Located in the Smoky Mountains about 20 minutes west of Asheville sits the picturesque town of Canton, N.C. This Haywood County town offers dining, shopping and sightseeing along its historic Main Street, as well as iconic local hikes and other outdoor adventures. An idyllic, small-town feel coupled with close proximity to the amenities of Asheville is the hallmark of Canton.
Historic mill town: Canton, NC
The Pigeon River flows through the middle of the town, fueling much of its history and growth. Canton’s river location enabled the early development of a paper mill, which used the river’s water power. It processed some of the timber harvested from the surrounding woods. Today, the paper mill is owned by Evergreen Packaging, and the Blue Ridge Southern Railroad serves it. The mill employs 1,200 workers and boasts 600 union jobs. With a $90 million payroll, the mill is a major economic driver in the region.
U.S. routes 19 and 23 pass through the center of town as Park Street and Main Street; the highways lead east 17 miles to Asheville and west 7 miles to Lake Junaluska. I-40 passes through the north part of Canton, leading east to Asheville and northwest through the Pigeon River Gorge into Tennessee. The population of Canton was 4,227 at the 2010 census.
Properties for sale in the Canton area range from grand, historic homes to new, to modern developments, to mixed-use buildings along Main Street. Schools that serve the town include Pisgah High School, Canton Middle School, Bethel Middle School, North Canton Elementary, Bethel Elementary, Meadowbrook Elementary and Bethel Christian Academy.
Canton: a nature lover’s paradise
The Pigeon River offers a wide range of fun outdoor adventures, including fishing, kayaking, canoeing and tubing. Canton is also home to some of the most popular hikes in Western N.C., including Shining Rock and Graveyard Fields. Lake Logan and its 260-acre Smoky Mountain sanctuary are a short drive from Canton. The town’s mile-and-a-half Pigeon River Scenic Walking Trail offers a beautiful, bench-lined path, boat access for canoes and fishing, and plentiful nature.
The Canton Area Historical Museum is located on Park Street in the former Canton Branch Library. The nonprofit educational institution contains artifacts and photographs that depict the history of the towns of Canton, Bethel and Cruso. It houses agricultural and domestic artifacts from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, as well as a large collection of photographs and memorabilia of the town and its paper mill industry.
Canton’s Labor Day festival, the longest running Labor Day festival in the South, began in 1906 as a celebration of the grit and determination that led to the construction of a paper mill that would persevere through a great depression, two world wars, and two buyouts. Today’s festival features musical performances, a crafts expo, food vendors, a parade and a vintage car show.
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