Escaping the malaria and mosquitoes of the Tennessee River area, the first settlers to what would eventually be called Pisgah arrived in the 1830’s at a time when Sand Mountain was hostile and still part of Indian territory and not part of Jackson County. The number of settlers began to increase in the mid to late 1800’s. The area was also a vast wilderness at the time of its first settlements and contained virgin forests which were prime for the timber that was in demand as towns expanded in the Tennessee Valley region.
The Incline rail system, owned by Dr. M.J. Bobo and his son, Claude, was located on the brow of the mountain around what is now the loop area of Highway 88. Built in the Civil War era, Mr. Bobo operated this rail system, which he called the Jay Bird Southern Railroad. It consisted of a straight line of rail cars operated by cable and powered by steam engine which would send the timber and goods down the mountain to be unloaded and then back up the mountain in about a fifteen minute time span. All the freight for the upper part of the mountain made its way up this incline. The Union Army took over the incline for a brief period in order to send supplies to troops in preparation for the Battle of Chickamauga. Pisgah Land Company whose largest investor was John Will Gay Sr. owned land from Macedonia to the Higdon area. William Bethel Wheeler Sr. was the superintendent and part share holder of the company. It was this land company that supplied the lumber not only to build the mountain area, but the Tennessee Valley below, and it was this incline rail system that helped business to grow and thrive by allowing access to merchants to send and to receive goods.