These stories, chosen
from the BRC archive that now goes back almost 32 years, recall some of the
quirky, odd and even mystifying pieces from the magazine:
• Paper Dresses of the ‘60s:
"The high point of the brief 1960s fad of paper dresses may
have been the week after an October, 1968 edition of Parade magazine, which
carried a full-page ad featuring a model wearing a paper dress and
bright yellow tights." So begins Marla Hardee
Milling’s recollection of a strange but brief fad, and of how a small
Asheville, North Carolina business found itself overwhelmed with orders for
Land of Oz: In 1970, The Washington (DC) Daily News awarded the Most
Outstanding Tourist Attraction of the Year to a place called the Land of Oz in
Beech Mountain, North Carolina. "We have never seen a more beautiful
natural setting nor a finer marriage of a place and an idea," the paper
gushed. "It is truly an adventure, imaginative and unspoiled." But
the honeymoon for the Yellow Brick Road and the other features on the
5,205-foot mountain was short-lived. The tale of how the fairy tale park ended
is almost as fascinating as its namesake creation.
• Where’s the Lake? Documents
over the decades and centuries chronicle well the strange tendency of
Virginia’s Mountain Lake—one of only two natural lakes in the state—to rise and
fall dramatically in water level. But when the lake disappears almost
completely and a namesake resort—the site of some of the filming “Dirty
Dancing”—thereby loses much of its identity, then people want answers, even if
they’re geological in nature.
• Mary the Elephant: For
the better part of a century, the East Tennessee town of Erwin could not quite
live down a tragic event that had occurred—through no fault of its own—in its
quiet town. The story of how Erwin turned its reputation around is almost as
compelling—and far more noble—than the original horrific event of an elephant
hanged in the street.
• Ridin’ that Train:
When “scalded to death by the steam” becomes part of the national lexicon, you
know there must have been a serious train wreck behind it. And the Wreck of Old
97 was just that. We track down the life of the mysterious conductor and his
conduct on that day. And oh, hey, you ever hear about the train wreck caused by
a 6-year-old? And about the unique punishment he got? That’s here too!
Please note, we’ve digitized these pieces just as they appeared in their original print form. Please remember that as a result, all quotes and references to “present day” things such as artifacts and other items are contemporaneous to the time of publication rather than the current time.
is just the second in our ongoing HEART OF THE MOUNTAINS series. Our
first one was Heroic Women of the Mountains. Coming soon: Famous and Infamous
Crime Tragedies and Remembering the Mountains’ Favorite TV and Showbiz Stars.