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A cool Blue Ridge village

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    Whiteside Mountain, which is just on theoutskirts of Cashiers between Highlands and Cashiers.
    Photo contributed by Katie Bumgarner/Crossroads Chronicle.

It's about 10 degrees cooler in Cashiers, N.C., than in towns only a few miles away, setting the stage for what lifelong resident Sue Bumgarner calls a "very laid back, very refreshing little village."

Though Cashiers is set deep in the Blue Ridge mountains of southwestern North Carolina, well-worn paths have been beaten to the village from Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee.

The area's forests, rivers and blue mountain landscapes have made it a prime getaway spot since it first gained renown as a resort town in the late 1800s.

"People can get back to nature here -- but you don't have to rough it unless you really want to," said Bumgarner, who is also the director of the village's Chamber of Commerce and Tourism and Travel Authority.

Cashiers is a community comprising many second homes. The population more than triples in the summertime, she said.

A small downtown features boutiques, antiques shops and gourmet restaurants. But visitors are never far from the forest: Walking paths connect the town's shopping thoroughfares directly to hiking trails. Trek up Whiteside Mountain's network of trails, or make short jaunts to the area's many waterfalls.

AT A GLANCE

-- Population: In summer, the village's population swells from 3,000 to nearly 10,000.

-- Best places to visit: There are plenty of opportunities for hiking, fishing, and sight-seeing. Nearby Whitewater Falls is, at 411 feet, one of the highest waterfalls in the eastern United States. There's also golf. Of the 20 golf courses spanning from Lake Toxaway to Highlands, five are in Cashiers -- including the only two public ones: High Hampton Inn and Sapphire National.

-- Biggest employers: High Hampton Inn and Country Club; the building and maintenance industries.

-- Miles from downtown Chattanooga: 170.

-- Geographic features: The town is surrounded by the Nantahala National Forest. Nearby rivers include the Chattooga, Ocoee and Nantahala Rivers, along with the lesser-known Whitewater, Hogback and Horsepasture rivers.

-- Date founded: Settlements were first built in the 1820s-'30s. The village still is not incorporated.

-- Historic info: Prior to an 1819 treaty with the Cherokee Nation, the Cashiers area was a hunting and feeding ground in Indian Territory. It was the last section of the state to be opened to settlers. Homesteaders started trickling in during the 1820s, but after the Civil War, more prominent families from South Carolina's low country began arriving, making the area an exclusive mountain resort site.

-- Most-famous residents: Winston Groom, the author of "Forrest Gump," lived in Cashiers for a time. Actor and comedian Steve Martin has a home in the nearby Lake Toxaway area.

-- Unique traditions: Each Fourth of July, the village hosts its Cashiers Mountain Music Festival, featuring bluegrass and barbecue.

-- Fun fact: There's disagreement about where Cashiers' name originates. Some say it was the surname of a prospector, while others say it was dubbed after a prize bull or a horse.