Local citizens joined with others to criticize the National Park Service in February of 1957. The NPS had plans to expand concessions on the Blue Ridge Parkway, depriving local businesses of opportunities. The response of the NPS was that there was a lot of “misinformation” being circulated about the plan.
In early March, the Johnson City Press ran an article on Oscar (Ott) Blair of Heaton. Blair was well known for making sleds. He recalled being broke “and it was one week ‘til Christmas. A day or so before, I had started making a sled for myself, and a man stopped by and wanted to buy it. At first, I didn’t want to sell it ‘cause I needed it on my farm. Then, I got to thinking about Christmas and no money. I sold it to him, and that is how I got started making sleds for a living.”
In mid-March, a bill was introduced in the General Assembly by Rep. Jim Hughes to amend the charter of the town of Linville, which was originally chartered in 1891. The amendments would remove the references to Mitchell County and replace them with Avery County. The bill went further, re-incorporating the town. However, when the public referendum was held in October, local citizens voted overwhelmingly against incorporating their community. According to the Watauga Democrat, the vote was 130 against, 42 for, out of 189 people registered to vote. The story of Linville still belonging in Mitchell County was widely reported across the nation in October.
In late March, it was announced that five Avery County schools had undergone improvements. These included a new agricultural building and lunchroom in Crossnore; new classrooms, library, and lunchroom storage at Banner Elk; new lunchroom at Elk Park; a new playground and enlarged and newly equipped lunchroom at Minneapolis; and a new lunchroom at Beech Mountain Elementary.
Della Aldridge Hampton, sixth grade teacher at Elk Park Elementary, was awarded a certificate in April by the North Carolina Education Association for teaching 39 years in local schools. At one point, she served as principal in Elk Park.
“Earth tremors” were reported across western North Carolina on May 13. Linville Falls resident M.T. Wright reported the tremors began about 9:25 that morning. No damage was reported.
There was a rash of prison breaks in late May with escaped convicts roaming around the area. Five had escaped from a prison work gang near Banner Elk on May 20. Two of the three were recaptured later that day, and a third on Sugar Mountain on May 21. Two others had escaped a day before from the Avery County Prison Camp. Another prisoner escaped in July and another in September.
Irma Storrs passed away on June 7. Born in Nichols, SC, she had come to Avery County about 1915. Storrs had worked at the Avery County Bank and operated a drug store in Newland for 20 years. Later, she founded the Avery County Mountain Laurel Festival.
J. Walter Buchanan, Clerk of Avery County Superior Court, resigned due to poor health, and in July was replaced by Ralph Gwaltney.
Three hundred Avery-Watauga County baseball players, with families, enjoyed a picnic at the Valle Crucis Elementary School in August. After the meal, the Avery County All-Stars and Watauga County All-Stars played the all-star game. Avery came out victorious, winning 8-6.
In September, it was announced that the new Highway 105, connecting Linville to Boone, was completed. “The principal part of the newly-constructed road,” reported the Kannapolis Daily, “saves 11 miles in distance from Boone to Linville... But it actually opens an entirely new route out of Watauga, avoiding the bottlenecks of the very crooked Yonahlossee trail…”
In October, the new Avery County Health Center, located between the courthouse and jail, was dedicated. Dr. J.W.R. Norton, state health officer, delivered the dedicatory address.
An early season snowstorm blanketed the area on October 27. Two inches of snow was reported in Newland, with three inches on Grandfather Mountain.
In mid-December, Avery County authorities apprehended two escaped prisoners who had sawed their way out of the McDowell County Jail.
William Banner passed away in December. Born in 1871, Banner owned and operated the first livery stable in Newland. He had also served as a maintenance foreman on Avery County roads and the school board. His funeral was held at the Newland Methodist Church.
In national news, Dwight D. Eisenhower was inaugurated for a second term as President in January; Jimmy Hoffa was arrested and charged with bribery in March; that same month, Elvis Presley bought Graceland in Memphis; in August, Senator Strom Thurmond set a record for the longest filibuster, with a 24-hour, 18-minute speech railing against a civil rights bill; in September, Arkansas governor Orville Faubus called out the National Guard to prevent the “Little Rock Nine” (African-American students) from enrolling in Little Rock Central High School. Later that month, President Eisenhower sent Federal troops to Arkansas to provide safe passage of the Little Rock Nine into the high school. In October, Capt. Hank Cramer became the first U.S. combat fatality in Vietnam; in December, the first attempt by the U.S. to launch a satellite, the Vanguard TV3, failed and blew up on the launch pad.
Those born in 1957 include current “second lady” Karen Pence, singer Patty Lovelace, composer David Lang, game show host Vanna White, director Spike Lee, singer/songwriter Vince Gill, NASCAR driver Bobby Hamilton, actress Fran Drescher, musician Michael W. Smith, and singer Donny Osmond.
Those who died in 1957 include actor Humphrey Bogart, author Laura Ingalls Wilder, gangster Bugs Moran, Senator Joseph McCarthy, big band leader Jimmy Dorsey, First Lady Grace Coolidge and actor Oliver Hardy, one half of the comic duo of Laurel and Hardy.