And what I speak of is the city of Asheville, NC, and French Broad River, which runs through not only my hometown community but the entire city of Asheville surrounding me. I just recently shared a bit of history about one of the bridges that cross over this river. But, one can hardly drive through this area without either crossing over it on one of the 22 local bridges spanning it or driving on a roadway set beside it.
The French Broad River begins just west of the Eastern Continental Divide, therefore, all of its contents flow westward from Rosman, North Carolina, eventually making its way to the Mississippi River after flowing 117 miles north through Western North Carolina to Tennessee where it joins the Holston River near Knoxville to form the Tennessee River.
During its journey it receives flow from the tributaries of the Swannanoa River, which also runs through Asheville, the Pigeon River and the Nolichucky River.
Behind the Nile in Africa and the New River in West Virginia, the French Broad is the third oldest river in the world. As to how the age of a river is determined, I have no idea, but that’s a fascinating fact to know.
The name of the French Broad derives from the fact that the river once flowed into Tennessee’s French Indian Territory back in the colonial days. Ironically, there was once an English Broad River, now just called the Broad River, which is east of Asheville and the Eastern Continental Divide which means its waters eventually flow into the Atlantic Ocean, sister rivers going in opposite directions.
But the French Broad plays an important part in the lives of the citizens of Asheville. There are many greenways and parks gracing its banks, many places for quiet picnics. There are many offers of tubing, rafting, kayaking and canoeing trips, including one trip that goes through the famous Biltmore Estate.
The famous author Wilma Dykeman who wrote not only novels that chronicled the lives of the people of and the lands of Appalachia, but who also wrote history books was born and died in Asheville. One of the history books she wrote was The French Broad, one of the Rivers of America Series.
One of my favorite memories of the river area is going to the automobile races at the Asheville Speedway on Friday Nights. A small track, just a .4 mile Oval, it was located right beside the river on Amboy Road in the West Asheville area. It once hosted NASCAR Cup Series races from 1962 to 1971. During that time such famous NASCAR drivers that raced there were Richard Petty, David Pearson and Junior Johnson. The track was in operation from 1960 to 1999, eventually being shut down due to the noise it created in such a populated area.
So, as many of the people in this area, the river is a constant source of memories for me, with many more yet to be made.