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WNCHA Presents: 1874 Illustrations for “The Land of the Sky”

11/04/2021 @ 6:00 PM - 7:00 PM

A virtual event exploring the illustrations of the famous Land of the Sky novel by Frances Tiernan

Join the Western North Carolina Historical Association Thursday, November 4 at 6pm as we bring you this special event via Zoom.

History shouldn’t be boring. W.L. Sheppard’s illustrations for Frances Tiernan’s notable novel are not — illustrating her blockbuster tale of Victorian-era travel in Western North Carolina. Mike McCue will take us along on the rollicking 1874 adventure enjoyed by many thousands of readers around the nation — just as the railroad was being built over the mountains to Asheville from Old Fort.

Few people know that the novelist documented many actual people and places of that era. And until recently, even scholars didn’t know the New York illustrator was an ex-Confederate soldier, who accompanied the party and recorded genuine scenes. Mike McCue will share his research, reading passages from The Land of the Sky and describing how these historic images came about. A bonus during this program will be archival photographs to compare with these important period illustrations, which made WNC the “Arcadia of Appalachia” in the mind of the American public. Much of what Sheppard and Tiernan sketched and wrote about The Land of the Sky back in 1874 remains true today, so different from the common perception of Appalachia outside our region.

About the Presenter: 

Mike McCue of Asheville has been trustee for North Carolina Humanities Council, a grants panelist for National Endowment for the Arts, and chaired the annual book prize jury for American Historical Print Collectors Society. He’s author of a number of historical articles and publications about literature and art. A Fashionable Excursion to the Arcadia of Appalachia: Sheppard’s Images for “The Land of the Sky” was published in IMPRINT, the journal of American historical prints.

Tickets: This virtual event is 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.

For questions email Trevor Freeman at

(Image: W.L. Sheppard, “The Break Down” from The Land of the Sky)




Western North Carolina Historical Association received an American Rescue Plan Humanities Grant from North Carolina Humanities, Funding for this grant was provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) as part of the American Rescue Plan Act economic stabilization plan. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this program do not necessarily represent those of North Carolina Humanities or the National Endowment for the Humanities.




Western North Carolina Historical Association (WNCHA)