Great Smokies Advocate Horace Kephart

Kephart in 1906. Image from Western Carolina University, Hunter Library Special Collections.

On April 2, 1931, naturalist and writer Horace Kephart was killed in a car crash near Bryson City. Kephart was riding in a taxi with another author, Fiswoode Tarleton, when the car plunged from the highway and overturned three times. Both Kephart and Tarleton were killed instantly.

A former librarian, Kephart came to the Great Smoky Mountains in 1904 seeking solace and spent the rest of his life there, writing about the environment and outdoor life. By 1913, he had published three books on self-reliant living and the natural world. He was an early advocate of the mountain region and tirelessly promoted the creation of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Though born in Pennsylvania and raised in the Midwest, Kephart lived in a remote cabin on Hazel Creek and in Bryson City in Swain County for much of his later life.

Kephart wrote many books and articles about the southern Appalachian culture and the natural environment of the area he adopted as his home, which he heralded at the “Back of Beyond.” His book Our Southern Highlanders, published in 1913, is the classic work on the region.

Kephart is buried in Bryson City on a hill overlooking the Great Smoky Mountains.

Western Carolina University holds many of Kephart's paper's.

Image from Western Carolina University, Hunter Library Special Collections.

Related Topics: