Town of Judson, Swain County, North Carolina


The town of Judson was situated on either side of the Little Tennessee River, about two and a half miles southeast of Bushnell and about two miles north of Almond.  Most buildings in Judson were on the east bank of the river, which was connected by a bridge to the Southern Railway, which ran along the west bank.  Judson was a small farming community that flourished briefly during the 1910s and 1920s when the Whiting Manufacturing Company (which was to log much of eastern Graham County) built a band mill and facilities nearby.  A post office had been opened in 1886, and operated until it was discontinued in 1944.  Earlier operations in the area by the Buchanan Lumber Company had been centered on Panther Creek some distance to the west, and probably had not greatly affected Judson itself.

A 1929 map was made shortly after Whiting left the area, and shows about 25 residences (primarily on the east side of the river), along with Baptist and Methodist Episcopal churches, a school, a post office, four stores, and both freight and passenger depots.  The 1936 USGS planimetric map shows slightly fewer structures within one-half mile of the town center.  A former resident describes Judson in 1943 as having four stores and a sawmill on the east side of the river, with a post office, garage, mill, store, and barber shop on the west.  The Judson Elementary School was on a hill above the depot (west of the river), in a former hotel building dating to the Whiting era.  The 1943 TVA land acquisition map indicates that many town lots in Judson had been purchased by the Nantahala Power and Light Company since 1929, and that several no longer held structures.  The town retained a sense of community, however, and TVA researcher Arnold Hyde praised the residents of Judson and nearby Almond for their attempts to "keep community spirit alive" and for showing the initiative to build small hydroelectric plants.

Judson in 1943 has been described as a community of about 600 people.  That figure compares well with the recorded population of nearby Almond in 1940, and both figures clearly include population from the surrounding countryside.  TVA records suggest that Judson and Almond supported 143 families in 1940.

The Whiting rail stop was located a few hundred yards north of Judson along the Murphy Branch of the Southern Railway.  Although described by the Southern Railway in 1912 as a place of great promise, Whiting is not depicted on the 1914 KPC of 1932 NP&L acquisition maps, the 1936 planimetric map, or the TVA land acquisition maps.

Fontana Dam was completed in 1944 and the gates closed on November 11th.  Judson would have disappeared under the waters of Fontana lake later in the year or in early 1945.

Source:  Cultural Resources Existing Conditions Report, North Shore Road Environmental Impact Statement, Swain and Graham Countioe, NC -  Final Report.  TRC Garrow Associates, Inc., pg. 94.