Horace Kephart, known as one of the fathers of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, was a prolific writer and naturalist. He is well known for his nonfiction works on camping and the inhabitants of the southern Appalachians, but it was not until 2009 that his great- great-granddaughter and her husband were able to publish his long-lost novel, Smoky Mountain Magic. Originally written in 1929, the novel draws deeply on Kephart’s years of experience living in and wandering through the Smokies.
It’s 1925, and a young man from New York arrives on the outskirts of Kittuwa (Bryson City) in the Smoky Mountains. John Cabarrus has been away for fifteen years, but has finally returned to claim the land that is rightfully his. But his property is still in possession of the wicked W. G. Matlock, the greedy businessman who stole it from Cabarrus’ grandfather, so John must keep his intentions secret. Unfortunately, a local troublemaker sees Cabarrus on the property, possibly panning for gold. Matlock finds out, and goes after the prodigal son with a vengeance.
Marian Wentworth, a young woman visiting relatives in Kittuwa while on holiday from college, is immediately drawn to the mysterious, handsome Cabarrus. She soon discovers his family’s sad tale, and Cabarrus tells her the whole truth- he isn’t searching for gold, but for beryllium, uranium, and other mineral deposits in high demand as science advances. If he can find enough, his career and fortune will be made and he can regain his grandfather’s prized land from the scheming Matlock. Marian is determined to help, so the two young people search the mountains together for this precious treasure. Along the way, they encounter witches, the Little People, gum-chewing teenagers, mythical beasts, ornery dogs, the Cherokee, and magical crystals.
In this fascinating glimpse into the colliding cultures of the Roaring Twenties and the still wild back woods of the Great Smoky Mountains, Horace Kephart has written a masterful portrayal of the mountain folk, the Cherokee, and the land itself. Readers of adventure, natural science, and early twentieth century literature will all be delighted.
Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill library’s catalog.