Writer Jeremy Markovich decided to go far away to find new stories. In fact, he wanted to go as far from any possible road as he could get in North Carolina.
He ventured to the corners of the state and shares the many stories he gathered in a new podcast series from Our State magazine called “Away Message.” On his journeys, Markovich discoveries the weaving, and possibly whisky-laden, tale of how the state borders were first established. He also meets a 90-year-old woman who fought to regain access to cemeteries in western North Carolina that are only accessible by boat.
Host Frank Stasio speaks with Markovich, senior writer for Our State magazine, about his drive to get away from it all.
JEREMY’S REFLECTIONS ON THE REMOTE NOOKS OF NORTH CAROLINA
On visiting the borders of North Carolina:
Manteo to Murphy is how you describe North Carolina. There's a lot of state past Murphy I found out. There's a half an hour west of Murphy that you can get, and the couple that was there that I met, they basically own the piece of property where Tennessee, Georgia and North Carolina meet. And it is marked by a kind of regular looking little brass disk. And people come from everywhere, like all over the country, to see this thing. It's incredible.
On the many flaws of the North Carolina-South Carolina line:
I mean the instructions were pretty easy: you start 30 miles west of the Cape Fear River, you go up at a 45 degree angle till you hit the 35th parallel, and then you just head due west. And what happened was they didn't do that. Now this is, you know, the 1700s, so the equipment's pretty primitive. But when you get out there, they're going, and they're going, and they're going. They stop 13 miles short. They put a stake in the ground. Next crew comes along, and the king says, “Hey make sure you get to the 35th parallel.” And they go, “OK!'” And then they don't. And they just go due west from there, and they cut off a lot of territory that South Carolina was supposed to get.
On visiting the isolated cemeteries on the shores on Fontana Lake in western North Carolina:
The valley became flooded. The cemeteries that were under the surface of the lake – they moved all the remains and everything out of the cemeteries. The ones that ended up being above the water line they left there. And through the years they became cut off. Now they are in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and there's really no way to reach them ... So the only way you can reach these cemeteries is by boat now.