Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Lynn A. Sacco

Committee Members

Derek H. Alderman, Ernest F. Freeberg, Robert J. Norrell


Appalachian Aristocrats explores the efforts of local boosters and businessmen in western North Carolina as they developed a regional, elite branding campaign from approximately 1880 to 1920. Influenced by the cycle of prosperity that had long connected tourism to regional development and regional development to tourism, boosters and businessmen worked to reestablish elite tourism in western North Carolina after it stymied in the wake of the Civil War and Reconstruction. Turning to three promotional components, infrastructure, elite residences, and resort hotels, boosters and businessmen embarked on a branding campaign that utilized symbols evoking the region’s continuity and change. These themes became embedded within regional promotion, and a series of paradoxes began to define regional branding. In particular, boosters and businessmen worked to show that the region was both rural and urban, embracing modernity while honoring their southern heritage, and inhabited by folksy mountaineers and progressive urbanites. By maintaining a promotional model that embraced so many seemingly contradictory images, boosters and businessmen were not only able to attract elite tourists from across the nation but easily adapt their campaign to larger changes within American culture. Through these wise branding efforts, the elite tourist market flourished, and western North Carolina once again became the Land of the Sky.

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