The people that came initially to Madison wanted to grow their own wool or whatever, and grow their gardens. And they learned from the people here. Basically took on the values of the people here while retaining their own individual values. But if that is shifting and if people are looking at it as an economic thing just to buy and sell land, I think that will change the complexion or the nature of the county for the worse. I really hate to see that, myself.
A second group of newcomers were also on their way. A study published in 1970, The Land Potential Survey for Madison County, declared agriculture as an inadequate base for the county's struggling economy and stressed that Madison's geography, beauty, and climate offered great potential for recreational tourism and vacation home construction. In the hopes of improving Madison County's economic hardships, several public officials and business leaders joined together to develop new roads, luxury homes, shopping centers, tourist accommodations, and resorts for golfing, skiing, and rafting etc.
These developments were successful in their desired effect. Newcomers streamed into Madison County throughout the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. The county, which had seen population decline in previous decades, experienced accelerated growth. Sadly, some of the growth designed to benefit the community has erased aspects of the county's unique mountain culture.
Throughout the latter part of the 20th Century and on into the 21st Century, Madison County residents have struggled to find balance between tradition and progress. Despite the many conveniences development has to offer, progress has received a lukewarm reception in the Mountain Region of North Carolina. Some changes are embraced, others are accepted as resulting from modernization, and then there are those that are merely endured in their inevitability.