Little Switzerland

The name describes it best. Little Switzerland, the community where the mountain slopes are said to resemble that of the Swiss Alps, is located along the Blue Ridge Parkway in both Mitchell and McDowell Counties.

Little Switzerland was founded by North Carolina Justice Heriot Clarkson.  A frequent summer visitor to the area, he created the "Switzerland Company" in 1909.  Clarkson and a group of investors purchased over 1000 acres near the remote mountain communities of Armstrong and Phenoy. (1)

An example of the great views found in Little Switzerland.

A year later, the Switzerland Company began to sell lots.  Restrictions within the community included one home per lot and forbade alcohol.  Clarkson was a leading figure in North Carolina's Prohibitionist movement.

Along with the Blue Ridge Parkway,
the twisty NC 226A 'Diamondback' 
attracts many pleasure drivers to
Little Switzerland.

In 1911, the opening of The Switzerland Inn brought more visitors to the community.  Developers then successfully persuaded the Carolina, Clinchfield, and Ohio Railroad to build a train station near Gillepsie Gap - approximately four miles from Little Switzerland.  The Switzerland Company then built a toll road connecting Little Switzerland to the railroad station.  Today, this road is NC 226A.

Over time, additional inns, campgrounds, and vacation homes have made Little Switzerland a popular summer destination.  The town sits directly on the Blue Ridge Parkway, attracting steady visitors.

Downtown Little Switzerland is a small and charming collection of shops on a hairpin curve of NC 226A.  It is home to a cafe, general store, and a three-story independent bookstore that one can spend an entire afternoon exploring.

The Switzerland General Store has been in operation since 1927.

Little Switzerland remains a summer town as many businesses close during November through March.

All photos taken by post author - March 29, 2024.

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