North Shore Decoration Day Symposium

Series Dates: 
Sep 30 - Oct 5

Appalachian State University with the support of the
North Carolina Humanities Council
is proud to present

A series of free, public events coinciding with
The Department of Theatre and Dance's

production of an original play, Promises

North Shore Exhibit of Visual Materials

Lectures on Decoration Day in the Mountains

Free Applachain Music Concert at Boone's Jones House

This project is made possible by funding from the North Carolina Humanities Council, a statewide nonprofit and affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

What is the Purpose of the Symposium?

To bring attention and recognition to the stories of the people who once populated the area now known as the North Shore.

What and Where is the North Shore?

The North Shore is an area of 44,000 acres of land, primarily from Swain County, that was incorporated into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park after the construction of Fontana Dam. The resulting reservoir inundated the highway that serviced several small towns and communities that once dotted the north shore of the Little Tennessee River. The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) constructed the dam in response to the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the United States' entry into World War II. The purpose was to provide electricity for the wartime production of aluminum at the Aloca plant located some 40 miles away in eastern Tennessee. At the time of construction, the dam was the 4th largest in the world. Today it remains the highest U.S. dam east of the Rocky Mountains.

What is a North Shore Decoration Day?

Contained within the North Shore area, now in Great Smoky Mountains, are over two-dozen cemeteries that families chose not to have relocated. The TVA and Swain County had an agreement that stated when the war ended and funds were made available that a north shore road would be rebuilt. The road was never completed and access to the cemeteries remained an insurmountable challenge for most families until 1978. At that time, the North Shore Cemetery Association (NSCA) was formed and with persistent lobbying succeeded in securing transportation assistance from the National Park Service (NPS). For the past 35 years, the NPS and the NSCA have cooperated to maintain the cemeteries and to provide an annual schedule of Sunday Decoration Days from late April to early October. Many of these trips involve families being ferried across Fontana Lake to the tributary creeks that were once their homes. The generation that left the North Shore in 1943-4 are now in their 80's but their families continue to honor the tradition of cemetery decorations.



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