Picturing The Past: Kim Miller Road Named For Rattlesnake Hunter
Last updated 6/15/2020 at 12:29pm
Kim Miller was a typical mountain farmer with an unusual second job - rattlesnake hunter. He was one of 22 children of Henry Miller. Following the Civil War, Henry Miller operated a hostelry in Sapphire where visitors from the lowlands would spend the summer enjoying the cool climate, trout fishing and exploring the mountains.
Kim Miller married Elmina Mary Nicholson in 1900. They had 11 children. The 1920 census lists Miller's occupation as patrolman for the Game Reserve. He was the caretaker on the Backus Estate at Cold Mountain for many years. After the estate was sold in the early 1920s, the Millers bought a small farm where they raised chickens and cattle and grew corn, apples and vegetables. Miller was also a taxidermist, a skill he had learned, along with snake handling, from Dr. Grimshawe of Sapphire.
The Transylvania Times published an article written by Mrs. H.D. Lee of Lake Toxaway about Miller's rattlesnake business on Sept. 29, 1938. He demonstrated his method of catching rattlers using a long leather thong attached to a stick for Mrs. Lee. He approached the snake from behind, slipping the leather loop over the snake's head and then grasping it with his other hand just below the snake's jaws.
Miller estimated that he had caught thousands of rattlesnakes over the years. Although he had never been bitten he cautioned that, "it is pretty risky business" and strongly warned others against trying it. He sold both live snakes and the tanned skins to tourists to earn extra money.
Kim Miller Road between Highway 64 and the Lake Toxaway Post Office on Highway 281 is named for Miller.
(Photographs and information for this column are provided by the Rowell Bosse North Carolina Room, Transylvania County Library. Visit the N.C. Room during regular library hours (Monday-Friday) to learn more about our history and see additional photographs. For more information, comments, or suggestions contact Marcy at [email protected] or (828) 884-1820.)