Explore the Waynesville Public Art Trail from end-to-end with the self-guided tour below and connect with the people, culture and history of our vibrant Southern Appalachian town along the way. 

Dive a little deeper with this interactive scavenger hunt that accompanies the trail, with questions paired to each art piece.

Self-Guided Tour 1

1. Gateway to the Smokies Arch

ARTIST: Fabricated by Ted Drake, Designed by Ed Kelley
LOCATION: 185 N. Main Street

This replica of an arch that once spanned Main Street pays homage to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The arch was part of Waynesville’s fabric from the mid-1930s until 1970, soaring above the bustling downtown.

Waynesville leaders who championed the creation of the national park in the 1930s were quick to lay claim as the gateway town. An arrow originally hung from the arch pointing the way to the “Eastern Entrance” of the park — albeit some 30 miles over yonder. The scaled-down replica stirs nostalgia among locals and reminds visitors of the immense wilderness in Waynesville’s backyard.

The lettering on the arch gives the illusion of a stencil cut-out from a distance but is actually fabricated to the surface so it can be read from both sides. The arch is one of three public art pieces commissioned for this corner mini-park to honor the 75th anniversary of the Smokies’ founding.

2. Art Connects the Parks

ARTIST: Richard Coley and Ben Kastner
LOCATION: 185 N. Main Street

A hand-forged railing blends form and function, lapping this downtown mini-park with subtle depictions of the Smokies’ landscape and natural heritage. The artistic railing was the first in a trifecta of public art installations to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and honor the park’s connection to Waynesville.

Dozens of local artists donated auction pieces to raise money for the commissioned railing, much like local school children pledged“Pennies for the Park” in the 1930s to help secure the national park lands. Along with mountain ridges and trees, the railing sports tiny salamanders as a nod to the Smokies’ fame as “Salamander Capital of the World.”

The artists hand-forged the entire railing using traditional blacksmith craftsmanship, even hand-punching the mounting holes rather than machine drilling them.

3. Wildflowers of the Smokies

ARTIST: Grace Cathey
LOCATION: 185 N. Main Street

A trio of carefree native wildflowers depict the stunning natural beauty of the Smokies. The artist evoked the style of timeless botanical illustrations, like those penned in journals of early explorers documenting the new-found flora of the Southern Appalachians in the 1700s.

The piece is another salute to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Its rich biological diversity harbors more than 1,500 flowering plants. Home to 19,000 documented species already — more than any other national park — and the count continues to climb. More than 1,000 species new to science were discovered in the Smokies over the past two decades.

The larger-than-life wildflower panels are the work of Waynesville’s own beloved Grace Cathey, a renowned metal artist captivated by the natural world during her 40-year career. The dainty and graceful air to the petals belies the strong welded metal beneath.

4. Foxy

ARTIST: Grace Cathey
LOCATION: 171 N. Main Street

This fox that guards the streets of downtown Waynesville is so lifelike many a passerby has done a double-take. The hen house is a staple of Appalachian farmsteads, along with the enduring battle to keep the foxes out. Artist Grace Cathey succumbed to the old adage when creating this piece inspired by her sister’s disappearing chickens.

5. Mountains to Sea

ARTIST: Joseph Miller
LOCATION: 135 N. Main Street

These floating Portuguese Man-o-Wars have strayed far from their home range, but serve as an ode to the Mountains-to-Sea Trail that passes near Waynesville on its 1,175 mile journey from the Appalachians to the Outer Banks.

The piece dates to the inception of Waynesville’s public art initiative, which featured rotating installations on a temporary basis. This piece was left in place by the artist and became part of the permanent public art realm.

6. Old Time Music

ARTIST: Stefan Bonitz
MEDIUM: Repurposed Scrap Steel
LOCATION: 77 N. Main Street

These cheerful, folksy troubadours rank as the most-photographed landmark in Waynesville. The enormous statues picking a banjo and strumming a washtub bass pay tribute to the cultural heritage of Appalachian music.

The artist scavenged metal scrap yards and welded discard industrial parts together, a reincarnation of trash to treasure. Known to locals as The Music Men, they weigh between 1,800 and 2,000 pounds each, making them sturdy enough to withstand the irresistible climbing urge of children.

The piece has been cataloged by the Smithsonian for its symbolic folk art traits. The rich legacy of mountain music lives on in Waynesville today, with cornmeal scattered on Main Street for Friday night square dances in front of the courthouse.

7. Bear in Mind: It’s Feeding Time

ARTIST: Grace Cathey
LOCATION: 16 S. Main Street

A momma bear and her rambunctious cubs tussle over trout in this playful scene in front of town hall. Black bears are an iconic symbol of the Smokies and are occasionally spotted right in town. A wayward cub was captured by town police officers a few years ago on the playground of First Baptist just a block up Main Street from this sculpture.

8. A Patchwork Community

ARTIST: Courtney Boessel
MEDIUM: Brick Pavers
LOCATION: 9 N. Main Street

A design underfoot in the brick pavers of the police station entry plaza depicts a log cabin quilt block square. Art students at Tuscola High School stepped up to a challenge issued by the Waynesville Public Art Commission to submit design ideas for the pavers. The winning motif reflects the traditional Appalachian handicraft still practiced by local quilting guilds.

9. Celebrating Folkmoot

ARTIST: Wayne Trapp
LOCATION: 9 S. Main Street

This bright, whimsical sculpture portrays an abstract dancer with twirling flags in honor of the cultural extravaganza known as Folkmoot. The kinetic movement of the flags that throw glints of light when spinning freely in the breeze captures the exotic energy and wild spirit of the festival.

Folkmoot brings troupes of international folk dancers to Waynesville every July for a celebration of customs and cultures from across the globe. More than 100 countries have danced down Main Street since Folkmoot’s inaugural year in 1984.

The flags symbolize both the international unity and diversity of Folkmoot. The artist invited the public to submit their own flag designs and incorporated them into the piece.

10. Time Space Voyager

ARTIST: Tom Grubb
LOCATION: 678 S. Haywood Street

This abstract sculpture transcends time and space as it rises toward the final frontier. The lofty lines, soaring toward the heavens, echo ships at sea and ships in space.

The artist fused nautical and aerospace themes to convey the universal voyage of mankind and the sense of exploration that drives us. A time capsule sealed in the sculpture holds notes and mementos from Waynesville citizens, to be opened in 2086.

11. In Wind We Woven Weave

ARTIST: Daniel Miller
MEDIUM: Bronze and Marble
LOCATION: 678 S. Haywood Street

Rich with symbolism, this abstract sculpture of an African weaver balancing atop a cracked world embodies the quest for enlightenment. The fabric represents knowledge itself, being snatched from the winds and deciphered on the loom by the human figure.

The piece adorns the entrance to the Haywood County Public Library in honor of the former library director Katherine Armitage. It is mounted on marble reclaimed from the original library that stood on this site.

12. Chasing Tadpoles

ARTIST: Bill Eleazer
MEDIUM: Bronze
LOCATION: 11 Commerce Street

This life-like piece captures the youthful curiosity of three barefoot children peering into a pond represented by river rock. Like a timeless Norman Rockwell scene, the children hunting for tadpoles spark nostalgia for the simple joys and wonder of childhood.

The sculpture’s location in the Frog Level district couldn’t be more fitting. The low-lying area along Richland Creek got its name from the chorus of frogs that once filled the air during spring and summer rains.

The three children — Kristin, Luke and Brian — are the work of a beloved art teacher at Tuscola High School whose tutelage produced numerous professional artists, while Tuscola High School masonry students helped build the stone base.

13. Waynesville: Always Ready

ARTIST: Stefan Bonitz
MEDIUM: Painted Steel
LOCATION: 44 Boundary Street

Functional yet stylistic, this beckoning bench graces the former N.C. National Guard Armory, a stately historic landmark built in 1936 by the Civilian Conservation Corps. The piece pays tribute to the loyal heroes of Waynesville who have defended their town, state and country.

The ever-watchful rifleman in an iconic militia hat, along with the backrest shaped like a map of the state, echoes the logo of the North Carolina National Guard. Its motto — “Always Ready” — and the year 1663 when the state militia was founded are also incorporated.

The common-man soldier crafted from salvaged farm and railroad implements is a symbolic salute to those who laid down their tools when a call to arms came.

14. Lily Pad Pavers

ARTIST: Collaboration
MEDIUM: Brick Pavers
LOCATION: 44 Boundary Street

The circular motif of this inlaid brick design resembles lily pads, a nod to the surrounding Frog Level district. The low-lying area, once the epicenter of railroad commerce and industry, historically flooded during heavy rains and became known as the “frog level.” The paver design was a collaboration by Tuscola High School art students, with masonry students aiding in the installation

15. La Femme

ARTIST: Myron Gauger
MEDIUM: Marble
LOCATION: 515 Wall Street

This striking stone profile of a woman’s head graces the mini-park known as Carolyn’s Point. Chiseled from pink Tennessee marble atop a granite base standing 9-feet-tall, the sculpture is a stately sentinel greeting visitors to downtown Waynesville.

The prized stone — native only to the Appalachians of East Tennessee — was hauled by mule and barge to the U.S. Capitol in the 1850s for staircase balustrades, and turns up in monument architecture from the Lincoln Memorial to the National Gallery of Art.

16. 1776 Militia Rifleman

ARTIST: Earl Lanning
MEDIUM: Bronze
LOCATION: 215 N. Main Street

This cast bronze statue of a minuteman immortalizes the colonists who fought in the Revolutionary War, among them the early pioneers of Waynesville. A crusade of 2,800 volunteer militiamen traversed the Appalachian wilderness in 1776 to burn and destroy Cherokee towns allied with the British. While tragic, the pivotal campaign quelled the formidable threat that Cherokee’s British allegiance posed to American independence.

Artist Earl Lanning traces his ancestry to the militiamen of the Rutherford Expedition, who camped near present-day Main Street and later returned as Waynesville’s founders. The statue clutches a historic reproduction of a Kentucky flintlock rifle built by Lanning and cast in bronze. The deep, rich brown will develop a green patina as it ages.

17. Plott Hound

ARTIST: Todd Frahm
MEDIUM: Bronze
LOCATION: 455 Hazelwood Avenue

This sculpture of a fabled Plott Hound extols the bold grit and bravery of Waynesville’s prized bear- hunting dog. Steeped in mountain legend and lore, the hardy Plott Hound was revered by early settlers for its daring tenacity to track and bay a bear many times its size.

The Plott family honed the hound’s superior traits for over 200 years from a strain of German boar-hunting dogs, closely guarding the pure breed within the family for generations after settling here in the early 1800s. In the wildlife-rich frontier, neighboring families would often call on the service of the “Plotts’ hounds” to rid their farms of troublesome predators.

The breed is now the official state dog and lives on in namesakes like nearby Plott Valley and the Plott-Balsam mountain range that cradles the southern horizon of Hazelwood.

Support Public Art!

Waynesville public art pieces are funded solely by private donations. Your contribution will help make future public art installations possible, creating a lasting legacy to be enjoyed by locals and visitors alike for generations to come. 

  • To learn how future art installations are selected, please click here
Self-Guided Tour 19