Just as Needmore, McCoy Bridge is a very popular tourist attraction. Hundreds of out-of-town and out-of-state visitors drive across and walk on the bridge because of its uniqueness and simple beauty. Last summer as I was fording the river under the bridge with my two dogs, a young couple hung over the side and shouted, “Do you live near here? We’re from Charlotte visiting family and HAD to come over to walk across this old bridge. It’s just wonderful! You’re lucky to live here!”
Yep! And just recently I thought of a similar story occurring down river in Cowee over 200 years ago. It is recorded in James Mooney’s “History, Myths, and Sacred Formulas of the Cherokees.”
“There is a story, told by Wafford as a fact, of a Shawano who had been a prisoner there, but had escaped to his people in the north, and after the peace between the two tribes wandered back into the neighborhood on a hunting trip. While standing on a hill overlooking the valley he saw several Cherokee on an opposite hill, and called out to them, “Do you still own Cowee?” They shouted in reply, “Yes; we own it yet.” Back came the answer from the Shawano..... “Well, it’s the best town of the Cherokee. It’s a good country; hold on to it.”
The Cherokee, despite their will to hold on, could not find a way. They were outnumbered and outmaneuvered by our ancestors. Now, at this present time, we who inherited the Cherokee lands are not in danger of losing our “good country.” However, piece by piece, its natural beauty which governs our rich quality of life is fading away. Now, we modern residents have many ways to halt degrading development and maintain the rural integrity of our towns, but the question is, “Do we have the will?”
McCoy Bridge is one example of the will to preserve what is valuable. Thanks to the people who showed up at the meeting April 25 to challenge DOT for failing to present an adequate McCoy bridge restoration proposal in addition to wasting taxpayer monies on unneeded road-building projects on Route 28 and Needmore, all of which destroy the aesthetic beauty of our corridor landscape. Thanks to three commissioners who attended the meeting and especially Ron Haven who stood strong and supported fixing the existing bridge. We are grateful to LTLT for helping to make possible the return of Cowee Mound to the Cherokee.
Now is a very good time to speak for a “community concept,” held by the Cherokee and outlined by Aldo Leopold as “the land ethic simply enlarges the boundaries of the community to include soils, waters, plants, and animals, or collectively; the land. In short, a land ethic changes the role of homo sapiens from conqueror of the land-community to plain member and citizen of it. A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.”
DOT does not travel this pathway.
I am lucky to live near McCoy bridge. So are you.
Debby Boots — Franklin, N.C.