Madison County Itself
The County itself is rich in history from the times of the Cherokee Indians through the colonial settlers and into the Civil War. The County seat boasts a courthouse that is over 100 years old which was designed by the architect of the Biltmore House. And, when you drive out through the rural areas, there is evidence of the important role played in education, medical, and craft history. Trace its history of prosperity as a major route along the French Broad River from the time of the Drovers’ Road through the era of the Railroad.
The unique geography of the county is created by the presence of two important geographical features. The French Broad River flows through the county–flowing north. And the county sits in the midst of the Blue Ridge section of the Appalachian Mountains. We are fortunate to have approximately sixty miles of the Appalachian Trail carved across the northern portion and actually run right down the main street of the town of Hot Springs. Most of the land is part of the Pisgah National Forest attributing to the natural beauty that is such a draw to settlers and tourists alike.
Because Madison County was a “border county” in a “border state” during the Civil War, there are many examples of communities as well as families divided in their allegiances.
The basic facts of the history of Madison County are that it was formed in 1851 from Buncombe and Yancey; it was named for James Madison and its county seat—the town of Marshall—bears the name of the great chief justice, John Marshall.
Long before 1827 when the state constructed the Buncombe Turnpike, drovers had discovered that the easiest route to get their livestock to markets in Asheville and points south was along the French Broad River.