Information on Waynesville
Once the primary retail business center of the town, downtown Waynesville is
now home to art galleries, cafes and restaurants, shops, banks, doctors, and
the town government/administration buildings.
About 40% of our County is occupied by the Great Smoky Mountains National
Park, Pisgah National Forest and the Harmon Den Wildlife Refuge, where the
Blue Ridge Parkway meets the Great Smoky Mountains.
Waynesville is blessed with the ideal year-round climate, beautiful mountain
scenery and warm Southern hospitality. Proud of our southern mountain
heritage, we are building the future with a concern for preserving the past.
We're far enough south that spring comes pretty early, bringing a fantastic
display of natural blooming beauty to the mountainsides as Dogwood, Redbud
Trees and an amazing number of wildflowers put on their show. Our Summer
heat is tempered by our cool mountain elevations and evening temperatures
drop to create some of the most relaxing evening environments. In the fall
our hardwood forests put on a spectacular fall foliage color display
attracting more Visitors than other time of the year. The winter brings a
quiet, slower season while providing us with some of the best skiing in the
Frog Level - The historic district whose name came about because of frequent
flooding of Richland Creek. In the 70s and 80s it was known as a seedy part
of downtown, mainly due to a now-closed bar called The Tap Room. In recent
years, the revitalization of Main Street has spread down into this area. A
mural in the area, once a frog sitting on a level, is being replaced by a
mural featuring a majority of Folkmoot themes. The historic Murphy Branch of
the old Western North Carolina Railroad runs through Frog Level and still
carries freight rail traffic from Norfolk Southern Railway which now owns
A Brief History
The Town of Waynesville was founded in 1810 by Colonel Robert Love, an
American Revolutionary War soldier. He donated land for the courthouse,
jail, and public square, and named the town after his former commander in
the war, General "Mad" Anthony Wayne.
Waynesville also has a connection to another war. With news of General
Robert E. Lee's surrender traveling slowly, the American Civil War continued
in Western North Carolina. The final shots of that war, east of the
Mississippi River, were fired near Sulphur Springs and General James Martin
surrendered honorably on May 9, 1865 (See The "Battle" of Waynesville
The Town of Waynesville was incorporated in 1871. In July 1995 the Towns of
Hazelwood and Waynesville merged into one community and continued to grow
with a population today of almost 10,000.
Waynesville began to see development after arrival of the railroad in 1884.
The agricultural, lumber and tourism industries in Waynesville and Haywood
County began to thrive as access to the west was opened up.
The area of Waynesville located along Richland Creek, northwest and down
hill from Main Street, was where the railroad tracks were laid. Until this
time the area had been essentially a swampland, with a few scattered
buildings but no major development. Once the depot was built and the train
arrived this section was developed. It was given the name of Frog Level.
Frog Level was so named by the local community because of its low-lying
location along Richland Creek, the "frog level" when the area flooded.
Downtown and the nearby Frog Level commercial centers of Waynesville
continued to be the central focus for social life, transportation, and
wholesale and retail businesses through the 1940s. Businesses in the Frog
Level area in the 1930s and 1940s included hardware stores, farm supplies,
coal sales, auto dealers and garages, furniture stores, wholesale groceries,
warehouses and lumber companies, all businesses dependent on the railroad.
However, as the automobile became the primary mode of transportation for
most residents, the railroad declined in importance. This in turn lead to a
shift of business away from Frog Level. The last passenger train arrived in
Waynesville in 1949, and freight trains pass through Frog Level twice daily,
with most trains continuing on to Sylva.
By the 1980s the railroad in Waynesville had been integrated into the
Southern Railway Company system. The first depot burned in 1900, but it was
soon replaced with another depot that remained standing until 1987.