In the late 19th Century, the arrival of the railroad and river ferry and the location of nearby logging camps helped Reliance develop into a small commercial and social center for the surrounding area. By the early 20th Century, a bridge replaced the ferry as the main form of transportation across the river.
The Vaughn-Webb house was built in the late 1880’s. In addition to operating a grist mill, the Vaughn family grew corn and hay, raised cattle, hogs, and mules, and cut timber.
The Higdon Hotel was built by Calvin Higdon on the north side of the river after the L&N Railroad purchased right-of-way for track construction in 1888. The large two-story frame hotel with a two-story front porch provided accommodations for the railroad personnel and travelers.With the increasing use of automobiles, fewer passenger trains stopped in Reliance and the hotel ceased to operate around 1920.
The Watchman’s House was built in 1891 for use by the railroad watchman, who checked the railroad bridge for burning embers after the train passed over.
Hiwassee Union Church and Masonic Lodge
The Hiwassee Union Church and Masonic Lodge joined forces around 1899 to build a two-story frame building with a full porch across the front. The upper floor was used by the Masons, with the church meeting on the first floor. During the week, the church was used as a school for a short time.
Webb Brothers’ Store
Webb Brothers’ Store opened on May 15, 1936 to serve as general store, post office, gas station and library. Still in existence, it is now housed in a 1955 building and is still operating as a general store. In 1969, a whitewater rafting service was begun by the Webb family, bringing a new era of activity to the community, which still retains its historic character.