Horace Kephart donations made to Mountain Heritage Center

A donation of art honoring Horace Kephart was made to WCU’s Mountain Heritage Center on Aug. 24. Seen here displaying the items are (from left) John Beaudet, Libby Kephart Hargrave, Pam Meister and John Keydash.

Western Carolina University’s Mountain Heritage Center recently received a donation of three art objects honoring Horace Kephart, an early 20th-century outdoors writer and proponent for the establishment of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

The donations were made by his great-granddaughter Libby Kephart Hargrave, accompanied by two of the artisans who created the pieces, and presented Thursday, Aug. 24, to Pam Meister, director of the Mountain Heritage Center.

Horace Kephart

Special Collections in WCU’s Hunter Library holds many of Kephart’s belongings, including camping gear, a photo album, maps, reference journals and other materials. The donated items include:

  • A wooden sculpture of the Kephart cabin by John Keydash. Kephart lived there on Little Fork of Sugar Fork of Hazel Creek, near the village of Medlin, from 1904 to 1907. Keydash is a Townsend, Tennessee, wood carver and sculptor, and attended the presentation.
  • A hand-carved walking stick awarded to Appalachian Trail Hall of Fame inductees, crafted by John Beaudet. Kephart, who helped route the National Scenic Trail through the Smokies, was honored posthumously in 2016. Beaudet, a master carver who lives near Asheville, was at the presentation.
  • A painting titled “Kep’s Boots” by Joanne Kephart Bleichner, which also was used as the illustration for the recent documentary “Horace Kephart, His Life and Legacy.” Bleichner is Kephart’s great-granddaughter and Hargrave’s sister. She was not present for the donation.

For more information about the Mountain Heritage Center, call 828-227-7129.