D. H. Ramsey Library Special Collections and University Archives

Austin-Brooks Collection

Summary Information

UNC Asheville Special Collections and University Archives
Austin-Brooks Collection
Date [inclusive]
0.4 Linear feet  ; 1 box
Physical Description
Contains photographic prints and copy negatives
Located in Special Collections, row 10, section 3, and map drawer

Preferred Citation

Austin-Brooks Collection, D.H. Ramsey Library, Special Collections, University of North Carolina at Asheville

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Scope and Contents

Photographs taken by various, and generally unidentified, photographers, between circa 1895 and 1930. A large number of the photographs show logging operations, especially of the Ritter Lumber Company in Proctor, located on Hazel Creek in Swain County, NC. Many of these photographs feature Austin Brooks, a lumber worker, and other photographs are of Mr. Brooks and his family. Descriptions of all these photographs were provided by Mr. Brooks, when he donated them to the Southern Highland Research Center in 1978, and many contain additional information on the rear of the prints.

There are a further nine prints [apb640A-J] that, although they show logging operations from the early 20th century, may not be part of the collection donated by Frank Austin and Charlie Brooks. Two reasons for suspecting this are: they are not listed on the descriptions provided by Charlie Brooks, and, unlike other images in the collection, they appear to be copies of other prints. They have however been grouped with the Austin-Brooks Collection for many years.

Copy negatives of some prints are also included. These were generally taken in the mid to late 1990s.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

UNC Asheville Special Collections and University Archives

Ramsey Library, CPO # 1500
One University Heights
Asheville, North Carolina, 28804-8504


No restrictions. Any display, publication, or public use must credit the D.H. Ramsey Library, Special Collections, University of North Carolina at Asheville. Copyright retained by the creators of certain items in the collection, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.


Charlie Brooks ; Frank Austin

Processing Note

Original processed by Southern Highlands Research Center staff, 1979. Further processing by Special Collections staff, 2001. New finding aid by Colin Reeve, October 2016

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Collection Inventory


Asheville telephone exchange - on the corner of Lexington Avenue and Walnut Street. Col. Austin's mother, Alice Lee Buckner, was a supervisor shown in the photograph. Photograph taken by Higgason, a prominent Asheville photographer. [abp600] 

Waterfall - From information provided by Charlie Brooks the photo was taken at Hazel Creek above Ritter Lumber Company Camp #16. Locomotive shown at head of falls was used for pulling logging cars and was owned by Ritter Lumber Company. However, author Pete Prince concluded that the location was head of "Hole in the Wall," or Bard Falls on the North Harper Creek in Pisgah National Forest in Avery County, NC, that the train is a Shay locomotive 949, built on 9 November 1904 for the W.M. Ritter Lumber Co. at Mortimer, N.C. and that he photograph was taken by Herbert W. Pelton. [abp601] 

Runaway train - Engineer Frank Bailey, Brakeman Ervin Nichols, carrying 12 carloads of logs.(Also described as "Hazel Creek Train Wreck"). Locomotive shown on its side following wreck. Date, 1916. Brakeman Nichols failed to perform duty and caused wreck. [abp603] 

Log loader - Cold Spring Branch, head of Hazel Creek, 1916. Operator - Dave Gorley ; Fireman - Ervin Nichols ; Brakemen - Bill Fletcher and Arch Bateman ; Engine crew - Bud Riddle and Charlie Brooks, (Brooks in front window) ; Bill Cole - top loader on log. [abp604] 

Clean up operation following wreck involving twelve carloads of lumber. [abp605] 

Locomotive pulling twelve carloads of logs - Coming from Bone Valley to Proctor. Shown at "Beerstand" curve going into Bone Valley. [abp606] 

Locomotive pulling log cars at Climax, head of Pigeon River, 1914. East Fork - top of incline - Sunburst Lumber Company, Canton, NC. Superintendent, Eli Potter ; Engineer, Crisp. Charlie Brooks is standing on the running board. [abp607] 

Lumber yard at Hazel Creek, Proctor. Lumber stackers are shown wearing leather aprons. Lumber was moved with mule drawn cart. [abp608] 

Proctor baseball team,, Hazel Creek, 1914. Blue and grey teams. [abp609] 

Proctor Mill, (1914). [abp610] 

Picnic at Eagle Creek (Fontana), Labor Day, 1914. Montvale cornet band. [abp611] 

Proctor School, (July 2, 1914). [abp612] 

Proctor School picnic, July 4, 1914. [abp613] 

W M Ritter Lumber Company store, Hazel Creek, Proctor. [abp614] 

Hot Springs, NC, 1909. County school group, approximately 54 students / teachers. Miss Carter, center, teacher. Charlie Brooks, front row, left. [abp615] 

Locomotive at water tank, Swannanoa, Southern Railway, 1918. W P McAlister and unidentified woman [abp616] 

Locomotive #4, taken in Pink Beds, Pisgah National Forest, about 1919. From left: Lem Daniels, John Buckner (Engineer), Harcus Hensely and Charles Bucker (Firemen). [abp617] 

North Proctor company picnic, Upper Proctor, July 4, 1914. "Uncle Josh" Calhoun was preacher. His son, Granville Calhoun, was in charge. The company employed 500 local people. [abp618] 

Picnic ground at North Proctor. Granville Calhoun wearing vest in rear center. "Uncle Josh" Calhoun seated at table. 1914. [abp619] 

Group of lumbermen on flat car, July 4, 1914, celebration. Charlie Brooks is in engine. [abp620] 

Timber cutters. [abp621] 

Men with mules. [Mr. Brooks said they logged with mules and horses until sometime in the '20s. They had a hard time believing that animal labor could be replaced by caterpillar tractors.] [abp622] 

Bear hunters, Jess Brook and Hunter Birchfield, 1924. [abp623] 

Ritter Lumber Company office and commissary building. [abp624] 

Lunch wagon. Saddle bags on oxen. East side of Great Smoky Mountains, 1904. William Ritter Lumber Company. ("Four miles to dinner". Oxen hauled the food four miles.) Cook, Dent Ensley. Camp #4 on Hazel Creek. [abp625] 

Locomotive, Asheville Yards, 1918. Freight run between Asheville and Salisbury. Charlie Brooks. [abp626] 

Log loader. Kitchen Lumber Company. At present location of Fontana clubhouse. [abp627] 

Commissary, Ritter Lumber Company, Cool Spring Br., Hazel Creek, June 1926. From left: Albert Cole, A D Martin, Edna Ownby, Marion Ownby, and Jennie Ownby. [abp628] 

Railroad trestle, Bushnell, Smoky Mountains. Before the lake was constructed a right turn would lead to Fontana, and a left turn would lead to Murphy. Lady in photograph is Miss Morrison, sister of a mill mechanic. [abp629] 

Group of hunters at Hall Cabin, Smoky Mountains, 1924. [abp630] 

Enka Plant during construction, 1928. Charlie Brooks on horse in foreground. [abp631] 

Group photograph: Crowell, Charlie Rackby, Ducket, Brooks Rackby, Robinson. [No order given.] [abp632] 

Charlie Brooks, and youngest son, Harry, 1928. [abp633] 

Charlie Brooks [left] and his first cousin, Arthur Sailor, 50th Company, Washington DC, 1918. [abp634] 

Charlie Brooks and Josie, a Hazel Creek girl. He said he jilted her because she was smoking a cigarette in 1915. She played the fiddle and her father was a federal agent. [Note: "Charlie Rose" is written in back of photo.] [abp635] 

Ziltha Brooks, mother of Charlie Brooks, and one of his brothers, about 1903. [abp636] 

Charlie Brooks in 1918, before he went to France. He sawed lumber after he went to France. He had seven dollars when he crossed the ocean, and served with 16th Company, Twentieth Engineers. [abp637] 

Locomotive, around 1915, Ritter Lumber Company, Hazel Creek. Shay Engine #1. Climbs at 4mph uphill, 8mph downhill. Charlie Brooks on right [fireman] and Othie Harwood [also fireman]. [abp638] 

Locomotive wreck at Hazel Creek, 1916. Engine #2, property of Ritter Lumber Company. [abp639] 

Ritter Lumber Company, Proctor, NC. [abp639A. Located in map drawer] 

Additional Photographs 

Proctor Ritter Lumber Co. lumberyard, circa 1916. Copy. Original photo by H T Loudy, Proctor, NC. [abp640-A] 

Ritter Lumber Co. circa 1916. View of boiler room and float pond at mill on Hazel Creek. [abp640-B] 

Skinning a frozen bear. John Cable, second from left, killed the bear. Horace Kephart, standing, observing with pipe in mouth. At Hall's cabin in Smokies. [abp640-C] 

Two men drinking on porch. John Calhoun and Claud Halder, at Silers' Meadows Mining House, on top of Smoke Mountain, at head of Hazel Creek, 1905. [abp640-D] 

People of porch of cabin. Taken at old Josh Calhoun place on Hazel Creek, 1890's. Front row, r to l: Joshua Calhoun [Baptist minister], his wife Susan, Crisp Calhoun, Jane Martin, Modie, Pink Martin. Rear,Bennett Crisp, visitor on right. [abp640-E] 

Log loader in operation on railroad of #26 Ritter Lumber Co., Hazel Creek, circa 1916-17. [abp640-F] 

Unidentified man (possibly Mr. Ritter). [abp640-G] 

Thirteen men on horseback, in the forest. [abp640-H] 

Camp Wadsworth, Spartanburg, SC. [abp640-J. Located in map drawer] 

Copy Negatives 

Copy negatives of some prints. Negatives date from circa 1997.