Cashiers Historical Society's Ramble to Foxfire

In mid-October, a group of history buffs boarded a van at the Zachary-Tolbert House grounds at the Cashiers Historical Society office and traveled down to Rabun County, Georgia, for a two-and-a-half hour guided tour of Foxfire, which is now 50 years old.   

The curator of Foxfire, Barry Stiles, led us from building to building, explaining the origins of Foxfire and its remarkable success through the years.  It began in 1966 when a new English teacher at Rabun Gap-Nacoochee School, along with his students, decided to interview older residents of the area, many who remembered mountain life prior to electricity, and record their personal stories of the pioneer era of Southern Appalachia and then publish those stories in a magazine, which they named simply The FOXFIRE Magazine.  It was an immediate hit with the local community and the greater public at large.

In fact, the magazines were so popular that in 1972, the first of several books containing collections of the magazine pioneer stories was published under the title of “The FOXFIRE Book.”  The money generated by the sale of these books initially funded the purchase of property in Mountain City, Georgia, and the first of today’s 20-plus log cabins were located in North Carolina and Georgia, purchased (sometimes donated), taken apart board by board, then moved and carefully reassembled to create a home place for the Foxfire Museum & Heritage Center.  Curator Barry Stiles led our group through the woodsy complex and told us the details of where the buildings came from and how the Appalachian culture is represented and preserved for future generations.

The word “Foxfire,” which is the name of a glowing fungus found on rotting wood in the area, was chosen by the original group of students and 50 years later is a word known throughout our nation.  Thousands of serious scholars and even more casual visitors take guided or self-guided tours through the grounds of Foxfire’s home place each year.  From the Cashiers and Highlands area, it is only a drive of a little over an hour to reach Mountain City, Georgia.  You will love visiting Foxfire!  For information, phone (706) 746-5828.