Transylvania County 150th Eastatoe Community Event “Living off the Land”

Press Release

Transylvania County 150th Eastatoe Community Event “Living off the Land”

The Eastatoe community invites the public to attend the second of Transylvania County’s many community events in celebration of the Sesquicentennial. The Eastatoe Community Center, located on Claypole Road off Highway 178 south of Rosman, will be hosting the Traveling Exhibit “Living Off the Land” on April 9th. The exhibit, along with other historic items related to the area, will be on display from 4 until 6 p.m. A program about the Shaffer Lumber and Railroad Company will begin at 6 p.m. The event is free to the public.
Joseph Silversteen was not the only young businessman from Pennsylvania to come to upper Transylvania County to start a business venture in the first decade of the twentieth century. Born in 1881, Eugene Shaffer came from Pennsylvania to the Eastatoe Township before 1910. It was his intention to establish a logging and lumber business on the Middle Fork of the French Broad River. He began leasing a 30 foot right of way from property owners along Middle Fork Creek where he built a narrow gauge railroad to move logs from the thousands of acres he had acquired on Burnt and Claypole Mountains.
By 1911, the Sylvan Valley News reported that part of the booming industry of the Town of Rosman was the operation of the Shaffer Lumber Company. The track left the Rosman Depot and crossed the French Broad River past the Shipman Fields, which would later become Dr. Joe Osborne's Airport. It was from here the first Air Mail was flown from Transylvania County in 1938. The rail then crossed Middle Fork Creek on the Fleming Whitmire property and stayed on the East side of the Creek to the Shaffer Sawmill, which was located on the present day site of the Red Lion Inn. Above the sawmill, the rail extended into the timber lands to arrive at Shaffer's Camp—a logging camp where approximately forty men dwelt, many with their wives and families.
Shaffer constructed a wooden log flume on Shoal Creek at the top of Eastatoe Falls to transport logs from Claypole Mountain down to the sawmill. Americus “Merk” Powell was the flume operator. Life in the logging business was hard work, and life for the families who lived in the camp was equally hard.
Shaffer also constructed a home in view of the falls in 1911. While living there, Eugene's wife Henrietta gave birth to a daughter. The child died of typhoid fever and was buried near the house. When the business venture came to an end in 1917, the Shaffer family decided to return to their family in Lycoming, Pennsylvania. Calvin Galloway and Charlie Greene, brakemen on the Shaffer Railroad, helped Mr. Shaffer with the grim task of digging up the coffin. They were relieved that the coffin had held up well and was in stable enough shape to accompany the family on the long trip home to Pennsylvania.
More about the area and the community will be shared during the historical program. For more information on this event visit www.TC150.com or call 884-2347.
 

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