Dr. Kelly E. Bennett (1890-1974) was a pharmacist, prominent civic leader, and political representative for Swain County, North Carolina in the mid-20th century. He was a contemporary and friend of Horace Kephart’s and played a major role in the creation of the Great Smoky National Park and the Cherokee Historical Association. His papers reflect his career as the local Bryson City pharmacist and his participation in the town’s civic life as well as his political career as North Carolina State Senator and State Representative for Swain County. He was also an amateur photographer, contributing images to many of Kephart’s publications. His photo collection is housed at Western Carolina University.
The Kelly E. Bennett Papers, housed in Appalachian State University's Special Collections Research Center, include but are not limited to documents related to the Bryson City Drug Company; North Carolina National Park, Parkway and Forests Development Commission; Smoky Mountains Conservation Association; Bryson-Fontana Road Construction; Cherokee Historical Association; Swain Recreational Association, Inc.; and papers related to his time as mayor and state senator and representative. This exhibit explores the Bennett collection and Bennett’s role in shaping tourism in Western North Carolina.