• New College Community Experience of New College Branch of Columbia University’s Teachers' College existed at the Springdale location in Cruso from 1932-1939. The rural farm training for all teaching candidates was one of five components of this experimental educational endeavor. Other requirements were that a teacher-in-training had to have employment, study abroad, incorporate workplace training into the curriculum, and participate in a year’s internship. Out of this experiment arose High Valley Camp (1934-1961) which catered to local children, and Springdale School (1937-1953), a laboratory experiment for boarding students with special needs. Bethel Rural Community Organization has created the DVD, From New College to Springdale, which features Dick Alexander’s recollection of the historic college teachers' program.
  • Summit Academy (1984-1994) began in the Lake Logan area of Bethel (later moved to Hazelwood) and was another experimental boarding school designed specifically with one-of-a-kind successful methods for training students with attention deficit and hyperactivity disorders. Two additional programs were an outgrowth of this school. SOAR (Success Oriented Achievement Realized), one of two training facilities in the U.S. is located in Balsam, Haywood County, with a goal of encouraging students with learning disabilities to welcome challenges and achieve personal growth. Project Pursuit is a high adventure program for the same students, but it operates on weekends.

Bethel Community Historical Data


  • The first Universalist Church west of Durham, Inman Chapel, was dedicated in 1902. Built by the Reverend James Anderson Inman, brother of Inman of Cold Mountain fame, the Bethel site earned a state historic marker for its first full-time female minister of a Universalist Church in the state who also started the first Universalist kindergarten, Hannah Jewett Powell.
  • Sunburst, a logging community that existed in the first quarter of the 20th century in Bethel was one of the largest logging operations in the region. A state historic marker near Lake Logan commemorates the contributions of raw material from Sunburst to the World War I effort.
  • On Friday, September 13, 1946, a World War II B-25 Bomber crashed on Cold Mountain. Five crew members perished. The story of the tragic event is captured by Bethel native, Doris Rollins Cannon, in her 2005 book: Cold Mountain Bomber Crash: The Enduring Legacy.
  • Bethel was home to Inman of Cold Mountain fame. In 1997, Charles Frazier’s novel was on the New York Times best-seller list for months, received the National Book Award, and the subsequent movie was Academy Award nominated. Author Charles Frazier’s protagonist, Inman, was based on his ancestor, William Pingree Inman, who was born in Bethel, lived in Bethel, was killed in Bethel, and is buried in Bethel. Perhaps the "Cold Mountain" name was chosen because its stark, haunting tone that refers to a nearby mountain is better suited to commemorate the compelling story of Frazier’s ancestor. The "Cold Mountain" name has been adopted by numerous businesses in the area as well as by writers who have included the Cold Mountain moniker in the titles of their works.
  • In 2000, the Episcopal Diocese of WNC purchased the 300-acre property of Lake Logan which it began developing into a camp and conference center designed to accommodate a wide variety of groups. Lake Logan Conference Center and Camp Henry opened the doors in the summer of 2002.
  • Two unique educational institutions, unlike any before or since, have claimed the Bethel/Cruso Community as their home base:

Bethel Has Four State Historic Markers

  • Garden Creek – Native American settlement dating to 10,000 B.C.
  • Rutherford Trace – Military march against the Cherokee in 1776
  • Inman Chapel – NC’s first Universalist church west of Durham to employ a full-time female Universalist minister who established the state’s first Universalist kindergarten
  • Sunburst Village – Historic logging community that provided raw material for World War I aircraft