In the spring of 1909, Charlotte attorney Herriot Clarkson led a small group on a trip from Spruce Pine to Grassy Mountain seeking a suitable location for a small summer resort. When they reached the top of Chestnut Ridge, the relatively flat terrain, plentiful springs and spectacular views convinced Mr. Clarkson that he had found what he was looking for.
“The Switzerland Company” was formed that fall and the next year The Switzerland Inn was constructed. A girls’ camp, Camp As-You-Like-It, came into being not long after. By 1916 over a dozen homes had been built, mostly by Charlotteans fleeing the summer heat. An Episcopal church was soon established and a community center, Geneva Hall, was built in the late 1920s. After the depression, better roads and the arrival of electricity brought more tourists into the area as well as an increased number of permanent residents.
Now, the population of Little Switzerland swells to around a thousand during the summer months but the “year-rounders” still number only in the dozens. A group of Little Switzerland friends and neighbors got together during lunch at The Switzerland Cafe to reminisce and talk about why they consider Little Switzerland to be a very special place: