Prior to the early twentieth century, an overwhelming majority of Transylvania County’s residents subsisted through agriculture, often growing basic staples such as potatoes and cabbage.
In the later nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the "Ecustas" acted as the county’s official baseball team, taking their mascot from the mythical, fire-breathing beast of Cherokee legend said to reside in the caves of the surrounding wilderness.
Beginning in the early twentieth century with Joseph Silverstein’s tannery, a manufacturing economy began to emerge in the county relying on timber and related products harvested from the Pisgah (later “National”) Forest. In the 1930s, Harry Strauss, an enterprising businessman opened a paper mill in the heart of the Pisgah, providing manufacturing jobs to hundreds of local residents. During the peak industrial years of the 1950s, DuPont located one of its factories in the county.
In the following decades, Brevard College and its namesake town each grew at an unprecedented rate, giving rise to a new period of cultural indulgence. It was during this period that the Brevard Music Festival began to attract bluegrass musicians and enthusiasts from around the country to Transylvania County.
Since the later part of the twentieth century, Transylvania County has experienced a rapid decline in economic prosperity, as most of the manufacturing operations that once operated there have since left the United States for more favorable business conditions in East Asia. Since that time, the county has worked to reshape its economy around the growing Appalachian summer and winter tourism industry.
In June 2013, 39 year-old Felicia Owen embarked on a two-gun, drunken shooting spree at a trailer park off of Patton Mountain Road, declaring boldly that she would “blow the brains out” of her target, Ronnie Laile. Despite her best efforts, Owen was unsuccessful in her attempt, only managing to wound Laile in the side.