The Blue Ridge Parkway leads Asheville visitors westward, between peaks of the Great Smoky and Blue Ridge Mountains, to the sweet, surprising town of Waynesville. A place to dwell rather than a stop on the road, Waynesville is the largest city in Haywood County, and the largest town west of Asheville, with a population just short of 10,000, according to the 2010 U.S. Census and 2011 state certified estimates. Founder and Revolutionary War soldier Colonel Robert Love named the new town for his commanding officer, General “Mad” Anthony Wayne in 1809.
Here, the final shots of the War Between the States would cease on May 9, 1865, when General James Martin received word the conflict was over and honorably surrendered. In 1871, the town incorporated and by 1884 became a railroad hub for Westward expansion. In 1936, then-President Franklin Delano Roosevelt notably included the city on a publicity tour from Cherokee to Asheville.
From rock walls and cobblestone stairs, to a lamp-lit Main Street promenade and dramatic sunsets painted on a sky canvas against 6,000 foot mountain peaks, the city fosters a wide range of cultural arts and artists, including the international Folkmoot, U.S.A., festival, consigned public art, and the Haywood Arts Regional Theatre. A place where residents stop and look at the stars, seasonal events include outdoor movies, the Main Street district’s “Night Before Christmas” and the Veteran’s Day Parade. Others explore wilderness within, and “take to the woods” of Pisgah National Forest whenever the notion strikes.