Editor’s note: This article features news and photos from past editions of the Watauga Democrat.

March 30, 1939

Electricity in rural Watauga County became a reality on March 28, as 90 miles of transmission lines were energized at 9 a.m., according to a Watauga Democrat article titled “Ninety miles R.E.A. lines energized in Watauga area.”

The lines brought power from Duke Power Company to Perkinsville, described then as a suburb of Boone.

“Mr. Harry Dewar, REA engineer, states that the entire project will be energized within the next two weeks and electric current made available to 1,000 farmers residing near the 183-mile line,” the article stated.

More than 40 Wataugans already wired their homes through the REA loan fund provided for the purpose. The article stated that $24,000 had been spent on the project.

March 26, 1959

Two fires burned a reported 325 acres on the previous Thursday, March 19, 1959, including 75 acres on Howard Knob overlooking Boone, as reported in the Watauga Democrat article “Fire burns 325 acres.”

The Howard Knob fire, which burned for six hours, started in the Cherry Park section and raged out of control up the mountain.

“Thirty-nine men, many students from the college, fought the fire from 2:30 p.m. until 7:30 (p.m.),” the article stated. “The fire was declared ‘dead’ at 12 midnight.”

The other fire originated in Ashe County and spread to Watauga County in the Tamarack section.

While a cause of the fire was not stated, it was noted that anyone wanting to burn trash or rubbish would have to apply for a permit.

In other news, two hundred 4-H club members, parents and leaders attended the annual Watauga 4-H County Council’s achievement night on March 19, 1959. Awards were given out for various agricultural and farming accomplishments.

March 27, 1985

The state was moving forward with its scheduled spraying program to control an infestation of gypsy moths in Western North Carolina, according to a Watauga Democrat article “Gypsy moth spraying set.”

“Some 2,000 acres along the North Carolina-Tennessee border will be treated with an insect bacterium in an effort to control the moths, according to N.C. Department of Agriculture officials,” the article stated.

The Watauga area to be sprayed included a five-mile strip of Locust Gap along the state line and the border with Avery County. The target date was set for May 1985 and was to be done by helicopter. Tennessee was conducting similar operations, the article stated.

A public meeting was previously held to inform the residents of the dangers of the gypsy moths to the tree population.

Also, Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League was preparing to fight the U.S. Department of Energy from putting a nuclear waste processing facility in North Carolina. Later, North Carolina was taken off the possible list.

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