History of early settlement and land use on the Bent Creek Experimental Forest Buncombe County, NC
This report has been prepared for two reasons: first, it is believed that a description of past land use on the Bent Creek Experimental Forest may enable the research forester to better interpret the forest conditions as he finds them today; and second, a record of the rise and fall of a once prosperous rural community will be preserved for its future sociological and economic interest.
The Bent Creek Experimental Forest is composed of an area of 6,302 acres, exclusive of the interior holdings; of this amount, a total of 1,472 acres, or 23.3 percent, has been cleared and put under cultivation at some period in the past. The clearing of land for cultivation dates back to shortly before the time of the original homestead grant issued to Abraham Randals, dated February 25, 1800, while the watershed was still being used by the Cherokee Indians.
A total of 104 homes, ranging from one-room log cabins to large, comfortable two-storied buildings, was constructed on the area during the period of activity from 1795 to 1900. Many of these homes were occupied almost continuously from the early days of settlement to the time of their destruction when George W. Vanderbilt took possession. As shown later, this drain on the forest for home and farm construction was very heavy.