Tom Wilson

Big Tom Wilson Personified the nineteenth image of the Appalachian Mountain Man. A hunter, a tracker, and guide who roamed the Black Mountains in Yancey County, he become legendary for his bear hunting skills. As more tourists discovered the region, he supplemented his income by leading them up the horse trail to the summit of Mount Mitchell. Two events in 1887 spread his fame far and wide. First, he found the body of Elisha Mitchell whose furious controversy with Thomas Clingman as to which peak was the true summit of Mount Mitchell, had drawn nation attention and who fell to his death from a forty foot waterfall on the mountain’s side. And second, Harper’s Magazine published praising Wilson’s woodcraft skills.

Multimedia:

Below is the Digital Heritage Moment as broadcast on the radio:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Related Posts

  • OutlawsOutlaws Outlaw heroes in the tradition of Robin Hood have been an expression of Appalachian folklore since the pioneer period. Illegal actions to avenge a wrong or defend the honor of family or community ...
  • Elisha MitchellElisha Mitchell Yale educated Elisha Mitchell moved from Connecticut to Chapel Hill, North Carolina in 1818 to become Professor of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy. . .
  • George W. VanderbiltGeorge W. Vanderbilt George W. Vanderbilt, heir of the vast Vanderbilt family fortune, first visited the Asheville area as a young man in 1888. He fell in love with the mountains and began construction of a country h...
  • Long HuntersLong Hunters The long hunters were the legendary woodsmen of the 17th and 18th century who were among the first white people to see the vast American wilderness. The term refers to the men who undertook extende...
  • Penland School of CraftsPenland School of Crafts The widespread poverty that the Great Depression brought to Appalachia led to the founding of one of the area’s most valuable treasures: the Penland School of Crafts. Nestled deep in the hills of w...