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Title: Oral History Interview with Stan Hyatt, November 30, 2000. Interview K-0249. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Electronic Edition.
Author: Hyatt, Stan, interviewee
Interview conducted by Amberg, Rob
Funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this interview.
Text encoded by Kristin Shaffer
Sound recordings digitized by Aaron Smithers Southern Folklife Collection
First edition, 2004
Size of electronic edition: 204 Kb
Publisher: The University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
2004.
© This work is the property of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It may be used freely by individuals for research, teaching and personal use as long as this statement of availability is included in the text.
The electronic edition is a part of the UNC-Chapel Hill digital library, Documenting the American South.
Languages used in the text: English
Revision history:
2008-00-00, Wanda Gunther and Kristin Martin revised TEIHeader and created catalog record for the electronic edition.
2008-12-08, Kristin Shaffer finished TEI-conformant encoding and final proofing.
Source(s):
Title of recording: Oral History Interview with Stan Hyatt, November 30, 2000. Interview K-0249. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series K. Southern Communities. Southern Oral History Program Collection (K-0249)
Author: Rob Amberg
Title of transcript: Oral History Interview with Stan Hyatt, November 30, 2000. Interview K-0249. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series K. Southern Communities. Southern Oral History Program Collection (K-0249)
Author: Stan Hyatt
Description: 257 Mb
Description: 59 p.
Note: Interview conducted on November 30, 2000, by Rob Amberg; recorded in Madison County, North Carolina.
Note: Transcribed by S. Shuckman.
Note: Forms part of: Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Series K. Southern Communities, Manuscripts Department, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Note: Original transcript on deposit at the Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
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The text has been entered using double-keying and verified against the original.
The text has been encoded using the recommendations for Level 4 of the TEI in Libraries Guidelines.
Original grammar and spelling have been preserved.
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Interview with Stan Hyatt, November 30, 2000.
Interview K-0249. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Hyatt, Stan, interviewee


Interview Participants

    STAN HYATT, interviewee
    ROB AMBERG, interviewer

[TAPE 1, SIDE A]


Page 1
[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]
ROB AMBERG:
( ), the resident engineer from the DOT, North Carolina Department of Transportation, and we are in his office at Forks of Ivy. Stan, could you just maybe introduce yourself? I basically want to do a sound-check and make sure that we're getting everything okay.
STAN HYATT:
Okay, well it's good to have you here, Rob. I am Stan Hyatt, resident engineer over this I-26 project here in Madison County. [Recorder is turned off and then back on].
ROB AMBERG:
Stan, how long have you worked with DOT?
STAN HYATT:
I started working in the summers while I was going to college, in 1967.
ROB AMBERG:
Wow. And what is your age, if you don't mind my asking?
STAN HYATT:
Fifty-four.
ROB AMBERG:
Fifty-four? Okay, well I'll be fifty-three next month, so we're right on target here. Same generation. Did you go to NC State?
STAN HYATT:
No, I ended up going to Ohio University. We moved away from here when I was a teenager. My dad was living in Ohio—in Cleveland, Ohio—and ended up going to Ohio University.
ROB AMBERG:
I went to University of Dayton, so there's another point of contact there. We were probably in school about the same time, I'd say. But you grew up in this area.
STAN HYATT:
Yes.
ROB AMBERG:
You were telling me the other day you grew up in Barnardsville?
STAN HYATT:
Yes, Barnardsville, Dillingham area. Just underneath the Blue Ridge Parkway. North end of Buncombe County.

Page 2
ROB AMBERG:
Was your family from there? Were your family's roots from that area, too?
STAN HYATT:
Yeah.
ROB AMBERG:
And how long had your family been in the community?
STAN HYATT:
Two generations before me.
ROB AMBERG:
And what kind of work did your dad do?
STAN HYATT:
My dad did a lot of things. The last work he did before he retired in Cleveland—he worked in a musical instrument factory, making instruments. Brass instruments.
ROB AMBERG:
But what did he do when you were in Barnardsville?
STAN HYATT:
He did a lot of things. He just moved around from job to job. One of the last things he did in Barnardsville was work with his brother in a country store.
ROB AMBERG:
Was there farming in your background at all?
STAN HYATT:
My grandmother had farmland and leased it out, and I helped with the tobacco chores and gardening and growing corn. Things like that—feeding the pigs and feeding the chickens, milking the cows—when I was growing up with her.
ROB AMBERG:
So you had all of those things. And would you classify your grandma as somewhat self-sufficient on the farm?
STAN HYATT:
She was extremely self-sufficient. She lived after she raised six kids of her own. I lived with her a while, and she would have me go out to the woods and get roots and things out of the ground that she made medicines out of. I hunted; I would bring squirrels and fish back, and rabbits. My grandmother could fix anything. When her husband was still alive she cooked for a sawmill up there in Dillingham area. She was the most self-sufficient woman that I ever knew.

Page 3
ROB AMBERG:
Wow. That's pretty remarkable. So she made her own medicines, then.
STAN HYATT:
Some of them. I'm not saying she made everything, but she had an understanding, having been raised in the mountains back in the Depression era days and before, of self-reliance. She lost all that she had in the Depression. She and her husband had accumulated five or six thousand dollars, which was a lot of money in those days, and she lost it all. One day it was in the bank; the next day she went to Asheville and it was gone.
ROB AMBERG:
So that must have really tested her in terms of her self-sufficiency and self-reliance.
STAN HYATT:
It did. And about that same time her husband died, and so she had to raise six kids as a widow woman with no real income except off of the farm.
ROB AMBERG:
For you growing up, then, as a child and before you all moved to Cleveland, did you have a sense that this was in a way the perfect childhood? Or was it something that you felt you wanted to get away from?
STAN HYATT:
No, I never wanted to get away from Western North Carolina. We were poor, and I realized we were poor, but it didn't bother me at all. I had the woods and the creeks, and the mountains to climb. I was the happiest kid in the world growing up, and had nothing [Laughter] that people—I mean, material things—that people would consider something today.
ROB AMBERG:
My father-in-law just died—actually this last week—and he was a person I would have considered—like, this is the person I would like to get lost with in the woods, if I had to get lost. I'd want my father-in-law with me, because I knew we'd get along all right. We'd probably live pretty well, and I'm curious as to whether you had a mentor or

Page 4
someone who taught you about the woods, and taught you about the farm, and all those kinds of points of self-reliance.
STAN HYATT:
We had family. I had uncles that took me bear hunting and things—fishing, and to the lakes and things like that—but most of the time I just roamed on my own. It was nothing when I was eight years old to get on the bus and go to Asheville, and go to the movies and bring groceries back for my grandmother or mother. It was nothing for me to take a .22 rifle when I was just a little kid and get going to the woods, and stay most of the day. Just have a good time in the woods by myself. So it's a lot of self-sufficiency there, but there were also adults for guidance in the family.
ROB AMBERG:
Did you all raise a lot of tobacco?
STAN HYATT:
My grandmother probably had in her allotment a couple acres of tobacco, which she leased out to people living in that Dillingham area. As I said, it was a family unit thing. We all pitched in and helped. Even though it was leased out, it was expected that the kids would help. When it was time to hoe tobacco, the teenagers got their hoe and got out there with the people—with the kids of the person leasing the tobacco—and it was just a family effort.
ROB AMBERG:
Did you have a sense when you were growing up, you know, "Gosh, I'd really like to farm. I'd like to stay on this place and continue this lifestyle and be a farmer."?
STAN HYATT:
I wanted to stay in the area and stay on the land, but I didn't ever really have a strong desire to be a farmer. I loved to garden back then, and I still garden now—small gardening—but to work on the land all day long—I realized at an early age it was hard work [Laughs].

Page 5
ROB AMBERG:
I understand. It took me moving here for that to happen. Actually, did you ever know a person named Mack Davis, who lived over in Democrat for a while?
STAN HYATT:
I'm aware of that person; I don't know him well.
ROB AMBERG:
His was the first tobacco I ever worked down there, and then quite a bit after that, and rapidly learned that I wasn't cut out to farm at all. It sounds like you learned a lot of that self-reliance, self-sufficiency. My sense is that this is probably stuff that stayed with you your entire life.
STAN HYATT:
You're correct about that. It did, and I tried to teach some of that to our daughters. I think people in this era that we live in are not self-reliant enough. I don't think people should just be hermits and hibernate, and go up onto the mountain and live all unto them selves. We have to live as a society and interact with each other, but I think there's too much reliance this day and time. People—kids growing up—are not taught things by their parents. Mothers taught their daughters how to sew and cook and things like that; dads taught their boys how to farm and how to make a living of some kind, whatever their trade was. And you don't see that. People are so busy now, they're not passing down that self-reliant nature like they had to do to survive in the era before this time.
ROB AMBERG:
Are you on your family land now? Is that where you're living?
STAN HYATT:
No, I have—I looked for land over near the family land. As it turned out, the land that my dad had went to his brother, and he's presently living there. After my mother died, that was a necessity. He didn't have the money to keep the land up himself, so he ended up having to sell it. And that was before I was working and had the means to purchase land. When we got out of school, my wife and I—and settled down here—got

Page 6
back off of the highway training program that I attended one year in Raleigh—we looked for land in that area. We couldn't find it; even then in the early 70s, land was very high in Buncombe County. And we found some land in Madison County, and we purchased it in 1973. Built a home on it in '79, and we're very happy living there now. So I've actually lived in Madison County for the last twenty-one years.
ROB AMBERG:
So you're right on the line, then.
STAN HYATT:
Yes.
ROB AMBERG:
Yeah. I'm curious, how old are your daughters?
STAN HYATT:
One is sixteen and one twenty.
ROB AMBERG:
And how do they, or how did they respond to this desire on your part and your wife's part to—for them to think a little bit more self-reliantly? I've got a twenty-year-old son and a ten-year-old daughter, and of course they think we're nuts [Laughs]—"Well, you should learn how to do these." That kind of stuff—"Well, why? I'm never going to have to do that kind of stuff."
STAN HYATT:
Well, our kids have accepted it pretty well I think. At the time—when they were doing something they didn't really want to do, they objected to it as a normal kid would do. But as they've gotten a little bit older, especially the twenty-year-old—now is a junior at Appalachian State. She is looking at a career of her own, and she's working with elementary kids because she's going to be a teacher. She's starting to see the wisdom in the things that we've tried to instill in her for the last ten, fifteen years. Ever since she's been big enough to understand. And I think you have the natural rebellious period of kids, and our kids were no different, where mom and dad don't know anything. But now, I think they are responding pretty well to what we tried to do there. We're

Page 7
proud of our kids, and they've learned to do a lot of things that most kids can't do this day and time. The sixteen-year-old, for example, was costume mistress in the North Buncombe High School play that was put on about a month ago. She made all these costumes for thirty kids, and they're not many sixteen-year-old girls who could do that today. I was pleased as a father to see that. Her mother has always loved to sew. Her mother—when she went off to college with me at Ohio University her parents gave her a sewing machine and said, "If you need new clothes, get you some material and make you're clothes. We just can't afford a lot of outfits." They had three kids in college. And to see this sixteen-year-old able to do the same thing is very rewarding to me.
ROB AMBERG:
Oh yeah, that's great. Now, is your wife from this area or is she from Ohio?
STAN HYATT:
She is from Ohio, but her parents moved around, too. Her dad was from North Carolina, her mother from Elizabethton, Virginia. They moved to Florida. He was a minister, and he took a church at the Ohio University, in Athens, Ohio. He was a pastor there at the time that I enrolled there in school. And so, she's moved around; she's been all over, but her parents are pretty close to this area. She has the same type of values that I have, and [it] worked out real well. I think it was planned out to have it that way.
ROB AMBERG:
Yeah, I think fate plays a role in all of those things. My wife is a rural North Carolinian from down in the Valdese area, and moved up here in the late 70s-early 80s. I'm from DC. We're decidedly different, [but] our values just really click with one another. It's pretty amazing. I guess I want to go back a little bit to this. When I first moved here I stayed with a woman who was an elderly ballad singer over in Laurel section. Her father and grandfather were both herb doctors, and [were] really kind of revered in the community. It seemed like every community around here had a person

Page 8
who was knowledgeable about herbs and medicines and things like that. Was that a role your grandmother played? Did people come to her for remedies or if they had infections or colds or whatever?
STAN HYATT:
I don't remember people so much coming to her. She had a respected position. I'm sure people would ask her about things like that. I don't want to make more out of it than it actually was, but it was just—as I gathered from what I could see of it at that time, it was tradition for elderly ladies that had been raised back in the Depression days to try to make all the medicine type things. If they had a stomachache, they had a remedy for that. They had a lot of remedies. It was like her cooking. My grandmother had no recipes for anything; it was all in her head, and it drove my wife crazy. When we first got married, I would say, "Granny could really make squirrel dumplings, and I loved that dish." And she'd go to my grandmother's and say, "Well, how do you make squirrel dumplings? I need to write the recipe down." Well Granny'd say, "Well, a little touch of this, a little bit of that, and so forth." My wife couldn't cook like that. It was the same with the medicines—she just intuitively knew and remembered how to take sassafras or something and boil it out. Whatever, I don't remember a lot about that. I just pointed it out to illustrate that she was very self-reliant.
ROB AMBERG:
That's really interesting to me that people around here kind of existed on that oral tradition. That passing down and that knowledge that they had stored.
STAN HYATT:
Yeah, very little written down. My grandmother went to I think the third or fourth grade. She didn't have much formal training at all. She had trouble reading big words and so forth. But as far as surviving—and that was the name of the game through those early years of this century in Western North Carolina. It was a hard place to live.

Page 9
You've got cold in the wintertime. I think the weather was more severe than it is now. There weren't grocery stores to go to and shop. They made most of their own clothes.
ROB AMBERG:
And there wasn't really money around to buy those things.
STAN HYATT:
There wasn't. There wasn't money. There were a few rich people—the Vanderbilts and so forth—but the rank-and-file people living here either had to learn the ways of the land and be able to survive, or they didn't survive.
ROB AMBERG:
Right. Yeah, I've talked to a lot of people who were raised around here, and certainly there were little pieces of money that came in when you sold the tobacco crop, or maybe you sold some herbs or something like that. But people around here, the vast majority of people didn't really see any money until almost the early, mid 60s. You know, when the federal programs started coming in. Your family's move to Ohio sounds like was maybe a direct response to that.
STAN HYATT:
It was. In the late 50s there weren't many jobs around here; not a lot of good-paying jobs and so forth. Coming off of the Depression years the economy hadn't really picked up that well, and my dad just drifted from place to place looking for something better. That's how he ended up in Ohio.
ROB AMBERG:
Do you remember when you were young, before you had moved, where did you go to school?
STAN HYATT:
I went to school in Barnardsville for a couple years. Actually, I moved back and forth to Ohio several times. My parents were up there regularly, but I didn't like it up there in the big city—in Cleveland—near as well as I did out in the country. There weren't enough things to entertain me in the city, so I came back. That's how I stayed with my grandmother. She reached a point in time—her youngest daughter left home in

Page 10
the late 50s—that she was by herself, at that time in her sixties. And so I think it was 1960 I came back the first time, and stayed with Granny a year or two here. Went to elementary school at Barnardsville one year, and then went to North Buncombe High School one year. That's when there wasn't a middle school. You went straight to the eighth grade then, and I was in the eight grade there. Then I went back to Ohio; then I came back. So I just kind of shuffled back and forth between Cleveland and down here. But when I was here I was living with her, except for the very early years when both my parents were still here.
ROB AMBERG:
Do you have siblings?
STAN HYATT:
Yes. I have a brother that lives here in Mars Hill now that's a little bit younger than I am, and a sister in Greensboro.
ROB AMBERG:
That must have been hard for your parents to let you go back—let you come back here—and potentially not see you for long periods of time, you being relatively young at that age.
STAN HYATT:
I'm sure like any parents they missed me. I missed them at times, but it was accepted that Granny needed somebody to help her with the harder things—the wood splitting and so forth around the house, the gardening, the carrying and the lifting. A sixty-year-old woman living by herself is not a good situation, and so they accepted it. And then as I said, I went back and actually graduated from high school in Ohio. Then my brother—younger brother—came down and stayed with Granny for a while. So she had all the boys there with her for most of the time after she was sixty years old.
ROB AMBERG:
I see that around here a lot. People—again, my friend Delly, who I stayed with for years, raised a number of children. She raised three children from her husband's

Page 11
first marriage as well as five of her own. And then had numerous other people staying with her at various times. And it seems like that is almost like a value in the community.
STAN HYATT:
I think it was. Today we would think in terms well, we've raised our kids up. It's time for them to get out and get their families on their own. And now it's time for us to rest and relax, and enjoy our later years. But I never heard anything like that from my grandmother. She was so family-oriented. She loved her kids, she loved their kids—the grandchildren—and there was not a bad apple in the bunch in her mind. That's not the whole truth. We were a normal family; some better than others. But as far as the responsibility factor that she had to the family—until her dying day, she would have done anything for any family members that had problems. That's how she perceived her role as matriarch of the family, and the family loved her for that. She made it until she was eighty-eight years old. Finally succumbed to brain tumor. But even in her last days, she would be thinking about the family, what she could do for the family members.
ROB AMBERG:
Did she cook with wood, heat with wood, things like that?
STAN HYATT:
She had a wood stove there for a while. About the time I came to stay with her she traded out and got an electric stove and refrigerator and things like that. Before my time it was traditional mountain, where they had a spring and kept all the stuff in that spring with the cool water, their milk and so forth, but she modernized a little bit. She didn't have a phone in the house until she was over eighty years old. She didn't want a phone, but she didn't miss anything.
ROB AMBERG:
Phones and electricity are two of the most significant changes that have come to the community in the last fifty years or so. They seem to me to really change the

Page 12
dynamic. Whereas people, like you say, she didn't really miss out on anything. My sense is that she probably did a lot of visiting, had people visiting her.
STAN HYATT:
She did. She walked; she didn't drive. I was too young to drive, so when Sunday came—or Friday night or whenever—it was nothing for us to set out and walk a mile to one of her elderly friends' homes. Then they would talk, and it'd be dark, and we'd take a flashlight, and we'd walk back. [Laughter].
ROB AMBERG:
Did you always have electricity when you were growing up? Or do you remember a time when you didn't have power?
STAN HYATT:
I don't remember a time without power, either in the house that I lived in—that I was raised in there—or when I lived with her. She always had power.
ROB AMBERG:
Yeah, it certainly came to different parts of the community at different times. I've met a couple of—you probably met Jerry Plemmons—and I spoke with him for this project. He's a little bit older than we are. He remembers the first eight years or so of his life being with out electricity. He remembers specifically when it came in.
STAN HYATT:
The old house that I remember—my first recollections were it had electricity in it, but it had no indoor plumbing. It had an outhouse. It had a coal stove in it. No phone. No insulation in the walls. One of those homes that you could see cracks. When it snowed, sometimes the snow would drip through it. But we had feather beds, and either fireplaces in the living room or coal stoves in the back bedroom. We had a wood cook-stove in the front, in the kitchen. I don't ever remember being cold. I may have been cold, but I don't remember it. We seemed to be warm, and I don't ever remember it being an inconvenience not having a bathroom in the house. But I'm sure there were times—when people were sick and had to trudge through the snow to get to the outhouse—

Page 13
that it was an inconvenience. But I don't have recollections of it being a big problem. Of course, I didn't have that situation my whole life growing up, but I do remember it being that way the first six, eight, years of my life.
ROB AMBERG:
And it was a situation that you obviously chose, too. It was one that you felt more comfortable with than, say, living in the big city, living in Cleveland. It's almost like kids today would choose those conveniences and that kind of larger picture.
STAN HYATT:
Keep in mind we didn't have video back then. There TV was just in the infant stage. There was radio. Most of the houses had a radio, although I don't remember a radio in the old house where I grew up. But without all these things that turn people today into couch potatoes, people in those days had to find something to entertain themselves. So they found other things. Being out in the country, there's just a lot of nature to entertain people. We spent a lot of time outdoors and doing things in the woods and so forth. I don't ever remember feeling like, "Well, I'm being deprived because I live here." It's the opposite. I felt deprived when I lived in Cleveland, because it's just surrounded in a big neighborhood with houses everywhere. I just wasn't used to it, I guess. It's just a cultural thing. I was raised in a more rural setting, and I felt comfortable there. But today, you're right, a kid today has been weaned on MTV, and videos, and the movies, and a car when he was sixteen years old, and all the things parents give their kids today. It's a shame in a way, but I guess some people say that's progress [Laughter]. Things change, and lifestyles change, and cultures change. That's the nature of life that things are constantly changing.
ROB AMBERG:
As an adult, as a parent, as a member of your community, it sounds like you're really trying to maintain some of those older traditions. Kind of continue them,

Page 14
teach some of these things to your children. Obviously things change, but it also sounds like you're trying to maintain some of those things, too.
STAN HYATT:
Yes, I think it's important that we pass down all the traditions that we possibly can. I asked my kids, and they think it's funny when I ask them this question. I try to get them—or did when they were younger—try to get them to go out and help me garden. And there's some work in gardening, having to dig and prune, and spray, and all that stuff you do gardening. I said, "Well, what would happen if the economy got bad again? Why, I've seen it when I was real little, or even worse before I was born. What would happen if that happened today and you couldn't go over to Ingles in Mars Hill and buy bread and milk. What would you do?" I don't want to be pessimistic or a forecaster of doom coming in the future, but to me that's a valid question. That was something my grandmother and others instilled in me. You have to be knowledgeable enough to take care of yourself and not depend on everybody else to lay things in your lap.
ROB AMBERG:
I think it's good to be in a place where you can depend on yourself, too. Not every place is like that.
STAN HYATT:
I think Madison County, North Carolina has got to be up at the top of the list. I have a neighbor that can sit down and make wagon wheels from scratch. They're carpenters, they're plumbers, they're automobile mechanics. They can do anything. I'm not that gifted myself. I don't want to mislead you and you think that I am, but these people in Madison County—because it was isolated somewhat geographically and by the road situation from the rest of the world, they learned to survive. I'm convinced that the older people over here could do just about anything to make a living if everything collapsed economy-wise and everything, and that to me is a very valuable thing to be able

Page 15
to do. They could make it. I feel like that a lot of people in the cities that have all the conveniences today—if we ever went into bad economic times, they would really suffer.
ROB AMBERG:
I think you're right about that. When I first moved to the county in '73—most of the new-comers that I know that moved in back then were all kind of adopted by a local family. People who taught us you don't burn pine [Laughter]—you burn oak, you burn locust, you burn hickory, those kinds of things, because they're going to just warm you better. You know, how to head up a spring, and stuff like that.
STAN HYATT:
Well, see, you've got 200 years of history here that they passed from father to son on down ten generations or however long this area's been settled. They had to learn to do it right, or they just went without water, or they went without shelter, or they went without heat or whatever. There's been a storehouse of knowledge built up there, and to me, to lose that would be a tremendous waste.
ROB AMBERG:
I totally agree with that. We have a spring, and heat with wood, and garden pretty heavily, and keep a few animals. And the same thing I tell my kids over and over again, is that, "First of all, you need to hang on to this land. Because even if you don't want to live here for periods of time, this really gives you a security that you're not going to get from anything else. It's that knowledge that you can come here and raise some food and can it or put it in the freezer. You're always going to have water. Those kinds of things. And that kind of knowledge, to me, is what real security is all about.
STAN HYATT:
I think of the movie, "Gone With the Wind" and Scarlett O'Hara, at some point in the movie—when she comes back to the plantation it's all torn up; there's no crops in the fields or anything. But she reaches down and she gets a handful of that red

Page 16
clay dirt and she says—well, I don't remember the exact quote, but basically it's the land that survives and goes on.
ROB AMBERG:
It's curious to me now, as I look at the wave of new people that are coming into the community. That change has been going on for a while. It certainly didn't come with the road or anything like that. I mean, it's been happening for—
STAN HYATT:
Twenty or thirty years.
ROB AMBERG:
Exactly. What I sense, though, among this kind of more recent group of new people, is that the value of the land seems to be based more on its economic value. It's an asset. It becomes a monetary asset as opposed to that image that we just talked about with Scarlett O'Hara—it's the land, and this is what will really provide for me. That concerns me. It almost seems like there is a cultural shift that is happening. It seems to be pretty pervasive, not just here but all over the country. But again, we notice it here because we're here, but also because Madison County has been closed off. And those values have been allowed to exist for a longer period of time than they did in other parts of the country.
STAN HYATT:
Well, I agree with you. What we saw back when we first moved over here—at that point in time, the few people moving in here would be adopted by the local people. The people that came initially to Madison wanted to grow their own wool or whatever, and grow their gardens. And they learned from the people here. Basically took on the values of the people here while retaining their own individual values. But if that is shifting and if people are looking at it as an economic thing just to buy and sell land, I think that will change the complexion or the nature of the county for the worse. I really hate to see that, myself. To me, the land is something to be preserved. As a road builder

Page 17
I hate to cut the land up. I realize the necessity of it, and that you have to state the priorities. But I'd hate to see a big farm—a family farm—where a fellow inherited one-hundred acres from his dad, and then he decides to sell that land, and then it's cut up into one acre tracts and so forth. I hate to see that, but it's a part of change. People in this free nation we live in have the right to do things like that, but I hope that I don't live long enough to see Madison change drastically. We have a small population of people in a big land area, and there's a lot of national forest area, and there's a lot of natural beauty to the area. I know that most of the people, either native or the people that have moved in—non-native people—want to maintain Madison. They don't want to make a Buncombe County out of it, or a Wake County or whatever. They want it to remain a rural isolated county, but at the same time they want industry. They want growth; they want convenience. So, all of that is in a mix right now, and I don't know how it's going to shake out, Rob.
ROB AMBERG:
I kind of look at that and just wonder. It's interesting. You, certainly, being raised here know this. When I first moved here it was two-lane from Asheville out to Mars Hill, and certainly on over the mountain into Erwin and Johnson City. The first project we saw was kind of a widening of [US Highway] 19/23 from two-lane to four-lane, and then in the early 80s the four-lane being put in from Weaverville to Marshall. What was immediately evident was just how that better access changed the whole dynamic of everything. There was suddenly increased opportunities for people not only to move in, but for people to go out and find better jobs and things like that. But that really changes a person's relationship with their place.
STAN HYATT:
It does. Again, it's just progress. People call it progress, but it's change that will occur. Areas don't tend to be the same—stay the same indefinitely. They tend to

Page 18
change over time, and Western North Carolina is a very desirable place. If you talk to a lot of people from all around the country, especially Eastern USA, and you read the magazines that promote growth and tourism and rate the areas according to the various rating schemes—the education, the climate, all the things, the job opportunities they put in—this is a very desirable area. When I was a kid, it seems like—and I may not know what I'm talking about, but I'll make a speculation—the more desirable area was Northeastern America. And then when we had the problems with energy—which we still have energy problems that are going to continue to plague us—but the industrialization of the Northeast shifted. A lot of people have moved to Atlanta; they've moved to Western North Carolina. They're getting out of that cold Northeast. This area, because it was inaccessible fifty years ago, was not as desirable. But now with the access, it's opening up. People that come here to vacation—leaf season or whatever—they're not happy where they are. Of course, I have a feeling there's a lot of people in America that are not happy where they are.
ROB AMBERG:
I'm not sure they could be happy anywhere.
STAN HYATT:
Well, that's how I feel. They say, "Well, we'll move to Florida." And they don't like Florida. "We don't want to go back to New Jersey, though. So, let's try Western North Carolina." So there's a lot of people moving in here, and there's a lot of opportunity. I think the area has more opportunity for residential type situations than a lot of big business. We just don't have the geography of big flat areas to develop, like the Piedmont of North Carolina does. But I think that this area has a tremendous potential for residential areas. As you see the new roads put in and the accesses near the interchanges, I think we're going to see more and more people wanting to move out into

Page 19
the suburbs, so to speak. Out of downtown Asheville, but be close enough to get on the interstate and be at work in Asheville in less than half an hour. You see that in every city. Charlotte is one that's amazed me in North Carolina. The I-77 quarter through there between Charlotte and Statesville—just thirty years ago Charlotte—Mecklenberg County was contained ten miles or so north of the heart of town. Now you're up to Huntersville or almost to Statesville. Most of those people work and spend most of their time in Charlotte, but they want to live up forty-five minutes away from Charlotte.
ROB AMBERG:
Right. I was doing a lot of work down around Iredell County back in the mid-late 80s, photographing a lot of farms down in there. I remember that whole little juncture right there, right around where I-40 and I-77 meet, and there was like one or two gas stations. There was nothing there.
STAN HYATT:
Yeah, there was nothing! Nothing there.
ROB AMBERG:
And now there's this enormous mall that has just expanded, and as you go north out of Statesville up and towards Harmony—.
STAN HYATT:
Same thing.
ROB AMBERG:
Exactly. It's mushrooming. We've spoken a lot about the uniqueness of this area, and just how it really is at the—in many and certainly in my opinion—at the top of the list in terms of the place where you really can be self-sufficient. That culture, that society, those traditions have been allowed to maintain, a lot of it because of the isolation, because of the relative isolation. One of the dangers that we have, then, is making it more homogenous, more like every place else.
STAN HYATT:
But what do you do to prevent that from happening? I remember a few years back Oregon put out a notice that, "We want you to come out and visit, but we don't want

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you to move here." North Carolina, right now—I don't know if you're aware of it—is the third fastest growing state in the nation. There's a tremendous number of people moving in. The big computer complex [Tapping noise on recording speaker].—what am I trying to say—Research Triangle Park. That has outgrown the whole area now. The roads cannot keep up; the residential areas can't. Nothing can keep up! And where do you draw the line? Who draws the line?
ROB AMBERG:
And how do you draw the line?
STAN HYATT:
And how do you fence off the area and say, "No, we're not going to take anybody else." And how do you infringe on the rights of the people—their freedoms to sell and trade land and do the things that they want to do with it? I don't know what the answer is. I'm not sure there is an answer to that situation. But I believe as long as this is a desirable area, which it has become recently—in the last twenty years or so—that you're going to see this influx of people into North Carolina. You're going to see building, and the things that go with an influx of new people. And I don't think it's all good or all bad. I think there's some good in it, but I do think that the local people have the feeling that you have—that it reaches a point of saturation when the dynamics start to change. When the new people decide they want to control the power bases—they want to be on the school board, they want to be the county commissioners—and they have different views than the prevailing view of the local people—that's when you see the clashes. I've seen that happen in some of the surrounding counties. It may happen in Madison County.
ROB AMBERG:
I suspect you're right about that. And actually, we see little bits and pieces, signs of that happening. This big cell tower debate has been part of—

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[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]

[TAPE 1, SIDE B]

[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]
ROB AMBERG:
That's pretty representative of the cell tower issue, of things that are yet to come. It's always curious to me watching new people come in and cut in a driveway up to the top of the ridge. I always go back and look at the old person—the old woman—I stayed with for a long time when I first moved here. Native-born people understood that you build low because it's more protective. It's going to give you better access, and you don't have to maintain a road up to the top of the mountain. I just look at those kinds of things and kind of go, "Okay, this is another little symptom here."
STAN HYATT:
Yeah, well, you see those people make mistakes sometimes, and you know they're making a mistake. But they have a right to make that mistake [Laughter].. They'll pay for it!
ROB AMBERG:
They'll pay for it sooner or later. They'll have to maintain that mile-long driveway up to the top of the ridge. And they're going to be hot in the summer, windy, and just totally unprotected. And frankly, I moved here because an uncle of mine had moved to Marshall back in 1970, and I stopped to visit him and never left. He was one of the first people in the county to do that very thing. You know, built a house right up on top of a ridgeline. It was beautiful, but I mean, had an enormous fuel bill and energy bill because of it. You know, just exposed out there.
I'm wondering if you can give me an encapsulated history of I-26. Go back as far as you want to go back. I certainly am aware of a lot of this, but I'd like you to talk a little bit about that and how it kind of came into being. What the concerns were, what the issues were. All those kinds of things.

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STAN HYATT:
I think the beginning point for any discussion on this portion of I-26, Rob, is to look at not just this little segment of road in Madison County, but the whole quarter—north/south quarter—of I-26/US 23. If you go south of Mars Hill, you can go all the way to the Atlantic Ocean. And you're basically on an interstate highway, except for the portion in Buncombe County that'll be eventually rehabilitated. When you get to Asheville, you're on I-26. You end up in Charleston, South Carolina. That's all interstate, approximately 200 miles; I don't know exactly how far it is.
ROB AMBERG:
That's about right.
STAN HYATT:
When you leave Mars Hill, or leave North Carolina at the north end of Madison County at Sam's Gap, you're on a four-lane highway that goes at least to Columbus, Ohio. The only reason I know that, that's where mother-in-law lives and that's the way we go. There have been sections recently completed up there that were detoured, like we have here in Madison County, around an old two-lane road that was eighty years old or so. But those have all been completed now. I just was up there for Thanksgiving a few weeks ago, or last week I should say. The only missing link in this whole quarter now—from Charleston, South Carolina to Columbus, Ohio—is the nine-mile section in Madison County. Of course, thirty years ago there were more sections in Kentucky, Virginia, and other places of this quarter. But it's a natural north/south quarter that's moved commerce and people. I suspect if you went back to the history, it was an old drover's route a hundred years ago, where people drove cattle and pigs and turkeys and things like they did down along the Buncombe turnpike, down the French Broad River. I think they probably did the same thing across Sam's Gap, and so commerce has moved. It's been a natural quarter for over a hundred years. It became apparent, as these

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other sections were being completed on either end of Madison County back in the 70s, that this was or would be a missing link through Madison County that needed a more modern road than the old US 23 highway up Murray Mountain to Sam's Gap. That road was built in the mid-30s. I'm sure when they opened it up and had a ribbon-cutting back in the 30s you could just see the exubalation [slang for exuberance and exhiliration]on the faces of the people coming over the mountain from Erwin, Tennessee. But if you stop and look, they didn't have tractor-trailers then. The traffic count would have probably been a few hundred people a day, and today of course we have nearly 10,000 people a day and six to seven hundred tractor-trailer routes per day.
ROB AMBERG:
I didn't realize it was that high.
STAN HYATT:
Yes, and even the bigger tractor-trailer rigs have been banned from using the road. That ban went into effect about five years ago because of the concern of the families living on Murray Mountain that were putting their school kids out there. The mothers were just terrified that a runaway truck—these big rigs—would come off the mountain and run over a loaded school bus. So, even with the ban we're still having 500 to 700 rigs per twenty four hour period come off of the mountain. That road has just outlived its usefulness. Unfortunately, because of the grade of it, the terrain of it, the horizontal alignment of it, it is not possible to go in and put an easy remedy on fixing the existing road.
ROB AMBERG:
Let me interrupt just briefly.
STAN HYATT:
Sure, go ahead.
ROB AMBERG:
You're on a good track and I want to jump back to that. You mentioned horizontal alignment. Could you talk—

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STAN HYATT:
I'm talking about curvature. As you go from the base of Murray Mountain to the top you have a lot of switchbacks in it—very short curves that are sharp in nature and very steep banks and super elevations. The road just gets a heavy frost on it, and the tractor-trailer rigs jack-knife up there on the road. They block the road. The next thing we know, the road's closed down. If we get a one, two inch snowfall, it's almost automatic that that road is going to be closed. There's not a good parallel route adjacent to US-23 to detour traffic. So when the road closes down, people that move the commerce in and out of Western North Carolina basically have to go around Knoxville and I-75, take I-40 from Asheville over there and around. It's a real hard detour. There's not a good, easy way—alternate route.
ROB AMBERG:
And Pigeon River Gorge is no picnic either.
STAN HYATT:
It's no picnic either.
ROB AMBERG:
I think it's closed down in the western direction now.
STAN HYATT:
It is. And I was going to say that at times when I-40 is closed and all that traffic is detoured up US-23—as happened in the summer July, August of 1997—we saw that tractor-trailer rig count jump from about five or six hundred per day to 2,000 per day. I don't know if you remember it, but we also saw the fatalities on that.
ROB AMBERG:
I think there were three fatalities.
STAN HYATT:
There were three fatalities that year within three weeks of each other.
ROB AMBERG:
Right.
STAN HYATT:
So it was recognized early on—back in the 70s—that that road was becoming outdated. At that time there was an Appalachian Regional Commission in effect through the Federal Highway Administration, and there was a plan—an initial plan in the 70s—to

Page 25
go on and build some kind of a new interstate-type highway through Madison County to replace US-23. And for lack of funding, lack of interest, recession, whatever, it never happened. Then, in the late 80s—'88, '89, somewhere in that period, there was a renewed interest in building I-26. And the governor—new governor at that time, Governor Hunt—or new in that year—I don't remember if that was his second term or his first term. He got a lot of requests from people in Madison and Buncombe counties in particular to get something moving on that. And the business people that wanted the road for industry, commerce, tourism, and the traffic engineers with the DOT that wanted safety and driving convenience and so forth, all came together. And a plan was hatched to go on and build the road. With the help of the governor and the board members and all the people that fueled that procedure—the political procedure that's involved in road building—the governor was able to get enough money to start the initial design of it back in those early years. And then it proceeded through the phase of the environmental impact statement, which went on for over three years. And the whole time momentum was being gained to build the road. We've got in better economic times than we were. No gas lines or recessions. The economy has been good, so the tax money generated that builds these roads was there. They were able to shift the building from other areas in North Carolina. In past years, there's been big emphasis areas in Winston-Salem, Charlotte, I-40 to Wilmington, and so forth. That was shifted to this area enough to get the funding set up. Then the design was in place and built, so we actually started construction on these two sections here in front of the office back in '93. The first section was just a rehabilitation of an existing four-lane. We took out grade crossings and put bridge crossings in, separations, built interchanges and so forth. The second

Page 26
project, which started in '96, was the first new alignment section from NC-213 up to where [NC highway] 19 and 23 split, north of Mars Hill. That was completed in '98, but before it was completed—in the fall of '96—we began these two massive projects, the 810-C and D projects that we're still working on today. That's a generalization of the recap. There's probably more areas that I could get into.
ROB AMBERG:
I'd like to go back just a little bit. I guess I-40 was completed, when, the late 60s, early 70s?
STAN HYATT:
I want to say that's correct. I don't know the exact date, but that's generally correct.
ROB AMBERG:
I'm aware a little bit of the politics of why I-40 got placed where it is and stuff like that. Obviously the existing road—the main road—from Asheville over to Knoxville—had been [US] 25-70 prior to I-40, which goes right through Marshall and Madison County. I'm curious about how this portion of I-26—this nine-mile section—kind of relates to that completion of I-40 through Pidgeon River Gorge. Was I-40 the initial design? Or, I mean, I-26? Was this the ideal route kind of thing? Again, my understanding is that because of Dan Moore and the politics of that particular era, it was decided to put I-40 through Haywood County instead of Madison.
STAN HYATT:
There are some similarities, some connections, between these two roads, but they're also differences. If you look at the alignment of I-40, it's more of an east/west road, and I-26 is more of a north/south road. There was a proposal to build I-40 through Madison County, which was bitterly contested by the people in Madison County in those early days—the 60s, I guess early 60s. Because of the politics it was decided to put it through Haywood County instead. There's been a sense of loss in Madison County. I

Page 27
think if you talk to the business people, the lawyers, the people that are in the know in Madison County, [they feel] they were short-changed in that whole process. Every time there's a rock slide now on I-40 in Haywood County, they're quick to point out that road should have been built through Madison County. Down through Marshall, Hot Springs, and so forth. So, there is a connection there, but I tend to look at the two roads as two separate quarters. If you look at it from a quarter standpoint, you did have an east/west quarter from Asheville through Haywood County, toward Knoxville. These two roads don't really replace each other. I think there will always be a need for two separate roads because of the two quarter routes. I don't think I-26 is a replacement for I-40, although I think it's going to be wonderful for the people in DOT after I-26 is open to have the latitude to detour that I-40 traffic. Because there's going to continue to be rock slides on I-40. I-40 was built in an era when you didn't worry about what was left; you just blew the mountainside to smithereens and hoped that you didn't have to haul too much, that it would just blow it away. So there was a lot of collateral damage—residual damage—to what was left over there on the slopes.
ROB AMBERG:
And this is what we're suffering today.
STAN HYATT:
Yes. We're paying the price for doing it real cheap. It was not so much of a cut-rate thing back when they did it. That's all they could afford when they did it, but it goes more to the heart of the design. I know that I-26 was much more carefully planned out. I don't want to say there's no possibility we couldn't have a rock slide on I-26 when it's open. But if you look at the type of construction over here, and even look at the type on Tennessee's side of US-23 now, that will tie into—that'll all eventually be I-26—it is eons ahead of what they did back in the 60s down on I-40. And the type of terrain—the

Page 28
rock formations may contribute to that also. There may be differences. This rock up here seems to be a harder rock, I think, and not as jointed and messed up as that is down there. There's always going to be trouble down there, unless somebody can afford to go in and totally rehabilitate that whole thing. And I think you'd be talking about billions of dollars to do that. In a couple years when we open I-26, we will have that alternate route. But they don't exactly replace each other. Someone travelling I-40 will be able to use I-26, but they're going to end up going an hour or two out of their way.
ROB AMBERG:
If they're heading west, yeah, that's going to be a problem. You talked about the environmental assessment that went on for three years prior to the actual construction. What kinds of issues was the Department of Transportation facing environmentally with a project of this scale, scope and location? What were some of the major things that you were concerned about and had to deal with and continue to deal with?
STAN HYATT:
Well, there are a number of issues that are involved in that environmental impact statement. They look at the location of the houses that'll be replaced—the schools, the churches, the graveyards. And of course, we have had to replace some of the housing—buy people out or move them into different areas to make room for this I-26. We did move three cemeteries, I think. And that's tough when you have people already buried, and you have to deal with the relatives of those people and move the graves. Although, that went a lot better than I thought it would go. We didn't have really a tough time with that. We hired a professional grave-mover that knew what he was doing [and was] sensitive to the problems with the families and the needs of the families, so that went fairly well. One of the biggest areas, environmentally, that we've had to deal with

Page 29
is the fact that a lot of this area that we're working through is high-quality water, or trout stream water. We've replaced some of the smaller streams with piping, and that was a big issue. We had to pay a mitigation fee and let the wildlife department and the court—basically North Carolina Wildlife Department—go other places in Madison County. That fee was over a million dollars. They have been doing off site mitigation all over Madison County—going to property owners and saying, "You know, you've got cattle in this area along the creek. We'd like to do a long-term lease with you, and maybe move the fence back out of the creek and go in and rebuild the stream bank, plant trees." That was mandated, because this section of interstate hit through an area probably no more than fifteen acres of what was considered wetlands—just isolated places where the core of engineers, the wildlife people, felt it was unique and qualified as a wetland area. So we had to pay that fee to go off site. And they're still rebuilding these streams around the county to offset the taking out of streams and putting pipes in. But aside from all that, we've had to worry about as we build the job, are we going to silt up those streams? Are we going to deposit hot rock from the road building that'll leech the acid sulfates out of the rock and change the pH of the streams, kill the trout, kill the bugs? So there are a lot of things involved in that environmental question you've asked. And it's been, aside from safety and quality, one of the three biggest issues of building this road.
ROB AMBERG:
I've read a statistic that on this job there was the largest single order for culvert pipe ever recorded in the United States.
STAN HYATT:
Yes. There're only two major pipe manufacturers in the country that do steel pipe. Each one of them got the order on one of the big jobs. The Gilbert job, the C job, had fifteen miles of metal pipe, and that was by Lane Pipe Company. And Lane did tell

Page 30
us that that was the largest single order for any project of any kind in the country for metal pipe.
ROB AMBERG:
That's remarkable to me. I spent some time up at the Babbitt's property on Sprinkle Creek. I remember going up there one time. It was the last apple season that they had up there before the orchard was bulldozed, but my son and I went up there and picked apples. I remember talking with Lucille and Howard, and they were talking about all the springs that were on that property. I think that he was claiming that there were as many as thirty springs on that property. How do you as an engineer then, kind of wrestle with that issue? You know, I remember being out there with Jody one time—Jody Kuhne. We were up on Little Creek, and we were looking at the mountain face and looking at the mountain and standing on US-23 right there. He said, "Well, all of this is really pretty insignificant, geologically. It's really the creek that's the major geological thing in this specific area." So with that idea in mind, then, my sense is that if you've got a place with twenty springs or ten springs, that each one of those things is going to—over a period of time—serve to erode what would be your fill area or the road itself.
STAN HYATT:
Well, what we had to do, Rob, was capture each of those individual springs in a piping system. And that's what we've done at each of the major fills. Before we start putting the fill material in one of the things we had to do was a lot of undercutting, because of the type of material that's prevalent in this area. It's called coluvium material. It's not a good material to build the fills on. And so the first order of business under all the fills was to go in and dig out these coluvium deposits, some which were up to fifty feet deep, and replace those with shot rock. When we went in and dug under those areas—under where the interstate would be, down at ground level before the fill was started—we

Page 31
could see where the water was coming from. So we captured all of that in what we call underdrain pipe. And so now the water will come off of the mountain down the way it's always come down. As it approaches the project, it will be funneled into underdrain piping systems so that it runs underneath the road through those systems. It never builds up. It continues to run downhill like it always did, but just doesn't build up under the road in those coluvium deposits. That's part of the engineering nature of what we have to do to build a road, is keep the water out from under the road. If we didn't leave a way for it to get out, it would either totally saturate the land or build up or both, and make a lake above the road. So that's part of what we do in building a road, is just capture that water and funnel it on through piping systems under the road.
ROB AMBERG:
It strikes me. I've had this experience a number of times when I've been up on the highway. Obviously just the enormity of this project, but at the same time there is a minuteness also. I think in terms of dealing with an individual spring that might be putting out a quarter of a gallon a minute or something like that. You have this enormous project, but then you have really small little details all along the route that have to be dealt with also.
STAN HYATT:
Well, that's true. We have that situation. But we have that on most of our jobs. This job is not unique; we've had a lot of springs on most of our jobs in these mountains in the past. This area—from the Babbit apple orchard in particular, across Buckner Gap, all the way down to Bear Branch Road—has been an area that's had more springs than any place I've ever been and all the highway jobs I've worked on. Another way we've had to deal with those springs is go in and do horizontal drains, which will bore holes that we drill into the mountainside horizontally or at a small angle, hence the

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name horizontal drains. We go back two, three hundred feet into the mountain with a small hole—maybe four-inch hole, three-inch hole—and we put a PVC pipe in. And we just keep jamming in until it goes back into those area where the groundwater is, where the springs originate from. Those things are opened up so that the water runs out. We have some that we put in three years ago that are still draining water out of them. But once we get the water out—captured—in that pipe, we can deal with it. It's not like it just runs everywhere underground. But this area, just because of its geological nature, is just covered with springs.
ROB AMBERG:
This specific job is not necessarily unique in that respect, in that you face these kinds of issues on a lot of jobs in the mountains. Talk a little bit about what has been unique to this job. What are some of the issues that you've faced that you haven't seen before, that maybe caused you to do things differently than you normally would've as an engineer?
STAN HYATT:
The first thing that would strike a highway engineer doing the kind of work that I do is the enormity of it. That's the biggest obstacle. I think we have a total of—on the Gilbert job, the C job—twenty six million cubic yards of material. That's about six or seven times what was moved out of Beaucatcher open cut in Asheville.
ROB AMBERG:
Wow.
STAN HYATT:
And there is a set period of the contract. This material does have to be moved. It was a longer contract than normal because of the size of it, but it is still five years. The contractor has to move all of that material in that time period, or he's penalized. There's a pretty stiff penalty, like about five thousand dollars per day, if he doesn't make it. So that sets up a schedule—for four years of the five years the contractor

Page 33
had to move a half million yards per month. Something of that nature. Just to physically get it all moved on time. When you look at doing that, a normal DOT road building project would be one of the size of these here in front of the office, where you had two million yards to move in two or three years. Now we're talking twenty six million yards in five years. So the contractor had to—he realized that when he bid it, and he had to bring in equipment capable of moving that. So you see this enormous equipment on this job. Huge shovels that'll pick up forty or fifty tons of shot rock in one scoop. Trucks that'll haul 200 tons of material down the road. But even with that, you still have the human aspect of it. You have to have drivers for those trucks. You have to have an operator. The pay is good for this area, but it's not phenomenal for this kind of work. So there've been turnover in people. The planning aspect of it, just to move all that stuff, would be one of the biggest factors. Then you look at the size of the cuts and fills. You look at 400 to 600 foot cuts. That's not normal for western North Carolina. Maybe out in Colorado you see cuts of this magnitude, but you don't see them around here. So just working in these big huge areas, and moving so much per day—night and day—was a big aspect of the work. And having to transition from managing the smaller projects to managing this project was one of the things that me and my assistants have had to do.
ROB AMBERG:
Has this been professionally for you the job of a lifetime, so to speak?
STAN HYATT:
It would be the job of a lifetime for any DOT engineer. I've had in my career an average of maybe five to eight projects per year. As I've said, a big interstate project would be a ten million dollar project to move two million yards of material. We have a lot of smaller projects where we resurface the roads every year. Or we build bridge replacement projects. Half million dollar job to put a new bridge in. And that's

Page 34
what most of the resident engineers of North Carolina that have the job that I have do day in, day out, year after year for a thirty, forty-year career. But then to have something like this come along, that's just totally unique. Nobody else has had anything like that. Not even really close to it, many of the other people. And it's on the tail-end of my career, because I've got thirty-one years with the state. I'll be retiring, if I live long enough, in a few years. This has perked up my interest level tremendously.
ROB AMBERG:
[Laughs]. I'm curious, was there a lot of competition for this particular spot? Were there other engineers who were just chomping at the bits?
STAN HYATT:
The Department of Transportation is divided into fourteen divisions, and each division has six or eight counties in it. This is division thirteen, which is everything from the Haywood County line to Hickory. We have seven counties here. We have three resident engineers that do all of the major construction—big projects. Of course, our maintenance people do smaller projects themselves. But for the new contract projects, the three resident engineer offices—one in Asheville, one here in Mars Hill, and one in Marion—manage all the work going on in division thirteen. It's contract work. It's more of a geographic thing. It was just more of fate that I was here at this time and place, but there's actually no competition.
ROB AMBERG:
I have heard concerns from primarily environmentalists that this route, because of its location—because like you say it opens up the southern Ohio Valley basically, and opens it up to the lowlands and South Carolina—that there is a concern about hazardous waste on this road. That is kind of one of the prime motivations. Do you have any thoughts on that?
STAN HYATT:
When you say prime motivations, do you mean for building the road?

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ROB AMBERG:
For building the road.
STAN HYATT:
I have heard nothing about that in official DOT capacity. I know that hazardous waste materials are moved across the interstate systems all over the country from place to place. It would not surprise me to find out in the future that, since South Carolina takes hazardous waste, that other states will use the route if they're in this quarter area. Probably some of them are coming down I-40 and I-85 and I-77 now, and I don't know of any prohibition that the state would put on that. But as far as building a road just for that purpose, I don't think that would be the case. Or that might have been one of the fifty reasons for justifying I-26, but it would not be up in the top. Not from North Carolina DOT standpoint, anyway.
ROB AMBERG:
And obviously, this is going to be a much safer, better route than I-40.
STAN HYATT:
I want to make sure that I'm getting this point across. North Carolina would not build a road through North Carolina so that Pennsylvania or Michigan can get their waste to South Carolina. If there's something there, it's way above my level and they have not involved me in that. But I've never heard anything that would lead me to believe that.
ROB AMBERG:
Like you say, waste is travelling, and I would fully expect that that would be the case on this road at some point. But as far as it being a prime motivator, it's not.
STAN HYATT:
I don't think so. We're involved in building the best road for the money for the time period that we're in. That's our commission from the taxpayers, or our job description if you want to look at it that way. We're just building a part of the whole nation-wide interstate system.

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ROB AMBERG:
There's an interesting book out. It's a history of the interstate system. It's called Divided Highways, I think. I can't remember the author's name, but in reading that book he was talking about the initial motivation for the interstate highway system back in the early 50s. President Eisenhower basically was really enlightened when he was fighting Hitler in Germany and saw the road system.
STAN HYATT:
Saw the Autobahn System, and he realized the importance from national security standpoint more than anything, I think. To be able to move military machinery and people rapidly—from point A to point B—nation-wide. And he looked at the fact that the United States did not have anything that compared to that. That's my understanding of how the interstate system was born. He brought it back from Germany and said, "Let's build that in this country." I think he did it primarily for national defense, but also realizing that commerce and other things would benefit from it.
ROB AMBERG:
That's exactly my understanding. I think he had had an experience in between the two world wars where he was heading up an army division or something like that. And it took them over a month to move across country—move that whole division across country—and recognize that "Boy, we could be in a situation where this is just going to be untenable. We have to be able to do better than that." And obviously, commercial and tourism traffic the 50s was beginning to play a more major role, as truck traffic was increasing, and commercial traffic. You talked about this quarter being historically a commercial trade route, and the reading I've done is that even Native Americans were moving along this very route three, four hundred years ago maybe, trading. Tribes from the Southern Appalachians were trading with tribes from the southern Ohio valley. I talk about that fact when I talk about lecture and show slides and

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things like that. That in a sense, we're taking that commercial trade route that has been in existence for hundreds of years. We are expanding it; we are widening it, true. But this is a historical route that has been there as long as man has been in this area. It's not something new.
STAN HYATT:
I think that's the case. And I think the road has just been modernized to match the times. I said before this old road that crossed the mountain now that we're dealing with was built nearly seventy years ago. For all I know, back in the 30s there were as many horse and buggies went across there on that opening day as there were automobiles.
ROB AMBERG:
I think that's accurate.
STAN HYATT:
Have you met this guy, Calahan? He lives right off of Bear Branch up in that hollow up there. He and his brother were the famous Calahan Brothers back in the 30s and 40s. They were a musical duo, and they played in the Grand Ole' Opry and a number of places. But he was telling me when he was growing up and they were first getting started on their music career, they would travel up and down 23 in a horse and buggy and play these little gigs in these churches and schoolhouses and things all the way up to Johnson City. [They would] go back and forth on a pretty regular basis, doing that until they eventually moved on to bigger and better things. But he said it was all wagon travel. Horse travel.
STAN HYATT:
I've seen pictures of people trying to bring wagons across the top of Sam's Gap back at the turn of the century, mired down in the mud. You'd see people pushing the wheels and somebody else leading the horses, trying to get them all coordinated move that thing out of the mud. And you can just imagine looking at those mountains now,

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aside from the road. Forget the roads there, but try to envision going across that thing a hundred years ago in a horse and buggy. You wouldn't be in Erwin in a half hour like you can today [Laughs].
ROB AMBERG:
That's entirely correct. Have you ever heard of a book called The Road by a man named John Ehle?
STAN HYATT:
I can't say it as I have, Rob.
ROB AMBERG:
I'll bring you a copy. This was, basically, it's a novel, but it is about the building of the road system from Old Fort into Swannanoa back in the 1870s. It'll really put road building into perspective for you. It's a wonderful book, and I've got it. I'll try and remember to bring that over to you. I think you would really just find it thoroughly interesting in terms of how it was done and what they had to do to do this thing. Used a lot of convict labor.
STAN HYATT:
I have another book. I think it's called Kingdom of Madison.
ROB AMBERG:
Yes, I've got that one.
STAN HYATT:
Written by a history professor at University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.
ROB AMBERG:
Wellman.
STAN HYATT:
Wellman, Manly Welman?
ROB AMBERG:
That's right.
STAN HYATT:
Sounds right. He tells about the old turnpike down the river. It's probably very similar to what you're talking about. Back in the early days—and this would have been the 1800s—that's how you paid your taxes. The men went out and carried rocks, and they shoveled and wheel-barrowed, and improved a section of road that washed out in flooding and all that. And they had to work for a week or so to pay their taxes, or put

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somebody else out there in their place to do that. It is interesting to read about the old initial efforts at road building. The ends were along the road where the drovers would come through and stay for the night and put their livestock in the pen, and feed them and pay their fees and have their meal inside by the big fireplace and so forth. And get up the next morning and go another fifteen miles or ten miles, and do the same thing. When you stop and think about how long it would have taken people to drive a herd of cattle—how many several hundred cattle, I guess, from Johnson City to Greenville, South Carolina—you're probably talking about a month's trip or something like that. It would have been interesting. I'd love to have a video-tape to look back in time.
ROB AMBERG:
Wouldn't that be nice?
STAN HYATT:
Or a time machine to see.
ROB AMBERG:
Yeah, actually see what it was like. My friend Delly was born I guess in 1900, and she lived over in Sodom Laurel and talked about how her family raised tobacco when it was first brought into the area. Another way for them to get money was for them to go out and gather herbs and really stockpile lots of herbs, because evidently there was an herb house in Asheville. She was saying they would stockpile things, and then they'd get a huge wagon load of stuff. But you're talking a two, three, four day trip for them to take that wagon load of herbs to Asheville, sell it, maybe do some shopping while they were there, and then get back out of there. We're talking a long time. Just a big effort. I want to go back a little bit to a couple things. One of the environmental concerns I know is that this is prime black bear habitat. I read the article in the Sentinel last week about the bear tunnels, and certainly have known about those for a while. And you talked early on about bear-hunting as a child, and going out with relatives to do that kind of thing.

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How does a road like this affect those populations? Not just the bear, but other wildlife and flora. What do you see as the effect? How do you deal with that?
[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]

[TAPE 2, SIDE A]

[START OF TAPE 2, SIDE A]
ROB AMBERG:
( ) that this is one of the real prime black bear habitats in the eastern United States. How does, then, something like an interstate highway, with an enormous right-of-way, really affect those populations of wildlife and black bear? Or even flora and fauna? What do you as an engineer, how do you respond to that? How do you accommodate for those populations?
STAN HYATT:
Well, the environmental assessment of the project has been discussed by biologists and people with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission that know much more about it than most of the highway people do. They have data on bear, deer, all the wildlife and plants in that area. It's not an easy thing to resolve. Of course, the old existing highway—there has been mortality for bear up there. Just a month ago there was a black bear run over on Sam's Gap, on the old road right there. But it's more likely to happen with bigger faster speed highways in one respect. The other respect is you have a lot more sight-distance on the newer roads. The problem with the bear is they like to travel—migrate—long distances. And they do a lot of that at night. They'll cross those roads when it's dark foggy conditions, and the motorists don't see them in time to swerve and get around them. We have built the crossings. Or, we're in the process of building these bear-crossings, which is a new concept to highway building, trying to route the animals under the roads. I think other states have begun to use it. I saw an article recently about an underpass in Florida for reptiles—for alligators and turtles and things like that. So, the highway building industry is trying to accommodate in every way that

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we can practically the animals that will cross and migrate across the highways. We know that we're not going to be able to get every animal across that highway safely. There'll be animals killed. One thing we do, we put up controlled access fencing—chain-link or woven-wire fencing, I should say, that's on both sides of the interstate. We try to detour those animals away from the interstate with that fencing. These underpasses that are for bear-crossings, the fencing opens up and leads down to the inlet of that crossing. So it tries to funnel the animal under the road. But right now I don't think there's been enough statistics—enough studies done—to guarantee that that's going to happen. I do know that these underpasses were designed over five years ago, when we were designing I-26. And there have been newer studies and newer designs different from the ones we're doing. Bigger, wider openings and so forth, trying to every way possible encourage the animal to go under the road instead of getting up on top of it. I don't think the road in itself is going to bring about the extinction of the Black Bear in this part of Madison County, but it will affect it. You asked about the fauna. There will be some species in that area—that were in the area of the footprint of the road—that won't be as prevalent. Although, plants seem to—in a given area—seem to be easier to accommodate than animals do. The things that are native. I don't remember any endangered species, or even any potentially endangered species in the path of the road that we think we would disrupt in that area. There's still a lot of national forest area through there. The Appalachian Trail and so forth, and I think those species will continue in that area. But obviously we have taken out some of them to build the road. I think they will colonize and come back on the right-of-way of the road, eventually. There are some benefits to what we're doing. The forest service in places goes in and does what they call clear-cutting to establish new

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tender vegetation for deer in certain areas, because underneath a big canopy of full-grown mature trees you don't have that happen. We are planting things out there. It's unbelievable the amount of new trees, new grasses, things—crowned vetch, bi-colored lespidese, probably ten to twelve new species of grasses—that we think the deer and the turkeys and the bear—I don't know about the bear, but for sure the deer will love. We did some of that on 25-70 at Hot Springs Mountain, and we've had good reports of the wildlife really being in those areas. Of course, if you draw them to the food near the road then there's more danger of them being hit there. But we are trying to use this big bear area that's necessary for the road building to regenerate wildlife in that area by our plantings. There may be some changes. There may be some new species that like the road right-of-way better—because of what we are planting there—than was there before. So there's pro and con to all of this, obviously.
ROB AMBERG:
I want to jump back a little bit. You know we started our conversation talking about your early life in Barnardsville; about your grandmother walking to visit people, things like that. And obviously progress, things change, the size of our culture, the size of our population has grown. And this road is being built really to accommodate a lot of those changes, and to really deal with the increased traffic and the size of vehicles. You're obviously just very much a person who places value on those older ways, on those older traditions, but also a person who is modern enough—sophisticated enough—to recognize the need for these roads. I'm curious between the contrast of the two. How do you think about that? You can go to part of this county and still see people walking, going to visit neighbors and things like that. But obviously this road is a much

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different thing. It's much different than that. Do you kind of mourn that loss, I guess? Is this something that is difficult for you?
STAN HYATT:
Well I guess I would see myself as pragmatic, if that's the right word to use. Number one, I don't see that I-26, the quarter, the new road that we're building, will completely change the whole area of this part of Madison County. The immediate footprint of the road, yes. It's obvious it's changing. But I think that when you get back into the coves and the valleys a mile a way from the road, you're still going to have the local people living there and having their little worlds that will not change drastically as a result of the road being over the mountain range from where they live today. So I look at it from that respect. I do have a problem in seeing a lot of trees cut down—forest land cut down. I love the forest and the trees. To me, it's a sacrifice. I see it a whole lot like going to the dentist when you have a tooth-ache, and the dentist says, "You know, this is going to hurt a little bit, but after I get through doing this things are going to be better." If I didn't feel that overall the balance was tipped in favor of the road, I wouldn't participate in it—if I thought it was overall a destructive thing that was bad. To me, it's a balance. I look at dead trees on one hand; I look at dead bodies on the other hand. All I have to do is go look at one tractor-trailer rig at the base of Murray Mountain and see a fellow decapitated or a woman all banged up like the lady. She wasn't killed a couple weeks ago, but she may be paralyzed, or she may be broken up the rest of her life and never walk again for all I know. She was in pretty bad shape.
ROB AMBERG:
And that was so close to being a real disaster with school buses.
STAN HYATT:
School buses. There could have been a lot of tragedy there. So life is a balance, and you take the good and the bad. And you have to make choices. Life is full

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of choices, and this to me was a choice. In my mind when I looked at the alternatives of leaving traffic where it was, and realizing the importance of the road system, I justified in my own mind. This road has to be built. When I look at it from a quarter standpoint, a 600 mile road from Columbus, Ohio to Charleston, South Carolina, I say, "Well, this is the only nine-mile section that's not been built." If we didn't build it here, we would have had to move it over into the next valley a half a mile over and build it there. And we would have had these same type problems. It's just a balance of choices that had to be made. In this case, I'm comfortable with the fact—and I think I always will be—that we had to do what we had to do. That we had to cut trees, and we had to put pipes in where there were beautiful little streams with waterfalls. I didn't like to do that! But I had to do it.
ROB AMBERG:
Here's a little metaphor. Looking down the road ten, twenty years from now, what do you think the effect will be? Again, obviously, a lot of these changes preceded even thought of the road. Or certainly any kind of planning of the road. A lot of the demographic changes, the cultural changes. Do you see the road as maybe accelerating some of those changes? What will be the end effect of the highway? Other than, obviously, the safety. That is so obvious to everyone, I think.
STAN HYATT:
I think there will be changes of some degree, adjacent to the road. I think Madison County—the business people, the chamber of commerce people—are hoping that it will bring some additional industry to the county. As you know, the county right now has a population of less that 20,000, and if you go back and look at the census in 1940, it was 25,000. So the young kids are leaving Madison County. That in itself is not good to preserve the old way of life if the generations are not succeeding themselves, and the kids

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are getting up high school, college age, and are leaving the county. So there's a lot of hope that there will be some industry that will spring up because of the increased access into the county. The county people have a tremendous work ethic. I think they would be a tremendous work force for any smaller industry—maybe fifty to 200 employee industry. Obviously, you're not going to have DuPont come in and build a factory for 10,000 people; there's just not a big enough place for that. But I think the smaller and the medium-sized industries—there will be some opportunity there. And that's going to change. I think you'll see at each interchange—and there's not that many. We're only building one new interchange—at Bear Branch Road—until you get to Mars Hill. But around those areas, you will see growth—rapid growth, I think—especially at Bear Branch Road, it being adjacent to Laurel. I just can't foresee that staying the way it is after that road opens. There will be some changing adjacent to the road, but overall, I think the biggest potential for Madison County in the area of change will be more housing. People are not as reluctant to build on hillsides like they were before. As you said, the old people built down in the valleys, along the creeks and so forth. And now, it's nothing for a development to spring up. I hate to see that in a way. But in a way, if Western North Carolina around Asheville continues to grow, where is the movement going to be? Buncombe County is pretty well filled up now. I think you're going to see growth between Burnsville and Asheville, out in this area. And I have mixed feelings. I hope we don't do like they did at Linville and build seven-story ski slopes. I mean, seven-story motels [and] ski slopes on top of the mountains, and change the ridge lines. You go over into Asheville now; you look at Sunset Mountain there, and Beaucatcher, and there're just houses everywhere. You can overdo anything, and from my standpoint it doesn't bother

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me to see a few houses and development on a mountain if you preserve the integrity of the mountain. The beauty of the mountain. That's going to be up to our county officials to address. I'm sure it'll be a hot topic into ordinances and laws and so forth. One thing that I will say that I'm very pleased—the League of Women Voters and county commissioners and Town of Mars Hill were instrumental in preventing signing all over along the interstate. They passed a sign ordinance. And there's even a move now to try to expand that and get this section designated a scenic highway. From a personal standpoint—not speaking as a DOT employee, but for myself personally—I hope they can do that, because this is a beautiful highway, and it links to another beautiful highway on the Tennessee side. In my mind—I'm prejudiced, I know, because I'm involved in the building of it—but I think it'll be as beautiful when it's completed, as the parkway or anything in Western North Carolina for the tourists that want to come here in the leaf season and just drive through and look at the beauty of the countryside.
ROB AMBERG:
I went to a couple meetings of a sign ordinance commission down in Marshall, and it was very interesting. There was a lot of people speaking pro and con on that issue, and one of the main arguments for people speaking for the signs—who wanted to be able to put signage up—was of course, "Well this is my land, and it's adjacent to this highway. I didn't really have a choice in terms of the highway coming through. I was paid for my land and that kind of thing, and I want to be able to use my land in any way I see fit. And that at this point would include a huge billboard." It was interesting to me, because that value—that idea of basically being able to do with your land whatever you see fit—is a very, very old value in this community, basically one that brought me to this community. I love the fact that "this is my land. I can do whatever I want with it."

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STAN HYATT:
You see more and more of that. I saw that in Buncombe County, in that area that I was born in—Barnardsville area—with the county commissioners wanting to restrict the use of the water in the creeks. And there's a balance there that allows the property-owners some freedoms to do basically what he wants to do with the property. But at the same time, you have to be cognizant of the overall. To me, those billboards, the way I've seen them in other parts of the country, would be a disaster for the beauty of this road. I can understand the property-owner wanting to make some money off of his mountain land that he can't do anything else with up near the interstate. But when I look at the big picture, and I look at the people in Madison County—the same people that want to bring industry and tourism to the county—and then I put myself in the place or in the car of that person from Michigan driving down here, and I see all those billboards plastered, I don't know if I want to stop in Madison County or not.
ROB AMBERG:
That's entirely the way I feel about it, too. At the same time, it's kind of like this was—this place, I remember moving here and thinking, "Boy, there is this kind of freedom that certainly doesn't exist in suburban Washington, DC!" [Laughter]
STAN HYATT:
That's a part of the overall changing atmosphere you see.
ROB AMBERG:
Well, and like you say, I think there's good and pros and cons on all of those things. And I do think that that is one of the pros in terms of the changing cultural atmosphere. Twenty years ago there wouldn't have been any discussion about that.
STAN HYATT:
It wouldn't even have been proposed to have a signing ordinance. But you see what I see is abuse of that right. Madison County, before they started the trash clean-up system—living over here, you saw the same thing I saw. It was deemed a right to throw your trash out of your car window on the highway. Before they had landfills and

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had garbage collection sites [you] just take your garbage to a country road and dump it over a bank and into the creek. I mean, I could've taken you up here to the highway project on US-23 up Little Creek where there're washing machines, refrigerators. I spent a lot of money, where we bought the property and moved the people out that lived near that Little Creek area, to go in there and clean up after—clean that garbage up. But that was their right to do that.
ROB AMBERG:
Yeah. I live on a paved road over in the Little Pine section, and we have a stretch of two, three miles of unpaved road that fronts our property. It had been a historical dumping site for years. And the woman who owned it finally hired somebody to pull all the metal out, stuff like that. And then the trash ordinance came in, and we ended up turning a couple people in who—you know, I'd go to the end of my drive way and see people just backed up to the hillside.
STAN HYATT:
Well, is that right? Did they have the right to do that?
ROB AMBERG:
I don't think they do anymore. [Laughter]
STAN HYATT:
They thought they did!
ROB AMBERG:
But they certainly thought they did! And it was again, seemed like something that was almost historical in nature.
STAN HYATT:
Well that's part of this overall changing aspect. 200 years ago you could divide Madison County into little miniature counties. And that family lived there, and they did what they wanted to and they really didn't affect the other little counties adjacent to them.
ROB AMBERG:
Right.
STAN HYATT:
But that's not the case now.

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ROB AMBERG:
That's exactly right.
STAN HYATT:
That's not the case.
ROB AMBERG:
And you know, the whole straight-piping issue is part of that kind of thing. Again, when I moved here that was kind of the order of business.
STAN HYATT:
When we started this road up here, that was before this effort to clean up the straight-piping. At that time, a survey was done—twenty-five percent of the households of Madison County were straight-piped. So you're talking about several thousand households putting their stuff straight into the streams. Some of it were those streams up here now. It was kind of an irony—and funny to some of us building the road—that we had all these restrictions on us about putting silt in there. We went out there and we found these pipes coming out of the houses straight into the streams. And you'd hear a flush, and all at once you get this deposit of waste material in this stream. If I dropped a tablespoon of dirt in there and somebody saw me do it, I would get severely castigated. That's part of the irony, but you look at the big picture. Clean up that straight pipe, eliminate the signs, eliminate the dumping the garbage over the hillsides. I think overall that's working out for the better, for the overall betterment of the whole.
ROB AMBERG:
Right. One final thing is—and we've talked about this and kind of eluded to it—and in a sense I think you've probably answered this, but I think what I recognize is just the speeding up of everything. Everything is getting faster. Obviously. And one of the things that I really cherish about this place, and the particular place that I live is the—especially compared to where I grew up. My parents live a mile from the DC beltway, and I'm old enough to remember quite clearly what the place was like before the belt-way came in. It was an area of smaller communities and a lot of rolling hillside, that kind

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of thing. Of course now, thirty-five years later, it's basically all condos and all paved and things like that. And I'm not at all suggesting that Madison County is going to turn into Silver Spring, Maryland. I don't think that that will ever happen. But what I do sense is that there will be kind of a speeding up of things. I'm not trying to intimate that the highway is the cause of that, but it's almost like the highway is more symbolic of that speeding up. As a person who was raised in that place in that time when things where slow, when you could spend the day in the woods, when you could walk to the neighbor's house and visit for the evening and then walk back by flashlight—I don't know. It's like I feel like I'm enough of a luddite to kind of really wish for those things. At the same time, I've been here long enough to recognize that my drive to Asheville has gone from an hour and fifteen minutes down to forty because of 25-70. I recognize my drive to visit my parents up in DC was eleven hours when I first moved down here and is now less than eight and will be less than that when the highway is completed. And yet like you say, there's good and bad. And balance. You've used that word now a number of times, and I think that that's critical. I think you're very perceptive in seeing that. I'd like you to just talk a little bit about that. Talk about that slow time. This is a really vague question, and I'm not even sure what I'm asking in a sense.
STAN HYATT:
Well, I think I understand what you're asking. People tend to fantasize the best of what we've had in life and what we see in life. And I think ideally we would live in a fantasy area or world where things don't change. I can remember all those wonderful times growing up, being out in the creek trout fishing, or eating popcorn in front of the fireplace with Granny. I would like to preserve that. I'd like it to stay like

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that and never change. But that's not reality; reality is things are going to change to some degree.
I'm hoping that Madison County—and I just differentiate between thinking and hoping—but I'm hoping that Madison County does not change its basic nature and character because of this road or anything else. I'm hoping that there will be a time of stabilization where there will be enough industry to attract the people that live in the county where the kids don't move away [and] where it maintains its population. It has its own individuality separate from Asheville or somewhere else. I don't know what's going to happen in the future. I think there are natural limitations on radical change. I think all it would take—even with this road built and completed and everything—would be another major economic hard time. A bad recession, depression or something like that. And then all the building, the new fast foods and everything, just comes to a crashing halt. All the realtors go out of business. I don't wish for something like that, but realistically, we can't stay in this economic period that we're in indefinitely. More than likely, we're going to have our slower periods like we had in the 70s and 80s.
I think there's some natural limitations there. Where you live in Little Pine, this road—I don't think you will see the affects of the road in Little Pine, or even where I live on Bull Creek in Madison County. The immediate area adjacent to the road I think will change. Who knows what the overall change in the county will be; I don't have any idea. It's hard to tell, but I don't envision or don't wish for an overly developed Madison County. To me, that's a contradiction in terms. When I think of Madison County, I think of rural beauty, mountains, not too many people. I don't believe in my or your lifetime we're going to see a half million people living in Madison County and everything

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covered up. I think, though, there will be some changes. Some will be good; some will be bad. That's the irony or the problem—the paradox, I guess—with road building. We go in and we build a loop around the town to handle the traffic problem. And then there's development all around that outer belt, and then we have to build an outer-outer loop. Where is the balance and all of that? Does the state—the DOT in particular—say, "Well, we're just going to stop road-building."? I don't think that's practical. I've actually had people at public hearings come and say—that are really radical people—say, "We need to take up the roads we have now and go back to the horse and buggy. Let's just plow the asphalt up. We don't want a new road of any kind here, or anywhere else. Let's take some of the roads that we can get rid of and just plow them up and plant trees back there." To me, that's not practical. Nor is it practical to say, "Let's just cut down all the trees and make roads everywhere." There's a degree of practicality, of balance and everything. And I think it's time that a road be built in this location. When I look at Madison County, I look at the road system that we have here now, with the addition of 25-70 that runs from Weaverville to Marshall to Hot Springs, through that quarter. And with this new road, with 213 that was built twenty years or so ago—or fifteen, whenever it was built—between Mars Hill and Marshall—I don't see too much more major road building from I-26 back to the west. Now the next thing that's going to change on the far north of county is the upgrading of the 19 E quarter. That's going to happen, and it's the same situation we're in with I-26. We have an old road that was built years ago, and we have a big portion of the population of Yancey County and Mitchell County also coming to Asheville for work. They have a dangerous road now that just will not accommodate

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the amount of traffic on it. So it's dangerous. A better road can be built through that area. But it will bring about change up through that valley.
ROB AMBERG:
That won't be an interstate-grade road, but that will be like a widening of 19 E? Maybe straightening in parts of it?
STAN HYATT:
It will be both. It will not be designated an interstate, but it will be closer to an interstate than it will just a four lane un-widened road. It'll be built to newer standards for faster, safer traffic and so forth.
ROB AMBERG:
But it won't be accessed—won't be as limited as it would be on an interstate.
STAN HYATT:
I think it will be limited, but I don't know if they're going to build frontage roads and build interchanges. More than likely not. I haven't seen the planning for that road, or had a lot of discussion about it. But I don't think it'll be left totally unlimited, either, where people can just connect a driveway into it. I think there will be some control on it. But once that road is finished, I don't see a whole lot more major road building in Madison County for the next twenty or thirty years. Now, I'm not a forecaster, and I don't look at these things and study them and look at the growth patterns. Some people do, but I'm trying to ask myself, "Where would you build another road in Madison County?" You mentioned 25-70. I was involved in that road-building. And I look at it. If you look at the portion from Weaverville down to Marshall, for example, that road has been there now since.
ROB AMBERG:
‘82?
STAN HYATT:
'82. Eighty-three it was opened. Nearly twenty years. I don't think it has changed the character of that area drastically. It probably is accessible as far as the land area and the geography of the areas up through here.

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ROB AMBERG:
No, I think what we're seeing along that little corridor is—and again, this has been probably in the last five to ten years—there is more home construction. And I think that that is growth in Asheville, basically, that's coming out to a more quiet rural area with great—incredible—access into Asheville. As a person who—for the early years I was here—traveled along the river, working jobs in Asheville or something like that and traveling along the river, that road was an absolute godsend. And at the same time, there is again that memory of the old road and the thinking, "Well God, those were the good ole' days." But the reality is, "Boy!" The time spent on the old road, the danger of the old road. It was a scary time.
STAN HYATT:
A lot of accidents down there. A lot of people tumbled off the side of the road. Young kid.
ROB AMBERG:
Into the river.
STAN HYATT:
The kids drinking and so forth.
ROB AMBERG:
The traffic moving really fast, too. I want to share with you, though—I've been up certainly on the new highway many many times, and I'm struck by—there's a couple locations. One is crossing Sam's Gap from Tennessee, but also crossing Buckner Gap. I have to tell you that there is this sense that the view—especially when you cross Buckner Gap—is so absolutely incredible.
STAN HYATT:
When you can see this parkway mountain range?
ROB AMBERG:
You just see the whole southern mountains. It just opens up. I tell people, I say, "You know, this is going to be a safer road. There's no doubt in my mind." But I think that there's going to be accidents, because people are just going to come across that gap and go, "[gasps] and just be so taken with how beautiful it is."

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STAN HYATT:
I agree with you. There was a lot of debate where we would put our welcome center and our rest area, and a lot of people wanted it at the state line up there. But the geographics were not such that we had a big enough area up there. We would have had to go in and just level an entire mountain. Twenty acres of a mountain. And you would have had a real bungled up looking area by doing that even if we had the right of way, which I guess we could have acquired it if we were just determined to build it. But you had no view out of there! All you could see was the adjacent hills, which are pretty, but you don't have that panoramic view that you have from the area that you're talking about, just south of the Buckner Gap cut. It's a shame that at that higher elevation we did not have a place big enough there. But we're not but a mile below there.
ROB AMBERG:
You're down right close to the Babbit's property, aren't you?
STAN HYATT:
It is the Babbit's property. We're going to build a scenic overlook area there such that people coming in to rest can walk up a walkway, and there's a knob there. There's a razorback mountain that comes out just north of that orchard area. And it comes right down to the interstate, but it's a little bit above the interstate. There's a huge oak tree there, and we're going to build—actually build a platform area like a deck area—that people can walk up that walkway. And from that you see that whole panoramic view that you're talking about, including Mount Mitchell. And then we're building another overlook for people coming northbound just down below there that can see that view. But even going out through that smaller cut down at the very bottom there at Jarvis property—you go through it, and to me that cut just frames that panoramic view. Of all the pictures I take, I probably have more that I've taken at different times of that area, just because it just perfectly frames all of that.

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ROB AMBERG:
It frames it.
STAN HYATT:
But I think your perception that that's the view—it is, and I think people are going to be stopping everywhere. One thing that I think needs to be added to this discussion that we have not touched on before we end up here—and I think this aspect of the view is going to bring it out—and that's air quality. One thing I'm hoping is that when people see the potential for views, and that you can go up there today when there's a front moving through here in the winter time, and you can see everything perfectly clear on a clear day. But in the middle of the summer with all the haze and fumes that overhangs, air pollution and all—I'm hoping that—as a builder involved in this road—that people will go up there and they'll look, and they'll see the view when it's clear and they'll say, "We want this year round." I know that's kind of paradoxical, because people will say, "Well, why are you participating in the road-building, because those cars are contributing to that air pollution." There will be some of that. But I have to be optimistic enough to believe that the technology can be developed to reduce that automobile pollution. I think the major polluters are the industries up in the Ohio Valley and up north of here.
ROB AMBERG:
And in Tennessee.
STAN HYATT:
I noticed when our governor was up here a couple months ago, and I got to ride in the helicopter with him and be his tour guide for I-26—which was an honor for me—but the reporter in the plane was asking him about the air pollution laws. He signed new law in reducing pollution pretty dramatically. It's not as much as everybody wanted, but I think there's going to be more and more pressure to do that. What I'm saying is that I hope that this scenic highway will be kind of a focal point. If people are interested in

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bringing tourism into North Carolina—people here in the leaf season and all—we're going to have to get rid of that haze in the air, so they can see the mountains and see the parkway.
ROB AMBERG:
And so just having the views that they have from the highway will hopefully cause people to be a little bit more active proponents for this. Yeah, that's a really interesting point. And I think that that makes some sense.
STAN HYATT:
You were going back to my childhood; I don't remember haze and pollution back in the ‘50s when I was growing up around here.
ROB AMBERG:
Well, I guess Smokey Park was almost uninhabitable in different parts of the summer just because of all the vehicles, and just with the inversion of the air.
STAN HYATT:
Yeah, I've noticed a dramatic increase in the stuff lately, and something's going to have to be done with it.
ROB AMBERG:
Well, I think Gary Walklin's wife had real issues with the air quality.
STAN HYATT:
Oh, she did. She did. She went back to Alaska because she said that she's just allergic to everything around here. It was not only air pollution, but a lot of things.
ROB AMBERG:
I emailed him a couple weeks ago and told him that she would have been glad she wasn't here at the end of the summer as dry as it was around here. This is a really bad year for all of that.
STAN HYATT:
I wish he was still here so you could do a full-scale interview. He was one of the more interesting people I've ever had work for me.
ROB AMBERG:
Well I did about an hour and a half with him.
STAN HYATT:
Did you? That's good.

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ROB AMBERG:
He felt a little bit scattered that day, so he and I are emailing back and forth. I'm trying to get him to say, "Go ahead and use this for this project." But he was concerned that he wasn't totally able to concentrate. We were out on the job, and he was obviously needing to pay attention to what was going on out there. But I find him to be just a really interesting man.
STAN HYATT:
He was probably one of the most environmentally sensitive people that have ever worked for me. And it worked extremely well. It was a godsend for this job to have people like that, because we've gained a lot of recognition for being environmentally sensitive in building this road. A lot of it was because of people like Gary. There were tours where people were brought up here from other areas of the state, and I've heard people say, "Well if they can keep that stream clean here with those huge slopes they're working on, then we can do it in Winston-Salem. Or we can do it in Greensboro or somewhere else where they don't have near the geography to have to deal with. But Gary, having spent most of his career in Alaska, had to be—he was just ahead of us around this area. I got tremendous ratings from the people that rated the job that he worked on, for that reason.
ROB AMBERG:
That's great. I ended up swapping some photographs with him for a lot of the lumber that he cut that he used to build his house. But he had a pile of beautiful red oak flooring that I ended up swapping for. We just converted the top half of our barn to some more workspace. And I'm in the process of laying that flooring down now. This is going to be the Gary Walklin floor in my barn now. [Laughter] It's great.
STAN HYATT:
You need to do what my neighbor who's deceased now did. He was an art professor at the college here.

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ROB AMBERG:
Yeah, I know Gordon.
STAN HYATT:
Well, he passed away with the cancer, but he purchased the property adjacent to mine. When he purchased it before I did back—I guess it was in the 60s or 70s—it had a tobacco barn on it. He looked at that barn, and as an artist he could envision that being made into a household. He didn't have the architectural background to know whether it was going to be stable, but I think his father-in-law was an architect in New York, and he brought him down here and they looked at that. He said, "Oh, this is sound. Just leave all the poles and everything in there." So he lacquered the tier-poles up through the middle of it. When you went into Don's house in the living room, you'd see these poles that are lacquered sticking up through. Of course, he made art studios, he had storage space.
ROB AMBERG:
Our place is kind of typical of Madison County farms. It's 100 acres, but it's only an acre of tillable ground and tobacco allotment. My wife and I both raised tobacco in our years here, but we knew that was in the past for us, certainly.
END OF INTERVIEW