From Franklin to Cowee is a really nice drive, with scenic views of the mountains and valleys. Cowee is known for gem mining with several gem mines in operation. The area is rich in history with a Cherokee Indian Mound and the Cowee Settlement.
Cherokee Indian Mound – the site is 53 acres of hills and fields and the mound is part of the site. The Cherokee used the area as a cultural center. British colonists attacked the village during the Anglo-Cherokee War, and it was attacked again by colonial Patriot forces during the American Revolutionary War. The Hall family acquired the property in the 1840s. They held the land for 175 years, and refused to allow archaeological access. In 2007 the transfer of the village and mound went to the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.
The Rickman Store was a mainstay in the Cowee Community for many years. Constructed in 1895 by John Hall, Thomas Rickman purchased the store in 1925 and operated it until his death in 1994. Many of the original fixtures are still in place. 259 Cowee Creek Rd.
Old Cowee School / Snow Hill Inn (1914) Built on the site of an 1887 school that burned, this formal two-story structure served the families of the area until 1943
Aunt Vonnie West House/Country Home Co-op (1936) The daughter of Jessie and Pallie West, “Aunt” Vonnie was a schoolteacher in the Cowee schools for fifty years. The West’s Mill post office was on this site but was rolled on logs to the west
James & Emmeline Bryson Farm (1863) This home is the oldest in the Historic District and has changed very little in character over the years. The original doors, floors, mantels, and other woodwork are still in place.
The historic marker reads: Wedgewood Potteries, England used several tons of clay taken in 1767 from a nearby pit by Thomas Griffiths, a South Carolina Planter
By the 1740s people in England and in the American colonies knew of the valuable white clay deposits in the Cherokee region of the North Carolina mountains.
Cowee Mountain Ruby Mine – 6771 Sylva Rd. – In business for 20 years, 150 ft. of covered flumes. Can find Rubies, sapphires, emeralds, garnets and amethysts
Mason Mountain Mine and Gift Shop – family owned they started this business 48 years ago. They offer strictly native dirt. 5315 Bryson City Road
Sheffield Mine is one of the oldest Ruby Mines still in operation in the Cowee Valley. What makes this mine so special are its Star Rubies and Sapphires. 385 Sheffield Farms Rd.