History of French Broad River

Listen to Wilma Dykeman read the chapter, “Who killed the French Broad?” from her book “The French Broad.”

Listen to RiverLink Executive Director Karen Cragnolin (1986 – 2016) interviewed on WCQS


The Cherokee called the river “Long Man,” and its many tributaries the “Chattering Children.”    “Tahkeyostee,” or “Where They Race,” was how the Native Americans described the French Broad’s fast moving rapids.     The earliest settlers called it the French Broad because it was the broad river in the French territory.  Today it is known simply as the French Broad River.    The story of the French Broad River is the story of the American river in microcosm, full of paradise and paradox.

For the early travelers seeking to scale and settle the area the river’s low, flat lands provided the easiest access through the beautiful but steep Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains.   Settlers came seeking new lands and new opportunities in the beautiful wilderness now known as Western North Carolina.  The mountains were majestic and the rivers were clean.   Life for the first settlers was dangerous and difficult, but the beauty of the land and the river made them want to stay.  Before long they were growing their crops, building their houses and starting their businesses along the banks of the French Broad.   The French Broad River was the preferred transportation option for the turkey, hog and other herders from Kentucky and Tennessee seeking to sell or ship their goods to the lucrative ports in South Carolina.  The Buncombe Turnpike along the French Broad provided the access to these markets that the herders needed.    As a result of the heavy traffic a series of Inns developed along the French Broad to house the traveling herdsmen.    It wasn’t long before farmers in the area started growing and selling crops to feed the hungry travelers and their livestock.



History of French Broad River

Listen to Wilma Dykeman read the chapter, “Who killed the French Broad?” from her book “The French Broad.” Listen to[...]

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History of RiverLink

A RIVER RUNS THROUGH IT Karen Cragnolin, RiverLink’s founder and executive director for 30 years, wrote this in 1995.  The following art[...]

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Garrett Artz Executive Director 828.252.8474 ext 16 garrett@riverlink.org Garrett is the Executive Director of RiverLink.  He is a native [...]

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Board Members

  RIVERLINK, INC. BOARD OF DIRECTORS JULY 1, 2016– JUNE 30, 2017   Executive Committee Esther Cartwright Chair, RiverLink Fred C[...]

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Meet this years AmeriCorps members! Emma Rast – Volunteer Coordinator Emma Rast grew up in Lancaster, Pennsylvania where she spent muc[...]

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"The French Broad River is the third oldest river in the world."

Blue Ridge Heritage National Heritage Area