The first telephone line in Haywood County — the first local link in what has evolved into an Internet system connecting our mountains to the world — came about because a man wanted to improve his horse business.

Progress doesn’t always move swiftly in the mountains. While J.P. Swift was clever enough to see the business advantages of a telephone line in Waynesville, it would take another six decades for telephone service to be offered to every community in Haywood County. Swift installed that first line in 1894; White Oak residents did not get telephone service until 1957. Half a century ago, citizens rallied to bring telephone lines to their remote communities; today, they are working to bring broadband internet.

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