Asheville History: 1940 - 1980
Although, by the middle of the century Asheville’s history slowed down, the country was deep into the throws of World War II and Asheville wasn’t exempt. Hot Springs was turned into a P.O.W. camp where German prisoners were detained. In town, Italian Diplomats were held at the Grove Park Inn until they were traded for American Diplomats that had been seized and held in parts of Germany and Italy.
World War II and the USS Asheville
During WWII, Asheville’s tragedy and pride came in the form of a small but brave patrol gunboat, the USS Asheville PG-21. Commissioned in 1920, she spent the larger part of her service as part of the Asiatic Fleet at the outbreak of WWII. She was on patrol in the Philippines when Pearl Harbor was attacked on the 8th of December 1941, and escaped early destruction by making a 12 day, 2000 mile voyage to the south coast of Java. The Japanese victory in the Battle of the Java Sea hastened her retreat, but hampered with engine troubles and sailing alone, impending disaster surely became her fate. The USS Asheville try as she might, strained to reach the safety of Australia but on March 3, 1942 a Japanese Squadron sunk the poor USS gunboat. One sole survivor, Fred Brown from Ft. Wayne, Indiana, suffered the end of his days as a P.O.W. For her bravery and service the USS Asheville received one battle star and was one of the few American surface ships lost with no known survivors at the end of the war.
Grove Arcade and the Appalachian Trail
In the 1940s the Grove Arcade was commissioned by the federal government to become the new home for the Department of Accountancy therefore allowing for expansion space in D.C. for the war department. After the war, in approximately 1952, they bought the Grove Arcade and turned it into the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC), then known as the Statistical Services Division of the Air Weather Association. To this day NCDC occupies the same local.
Conceived in the mind of Benton MacKaye, and an expression of the public’s high priority of the outdoors, the Appalachian Trail was constructed but not fully established til 1971. The “Great Trail from Maine to Georgia," runs diagonally through WNC and brings many hikers to the area every year.