POPULAR PLOTTS

This exhibit from the Mountain Heritage Center is no dog-and-pony show

By RANDALL HOLCOMBE

The Plott hound dog is famous for its tenacity and willingness to stay on the hunt for days, and an exhibit focusing on the breed that was developed by the staff of WCU’s Mountain Heritage Center is showing it also has the power to last. After a six-month run at the university museum, where it was viewed by more than 2,500 visitors, “Our State Dog: North Carolina’s Plott Hound” went on the road for display at museums in Elizabeth City and Old Fort. Beginning in September, the exhibit will be shown for a year at the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh.

Panels from the Mountain Heritage Center’s Plott hound
exhibit have gone on the road, including a stop at the Mountain
Gateway Museum in Old Fort.

The exhibit’s development in 2009 was a collaborative effort of the Mountain Heritage Center staff, which was led in the project by then-curator Trevor Jones, said Scott Philyaw ’83, museum director. Framed panels of text and photographs explain the history and origins of the Plott hound and describe how the dogs are used to hunt bears, boars and raccoons.

Historians of the breed say the original stock of dogs now called Plott hounds was imported to America by Johannes Plott around 1750. The Plott family and their dogs settled in Haywood County about 1800, and as the years passed, the hounds gained notoriety for their ability to pursue game and they became part of the cultural fabric of Western North Carolina. The Mountain Heritage Center staff worked with the National Plott Hound Association, the Jackson County Coon Hunters Association, and local bear and boar hunters in putting together the exhibit. Many of its aspects are based on research conducted by two Plott hound historians, John Jackson of Boone and Bob Plott of Statesville. Bob Plott, a descendant of Johannes Plott, is author of “Strike and Stay: The Story of the Plott Hound.”

The exhibit has proven so popular that the Mountain Heritage Center staff has created a second full-size version on vinyl that can be rolled up and shipped in a large mailing tube and displayed for short periods of time in nontraditional venues, said current museum curator Pamela Meister. That version recently completed a four-month run in Rosman and is scheduled to be shown at the Franklin Folk Festival on Saturday, July 16.

As both exhibits travel across the state and the ranks of Plott hound fans grow, the Mountain Heritage Center is selling Plott hound T-shirts and posters that were designed by John Balentine of the creative services staff in WCU’s Office of Public Relations. Proceeds from the sales are used to help fund museum programs.

For more information about Plott hound T-shirts and posters, go to www.wcu.edu/about-wcu/centers-institutes-affiliates/mountain-heritage-center/museum-sales.asp. Information about obtaining the vinyl version of the exhibit for display is available from Pam Meister at 828.227.3192 or pameister@wcu.edu.