Willets, North Carolina

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Willets, North Carolina
Unincorporated community
Willets, North Carolina is located in North Carolina
Willets, North Carolina
Willets, North Carolina
Coordinates: 35°24′42″N 83°06′56″W / 35.41167°N 83.11556°W / 35.41167; -83.11556Coordinates: 35°24′42″N 83°06′56″W / 35.41167°N 83.11556°W / 35.41167; -83.11556
Country United States
State North Carolina
County Jackson
Elevation 2,690 ft (820 m)
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
Area code(s) 828
GNIS feature ID 996296[1]

Willets is an unincorporated community in Jackson County, North Carolina, United States. Willets is located along US 74, West of Balsam and East of Sylva. It is home to the Balsam-Willets-Ochre Hill fire department, a church, and many homes. It formerly was a thriving unincorporated town along the Murphy Branch of the Western North Carolina Railroad, but seriously declined during the great depression in the 1930s, consolidations of the schools in the Scott Creek Township in 1951, and the widening/straightening of US 23 in the early 1950s and early 1970s. Today it is a tiny bedroom community for the larger population centers of Waynesville and Sylva.

History[edit]

Alternative text
The old Willets Graded School in 1909
Alternative text
The Willets Depot in the 1890s, when it was known as Hall's Station/Hall's Siding.

The community of Willets is located near Balsam and is sometimes confused as being a part of Balsam, though it is not. Willets had several churches, two mills, a depot, school, post office, stores and homes. It was a small railroad town along the Murphy Branch of the Western North Carolina Railroad, later the Southern Railway. US 23 was first blazed through Willets in the 1920s, with sharp curves, steep grades, and one-lane wooden or concrete bridges, many of which still serve the old roadway, now known as Old US 19-23, Dark Ridge Road, Willets Road, and Old Balsam Depot Road. The realignment, widening and straightening of US 23 in 1950s made the community more accessible from the outside world than ever. Further construction of a new 4-Lane roadway, US 74/23 in the 1970s, cut further into the Willets community, led to the demolition of several historic buildings, and opened Willets to the outside world. At this time the remaining stores in Willets closed permanently Today it is largely a bedroom community for Sylva and Waynesville. The stores are all long closed though a few of the old store buildings still stand and the schools were consolidated into Scotts Creek Elementary in 1951. The mills are long closed and demolished. Balsam still has a post office, but mail hasn't been delivered to Willets in a long time, as Willets Post Office closed in 1934, around the same time as the collapse of the lumber and mining industries in the area. Willets Depot is long gone, and it is a shadow of the thriving small town it was from the 1900s up until the 1930s.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31.