At the westernmost end of Highway 64 is the town of Murphy. While the name may be familiar to some because of its association with Eric Rudolph, the Olympic Park Bomber who hid in the Appalachian town for five years, Murphy’s 1,627 residents and visitors have more to say of the town’s notability. Murphy is located at the intersection of the Valley River and the Hiwassee River at the mouth of a foothill’s gorge, a geographical feature that makes the small town unique.
In the 1800s, Murphy was along the Unicoi Turnpike, a trading path connecting Cherokee lands east of the mountains to those west of the mountains in Tennessee. When the Indians were removed and transported along the Trail of Tears, the U.S. Army took over the area and built Fort Butler as a collection site from which the Cherokees were transported.
Today, the town industries include manufacturing, construction, retail trade, public administration, accommodation and food services, and agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting, which are listed in descending order of prevalence and economic influence. With more attention being paid to western North Carolina towns, though, it can be expected that the industry for accommodation and food services may play a bigger part in the town’s economy in the near future.