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LitCafé: John Ehle’s The Road w Steve Little and Dr. Richard Starnes

04/13/2021 @ 6:00 PM - 7:00 PM


LitCafé: John Ehle’s The Road w Steve Little and Dr. Richard Starnes

Join us April 13 at 6pm. This third event in our LitCafé series explores John Ehle’s 1967 book, The Road. Set in western North Carolina, this work of fiction is based on the real history and people behind the Western North Carolina Railroad which connected the eastern and western portions of the state in 1880. As a local native, Ehle published seventeen different works of fiction and nonfiction throughout his career, shaping the depiction of western NC in several ways. He also won the 1984 Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award for his work Last One Home.

This program features Steve Little, the mayor of Marion and a member of the RAIL Project, who will examine The Road. He is joined by Dr. Richard Starnes, who will discuss Ehle and some of his other works. The audience is encouraged to ask questions during the Q&A session following presentations. This virtual program is followed on the 17th with a hike led by Marion mayor Steve Little where we will examine the real history of the incarcerated laborers who toiled and often perished completing this rail line.


The Speakers: 

Dr. Richard D. Starnes is Provost and Professor of History at Western Carolina University. A native of Asheville, his books include Creating the Land of the Sky (University of Alabama Press, 2005).

Dr. Richard Starnes

Steve Little is the senior attorney in the Marion, North Carolina law firm of Little and Lattimore, P.A., a three-attorney law firm with emphasis in elder law / estate planning and real estate transactions. Attorney Little has extensive experience in civil litigation in the courts of North Carolina, and was admitted in 2003 to practice in the United States Supreme Court.

For many years, attorney Little has been a speaker at numerous estate planning seminars in North Carolina, speaking at many professional continuing education conferences for attorneys and also on many occasions for the North Carolina Baptist Foundation. He is the author of eight published stories and books, with two more in progress. Several are about the Western North Carolina Railroad, and his most recent is about a nature hike in the Blue Ridge Mountains. He often performed a dramatic presentation, in historical convict costume, about the construction of the railroad up the mountain and through solid rock tunnels, until being sidelined in 2020 with a vocal cord impairment.

Attorney Little is the current Mayor of Marion, North Carolina, having been first elected to that position in 2009 after serving 24 consecutive years as a member of the Marion City Council. He is an active member and Deacon at First Baptist Church in Marion, NC and has taught Sunday School to young students for over 35 years. He previously served as Trustee of several Baptist institutions, including NC Baptist Hospital, Baptist Children’s Homes of NC, and Wingate University. He is a native of Smithfield, NC and graduated with honors in 1973 from Wake Forest University. After receiving his Doctor of Laws degree from Wake Forest University School of Law in 1977, he moved to Marion, NC. He is married to the former Alice Hobbs, formerly an elementary school teacher and guidance counselor, and they have two adult daughters and one granddaughter.

Steve Little








Tickets: Free for WNCHA members/ $5 for General Admission. We also have no-cost, community-funded tickets available. We want our events to be accessible to as many people as possible. If you are able please consider making a donation along with your ticket purchase. These donations are placed in our Community Fund, which allows us to offer tickets at no cost to those who would not be able to attend otherwise.

You must pre-register for this virtual event. A Zoom link will be emailed to you. For questions, email Trevor Freeman at


6:00 PM - 7:00 PM
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Western North Carolina Historical Association