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Spruce Pine is a town in Mitchell County, North Carolina, United States. The population was 2,175 at the 2010 census.
Spruce Pine was founded in 1907 when the Clinchfield Railroad made its way up the North Toe River from Erwin, Tennessee. The town was originally centered around a tavern operated by Isaac English, located on an old roadway that ran from Cranberry, North Carolina down to Marion, NC. The Old English Inn still stands at its original location near the center of town. In 1923, after an escaped convict allegedly raped a local resident, a large armed mob rounded up scores of African Americans who were laboring on a road construction project and forced them to leave town on boxcars. North Carolina Governor Cameron Morrison deployed National Guard troops to Spruce Pine so that the workers could return and complete the road.
The railroad, combined with a rapidly expanding mining industry (the town is the namesake of the famous Spruce Pine Mining District) made Spruce Pine the largest town in the Toe River Valley, as it became the hub of commerce and culture for the area. Spruce Pine was the home of The Feldspar Company and Spruce Pine Mica, and other major mining interests had operations in and around the town.
With the decline in use of railroads to ship goods, along with increasing automation in the mining industry, the town has recently seen its fortunes dwindle and has undertaken a major effort to reinvent itself. Tourism has become a major economic force in the region, and the town's proximity to the Blue Ridge Parkway, combined with its location near the edge of the Blue Ridge Escarpment has helped make Spruce Pine a travel destination for many. The town also boasts the moniker of "The Mineral City of the World"
In 1998, the medium-security men's state prison Mountain View Correctional Institution opened in Spruce Pine.
On August 4, 2007, the downtown area of Spruce Pine was threatened when an arsonist set fire to several buildings downtown.
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