vehicles. Just the long hike and boat. Kind of obvious if one tries to keep large souveniers.

Mike Woodfin
10-15-2011, 08:56 AM
All the artifacts are still there because there really is no way to get in or out via vehicles. Just the long hike and boat. Kind of obvious if one tries to keep large souveniers.


I also neglected to mention on our way out of town we turned around and were 25 feet away from a huge hairy black boar that had to be between 200 and 300 lbs. Fortunately for us he was as scared of us and we were of him. He ran right by us huffing and puffing trying to get away. I would have snapped a picture but it went by so fast. Just glad we did not have him cornered.

12-21-2011, 02:50 AM
Thanks for share nice information here. Keep it up.

Sam 8
12-22-2011, 08:12 PM
Very interesting write-up. Thanks for sharing!

Mike Woodfin
12-24-2011, 04:29 AM
Very interesting write-up. Thanks for sharing!

Thanks! The whole story is quite sad and disturbing. Government, National Park Service, and TVA taking advantage of poor mountain people and then loading up with environmental propaganda to cover their screwups. You can find the park service report, on the interenet, against building the road to the community and it is almost laughable.

Also, how the government would take advantage of people and use the WWII war effort as the excuse. In this way you could not argue because you would be seen as against the war effort.

You can read more information on Proctor in "Fontana; A Pocket History of Appalachia" by Lance Holland.

bad bob
12-24-2011, 11:42 AM
That was just outstanding, informative, and easy to follow, Mike. Can't get much better'n that. Many thanks. :)

Mike Woodfin
05-01-2012, 03:11 AM