For decades, a major draw for visitors to McDowell County was the Lake Tahoma Steak House and adjacent cabins. Before the interstate was built, this spot at the junction of Highways 70 and 80 was a hot spot for locals and tourists alike. The restaurant offered one of the first buffets around and the cabins were considered to be so unique and charming that some couples traveled to McDowell County to spend their honeymoons in them.
Bill Gibbs (whose photo with the bear “Smokette” is part of the header of this website) built the business and his son Pete ran it for many years. Pete, along with his wife Betty, talk about the steak house, his dad, and those famous bear suppers.
Listen to Pete here:
(Little Siena Restaurant has now operated in the Lake Tahoma Steak House location for decades. You can find out more about them at their website.)
Due to the rugged terrain and distance from the closest towns, the North Cove and Ashford communities in the northern tip of McDowell County remained relatively isolated until the mid- twentieth century. Electricity didn’t arrive until 1947, and telephones were rare until about 1960. Nearly everyone farmed and the community was tight-knit.
Cousins and neighbors Clara McCall and Freddie Brown are members of two of the oldest families in the Cove. They came together at the old Brown house to reminisce about the railroad, the yearly arrival of the thrashers, kerosene powered refrigerators, memorable characters, grandma’s cooking and everyday life on the farm.
You can listen to Clara’s and Freddie’s conversation (in three parts) here: Part One:Part TwoPart Three:
This audio montage is a small sampling of the great stories and remembrances we are currently collecting from residents all over McDowell County. We’ve heard stories of the Cherokee, the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, the building of the railroad, the Great Depression and other historical events. But mostly, we’ve heard stories of how real people lived their daily lives in the times before every convenience was available at the flick of a switch or at the push of a button. Remembrances of a time when folks relied on the land around them for their food, helped their neighbors and knew how to make just about everything they needed. It is the story of self-reliance and a strong community. It’s a spirit that lives on in the residents of McDowell County to this day.
Interviewer Kim Clark and sound man John Orr talk with Mr. and Mrs. Harold McCurry following their video session at Spring House Farm (the old Albertus Ledbetter home) in the Montford Cove Community.
Listen to this montage of McDowell County voices here: