Twenty-nine years ago the North Carolina coastal fishing and tourist industries faced a very real problem. As most often is the case, the Hugh Morton family stepped in to offer help. Morton collection volunteer and blog contributor Jack Hilliard looks back to January, 1988 and a unique gathering of loyal North Carolinians.
First, a little history . . .
In August 1987 off the coast of Naples, Florida, microscopic algae began to reproduce at a rapid rate, thriving and expanding in a matter of days into a large toxic bloom that dominated the Florida coastal environment. Two months later that same organism, Ptychodiscus brevis, had spread to the North Carolina coast—closing 170 miles of coastal fishing waters and affecting 9,000 commercial fishermen. North Carolina had never had a toxic algae bloom. In fact a toxic bloom had never been seen north of Jacksonville, Florida, about 800 miles to the south.
At the time, some scientists described the situation as a spreading global epidemic of toxic and nontoxic algae blooms called “red tides.” North Carolina’s bloom is believed to have traveled north in the Gulf Stream, bypassing other Southern states. Some of those scientists believed the causes of the red tide epidemic likely included climatic changes, natural growth cycles, and man-made pollution among others. Other scientists remained unconvinced. “I wouldn’t want to come down and say pollution is causing red tide expansions,” said Daniel Kamykowski, a professor of oceanography at the University of North Carolina. “I don’t think pollution is that well defined in terms of the cause of red tides.”
At this point it should be pointed out that commercial seafood found in restaurants and grocery stores is safe because it comes from red tide-free-water and is monitored by the U.S. government for safe use. That being said, in early 1988, North Carolinians were skeptical: they were not eating fish, and that was hurting the coastal fishing and tourist business in at least 600 restaurants, hotels, and seafood markets. At the time, Hugh Morton, Jr. was the Director of the North Carolina Division of Travel and Tourism, having been in that position since March of 1987.
When there was a North Carolina concern that needed attention, Hugh Morton, Jr., like his father, was always ready to help. So in early January, 1988, along with the North Carolina Association of Broadcasters, Morton and Governor Jim Martin launched a campaign to aid the fishing and tourism industries that were facing the red tide scare.
On January 6, 1988, Governor Martin and Hugh, Jr. staged a seafood feast at the Governor’s mansion in Raleigh. The invited guest list read like a who’s who in the Tar Heel state: Jesse Haddock, Bill Friday, Kay Yow, George Hamilton IV, Captain Frank Conlon, Kyle and Richard Petty, Clyde King, Loonis McGlohon, Charlie Justice, Shirley Caesar, Bones McKinney, Tommy Amaker, Tommy Burleson, Miss North Carolina Seafood Evonne Carawan of Morehead City, Bob Timberlake, Bobby Jones, and Phil Ford, plus a variety of costumed characters from a variety of state travel attractions, like Daniel Boone (portrayed by Glenn Causey.) In all, more than thirty loyal North Carolinians participated.
They all ate North Carolina seafood, and Hugh, Jr. put to work his advertising agency skills and produced a number of TV public service announcements using this impressive group of North Carolina legends. Hugh Morton, Sr., as would be expected, was there with camera in hand. In his 2003 book, Hugh Morton’s North Carolina, he called the group “one of the most impressive groups of celebrities ever gathered in the state.” Some of the celebrities shared their own seafood recipes, like “Richard Petty’s Favorite Crabmeat Casserole,” and “George Hamilton IV’s Favorite Scallops and Shrimp.” Both of these favorite recipes appeared in the March, 1988 issue of The State (now Our State).
According to the Saturday, January 9 Wilmington Morning Star, the campaign was to begin on Monday. I recall vividly the day the reel of two-inch videotape announcements arrived at the WFMY-TV studio in Greensboro. One of my duties at the time was to pre-screen all incoming video material. The spots were magnificent. We were pleased to air them in the Greensboro, High Point, and Winston-Salem television market. A letter enclosed with the videotape from Wade Hargrove, Executive Director of the North Carolina Association of Broadcasters explained the purpose for the TV project:
These announcements come at a time when the seafood industry (which is very important to the state’s economic health) has been hit hard by the “red tide” along the coast. Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of everyone, there seems to be a widespread misconception that the red tide has had an adverse effect on the state’s fish and shrimp industry—which is not the case. . . These PSAs are designed to clear up that misconception in a positive, upbeat way.
I also recall that catchy phrase that ended each spot: “North Carolina . . . first in freedom . . . first in flight . . . and first in fish.”
In the weeks and months that followed, seafood consumption began the long road to recovery. Jesse Jackson visited Wilmington for four hours on January 27 during his presidential campaign, “focusing on the economic plight of shell fishermen,” according to Janet Olsen, staff writer for the Wilmington Morning Star. On February 2 Governor Martin launched “Operation Red Tide,” a $120,000 relief fund for those fishermen who suffered losses during the epidemic. She reported that the red tide “put almost 11,000 commercial fishermen out of work in North Carolina.” On February 12 Bryson Jenkins, Public Information Spokeswoman with the North Carolina Division of Environmental Management, announced that algae counts were at 5,000 cells per liter, down from “hundreds of thousands.”
If we do not start treating our environment with more respect—giving it time to replenish itself—we are in for trouble in the future. —John H. Glenn Jr., October 12, 1971 at Douglas Municipal Airport, Charlotte, North Carolina
With John Glenn’s passing on December 8, I recalled the group portrait made by Hugh Morton at a campaign debt retirement party for Terry Sanford attended by Glenn and others. To see what, if any, other photographs Morton may have made of Glenn, I turned to the collection finding aid and found the following listing for fourteen 35mm black-and-white negatives: “Environmental Concerns #44: ‘Environmental Conference, Greensboro Coliseum: John Glenn, Stewart Udall, etc.,’ 1970s-1980s?”
Ah that tantalizing question mark . . . another Morton Mystery!
For those who don’t know, many newspapers on microfilm held by the North Carolina Collection have been digitized by newspapers.com. They can be viewed for free if you are on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus, otherwise you need to have a paid subscription. Searching the website quickly revealed that the conference occurred on October 12, 1971. On that day, the North Carolina Jaycees and possibly the North Carolina Conservation Council (only one source mentioned that organization) sponsored rallies in four airports across the state, capped off with an environmental conference that evening at eight o’clock in the Greensboro Coliseum. More time consuming, however, was piecing together various (sometimes conflicting) news reports to form a coherent picture of the day’s events. I don’t believe what follows, however, is the whole story so I encourage you to leave comments to help complete it. I sense that this post could lead to more on the topic of the environmental movement in North Carolina . . . and maybe even turn up more Morton Mysteries.
In North Carolina, the statutes that implemented . . . resource management programs at the state level contained policy statements that encouraged management and use of resources in contrast with the preambles of environmental-era statutes that stressed protection and preservation.
Hugh Morton’s life straddles that transition. His career includes a decade of service as a member of the North Carolina Board of Conservation and Development under governors W. Kerr Scott, William B. Umstead, and Luther H. Hodges from 1951 to 1961. It is during those years, too, that Morton begins to conserve and develop Grandfather Mountain. Earth Day
The very first Earth Day was April 22, 1970. Before the end of the year, on December 2, the United States Government established the Environmental Protection Agency. The new agency was a consolidation of several entities within the federal government. This accomplishment stemmed from the recommendation of President Richard M. Nixon as part of his “Reorganization Plan No. 3 of 1970,” which he proposed to the Senate and the House of Representatives on July 9th. In that document Nixon noted, “Our national government today is not structured to make a coordinated attack on the pollutants which debase the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the land that grows our food. Indeed, the present governmental structure for dealing with environmental pollution often defies effective and concerted action.” North Carolina Legislation
Nearly one year after the first Earth Day, on April 8, 1971, North Carolina Governor Robert Scott sent the General Assembly an environmental message accompanied by several related bills. The year saw the enactment of the North Carolina Environmental Policy Act of 1971, also known by the acronym “SEPA” (State Environmental Policy Act), and the state’s Environmental Bill of Rights, introduced by State Senator Hargrove “Skipper” Bowles. The latter was enacted on June 21, 1971. According to Heath and Hess, “the bill as introduced was drafted at Senator Bowles’ request by University of North Carolina Law School Professor Thomas Schoenbaum. The voters of the state approved the proposed constitutional amendment in the general election on November 7, 1972.” Politics
The October 12, 1971 “Environmental Emphasis Day” (a phrase used by two of the newspapers consulted for this post, but only the Charlotte Observer used capital letters) took place during the very early phase of the campaign season for the upcoming 1972 North Carolina primary elections on May 6. Hugh Morton announced his gubernatorial candidacy for the Democratic Party on December 1, 1971.
On September 23, 1971 North Carolina Jaycees president T. Avery Nye Jr. announced that Colonel John H. Glenn Jr. would be a keynote speaker at an environmental rally at 8:00 p.m. at the Greensboro Coliseum, Nye noted that other speakers would include Oregon’s Republican United States Senator Robert Packwood and former United States Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall. The Jaycees described the upcoming event at the coliseum as the “first of its kind in the nation.” The Greensboro Daily News reported that the day would start with Glenn and Udall, “accompanied by announced candidates for governor of North Carolina,” making a “whistle-stop tour” of the state “traveling by private, executive-type aircraft” to rallies at airports in Asheville, Wilmington, Charlotte, and Raleigh-Durham. Packwood would unite with Udall and Glenn in Greensboro after the tour for the evening rally. North Carolina’s United States Senator B. Everett Jordon “and most other members of the state’s delegation to Congress and members of the state’s General Assembly” were expected to attend. Nye also encouraged the general public to attend, noting that no admission or parking fees would be charged. The rally, Nye said, “is being staged to give North Carolinians an opportunity to show their support for good environmental legislation.” Attendees were going to be asked to complete a questionnaire on state environmental problems, with the results to be distributed to legislators and members of Congress.
The choice of John Glenn, the celebrated astronaut who nearly a decade earlier had become the first American to orbit Earth, to be a keynote speaker for an environmental conference may seem puzzling to us today, but it was not so at the time. Glenn had recently chaired Ohio’s Citizens Task Force on Environmental Protection, a bipartisan task force announced by that state’s Governor-elect John J. Gilligan on November 25, 1970. The panel issued it’s final report in June 1971. After its publication, Glenn toured around the country promoting Ohio’s study as a model for other states.
Three subsequent articles provided more details about the upcoming event: one in the Asheville Citizen on Monday, October 4, the second in a Daily Tar Heel article published on October 8, and the third in the Asheville Citizen-Times on Sunday, October 10. The Asheville Citizen article’s headline read “Environment To Be Frequent Topic During October In North Carolina.” The article described several activities scheduled for the month, including the “statewide environmental rally” in Greensboro that would be preceded on the same day by four airport rallies in Raleigh-Durham, Wilmington, Charlotte, and Asheville. (This order would be the actual order of the tour.) In addition to listing the expected speakers and invited individuals for the evening rally, the article stated that a “30-minute brand new movie on North Carolina and its environment” would be shown that night.
According to the Daily Tar Heel article, the Jaycees’ event was now co-sponsored with the North Carolina Conservation Council—no other resource, however, mentions this. The day was to begin in Washington D.C., where Governor Bob Scott, Bowles, Udall, and Glenn would fly to Raleigh-Durham Airport for the first of the four airport rallies. Later in the day in Greensboro, all but one of the state’s congressmen would fly to Greensboro from Washington for the evening’s rally. According to the October 12 issue of the News and Observer, however, Governor Scott met the Glenn-Udall party at Raleigh-Durham Airport and then traveled with them to the subsequent rallies. Scott did not attend the Greensboro event; instead, he returned to Raleigh to celebrate his wife’s birthday.
The Citizen-Times article published just two days before the eventful day stated that the North Carolina Jaycees “put about a year of planning and hard work” into the event. Thad Woodard, the Jaycees’ state environmental chairman, said,
The rally provides an opportunity for people of the state who have been expressing interest in environmental problems to show the strength of conservationists and environmentalists in North Carolina. We believe these problems have to be approached both on a legislative and on an educational basis . . . and our legislators and educators need to know that people are genuinely interested in the environment.
The Citizen-TImes also informed readers that the airport visits were to be made in two six-passenger planes provided by First Union National Bank and Northwestern Bank.
News coverage from the host cities’ newspapers shed light on some of the activities for the rallies held on October 12. The News and Observer assistant city editor Daniel C. Hoover covered the day’s events, but he did not describe much about the Raleigh-Durham airport rally. Hoover only wrote that Governor Scott “called on official in coastal counties to declare a moratorium on all permits to destroy dunes for development pending a study authorized by the general Assembly.” Hoover then quoted Scott, who said he would “propose, in the near future, to call together all county and municipal officials of our coastal counties, along with appropriate state officials, to explore solutions to existing and potential coastal problems.”
At the next stop, Ronald G. Dunn, staff writer for the Wilmington Morning Star estimated their airport crowd to be seventy-five people. John Glenn drew upon his experiences as an astronaut. He told those gathered that Earth is “in effect a spaceship on which the warning lights are on, so therefore, as spacemen we should take action immediately to save our environment.” He described the obviousness from space that Earth’s atmosphere is a very shallow layer and that America was likely among the world’s worst polluters. He also urged involvement, saying “People interest in the United States gets action, so get interested.” An accompanying UPI photograph with caption depicted Scott, Glenn, Udall and “gubernatorial aspirant Hargrove Bowles” at Raleigh-Durham rather than a scene from the Wilmington airport rally. Bowles was able to join the group because, as of the environmental emphasis day, he was the only officially declared candidate for governor.
Only thirty people attended the rally in Charlotte according to Charlotte Observer staff writer Susan Jetton. Perhaps as a result of the sparse attendance, Governor Scott said “efforts of decision-makers are not very successful without the active support of the people.” Glenn again drew attention to the “warning signals” of pollution that were appearing “on this space ship earth.” He added, “If we do not start treating our environment with more respect—giving it time to replenish itself—we are in for trouble in the future.”
The Asheville visit drew more than one hundred people, according to staff write Connie Blackwell. Glenn used the “warning lights” metaphor here, too, but Blackwell added the Glenn did not see himself as “one of the doom and gloom boys.” Bowles urged the approval of the Environmental Bill of Rights. Udall and Scott each addressed proposed aspects of the Tennessee Valley Authority project in western North Carolina, the Mills River Dam and Reservoir. Udall, noting his many visits to western North Carolina during the previous ten years, said he was there that day because “I don’t want to see North Carolina go down the same road” as California. He noted that his “attitudes have made about a 180-degree turn in the past ten years. It used to be if a dam was mentioned, I automatically thought it was a good idea. Now, my reaction would be that it should not be built.” He continued,
Industrialists came into these valleys years ago and said. “We’ll give you jobs, but we’ll ruin your mountain streams and stink up your pure air.” They accepted because jobs were so badly needed. Now we are beginning to realize that it didn’t have to be that way.
Several newspapers and the Associated Press (AP) reported on the evening conference. David S. Greene of the Greensboro Daily News, report that the first speaker was Udall, who wrote that Udall described “North Carolina as a leading state in maintaining ‘the standard of living,'” but also one that needed to prevent further “despoilment of the environment.” Udall encouraged attendees to “Hold on to what you’ve got.” Udall referred specifically Bald Head Island, which he had seen during a flyover earlier in the day. The AP reported that private developers wanted to build a “plush resort” there and that environmentalists had asked the state to purchase it and maintain its natural state. Greene noted that the audience applauded when Udall “urged American to listen to young environmentalists.” Quoting Udall: “If they have something to contribute let them contribute. It’s their world.”
The News and Observer reported that Udall, as “the keynote speaker,” suggested that Bald Head Island be added to the existing Cape Lookout National Seashore. He added during a press conference following the rally that there was “a hang-up” on how to pay for the acquisition. Hoover wrote that Udall continued by offering a few options “as prospective gubernatorial candidate Hugh Morton hovered at his shoulder snapping pictures.”
Senator B. Everett Jordan then introduced John Glenn, first noting legislation to reduce automobile exhaust and the problem of “one hundred million automobile tires lying around our countryside” plus twenty-eight billion bottles, a like number of cans, and millions of tons of paper products. Jordan then encouraged the audience to increase the recycling of products that have been seen as waste.
Recalling his orbital spaceflight John Glenn observed, “We do have closed loop systems that have to refurbish themselves, but we are, in fact, in danger of overtaxing our systems.” He said nature was waving “red flags” of warning and that “people power” was causing industry and government to take notice. That, in turn, he said “can generate the heat to get something done. People power, you bet.” He then dismissed the saying “the solution to pollution is dilution.” Glenn said, “We see the red flags going up . . . we better do something about it.”
Roy Sowers, director of the North Carolina Department of Natural Resources introduced Republican Senator Robert Packwood of Oregon, the concluding speaker. Packwood drew much attention and applause as he addressed measures that could advance population control. “I am committed,” he said, “to stopping this population binge, and reducing it, turning it around.”
Despite the presence of so many politicians, the North Carolina Jaycees tried its best to keep the event from being political, according to Nat Walker in his “Political Notebook” column for the The Greensboro Daily News with the headline “Environmental Rally Becomes Political Gathering—Naturally.” Walker said, “The succeeded—sort of.” Only three North Carolina politicians got to speak from the rostrum—Bowles, Sowers, and Jordon—leaving the remaining “real or potential” candidates to “rely on mingling with the crowd or finding some excuse to stand in front of the audience.”
Mid October was an interesting time in Hugh Morton’s life. A month earlier, Morton attended the Governor’s Down-East Jamboree as a undeclared candidate for the 1972 Democratic Party primary. He would officially declare his candidacy on December 1. This meant that on October 12 Morton was still an “unofficial” candidate, and was not invited to participate in the flights to the airport rallies. Two newspapers reported specifically about Morton on that day. The Charlotte Observer characterized Morton as “unhappy.” In Charlotte, Morton said that he had, “done more in an environmental way than anyone now running for governor.” He acknowledged that being an unannounced candidate prevented him from participating. The Greensboro Daily News painted Morton as being in different mood at the evening’s conference. Bowles, as an “announced” candidate for governor, got to introduce Udall because C. C. Cameron, a member of the state Board of Natural and Economic Resources, did not attend. Walker wrote that Morton “appeared miffed” and “pointedly noted that the Jaycees had extended him an invitation to attend the coliseum function.” Walker then recounted a scene where a “woman reporter” asked Morton when he would announce for governor. “Morton snapped, “When I get ready.” Walker concluded that the reporter “Apparently couldn’t think of a follow up question and left red-faced.”
Winter has definitely descended upon North Carolina, so what better time than now to look at skiing photographs made by Hugh Morton. In the Morton collection, most snow skiing photographs are grouped together as Series 6.6, but there are others filed by name of location in Series 1. Cataloochee Ranch was the first facility to offer commercial skiing in North Carolina, which at the time was the highest and southernmost skiing resort in the eastern United States. Cataloochee’s first skiers hit the slopes of Fie Top on Christmas Eve morning, Sunday December 24th, 1961. On Christmas Day the Asheville Citizen carried a story (no byline) with a staff-photograph by Parris. (Would this be the newspaper’s editor John Parris?) Later in the season, The State published a short cover article by “Old Trudge” (a pen name used by Carl Goerch) in its March 3rd issue that began, “We hate to admit it, but we saw our first skiing recently.”
What brought Old Trudge to his reluctant observation? Artificial snowmaking.
Snowmaking has its beginnings in the post-World-War-II Canadian airline industry, and its alpine skiing roots in 1950s New England resorts. In his autobiography Mountain Fever, Cataloochee Ranch proprietor Tom Alexander wrote that he first had the idea for a ski slope at the resort in 1937—annotating the location of a “skin run” in the margin of a panoramic snapshot of the property. Monitoring winter weather conditions, however, revealed that snowfall was too inconsistent to make a run of it. Skiing at the resort was left to family members using homemade skis and golf clubs for ski poles.
Alexander came to learn of snowmaking technology by the late 1950s. In 1959 and 1960 he and his wife twice traveled to New England ski resorts to see if the snow guns used by northern resorts would work in the southern Appalachians. The Alexanders decided to “start small,” installing a rope tow at the base of Fie Top behind the ranch house, using a fishpond for water to make snow, and converting a cow barn into a ski lodge. In keeping with the northeastern resorts, Cataloochee hired a European ski instructor, Karl Schoenschaller from Innsbruck, Austria.
Chronologically speaking, Cataloochees Ski Slopes’ opening date and instructor selection are interesting on two fronts: Squaw Valley, California hosted the 1960 Winter Olympics—only the second time in the United States, the first being Lake Placid, New York in 1928—and Innsbruck would host the 1964 winter games. The Alexanders were apparently trying to catch the wave of excitement for skiing in the United States spurred by the Olympics.
According to the Asheville Citizen article, Cataloochee laid its first coating of snow on the evening of Thursday, December 22nd. Three inches of natural snow fell on Friday night. Then from Saturday night through dawn Sunday the snowmaking machines pumped out three feet of snow. The ranch debuted its first run—1,000 feet long and 300 feet wide—that morning. A 300-foot-long beginners slope opened by mid afternoon. Word caught on quickly and 40 to 50 people skied that first day. By March more than 200 people from the south and midwest would head to Haywood County to ski for a weekend. At season’s end, the Alexanders “even showed a little profit.” Perhaps more importantly to the Alexanders, they were able to extend the working season for their family members and staff, and help boost the local economy.
Cataloochee apparently hired Hugh Morton to photograph its ski activities and facilities two ski seasons later, because two images in the brochure “Ski Mile High Cataloochee in the Great Smokies” (see cover above) match black-and-white negatives in the Morton collection—including the photograph at the opening of this post. Given the time of year, it is likely that Cataloochee designed the brochure for the 1964-65 season. What makes Morton’s photographs historically relevant is the decision by Cataloochee Ranch in 1968 to expand its entire ski operation “across the ridge” onto Moody Top to the north. Morton’s 1964 photographs, therefore, portray the state’s first commercial ski operation before its significant upgrade just four years later.
In total there are twenty-three surviving black-and-white negatives from this assignment—fourteen labeled “Cataloochee Ski Slope (Use)” and nine labelled “Cataloochee Ski Slope (Reject)”—and two 4×5 color transparencies dated February 22, 1964. As of this posting date, three of these images are available in the online collection. (More may be added.) Though not in the brochure, Alexander included the following Morton photograph in Mountain Fever.
There are also 35mm slides from this date in Slide Lot 009292, listed by location under Cataloochee in the finding aid—and this would be a good place to inject a bit of wisdom about conducting research using the Morton collection and finding aid: you need to be thorough and think broadly . . . and here’s why.
There is one slide in Lot 009292 (slide #18) that is labeled in handwriting “Cataloochee / H. Morton” and it is a color variant of the black-and-white photograph used in Alexander’s autobiography seen above. None of the other slides in the lot are labeled. The lot is described as containing twelve slides, and the frame numbers printed by Kodak on the slides mounts are 2, 8, 11, 17, 18, 20 22, 32, 33, 34, 35, and 36. Thirty-six exposures was a standard number of frames issued on a roll of film (twenty-four being another). Knowing this, you might deduce that several sides from this roll of film were weeded out somewhere along the line. But something else is may have happened . . . .
Slides 2 (a different pose of the model below shot on 4×5 sheet film), 8, and 11 look like Cataloochee scenes; slide 17, however, is a variant scene of an image printed in a brochure for Blowing Rock Ski Lodge! (Note: The Blowing Rock resort first opened for the 1962-63 season, then became Appalachian Ski Mountain in 1968. The next skiing post will look at Morton images from this resort.)
Did a Cataloochee image get into the Blowing Rock Ski Lodge brochure by accident, or did Morton move to the second location and continue with the same roll of film? Well, after frame 18 (labeled Cataloochee) is slide 20, which is a mostly nondescript interior view of skiers in a cafeteria, and slide 22 is another variant view of a different scene in the Blowing Rock Ski Lodge brochure. Slides 32 through 34 are also likely at Blowing Rock. The location for slides 35 and 36 could be, too, but would need to be determined by someone who can recognized the mountain in the background. But because there are so many gaps between frame numbers, the third possibility is that Morton weeded two or more rolls of film and combined the keepers from both into one box. A dead give away would have been seeing the same frame number of two slides from different locations.
Because the slides in Lot 009292 have subjects and scenes look similar, the finding aid describes the lot as “Cataloochee.” It wasn’t until further digging for this blog post (digging that given the immensity of the Morton collection could not have been done at the time of processing the collection) revealed that the lot actually contains work made at two resorts. Plus there are no entries in the Finding aid for Blowing Rock Ski Lodge . . . only Appalachian Ski Mountain. We’ll have to reckon with the images to see if the dates are the same for both resorts, then go back and update the finding aid with the conclusions.
So once again, here’s the take away: when researching the Morton collection, think broader than your specific topic and be thorough. You may discover and resolve another “Morton mystery!”
On this fiftieth anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination, A View to Hugh would be remiss without a post about Kennedy. But what to write? JFK has been mentioned or featured several times here, including “A Spark of Greatness,” a four-part series (the link is for part one) related to the presidential and North Carolina gubernatorial race for 1960, and “Memorial for JFK, May 1964” that tells of the ceremony at Kenan Memorial Stadium on 17 May 1964 and Hugh Morton’s chairing the statewide effort to raise funds for North Carolina’s contribution to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library.
An underutilized portion of the Morton collection is the moving image holdings, which are quite extensive. A View to Hugh, however, has yet to include a post that draws on any of the footage . . . until today. The link below leads to about a minute of film (without sound) shot by Hugh Morton: P081_MI_010001 Kennedy Sanford DC Med Res
On 27 April 1961 Morton, as chairman of the Battleship USS North Carolina Commission, made this motion picture footage while visiting President John F. Kennedy at the White House Rose Garden. Morton was part of a delegation that included several North Carolinians: Hargrove “Skipper” Bowles, Jr., director of the state’s Conservation and Development Board; Governor Terry Sanford; United States Secretary of Commerce Luther H. Hodges (the state’s governor prior to Sanford) and United States senators B. Everett Jordan and Sam Ervin, Jr. The footage shows Sanford presenting Kennedy with the first “admiral” certificate in the “North Carolina Navy” as part the fundraising effort to bring the mothballed WWII-era battleship USS North Carolina from New Jersey to Wilmington, N. C. Admirals would be those who donated $100 or more to the effort.
In reality, it was a different framed item altogether. The certificate wasn’t back from the printer in time, so a framed item from the office of White House Press Secretary Pierre Salinger served as a surrogate. Oddly enough, the stand-in certificate was for Salinger’s admiralty in a Flagship Fleet. Kennedy burst into laughter when he caught the substitution.
The larger mission at hand was planning for North Carolina’s Autumn International Trade Fair, then thought likely to be held in Charlotte in October later that year. According to Roy Parker, Jr.’s article the following day in Raleigh’s News and Observer, Kennedy “took time from a fast-paced schedule to promote the fair.” After leaving a top-level National Security Council meeting, Kennedy met briefly with the group inside his office before they stepped outside to the Rose Garden. Kennedy said a few non-committal words of endorsement for the exposition (you can listen to a brief recording from the Kennedy Library website) after Sanford invited Kennedy to attend, because Kennedy would be speaking at UNC Chapel Hill during its University Day celebration on October 12th.
It would seem the battleship commission presentation took place moments after the trade fair promotion. The News and Observer also published a photograph of that presentation, which appeared on page 38.
There’s going to be a special birthday party at the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh on June 8, 2013: Our State magazine will be 80 years old. The celebration will begin at 11 AM and will include musical entertainment, exhibits, games and demonstrations. A View to Hugh would like to congratulate Our State on this milestone. Our volunteer contributor Jack Hilliard takes a personal look—through the filter of Hugh Morton’s lens—at some of the magazine’s fascinating history, which began as The State. My first recollection of The State magazine was around Christmas time 1948 when I was visiting my grandmother. She knew that Charlie Justice was my hero, so she had saved for me her copy of the December 4th issue, which featured a Hugh Morton cover picture of Justice following the ‘48 UNC vs. Duke game. I have been a fan of the magazine ever since that day.
At that time, the magazine was already 15 years old, but it was new to me and I didn’t know that there had been a previous cover with a photograph of Justice by Morton about a year before. (I was able to get that earlier issue about 5 years later when I was working on a fund-raising scrap paper drive.)
WPTF (Raleigh) radio broadcaster Carl Goerch had started the magazine back in the late spring of 1933. In the midst of the Great Depression he proposed a magazine that would be “a weekly survey of North Carolina, dedicated to cause people to be more appreciative of their state by becoming better acquainted with it.” In order to publish his dream, Goerch needed advertisers, but times were tough so he told his prospective clients, “let me run an ad for you in the first four issues . . . if at the end of the month, you find that the publication isn’t worth anything, you can discontinue. On the other hand, if you think it really is worthwhile, I hope you’ll continue using space.” His first prospect was S. Clay Williams, president of R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. Others who were willing to invest were Julian Price of Jefferson Standard Life, Robert M. Hanes of Wachovia Bank, Louis Sutton of Carolina Power & Light, Norman Cocke of Duke Power, W. D. (Billy) Carmichael of Liggett & Myers Tobacco Co., and Durham banker John Sprunt Hill.
The first issue hit the streets on June 3, 1933 for ten cents a copy, or three dollars for a year’s subscription. Pictured on that first cover was North Carolina Governor J. C. B. Ehringhaus and inside were the first of Goerch’s long-running departments such as “Funny Experiences” and “Just One Thing after Another.”
The magazine “met a very favorable impression and kept right on growing,” according to Goerch, selling 2,500 copies. Goerch and his magazine started out in an office in the Lawyers Building in Raleigh with a staff of two, including himself. Inez Gehring took care of the office and Goerch did just about everything else, with help from some trusted freelance writers who sent in articles for which they were paid $2.50 per article. Among those freelancers were W. O. Saunders, Tom Bost, Paul Green, Billy Arthur, H. G. Jones, Bill Sharpe, and others.
In addition to the impressive freelance writers were equally talented photographers like Aycock Brown, John Hemmer, and Hugh Morton. Morton would go on to become a most prolific contributor with dozens of photographs and more than sixty photo covers between March 8, 1941 (uncredited) and December 3, 1949. Three of the four issues published in January 1950 featured Morton photographs on their covers. In the January 28th issue, The State named Charlie Justice “North Carolina’s Man of the Year for 1949,” with a Morton portrait of the Justice family on the cover.
When the magazine celebrated its tenth anniversary with the issue of June 5, 1943, the front cover consisted of a letter to Goerch from Governor J. Melville Broughton.
“This unique magazine under your able leadership has lived up to its name in the highest degree.” Inside, in an editorial, Goerch said, “the last ten years have been the happiest of my entire life.” Carl Goerch published the magazine for eighteen years before turning it over to Bill Sharpe on September 1, 1951. A party was held in Sharpe’s honor when he took over the magazine and Hugh Morton was there and took pictures.
Sharpe’s stated philosophy for the magazine was:
North Carolina is settled by a whimsical race, forever busy at something interesting. Somehow they continue to live in the most fascinating places, do the most ingenious things, have the most incredible experiences, catch the most outlandish fish and invent the most fantastic instruments.
Goerch continued to write columns and handle advertising. Sharpe added his well-written columns—“Travel Topics,” “From Manteo to Murphy,” and “Remember.” The magazine published its first full-color cover with the September 13, 1952 issue, featuring a photograph by Sebastian Sommer of a family picnicking along the Blue Ridge Parkway in the fall with Grandfather Mountain in distance. In December the new “Down Home in North Carolina” slogan replaced the old “A Weekly Survey.”
In 1954 the magazine switched from a weekly to a bi-monthly. W. B. Wright joined the team as advertising manager. A Raleigh native, a navy veteran, and a Duke graduate, Wright fit right in. Under Sharpe’s leadership, the magazine became somewhat of a lightning rod for conservative thought. Sharpe was noted for his editorials against “centralization of power in the federal government.” Wright became co-publisher with Sharpe in 1965.
In the January 6, 1962 issue, the magazine announced Hugh Morton as its “North Carolinian of 1961.” Morton had continued to make a huge photographic contribution to the magazine, but was likely selected because of his efforts to bring the battleship USS North Carolina home to Wilmington. In the October 1, 1968 issue, Hugh Morton listed his favorite ten photographs. His 1968 top-ten list turned out to be a good cross-section of what would become his almost-seventy-year portfolio.
On January 6, 1970, Bill Sharpe died suddenly and the logical choice to take over was W. B. (Bill) Wright, who had earlier worked for Sharpe during his efforts to establish a weekly newspaper in Winston-Salem in 1940. Wright followed in the footsteps of Goerch and Sharpe with little change to the magazine.
The sad news on Monday, September 16, 1974 was that Carl Goerch had died at his home in Raleigh. He was praised for “accurately informing North Carolinians of their history and progress” during his 55 years of work for newspapers, magazines, radio, and television, and as a public speaker. Carl Goerch was 83 years old.
By the time the August, 1978 issued arrived on the scene, the magazine was published monthly and that August issue featured a Morton cover image of Grandfather Mountain’s most famous citizen, Mildred the Bear, feeding a cub. The issue turned out to be one of the most popular and Bill Wright staged a contest for readers to title the Morton photograph.
With the November, 1980 issue, there was yet another Hugh Morton cover photo of UNC’s Charlie Justice. Morton was having a photo exhibit in the Morehead Planetarium and the magazine was promoting the event. The Justice image selected for the cover was a familiar one and was described as Justice running onto the field at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, his last varsity game at UNC. The enlarged image on the cover gave one the ability to see the Justice uniform and it was clearly a 1948 style—not the one worn at the Cotton Bowl on January 2, 1950.
In a 1984 interview, I asked Justice about the uniform discrepancy, but he couldn’t explain it. When Justice passed away in October of 2003, the same image was used in several North Carolina newspapers with the same caption. Then in 2008, Elizabeth Hull sent me a series of Justice images for additional identification and this image was part of the group; however she had scanned the entire negative image and the background was clearly Kenan Stadium. It seems that somewhere along the way, two similar negatives had gotten switched and for more than thirty years this image was incorrectly identified. It is now correct in the Morton online collection.
The January, 1982 issue cover featured a Morton bird’s-eye-view photograph of the Cape Hatteras Light. At the time, Morton was heading up a committee to save the historic structure from being swept into the sea.
In its fiftieth anniversary edition, actually published in January, 1984, Bill Wright said:
“The magazine hasn’t changed a great deal over the years, and therein might lie an explanation to its success.” The front cover of that fiftieth issue contained a montage of magazine covers from years past, including the Morton image of Mildred from 1978.
Bill Wright continued to publish The State until 1987 when he sold it to Shaw Publishing Company of Charlotte. New publisher Sam Rogers brought a new design with fresh typefaces and eye-catching color. These changes brought letters, pro and con, but Rogers insisted “the flavor is still present.”
The November 1992 issue featured a Hugh Morton profile, complete with a picture of Morton on the cover. Rogers continued publishing the magazine for the next nine years. Then, in the spring of 1996—enter Bernard (Bernie) Mann. A native New Yorker, like Carl Goerch, Bernie Mann, president of Mann Media, Inc, bought the operation, moved the editorial offices from Charlotte to Greensboro, and expanded the staff from four to fourteen. Soon after Mann took over the publishing duties, he was presented some amazing information. A well-known research firm presented him a report that said at most magazines, 35 to 37 percent of the readers renewed their subscriptions when they came due. A rate of 50 percent was considered phenomenal. The State’s rate was 87 percent. One of the researchers told Mann, “you didn’t buy a magazine, you bought a public trust.”
Mann made several changes to the magazine, and when the August 1996 issue arrived, readers first noticed a name change. Gone was The State, and replacing it was Our State. “I thought it was more inclusive,” Mann said of the change. “I thought it gave a more personal feel.”
I remember in early May 1998 Lee Kinard, “Good Morning Show” executive producer and my boss at WFMY-TV, called me in one morning and said, “We need to do a feature on Our State magazine.” I called marketing director Amy Jo (Wood) Pasquini, and she graciously set up a time when we could come over for an interview. On the morning of May 26, 1998 Kinard, photographer George Vaughn, and I went over to the magazine office and met with Pasquini, Mann, and editor Mary Ellis. I remember how impressed we were with these folks who went out their way to provide us with a fantastic segment for our show.
The June 2003 issue celebrated the magazine’s 70th birthday with a 188-page collector’s edition. Now in June, 2013, issue number 2047 is out with a keepsake edition celebrating another milestone: an 80th birthday. I was not surprised that the photo essay featuring many of the magazine’s covers, which is on pages 78 through 103, includes numerous Hugh Morton cover photographs.
Last Tuesday was a fun day at the office. In the morning, library staff gave Carl Kasell a tour of Wilson Library. Kassel, a UNC alumnus, returned to Chapel Hill for an evening event sponsored by the library moderated by WUNC radio host Eric Hodge. Kasell was a member of UNC’s class of 1956 (although he did not graduate, having been drafted into the United States Army after four years as a student). Kasell’s tenure at National Public Radio began in 1975 as a part-time news announcer for Weekend Edition. Starting in 1979 he was the voice of the network’s morning news for the next thirty years. Since retiring from that role at NPR in 2009, Kasell became a “roving ambassador,” and continued as the judge and scorekeeper for the “Oddly Informative News Quiz” Wait Wait . . . Don’t Tell Me!, which debuted in January 1998.
As you might imagine, Kasell has received several awards during his sonorous career. In 2004 the UNC School of Journalism and Mass Communication inducted Kasell into the North Carolina Journalism Hall of Fame. In 2010 the National Radio Hall of Fame inducted Kasell into its ranks. In March 2013 the North Carolina Press Association named Kasell “North Carolinian of the Year” for 2013, and the association made a wonderful biographical video available on their YouTube site. Despite his stature in journalism, A View to Hugh has not been able to feature Kasell because Hugh Morton hadn’t photographed him, even though he been a co-founder of WUNC radio with Morton’s long-time friend Charles Kuralt.
Or so we thought.
We featured the above photograph a few years ago in a post about the comeback of The Lost Colony after a fire destroyed the production’s costumes and props. Playing the role of Sir Walter Raleigh (right) is Andy Griffith. But wait . . . wait! Who is the fellow in the lower right corner wearing too much face paint? None other than Carl Kasell!
As seen in the opening photograph, I showed Hugh Morton’s photograph to Mr. Kasell and he confirmed that that indeed was he in the corner. The reference to too much face paint came from a story Kasell told during Tuesday evening’s event, when Andy Griffith told Kasell he had been a bit heavy handed in the makeup room before dress rehearsal. Kasell confided that Griffith later helped him with a more appropriate application of face paint, and that Griffith was “a big, big help” during that season. (Kasell’s high school drama teacher was Clifton Britton, not Griffith as is often incorrectly stated on numerous web pages.)
We don’t know if Morton made the above photograph before or after that cosmetic lesson, but we now know the year Morton made the photograph: Kasell said it was 1952 after he had graduated from high school, and 1952 is the only year Kasell’s name appears in the official program. And because we know what Kasell’s costume looked like, we can now identify other Morton photographs of Kasell.
Kasell played the role of “Wanchese, an Indian chief.” I believe as he looked at Morton’s photograph he dredged up from his memory a couple of his lines: “Mish-wi aga, Wingina” and “Wanchese no more chief. Wanchese now king.”
If you couldn’t make the evening with Carl Kasell, you can watch a video recording of the event, which includes Kasell’s recollections from his performance in The Lost Colony while Morton’s photograph is projected on the screen. Below is an image from a color transparency from the Morton collection not previously scanned.
But least we think that the similarity between the two photographs means that Hugh Morton made the eventual 1953 cover photograph, too, here is a photograph published on page 35 of the 1952 souvenir program:
The cover photograph could have been made by any of the photographers above. . . . But wait . . . wait, don’t tell me! Is that Hugh Morton (center right) among the press photographers?!
It’s that time of year again . . tie buying season! (I bought one myself this weekend, a holiday gift for myself.) Maybe Father’s Day is the only other time of year when men’s ties sell more? Perhaps a knowledgeable reader can fill in the statistics.
In 1952 a certain style necktie made its way into the wardrobes of North Carolina males: “The Original Tar Heel Tie.” Is the necktie now celebrating its 60th anniversary? (A celebration, that is, if anyone even remembers this tie!) Time prevents me from jumping too deeply into the topic, so perhaps our fellow readers can fill in some details and we can collectively revive this knot-worthy event.
Hugh Morton’s portrait of a smiling E. L. White appears with other photographs by different photographers in a short two-column spread in the December 6th, 1952 issue of The State. The most important clues on this page can be found in the group portrait by Frank Jones depicting Ira Julian of Winston-Salem (owner of Kent Bakeries?) showcasing his Tar Heel necktie.
Working backwards in time, I skimmed through previous issues of the magazine looking for other mentions of the necktie. The earliest I could find was a small listing (third from bottom) in the classified advertisements in the October 11th, issue:
Small classifieds for the necktie continued for an undetermined time. Illustrated advertisements in The State for the necktie soon appear, the first being on November 10th:
A few things pop out at me here. If it’s new and original, why did it need to say so? Were there impostors? If so, how far back does the “original” go? The caption for Frank Jones’ group portrait said that Ira Julian’s necktie had “recently” been a conversation piece. When was Hans Hiedemann’s recital at Salem College? And who or what is the “Downhomers?” Designer? Manufacturer? Distributor? There is no listing in the Raleigh 1952 city directory for that company. My last observation is that the necktie came in six different versions, three of which sport collegiate colors—presumably for wider appeal on campuses where wearing neckties was commonplace, and alumni, too.
The November 8th issue of The State contains a portrait by Bill Leinbach of Bart Leiper, then newly appointed executive director of Western North Carolina Highlanders, Inc. wearing the necktie with a dark shirt. The caption says Leiper now “sells his native State to tourists” by wearing the “Tar-Heel-splattered” necktie, “Just so no one could be in doubt as to his new mission.” The most prominent depiction, however, of the Tar Heel necktie in The State made its splash on the November 22nd cover:
Well that’s as far as I can take this for now.Keen readers of A Hugh to View may recall seeing this tie in a previous post, as Bill Sharpe and Orville Campbell both don the tie in 1956 for the Honorary Tar Heels gathering in New York City. Below is another scene from that event, Orville Campbell and Andy Griffith arm-in-arm.
I did check in the North Carolina Collection Gallery and none of the six flavors of The Original Tar Heel Necktie are among the other neckties in its holdings. Would anyone possibly still have one or more in their closet who would be willing to donate this seemingly one-time popular fashion statement to the gallery to add to its sartorial holdings?
October 2nd, 2011 marked the 50th anniversary of the USS North Carolina’s arrival in Wilmington. Hugh Morton collection volunteer Jack Hilliard takes a look at the final days of the historic journey.
October 1961 was a busy month for photographer Hugh Morton. UNC’s football Tar Heels played host to Clemson, the North Carolina Trade Fair opened in Charlotte, President John F. Kennedy came to Chapel Hill for University Day, and the UNC basketball Tar Heels began practice under new head coach Dean Smith. But it would be the events of October 2nd that would become a defining episode in the legacy of Hugh Morton.
On October 17th, 1945 the battleship USS North Carolina (BB-55) entered Boston harbor. The ship had spent forty months in the Pacific during World War II traveling 307,000 miles. On its arrival, freighters, tugs, transports, and work boats cut loose with whistles, sirens, and bells for the North Carolina’s first salute back home. During World War II, the ship had been credited with twenty-four enemy planes, one enemy cargo ship, and had participated in every major offensive engagement in the Pacific from Guadalcanal to Tokyo Bay, earning fifteen battle stars. In the summer of 1946, it twice visited the Naval Academy at Annapolis to embark midshipmen for training cruises in the Caribbean. Then in October the North Carolina returned to its birthplace, the New York Navy Yard, for inactivation. On June 27th, 1947 it was decommissioned and assigned to the 16th Fleet (inactive), Battleship Division 4, Atlantic, relegated to fourteen years of retirement at Bayonne, New Jersey.
In 1958 a brief news item appeared in the media saying the World War II battleship was going to be scrapped by the United States Navy . . . sold for junk. When James S. Craig, Jr. of Wilmington heard the news, he was outraged. Craig set out to save the old ship. He was able to get Governor Luther Hodges’ attention and support as well as that of incoming Governor Terry Sanford. Hodges sent a dispatch to Washington requesting that the Department of the Navy postpone its plans to destroy, pending an investigation by the state into the possibility of salvaging the ship. On June 1st, 1960 the North Carolina was stricken from the official Navy list.
A little over five months later, on November 11th, 1960, Governor Hodges appointed the USS North Carolina Battleship Advisory Committee to investigate the feasibility of establishing the warship as a state memorial. In the spring of 1961, a bill was introduced in the legislature creating the USS North Carolina Battleship Commission. Hugh Morton was installed as chairman. During the next five months Morton and his commission initiated an intensive “Let’s bring the USS North Carolina home” campaign that raised the needed funds.
The United States Navy turned the battleship over to the state of North Carolina in a ceremony in Bayonne on September 6, 1961, with noted newsman Lowell Thomas as master of ceremonies. The ship’s towing to North Carolina was scheduled to begin on September 25th, but the remnants of Hurricane Esther had other ideas. A one-day delay was in order. The weather on Tuesday, September 26th was better and a proud warship headed home. Instead of an infamous journey to the junkyard, the USS North Carolina’s final voyage would be to a memorial berth in Wilmington, North Carolina—and the stage was set for a true North Carolina homecoming.
Soon after 9:00 a.m. on September 26th, the 45,000 ton USS North Carolina was moved away from its dock at Bayonne. Five tugs alongside and two others at the bow eased the battleship out into New York Harbor. Several ships in the harbor gave the majestic North Carolina salutes with their deep-throated horns as it moved down the channel through the narrows to lower New York Bay and then the open sea. Captain Axel Jorgensen of the lead tug Diana Moran answered each salute. For the next four days, the Diana Moran and its sister tug the Margaret Moran guided the big ship down the east coast. On Saturday afternoon, September 30th, the ship circled slowly the lee of Frying Pan Shoals, awaiting an early Sunday morning tide to assist its trip up the Cape Fear River. The plan was to enter Southport Harbor about 7:00 a.m. on Sunday, October 1st. But once again, mother nature stepped in: an unexpected northeaster blew in over coastal Carolina, bringing rain and low visibility.
The battleship USS North Carolina spent its final night at sea just off Cape Hatteras—the “Graveyard of the Atlantic”—near the skeleton of the Laura E. Barnes, which wrecked off the Dare coast before the turn of the 20th century. Then at 8:00 a.m. on October 2nd, the ship began the last twenty-seven miles of its final journey. Thousands of spectators lined the river banks to watch. Scores of boats followed the big ship as it was pulled by the Coast Guard cutter Cherokee and guided up the winding channel by a fleet of eleven tug boats. As the North Carolina approached downtown Wilmington at 3:30 p.m., the crowds grew larger. Bleachers had been set up at the Customs House, and people could be seen hanging out of buildings trying to get a look at North Carolina’s newest tourist attraction. A band played “Anchors Aweigh” as the battlewagon cleared the Cape Fear River at 5:37 p.m.
“The berthing at Wilmington was one of the most tense moments in my lifetime,” said Morton in his 1996 book, Sixty Years With a Camera. “If it did not work, we knew we had a mighty big ship that would make a formidable dam on the Cape Fear River.” But it did work: at 5:40 p.m. on October 2nd, 1961, Rear Admiral William S. Maxwell, Jr. USN, Retired, superintendent of the Battleship Memorial, pronounced the USS North Carolina was home.
During World War II, the Japanese claimed six times to have sunk the North Carolina, but the gallant battleship survived every onslaught. And when it was doomed for the junkyard the people of the great state whose name it had carried during the war, and led by planner and organizer Hugh Morton, saved it for future generations.
Unfortunately, James S. (Jimmy) Craig, Jr. did not get to see the mighty battleship slip majestically into its memorial shrine at the Port of Wilmington. He was in the Army Burn Center at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, in critical condition from injuries suffered in an air show crash just eight days earlier. He died on October 14th, the day “The Showboat” first opened to the public.
This coming Saturday, July 23rd 2011, will be New River Celebration Day at the New River State Park located near Laurel Springs in Ashe and Allegheny counties of North Carolina. What’s to celebrate? The river itself—the second oldest in the world—whose very nature survived a decade-long threat in the 1960s and 1970s.
The north and south forks of the New River wend their northerly way through northwestern North Carolina, meeting at their confluence to form the river’s main stem near the Virginia border. The region had been traditionally rural farmlands, but on March 11, 1963 the Appalachian Power Company (APCO), a subsidiary the American Electric Power Company (the largest electric utility in the country) received permission from the Federal Power Commission to conduct a two-year feasibility study for the potential generation of hydroelectric power on the upper New River.
As a result, on February 27, 1965 APCO filed an application for its “Blue Ridge Project”—a proposal for a non-federal hydroelectric power project to construct two dams on the New River in Grayson County, Virginia with the upper dam’s reservoir extending into North Carolina. The reservoirs would have a combined surface area of more than 19,000 acres. In 1966, however, the Department of interior proposed a larger project that would help flush pollution from the Kanawha River farther downstream, which eventually became known as the Modified Blue Ridge Project. That plan called for more than 38,000 to 42,000 surface acres, requiring the displacement of least 2,700 inhabitants in nearly 900 dwellings, plus numerous industries, churches, cemeteries, and other structures. And the power generated by the project was not for local resources but for distant customers.
In protest, citizens mounted a preservation effort that was soon joined by both the state and federal governments. The New River was not alone, however, in its plight. The nation was undergoing a revitalized environmentalism movement in the 1960s, and the condition of America’s rivers emerged as a major concern. On October 2, 1968, the United States Congress enacted the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, which specified three river segments within the country that qualified for protection, including a 26.5-mile stretch of the New River from its confluence with Dog Creek to the Virginia border. With passage of this law, protected rivers could become part of a National Wild and Scenic Rivers System and the law offered two paths to achieve that protection.
The battle for the New River that followed was long and complex. What is interesting from the Hugh Morton perspective is that the early stages of the preservation effort were in play when Morton briefly campaigned as a candidate for governor the Democratic Party in late 1971 and early 1972. The headwaters of South Fork of the New River start from a spring at Blowing Rock in Watauga County, which as the crow flies is not far from Grandfather Mountain in Avery County. Research into Morton’s campaign might reveal if he ever spoke publicly about the subject.
The following few years saw the first statewide effort to fight for the New River, including the Committee for the New River in January 1975. The National Committee for the New River organized in 1974. (A NCNR map of the project illustrates the area that would have been effected by the project.) On May 26th, 1975 the North Carolina General Assembly designated that same 26.5 mile stretch of the New River included in the federal Wild and Scenic Rivers Act as a State Scenic River. Morton’s photograph above dates from May 1975, one of several he took that month. In 1976 the New River obtained its status as a National Scenic River, and the New River State Park opened in 1977.
You can read more about the efforts to protect the New River in
Sam Leonard, a 2009–2010 graduate student research assistant who worked on the Hugh Morton collection and has previously contributed to A View to Hugh, is the author of today’s post. Her post highlights some of the historical MacRae family photographs of early Linville, North Carolina from copy negatives made by Morton. Thanks, Sam, for sharing your academic experience utilizing the Morton collection!
Last year I had the pleasure of working on the Hugh Morton Collection of Photographs and Films as Elizabeth Hull’s research assistant, scanning negatives and adding descriptions to the images for the online collection of Morton “highlights.” It has been months since I worked on the collection, but I still see evidence of Hugh Morton’s work in my daily life. I saw Hugh Morton images working for the local television station UNC-TV, where I created a photographic archive. I see Hugh Morton’s photography in hallways and on the news. I have also had the pleasure of learning about Hugh Morton’s legacy in my classes.
This past Fall semester, I completed the class “Introduction to Public History” at UNC-Chapel Hill taught by adjunct associate professor Anne Mitchell Whisnant—author of the book Super Scenic Motorway: A Blue Ridge Parkway History, and contributor of the essay “Roads Taken and Not Taken: Images and the Story of the Blue Ridge Parkway ‘Missing Link’” to the View to Hugh“Worth 1000 Words” project. Students in Whisnant’s class had the opportunity to write essays for the website Driving Through Time: The Digital Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina, a new Website under development in the University Libraries’ Web publishing endeavor Documenting the American South. Whisnant serves as the scholarly advisor for “Driving through Time,” which presents and interprets archival material—including photographs—related to the history of the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Growing up in Greensboro, N. C., I always enjoyed our family trips to the area surrounding Boone, N. C. On our way to visit Grandfather Mountain, we would stop by the quaint town of Linville for lunch. I was excited by the prospect of learning more about Linville, so for the public history class my group wrote an essay entitled, “Logging, Tourism, and the Blue Ridge Parkway in Linville, North Carolina.” By exploring this topic, my group (consisting of Ben Beidler, Morgan Jones, and myself) learned a lot about the MacRae family’s influence on Linville.
While writing this essay, I learned how the MacRae family participated in the town’s development through the Linville Improvement Company. The history of Linville starts in 1887, when Donald MacRae purchased a large amount of land in western North Carolina. MacRae started the Linville Land, Manufacturing and Mining Company, which eventually became the Linville Improvement Company. Donald MacRae’s son Hugh MacRae took over the Linville Improvement Company soon after its founding, and Linville was created alongside the Linville Improvement Company in the late 1800s (Covington, p. 9). The MacRaes also developed resorts to bring upper class tourists to Linville to become known as “a playground for wealthy Northeasterners” (Swanson, p. 3).
In the 1800s, the Linville Improvement Company had a goal to make Linville appealing for tourists, landowners, and investors. Sometime between 1888 and 1910, the Linville Improvement Company published an advertising pamphlet entitled Linville (cover shown above) to attract people to the area. By describing what amenities the Linville Improvement Company wanted to provide in the town, this pamphlet provides a perfect example of how intertwined the Company and community were. For example, the pamphlet states “the Improvement Company will aid liberally in the establishment of first-class institutions of learning, libraries, museums, and whatever else is practicable and desirable for the welfare of the community.” This quotation shows how the Linville Improvement Company not only how it hoped to bring Linville profit, but it created resources for the local people. Therefore, the community became dependent on the Linville Improvement Company to take care of their town.
Hugh Morton influenced many people throughout North Carolina and America, and by writing this essay for my class, I realized that Hugh Morton’s family history is a great source of learning for students and anyone who is passionate about North Carolina’s history. For anyone that is interested in the history of North Carolina, it is important to remember the history of the MacRae family, whose influence with the Linville Improvement Company was and is evident in Linville, NC. So next time you are driving through scenic western North Carolina, remember to stop by and walk around the attractive town of Linville and appreciate the area that Hugh Morton’s family helped establish.
Covington, Howard E. Linville: a mountain home for 100 years. Linville, NC: Linville Resorts, Inc., 1992.
Linville Improvement Company. Linville. [pamphlet] 1888-1910. North Carolina Collection, Louis Wilson Round Special Collections Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Swanson, Drew A. “Marketing a Mountain: Changing Views of Environment and Landscape on Grandfather Mountain, North Carolina.” Appalachian Journal 36, 1/2 (2008-2009): 30-53.