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Brasstown, North Carolina

Coordinates: 35°02′22″N 83°57′25″W / 35.03944°N 83.95694°W / 35.03944; -83.95694
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Brasstown, North Carolina
Downtown Brasstown
Downtown Brasstown
Brasstown is located in North Carolina
Location within the state of North Carolina
Coordinates: 35°02′22″N 83°57′25″W / 35.03944°N 83.95694°W / 35.03944; -83.95694
CountryUnited States
StateNorth Carolina
 • Total12.21 sq mi (31.63 km2)
 • Land12.17 sq mi (31.52 km2)
 • Water0.04 sq mi (0.11 km2)
1,736 ft (529 m)
Time zoneUTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP codes
Area code828
GNIS feature ID1019281 [1]

Brasstown is an unincorporated community located mostly within Clay County, North Carolina, United States, though roughly one third of Brasstown is within the adjacent Cherokee County. Brasstown Creek travels through the community and separates the two counties.

Etymology and history[edit]

The name, "Brasstown," was given to several historic towns in the Cherokee region, including this one. The name resulted from confusion in translating the Cherokee name, "Itse'yĭ" (meaning 'New Green Place' or 'Place of Fresh Green') with "Ûňtsaiyĭ" (meaning "brass").[2]

The Brasstown post office in January 1926

Brasstown is the oldest continuous settlement in Clay County. The community was built on the Native American route known as the Unicoi Turnpike. In 1813, when the path was turned into a toll road, a store and inn were built in what would become Brasstown that same year.[3] Brasstown's largest church, Little Brasstown Baptist, was founded in 1850.[4] The town's first post office was established in 1871, though it closed and was replaced in 1889.[5]

Children attended Little Brasstown School House in the 1920s and later went to the nearby Ogden school, which offered up to high school classes. The Ogden school closed in 1975. Today the only public schools for Clay County students are 10 miles (16 km) east in Hayesville.[6] Nonprofit manufacturer Industrial Opportunities, Inc., was founded at Ogden school in 1974 before moving to Andrews.[7] Private school The Learning Center was established at Ogden school in 1987 before moving to Murphy.[8]

Construction on US 64 between Hayesville, Warne, and Brasstown started in 1921.[9] The John C. Campbell Folk School was formed in 1925. As late as 1934 Brasstown had its own time zone. At that time Cherokee County operated on Central time and Clay County ran on Eastern time. Due to frequent gatherings at the folk school, Brasstown clocks were set half-way in-between to avoid confusion. When it was 1 p.m. in Murphy and 2 p.m. in Hayesville, it was 1:30 p.m. in Brasstown.[10]

Brasstown in 2022

A creamery opened in Brasstown in 1924 and was operated by the Folk School during the 1930s. It produced butter at first, then ice cream, and by 1937, whole milk.[9] It was equipped to churn 6,000 pounds of butter per week, one-third of which was sold to businesses in Atlanta.[10] The creamery closed in 1974. The building is today occupied by an art gallery.[11]

A gold mine operated in Brasstown around the 1930s.[11] The area experienced two small tornadoes during the 1974 Super Outbreak. Brasstown's volunteer fire department began in 1976. In 2023 the department built and moved into a new headquarters on Old Highway 64 West next to the Tri-County Race Track.[12]

The 6,000-square-foot (560 m2) Brasstown Community Center was built and opened in 1998.[13] It features a commercial kitchen, a gym that can seat 850 people, a fenced playground, and a quarter-mile walking track.[14] It also functions as the town’s voting site.[11]

Annual opossum drop[edit]

The Possum Drop was an annual event at Clay's Corner convenience store organized by Clay and Judy Logan.[15] At midnight on New Year's Eve, instead of dropping an object, a plexiglass box containing a living opossum was lowered from the roof of the store.[16] At midnight the animal was lowered to the ground while a small crowd of local residents sometimes shot fireworks.[17] The opossum was released afterward.[18]

Clay's Corner, home of the Possum Drop

The Possum Drop started in 1990 with twenty people, a covered dish supper, jam music, and a ceramic possum lowered in a fish bowl.[19] The next year Logan used a real opossum that had been trapped for the occasion.[20] Hours before the Dec. 31, 2003, Possum Drop People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals called Logan and threatened to sue if a live opossum was used, so Logan used roadkill instead. The New York Times reported on the event in 2004.[21] In September 2013, PETA filed a petition to stop the event from taking place, calling it "cruel."[22]

The event moved to nearby Andrews, North Carolina, for 2018-2019 upon Clay and Judy Logan's retirement. However, one of the opossums there was injured and used with a broken leg that was later amputated. After lawsuits by PETA and appeals to state officials by concerned citizens,[23] the town opted not to continue the Possum Drop and it has not been held since.[24]

Clay’s Corner got its start as a produce stand in the 1940s owned by the Caldwell family. Clay Logan purchased the Citgo station in 1998. In 2019, Clay's Corner reopened under the management of the Logan Family.[19] Today many locals celebrate New Year's Eve with dance, music, and food at the nearby John C. Campbell Folk School instead.[25]


The John C. Campbell Folk School, dedicated to preserving and encouraging the folk arts of the Appalachian Mountains, is located in Brasstown. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983.[26] The land for the Folk School was donated by Fred O. Scroggs, who wanted to preserve the folk teachings of mountain culture. Today it is the largest and oldest folk school in the United States with more than 6,000 adult students and 100,000 visitors per year.[27][28][29]


Brasstown is served by Erlanger Western Carolina Hospital, a 191-bed facility 2.5 miles (4.0 km) west in nearby Peachtree. Founded in 1979, it is the only hospital in North Carolina west of Franklin and Bryson City.[30]

Tri-County Race Track[edit]

The Brasstown sign across from Clay's Corner

The Tri-County Race Track is a 1/4-mile banked dirt oval race track located in Brasstown. It often hosted races Friday evenings.[31] NASCAR driver Bill Elloiott gained experience on the track.[32] Jack Wimpey built the track on property he owned in 1968 and its first event was held the following year. VIP suites were constructed in 2018.[31] Wimpey died in February 2023 and the 30-acre site was listed for sale.[33][34]


  1. ^ Feature Detail Report for: Brasstown, Geographic Names Information System, December 31, 1981, retrieved July 26, 2013
  2. ^ NOTE: the area surrounding Brasstown Bald in Georgia was also settled by the Cherokee people. English-speaking settlers to the area derived the word Brasstown from a translation error of the Cherokee word for its village place. Settlers confused the Cherokee locative name, Itse'yĭ" (meaning 'New Green Place' or 'Place of Fresh Green'), with Ûňtsaiyĭ (Brass), and referred to the settlement as Brasstown.
  3. ^ Hyatt, Jr., Bass (2018). "Unicoi Turnpike". In Avett, Wally (ed.). Brasstown Valley Myths & History. Blairsville, Georgia: Straub Publishing. p. 13. ISBN 9780991372669.
  4. ^ "Little Brasstown Baptist Church". Manta. Manta Media, Inc.
  5. ^ Lewis, J.D. "Cherokee County, NC Post Offices - 1839 to 1971". Carolana.com.
  6. ^ Leek, Mark (2003). History of Clay County Schools From 1850 until Present. Doctoral project in the Issues of Rural Education class at Western Carolina University.
  7. ^ "From the Old School". Cherokee Scout. Murphy, NC: Community Newspapers Inc. March 27, 2024. p. 10A.
  8. ^ "The Learning Center Ogden School | Murphy, NC | Cause IQ". www.causeiq.com. Retrieved March 31, 2024.
  9. ^ a b Padgett, Guy (1976). A History of Clay County, North Carolina. Clay County Bicentennial Committee.
  10. ^ a b Robertson, Jr., A.T. (September 27, 1934). "TVA Co-operating In Brasstown Program" (PDF). The Cherokee Scout. Murphy, N.C. pp. 8–9.
  11. ^ a b c Moore, Carl S. (2008). Clay County, N.C.: Then and Now. Franklin, N.C.: Genealogy Publishing Service. ISBN 978-1881851240.
  12. ^ "Fire station open house". Cherokee Scout. Murphy, N.C.: Community Newspapers, Inc. November 1, 2023. p. 2A.
  13. ^ "GIS/Mapping". Clay County Tax Office. Retrieved February 20, 2024.
  14. ^ "Brasstown Community Civic Center". Brasstown Community Civic Center. Retrieved February 20, 2024.
  15. ^ Clay's Corner - Opossum Capital of the World - Clay & Judy Logan Proprietors http://www.clayscorner.com
  16. ^ "New Years Eve at Clay's Corner * Brasstown, North Carolina * Opossum Capital of the World". www.clayscorner.com. Retrieved April 12, 2019.
  17. ^ "Clay's Corner * Brasstown, North Carolina * Opossum Capital of the World". www.clayscorner.com. Retrieved April 12, 2019.
  18. ^ Horne, Robert (2006). "PETA amazed Possum Drop continues". Cherokee Scout. Murphy, N.C.: Community Newspapers, Inc. Archived from the original on July 23, 2011. Retrieved September 22, 2023.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  19. ^ a b Keely, Harrison; Keely, Marcus (August 8, 2007). "Eleven questions for Clay Logan". Smoky Mountain Sentinel. Hayesville, N.C.: Sentinel Newspapers. p. 4A.
  20. ^ Gettleman, Jeffrey (December 31, 2003). "Keep Your Ball. We've Got the Possum". The New York Times. p. A13.
  21. ^ Gettleman, Jeffrey (January 2, 2004). "A New Year's Tradition Lives, But the 4-Legged Star Doesn't". The New York Times. p. A12.
  22. ^ Brown, David (September 13, 2023). "This Week in Local History". Cherokee Scout. Murphy, N.C.: Community Newspapers, Inc. p. 8A.
  23. ^ Elassar, Alaa (December 31, 2019). "North Carolina town ends New Year's Eve Possum Drop tradition". CNN. Retrieved September 2, 2022.
  24. ^ "North Carolina town ends New Year's Eve Possum Drop tradition". CNN. December 31, 2019.
  25. ^ "Folk School Winter Dance Week". Blue Ridge Music Trails. Retrieved March 22, 2024.
  26. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. July 9, 2010.
  27. ^ Eiben, Vicky (2015). "A brief history of folk schools". Folk Education Association of America. Folk School Alliance. The John C. Campbell Folk School founded in 1925 in Brasstown, North Carolina is the largest folk school in the U.S. today.
  28. ^ "region: Brasstown, Hayesville". Great Smoky Mountains North Carolina. Nation's oldest folk school founded in 1925.
  29. ^ "Craft Today: John C. Campbell Folk School". Craft Revival: Shaping Western North Carolina Past and Present. Western Carolina University. 2007. Retrieved July 31, 2023.
  30. ^ Fite, Elizabeth (April 3, 2018). "Erlanger Murphy Medical Center opens doors". Chattanooga Times Free Press. Chattanooga Publishing Company.
  31. ^ a b "Tri County Race Track". Welcome to Clay County, N.C. – information guide. Hayesville, N.C.: Clay County Progress. 2023. p. 53.
  32. ^ Foster, Sarah (December 2023). "Brasstown: Crossroads Between Two Counties". Celebrating our communities of Cherokee County: Volume 1. Cherokee Scout. pp. 26–31.
  33. ^ "James William "Jack" Wimpey". Legacy.com.
  34. ^ Hoerner, Alisa (September 12, 2023). "Just passed Tri County racetrack. For Sale signs posted on both sides of their driveway". Facebook.

External links[edit]