January 3 started with a groan and a grumble. An “earth tremor,” lasting 10 to 15 seconds, was felt early Sunday morning, “rattling windows and shaking buildings.” No damage was reported.
Marshall S. Woodson, former president of Flora MacDonald College and a former pastor, took over duties as president of the Edgar Tufts Memorial Association in Banner Elk in January. The Association oversaw Lees-McRae College, Grace Hartley Memorial Hospital, and the Grandfather Home for Children.
James McCracken, who escaped from a prison camp in Greensboro in 1958, was captured by Deputy R.E. Pipes and Sheriff Fred Banner in mid-January on Blevins Creek. McCracken had been operating under an assumed name. In late March, Ira Mace, serving time for forgery, turned himself in to Chief Deputy J.M. Presnell. Mace had escaped from a prison camp in Durham.
Terry Sanford was in Newland late in January, speaking to local people about his upcoming campaign for governor.
On the evening of March 1, the main plant of the Sluder Floral Company in Newland caught fire. The building was a complete loss. Richard Sluder, owner of the Sluder Floral Company, purchased the Underwood-Weld Building in Altamont and moved his operations there.
Snow began blanketing the area in mid-February. And it continued to snow for weeks. Feet of snow fell in the area. Conditions were so bad by mid-March that Avery County was declared a disaster area and the National Guard was mobilized by the Governor and sent to the area. Helicopters were sent to drop food, fuel and medical supplies to stranded families. It was estimated that there were 400 trapped families in Avery. Some drifts were reported as high as 14 feet, both in Elk Park and on Upper Little Elk Road. The wind that accompanied the storms did considerable damage to the Avery County Board of Education building and the county garage.
In April, a 73-mile police chase ended in Avery County. William Harrill was first cornered by law enforcement officials at the Valley Clinic and hospital in Bat Cave. Harrill got as far as Boone before doubling back down Hwy. 105. Eventually, his car stalled as he was trying to avoid a roadblock in Linville. He fled into the woods where guards and bloodhounds from the state prison found him a short time later.
North Carolina Governor Luther Hodges spent a day in April in Avery County trout fishing in the North Toe River. He was the guest of J.E. Penland of Newland.
Candace Weld passed away on June 19. For more than 50 years she had operated a boarding house in the Altamont community.
In Linville Falls, the Parkview Restaurant, next to the equally new Parkview Motor Lodge, opened for business in June. It was operated by Ray Greene.
Wilburn Hughes, former Avery County Sheriff and Newland Chief of Police, passed away Aug. 5 in Newland. Hughes, 70, had also served on the Avery County Welfare Board and the Newland School Commission.
Also that month, Frank Hoilman, mayor of Newland, passed away at Garrett Memorial Hospital in Crossnore. Hoilman was 45 years old, owner of the Newland Super Market, and a deacon at Newland Baptist Church.
Democratic gubernatorial nominee Terry Sanford celebrated his 43rd birthday in Avery County. The party, at the home of Kenneth Anderson in Newland, drew 100 people.
Local citizens in Newland began meeting in September to discuss the establishment of a volunteer fire department. A week or so later, residents in Crossnore met to do the same. At the latter, Mayor Harold Moldenhauer met with 20 local men, and Claude Young, assistant fire chief from Spruce Pine, spoke to the group. They planned a chicken supper in December to help raise money for a fire engine. They had already conducted a turkey shoot which raised $57. In December it was announced that Tom Dellinger, Jr., was elected chief of the newly organized Crossnore Fire Department.
Local law enforcement busted up at least two stills in 1960. The first occurred in June on Goshen Knob. It was a 50-gallon still, with 400 gallons of mash destroyed. The second came in October. The affair made statewide news. According to the Asheville Citizen-Times, the eight owners/operators of the still near Elk Park got into an argument. Tempers flared and knives were drawn. Once the group from Spruce Pine left, the Avery County “faction” filed assault charges. When deputies arrived to serve the warrants, “the Spruce Pine group promptly told about the still operation.” After investigating the claims, all eight were arrested. Those arrested from Spruce Pine were Violet Lawlery, Fred Lawlery, Avery McKinney and Bill McFalls, and those from Elk Park were Francis Adkins, Millie Adkins, John Holtsclaw and Edith Adkins. In total, 1,000 gallons of mash were poured out and a 120-gallon still was seized.
Elections were held in November. For US President, locals voted 4,173 for Richard Nixon, to 1,150 votes for John F. Kennedy. Robert Gavin beat Terry Sanford locally, with Kyle Haynes over B. Everett Jordon for the US Senate. Mack Isaac was elected for another term in the NC House, and Grant Webb was re-elected as Register of Deeds.
Fire destroyed the Minneapolis Baptist Church in December. Firefighting crews from Newland, Spruce Pine and Marion came to battle the blaze, but the building was a total loss. The school next door was saved, but the home of Susie Young was also damaged. According to The Avery Journal, “high winds and ice” hampered the fireman battling the blaze.
The Census, prescribed by the US Constitution to take place every 10 years, recorded 12,009 people in Avery County, down from the 13,352 people in 1950.
In national news, the Greensboro sit-ins began in Greensboro at a lunch counter at Walgreens in February, and prompted other protests across the United States. Also in February the 1960 Winter Olympics began in California. In March it was announced that 3,500 American soldiers were being sent to Vietnam, while in May, President Dwight Eisenhower signed the Civil Rights Act into law. Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho” was released in June and, in November, John F. Kennedy beat Richard Nixon in the presidential race.
Those born in 1960 include Associate Justice Elena Kagan, guitarist Steve Vai, football star John Elway, and actor Sean Penn. Those who died in 1960 include author Zora Neale Hurston, philanthropist John D. Rockefeller, Jr., singers Johnny Horton and A.P. Carter, and actor Clark Gable.