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Rockford

Established in 1789, the town of Rockford served as the county seat of Surry County until is was encompassed into present day Yadkin County. As an early seat of government Rockford developed as an earl seat of commercial activity in the area. Hotels, taverns, and retail stores along with craftsmen including a blacksmith and tinsmith as well as industry including a forge and tannery flourished in the town.

A notable resident of the town during the 19th century was Judge Richmond Pearson, who established a law school just across the Yadkin River (Richmond Hill Law School). Pearson served as Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court from 1858 until his death in 1878.

After a period of decline Rockord saw success and a resurgence in the coming of the railroad in 1890 and through the early 1900’s. Rockford became the chief carrier of passengers, freight, and mail for Northwestern North Carolina Railroad and as a result resurfaced as a commercial center. During this time the village boasted three general stores and tobacco factory.

Modern Rockford still maintains much of its early character as several buildings of architectural significance still stand in town. These include, the Rockford Inn, the Rockford Methodist Church, the Mark York Tavern, the Rockford Post Office, the Dudley Glass Store – Davenport Galley, and the Rockford Masonic Lodge.

Also of interest is the Rockford General Store which dates back to 1890 and is included on the National Register of Historic Places! Creaky wooden floors, old fashioned candy jars, hoop cheese, glass bottle drinks including Nehi and Crush are just a few old timey items you will discover at the Rockford General Store.

In September the town hosts the Rockford Reunion, (this year’s event is on Sept. 8th) at the Masonic Lodge from 10 AM to 4 PM. The day’s activities will include traditional music, a BBQ lunch, sharing of family and local history, and dedication of the new Whitaker/York marker and hand rails donated by Bob and Betty Whittaker and several other Whitaker and York families. Registration fee for the day is $10.00 which includes lunch.

Each year the town hosts the annual Candlelight Christmas in Rockford event at the Rockford Methodist Church. Be sure to stop by the Dudley Glass Store and Davenport Gallery to do some Christmas shopping before the event!

Waynesville

Waynesville is the largest city west of Asheville. It is Haywood County’s oldest town and the Haywood County seat, framed by mountain vistas, vast national forest lands and clear, rushing streams.  It is also where team square dancing originated in the 1930s.

Early History

The Town of Waynesville was founded in 1809 by Colonel Robert Love, a Revolutionary War soldier. He donated land for the courthouse, jail and public square, and named the town after his commander in the war, General “Mad” Anthony Wayne.  The Town of Waynesville was incorporated in 1871.

For many years visitors have traveled to Waynesville to enjoy the cool clean air, clean water, outstanding scenery and an opportunity to escape the crowded cities.

Waynesville Today

Although it is a small town, Waynesville is filled with entertainment and culture. Downtown Waynesville is on the National Registry of Historic Places, a vibrant, friendly small downtown located near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park with nearby access to the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Main Street’s tree lined brick sidewalks offer pedestrian access to fine shops, galleries, cafés and restaurants. Historic buildings, relaxing benches, public art, and welcoming folks make Waynesville an enjoyable place to live and visit.

Parks, Museums and Arts Centers

Founded in 1977, The Museum of North Carolina Handicrafts at the Shelton House is a repository and cultural exhibit preserving and displaying traditional crafts by some of the states’ most renowned artisans.  Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Charleston style farmhouse was built in 1875 for Stephen Jehu Shelton, a Civil War veteran and Haywood County sheriff.  Exhibits include period furnishings and antiques, folk art, and collections of pottery, wood carving, basketry, metalwork, weaving, quilting, marquetry and other fine crafts. Open May-October.

The award-winning Haywood Arts Regional Theater features a full schedule of performances. Widely known as one of the finest community theaters in the southeast, the theater presents shows on the main stage at the Shelton House, April through December, and in the Feichter Studio, January through April.

Ten to twelve rotating artists’ exhibits are shown annually at the Haywood County Arts Council’s Gallery 86, a creative showcase on Main Street in the historic downtown. Special music and art events are held there throughout the year.

The town of Waynesville has many parks and greenways that afford visitors and residents alike the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors and beatuiful scenery of the area.

Festivals and Events

  • On the first Friday each month between May and December, Downtown Waynesville Galleries remain open until 9 pm for  “Art After Dark,” with demonstrations, artist receptions, and music.
  • Mountain Street Dances enliven downtown Waynesville on four summer Friday nights.  Put on your clogging and square dancing shoes and enjoy an old-fashioned mountain hoe down at the historic County Courthouse! Live mountain music, demonstrations and instruction by local clogging teams.
  • In July, Waynesville goes international, hosting Folkmoot USA, the State International Festival of North Carolina.  This two-week celebration of the world’s cultural heritage through folk music and dance beings with a parade of nationns down Main Street featuring performances, a parade and workshops. Performers demonstrate their cultural heritage through colorful, authentic and original reproduction costumes, lively dance and traditional music.
  • On Labor Day Weekend the annual Smoky Mountain Folk Festival, held at Stuart Auditorium at nearby Lake Junaluska, offers two nights of the finest traditional music and dance of the Southern Appalachian Region.
  • The Church Street Art and Craft Show is held in October on Main Street in downtown. Now in its 30th year, this event showcases the area’s arts, craft and music heritage.

Tailgate Farmers Markets

The Waynesville Farmers Market is open May through October, held on Wednesday and Saturday mornings on Legion Drive, just off Main Street.  Vendors offer fresh fruit, vegetables, herbs and flowers grown in Haywood County.

Location

Waynesville is easily accessed from Interstate 40/US 74 on the north, and US 23/74 from the south.  Parkway travelers can take the Waynesville exit at Balsam Gap.

Downtown Waynesville Association
828-456-3517

Haywood Country Tourism
800-334-9036, 828-452-0152

Haywood County Visitor Center
44 N Main
Waynesville, NC

Francis Grist Mill

The Francis Grist Mill, located just outside of Waynesville, NC on Highway 276 was built in 1887. Constructed by William Francis to serve the Francis Cove Community, the mill commonly produced ground wheat, corn and grits for local residents.

The water-powered mill stands beside a small creek that flows downhill. A mill pond, formed by damming the creek upstream and to the south of the mill, fed a partially elevated wooden flume that delivered water to turn the overshot waterwheel.

The mill also served as a central meeting place for the Francis Cove Community. Family, friends and neighbors regularly met at the mill to catch up on news and events.

Throughout the mill’s history the infrastructure has included a yellow popular mill wheel which was later replaced by a steel wheel from Hanover, Pennsylvania.

Members of the Francis family continued to operate the mill until 1976. As a result of inactivity, the mill fell into disrepair until it was restored between 2004 and 2008.

Rehabilitation of the mill included replacement of the deteriorated east sill and siding on the east elevation, repair of the mill machinery, replacement of the waterwheel, an accurate reconstruction of the flume, and a modern rebuilding of the dam. Following the restoration, the mill began grinding grain again in April 2008.

In 2011, the Blue Ridge National Heritage awarded the Bethel Rural Community Organization a grant to support the nomination of the Mill to the National Register of Historic Places.

2013 saw the success of many years of efforts as the Francis Mill added to the National Register of Hisotric Places.

Gorges State Park

Plunging waterfalls, rugged river gorges, sheer rock walls and one of the greatest concentrations of rare and unique species in the eastern United States are found within Gorges State Park. An elevation that rises 2,000 feet in only four miles, combined with rainfall in excess of 80 inches per year, creates a temperate rain forest and supports a collection of waterfalls.

On April 29, 1999, thanks to a unique partnership of industry, the environmental community and the state of North Carolina, 10,000 acres of the Jocassee Gorges in Transylvania County were placed in public ownership to be preserved for future generations of North Carolinians.

The property was purchased by the state from Duke Energy Corporation, and the transaction created a 2,900-acre gameland managed by the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission. Currently, Gorges encompasses nearly 7,500 acres and is the only state park west of Asheville.

At the Park, visitors can enjoy camping, fishing, boating, hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, picnicking and chances to see waterfalls and wildlife. Click here, for more information about the activities Gorges State Park has to offer.

Gorges State Park opened its new 7,100 square-foot Visitor Center on October 12th 2012. The Center was designed and built to national green building standards. Additionally two large picnic shelters with restrooms, and a maintenance facilities were completed.

The Visitor Center is home to the park offices, large exhibit hall, a 75-person auditorium, 40-person classroom, and large covered wrap around decks offering outstanding southern views of the escarpment and park. The center currently under review for “GOLD” status by the national Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program.

Old Jail Museum

Preserving the legacy and crafts of Clay County’s long history

As its name would suggest, the Old Jail Museum is located in Clay County’s old jail in a building that sits high on a hill on the way to Hayesville’s town square. Built with concrete and cement bricks made on location, the building was a modern and efficiently functioning structure at the time of its construction in 1912Today, the brick structure houses the Old Jail Museum and the Clay County Historical and Arts Council.

Originally, the sheriff and his family occupied the west end of the building, with two bedrooms above and a parlor and bedroom below. The kitchen and dining room were located in the space now utilized as an art exhibition area on the first floor. The building originally had no electricity, light being provided by kerosene lamps.  

Piquing most visitors’ interest are the old jail cells, still intact, on the second floor. Large iron bars surround the two small cells, outfitted as they once were, with toilet, sink, and bunk. Visiting is enough to keep on one the straight and narrow. 

Visitors will enjoy the many pictures of life as it was in the old days, school house artifacts, a collection of farm equipment and Indian artifacts from a local excavation.

The museum also includes rare collections of Cherokee baskets, quilts, masks, and other carvings, and an exquisite life-size model of a Cherokee basketweaver.

Attached to the museum is the actual office of Dr. Paul Killian, a beloved turn of the century doctor in Clay County.  The office contains his desk, medical implements, log books, saddle bags, and other items used by the doctor.

The museum is also next door to the Cherokee Homestead Exhibit. Visit the Homestead to learn about their ancient history and the Cherokee way of life in this reconstructed 17th – 18th century village homestead.

For hours and news of other current events, visit the website. 

Cherokee Homestead Exhibit

Revisit life in a reconstructed Cherokee summer and winter home

The Cherokee and their ancestors have called Western North Carolina home for more than 10,000 years. Learn about their ancient history and the Cherokee way of life in this reconstructed 17th – 18th century village homestead exhibit.

The Cherokee Homestead Exhibit is one of many Cherokee Heritage sites that are outside of the Qualla Boundary and town of Cherokee, NC. The Homestead Exhibit is open air and accessible 24/7.

It includes a Cherokee summer house, a winter house, food storage crib and more in this free, self-guided tour. The site also features interpretive signs and two walls with public art representing Cherokee legends and stories.

To learn more watch, “The Hayesville Cultural Heritage Site,” a short documentary about the Cherokee Homestead Exhibit, spearheaded by the Clay County Communities Revitalization Association (CCCRA).

More Cherokee Heritage Exhibits Nearby

Learn more about the rich Cherokee heritage in the Clay County Historical and Arts Museum, located in the historic county jail adjacent to the Cherokee Homestead Exhibit.

Rare Cherokee baskets, quilts, masks and other carvings, and an exquisite life-size model of a Cherokee basketweaver are among the artifacts on exhibit.

Spikebuck Mound, the location of the Quannasee Village council house, another Cherokee Heritage site, is located nearby at the Clay County Veterans Recreation Park.

 

Lenoir

The original settlement of Lenoir was first known as Tucker’s Barn after the family that settled on the north side of Lower Creek around 1765. The Tucker homestead became a gathering place, serving as voting precinct, muster ground, store and a place for “frolics” and celebrations. When Caldwell County was formed in 1841, a commission was appointed to select a county seat. The site of “Tucker’s Barn,” was chosen and new county seat was named Lenoir in honor of Revolutionary War hero General William Lenoir, who later became a trustee of the University of North Carolina.

Hogwaller and the Birth of Southern Furniture Manufacturing

Prior to the Civil War, Lenoir’s economy was based on agriculture with large farms producing cotton, corn and some tobacco. Hogwaller, a marketplace for bartering farm produce and animals, thrived in the center of town. Davenport College, a school for young women flourished. Four opera houses, a large library and a rich tradition of musical and artistic talent led one newspaper of the time to describe Lenoir as the “Athens of western North Carolina.” By late 1880, the development of a locally-owned rail line and the abundant natural resources of water and timber set the stage for the birth of the furniture manufacturing industry. From 1889, when T.H. Broyhill formed the Lenoir Furniture Company, until the twenty-first century, the furniture industry in Lenoir produced fine hand-crafted furniture that graced homes in over 30 different countries.

Globalization, Google and “Across the Grain”

With the coming of globalization to American manufacturing, Lenoir began rebuilding and diversifying its economy. Internet giant Google selected Lenoir as the site of one of its largest data storage facilities in 2007. The diversity of architecture of the historic buildings in the Lenoir Downtown National Register Historic District and the quality of the pieces in Caldwell County’s Outdoor Sculpture Collection, reflect Lenoir’s heritage of craftsmanship and artistic talent. Home to more pieces of outdoor sculpture than any other community of its size in the United States, Lenoir attracted the attention of renowned sculptor Thomas Sayre, who created and installed a massive earthcast sculpture “Across the Grain” in downtown Lenoir.

Parks, Museums & Art Centers

The twenty acre T.H. Broyhill Walking Park offers a .43 mile walking trail around a beautifully landscaped lake. The park is home to the Joe T. Ingram Nature Sanctuary for waterfowl and botanical gardens. Visitors to Lenoir can get a glimpse of the history of Western North Carolina at the Caldwell Heritage Museum. The museum is home to two dozen permanent exhibits and features rotating special exhibits thorough out the year.  Runners, walkers, cyclists and skaters can enjoy the 5.6 miles of paved trails that make up the Lenoir Greenway.

The Caldwell Arts Council, located in the historic childhood home of former United States Senator Jim Broyhill, fills four galleries with visual arts exhibits yearly. Historic St. James Episcopal Church is home to an impressive collection of the works of renowned artist Johannes A. Oertel, who was a rector of the church from 1869-1876. The church and grounds around it also figured prominently in the history of Stoneman’s Raid as the site of a prison for captured Confederate soldiers. The site is marked on the North Carolina Civil War Trails map.

Festivals and Events

Remember the sweet goodness of a juicy blackberry on a summer day? You can enjoy that experience and more—without the chiggers—at the annual NC Blackberry Festival in July. Fabulous Family Films and Friday After Five on the Square are just two of the annual summer events series held at the Stage on the Square in downtown Lenoir.  Described as “100 miles of pure hill” The Bridge cycling event begins in Lenoir and ends at Grandfather Mountain each September. The annual Sculpture Celebration attracts thousands of art lovers each September.

Farmers Markets

The Lenoir Downtown Farmers Market is open every Saturday from 2 pm to 6 pm. The market is a Producer Only market as it only sells what it makes and grows. The market belongs to the Appalachian Agriculture Sustainable Project.  It offers fresh local produce, crafts, candles, BBQ Sauce, herbal tea’s, herbs, canned goods, wood crafts, flowers and jewelry. The market even has a massage tharapist, kids korner and community booth. Buy Local, Buy Fresh, Buy Quality.

Mount Airy

Before there was a state of North Carolina, indeed before there was a United States of America, as early as the 1750s settlers began to gather in the area now known as Mount Airy. A stopover point on a much-traveled road that ran from Salem, NC, into Virginia, the community grew into a small town by the 1830s.

A Frontier Town

The origin of the town’s name is uncertain, but widely accepted local tradition holds that the name was taken from the “Mount Airy” plantation which was established along the stage road in the early 1800s. The town originally served as a frontier commercial and trading center for the surrounding rural area and remained very small during the early part of the 1800s. During the mid-1800s the town’s frontier economy gradually grew into one based on agriculture and manufacturing, and by 1860 the small town had a population of 300.

The Railroad Brings Economic Revitalization

The economy of Mount Airy was severely damaged during the civil war and the period of reconstruction that followed. However, by the late 1870s and early 1880s, with tobacco as the area’s major industry, the economy again thrived. The construction of the Cape Fear and Yadkin Valley Railroad to Mount Airy in the late 1880s provided the catalyst that spurred the successful commercial exploitation of Mount Airy’s two greatest natural resources – granite and lumber.

“Granite City”

During the 1890s commercial development of the large granite quarry, located just east of downtown Mount Airy began. The area, known locally as “Flat Rock,” was developed into the largest open faced granite quarry in the world and provided Mount Airy with its popular nickname, “Granite City.” Although the town’s growth slowed considerably in the early 20th century, it remains today a vibrant and progressive community.

a.k.a. Mayberry

Mount Airy’s other famous pseudonym springs from it being the model for the small town of “Mayberry” on the popular Andy Griffith TV show in the mid-20th century. Mount Airy is the boyhood home of Andy Griffith, and his house is now owned by the Hampton Inn chain and is available for rental. Fans can also visit Andy’s favorite haunts on the show, including the Snappy Lunch, Floyd’s Barbershop, Opie’s Candy Store, Mayberry Soda Fountain and the Old City jail with Andy’s police car. Each year the community celebrates “Mayberry Days” with a four-day festival that includes a major golf tournament, concerts, a parade, and much more.

Parks & Museums

The Mount Airy Museum of Regional History is housed in a former mercantile store on Main Streeet. Exhibits in this 35,000 square foot, four-story museum tell the story of the development of “the hollow”, as this region is known, and include the Native American story, the history of the largest open-faced granite quarry in the world, pioneer life, and the rich history of the Old Time music heritage that is unique to Surry County.

The Andy Griffith Museum contains a large collection of Andy Griffith memorabilia including hundreds of items from the life and career of Andy Griffith in movies, television and music.

The EARLE Theater, a project of the Surry Arts Council, is home to many music events, including year-round music performances, dances, and even live radio.

  • There’s a jam session every Thursday evening from 7 – 8:30.
  • On Saturdays, there’s another jam from 9 – 11 am, followed by the WPAQ Merry-Go-Round from 11 am -1:30 pm, the second longest running live radio broadcast in the nation, with different guests each week. ($5 ticket includes both the jam and the Merry Go Round.)
  • An Old Time dance with the Slate Mountain Ramblers is held the first Saturday night of every month except June. $5 for adults; children 12 & under free.
  • Surry County is home to a distinct style of Old Time music known as the “Round Peak” style, named for the rural area of Round Peak. The Old Time Music Heritage Hall features exhibits that tell the rich history of Surry County music.

Mount Airy Parks & Recreation maintains several parks in the community, including Riverside Park, which features picnic shelters, restrooms, a lighted soccer field, playground, canoe launch and greenway. Westwood Park is a wooded site with nature trails, two lighted ballfields, playground equipment, fitness stations, disc golf (9 holes), mountain bike trails, community fishing pond, shelter, restroom facilities and paved parking.

Local Attractions

Many of Mount Airy’s local attractions include those related to the Andy Griffith heritage of the town, including Squad Car Tours, Mayberry Mules and Wagon Rides, Andy Griffith Playhouse, Andy Griffith’s Homeplace, Floyd’s Barber Shop, Old City Jail, Opie’s Candy Store, Snappy Lunch and Wally’s Service Station.

Pilot Mount State Park is located nearby, as are numerous local wineries.

Festivals & Events

Farmers Tailgate Market

The Mount Airy Farmers Market is held at 218 Rockford Street, Mount Airy, on Tuesdays from 4 – 6 pm, April thru October. 336-401-8025.

For more information

Greater Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce/Visitors Center
P.O. Box 913 • 200 North Main Street
Mount Airy, North Carolina 27030-0913
800-948-0949 or 336-786-6116

Yancey History Association and Rush Wray Musuem

 

Rush Wray Museum
The museum is located in the McElroy House, a Georgian style home built in the 1840’s by local businessman John Wesley McElroy. The home itself offers visitors a step back in time with even fireplaces and an L wing at the back. Much of the house appears as it would have in the mid-1800s. Artifacts from the frontier era until the 1950’s are on exhibit in the house.

The first floor of the museum offers a pre-history exhibit of American Indian artifacts (one of the best exhibits found in Western North Carolina aside from the Cherokee Museum) featuring artifacts of the Paleo, Archaic and Woodland periods as found in the valleys from Cane River in the West through to Brush Creek in the Northeastern part of the county and all points between.

The Yancey History Association was formed in 1979 and by 1989 had purchased the the McElroy House museum and the 1920’s gas station Chamber of Commerce-Visitors Center. The dedication of the house as the Rush Wray Museum came in 1999 when the house was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

In 2004 the house became part of the North Carolina Civil War Trails, and finally in 2005 the office building next door, along with the parking lot, was donated to the association and now houses the Yancey County History and Genealogy Library, Veteran’s Hall of Honor and other exhibits as well as archival and meetings spaces. Here the history, culture and heritage of this mountain community comes alive through living history programs.

Annex Building
The lower level, which is handicap accessible, houses the association office, Genealogy Library, Ce-Nan Museum Gift Shop, Medical Display, Veteran’s Hall of Honor, Mineral Display and other changing and permanent exhibits. The second level houses archival storage and a conference room.

Grounds
History can be seen outside as well. The Proffitt-Cousins cabin is located on the grounds, as well as the original cabin from Elk Shoal, a smoke house and well.  The blacksmiths “smithy” shop will be added in the near future.

Events
The Yancey History Association sponsors many events, including Living History Month, Civil War Commemorations, Children’s Storytelling Camp, Pickin’ on the Porch, Blue Ridge Heritage Day (with Toe River Arts Council), Blue Ridge Pottery Exhibit, Veterans BBQ, Membership Appreciation Day, Period Teas and the Old Timey Fall Festival on Burnsville Town Square on the last Saturday in September.

Hours of Operation
Wednesday through Saturday, 10 am to 4 pm, April to October.

Admission Fees
General admission: $3
Special exhibits: $5
Members and children are free.
The Museum offers special rates for groups.

Location

The Rush Wray Museum and Lloyd Bailey Annex are in downtown Burnsville, NC.

Brevard

The historic small town of Brevard is the county seat of Transylvania County, also known as “the land of the waterfalls.” The community is surrounded by nature and the Pisgah National Forest.

Diverse Populations Weave a Unique Tapestry

The earliest inhabitants were Native Americans, but after the Revolutionary War, the area was opened to immigrant settlement. Pioneers came down the Great Wagon Road from Pennsylvania and Virginia or moved westward from the Carolina coast. They came to the wild western frontier to claim new lands, to purchase land for speculation, for adventure, or to escape the fever of the low country. Each of the diverse populations that came here contributed to the identity of the county, becoming a part of the Tapestry that is Transylvania.

Family Enterprise Built Early Economy

Before Transylvania became a county, manufacturing was a family enterprise. The Gillespie family operated a gunworks on East Fork; Jimmy Neill made fur hats at Oak Grove, and Fleming Whitmire built wagons in Middle Fork.

During the Civil War, the Davidson River Iron Works, operated by George Shuford, became an important source of military supply for the Confederate Army. Ore for the mill was mined on nearby Boylston Creek.

Post Civil War

After the Civil War, speculators bought land for as little as one dollar an acre from the war-impoverished native landholders who were not aware of its true value. Families who needed money to pay delinquent taxes and re-stock the farm sold thousands of acres which was used for timber harvesting and mining. Logging and tanning companies became the largest employers of the county until the 1930s, when the timber ran out.

Brevard and Transylvania County Today

Transylvania County has come full circle since its beginnings in 1861, with the land providing commerce and trade once again. The county’s blended heritage continues to grow with new arrivals. Each year the community welcomes the return of summer residents, tourists, and retirees. Students are educated at Brevard College, summer camps, and Brevard Music Center.

The arts uplift the spirit and the National Forests soothe the soul. Sporting activities abound, whether the interest is in hiking, camping, mountain biking, rock climbing, fishing, or just plain nature observation. People continue to contribute and enrich the community with their collective knowledge and experience. The fabric of the tapestry grows stronger with each new thread.

The White Squirrel

Not everyone who contributes to the tapestry of Transylvania is human. A white squirrel arrived in Brevard as a refugee from an overturned carnival truck and its descendents have made Transylvania home. A true rarity, the squirrels are not albinos and have dark eyes. This unique animal is protected by law.

Museums

The Transylvania HeritageMuseum, located in Brevard, features permanent and changing displays of heirlooms, artifacts, genealogical exhibits, vintage photographs, and other exhibits reflective of the history and heritage of Transylvania County. The Museum offers a variety of interactive programs and events throughout the year, including the annual Founders Day Fair on Saturday of Labor Day weekend.

Local Attractions

The Cradle of Forestry is so-called because it literally is the birthplace of forest conservation in the United States.  Exhibits, a movie, and nature paths make this an excellent educational and entertaining destination for families.

Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education offers unique indoor and outdoor exhibits and programs on the state’s wildlife and mountain habitats.

Brevard is also in close promixity to the only North Carolina State Park west of Asheville, Gorges State Park. Here visitors can enjoy the rugged mountain terrain with camping, hiking, fishing, boating and many more activities.

The Brevard Music Center is one of the oldest and finest summer music institutions in the country. Every summer, hundreds of young musicians from all over the world come to study and play side by side with professional musicians in the presentation of public concerts, staged operas, and musicals. The Center offers instruction in chamber music, piano, instrumental studies, composition, and voice.

Festivals & Events

White Squirrel Festival and Squirrel Box Derby Day, held Saturday & Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend. Nutty family fun celebrating the peaceful coexistence of our wildlife inhabitants, great outdoors, and rich mountain heritage. This music festival showcases original compositions written by musicians who have claimed an attachment to Transylvania County. The Squirrel Box Derby demonstrates the passage of great engineering with mountain daring to our younger generations.

Fourth of July Celebration. Catch the hometown spirit in the Heart of Brevard! Brevard h as a long-standing tradition of celebrating our national Independence Day as a community. An all-star pet show, classic car show, traditional mountain crafts, bicycle parade, reading of the Declaration of Independence are followed by an evening fireworks extravaganza.

Halloweenfest.  Last Saturday in October.  Where better to celebrate Halloween than in Tran-syl-va-nia County? Costume parade, downtown trick-or-treat, Count Dracula’s blood drive, great pumpkin roll keep kids of all ages in the Halloween spirit. The Old Time Music Competition draws musicians from several states to compete in individual categories (banjo, fiddle, dulcimer), as well as combining their talents to compete in the old time string band category.

Twilight Tour.  First Saturday in December. Downtown takes a turn back in time celebrating Christmas mountain traditions. Horse-drawn carriages pass luminary-lighted sidewalks and strolling carolers accompany those touring downtown shops. The courthouse sparkles with lights and angelic voices entertain from the gazebo.

Location

Brevard is southwest of Asheville and easily accessed via US Hwy. 64.

For more information

Brevard/Transylvania Chamber of Commerce
175 E. Main St.
Brevard, NC 28712
(828) 883-3700

Highlands

The town of Highlands was supposed to become a hub of commerce in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, had its founders had their way. In 1875, two developers in Kansas drew two lines–one between New York and New Orleans, the other from Chicago to Savannah. Where the lines crossed, they believed would become a crossroads of trade.

They failed to take into account the rugged mountain terrain where “X” marked the spot that would make such a commercial hub difficult to create, and it never came to pass. However, their concept was sound enough, since the commercial metropolis of Atlanta grew up just 120 miles to the south.

A Resort Community Instead

At more than 4,000 feet on the highest crest of the Western North Carolina plateau in the Southern Appalachian mountains, the town of Highlands evolved into a thriving resort community instead. Attracting a blend of Southerners and Northerners, tradesmen and laborers, planters and professionals, the town has served as a cultural center for well-known artists, musicians, actors, authors, photographers, scholars, and scientists who have thrived in its natural setting.

Surrounded by Nature

Highlands is rich in natural scenic beauty, and opportunities for outdoor recreation abound on the Cullasaja River and the nearby Lake Sequoyah. Visitors and residents alike enjoy the waterfalls, hiking, fishing, National Forest walks, and Greenway trails, as well as the four excellent golf courses in the area.

The Highlands Nature Center is a program of the Highlands Biological Station, an inter-institutional center of the University of North Carolina. HBS also includes the Biological Laboratory, whose major focus is graduate education and research, and a Botanical Garden. The Nature Center features a variety of exhibits for children of all ages, including live animals and interactive displays. During the summer, it offers special events, daily programs, and a series of nature day camps. The Botanical Garden features numerous interpretive nature trails. Admission to the nature center is free; and programs are generally free or at minimal cost.

Steeped in Culture

For theater lovers, there is professional summer stock theater at the Highlands Playhouse from June through October, and Highlands/Cashiers Players presents productions year-round at the Martin-Lipscomb Performing Art Center.

The Bascom Center for the Visual Arts offers classes and exhibitions on a six-building, six-acre campus. A wooden covered bridge greets visitors; a rebuilt barn serves as the pottery studio; and a new central building, which houses the galleries and a gift shop, is a brilliant architectural blend of old and new, with wood from older buildings used to create a new one.

The Highlands Historical Society has preserved the Highlands Historic Village which comprises the House-Boynton-Trapier-Wright Home, also known as “the Prince House”, which is the oldest existing house in Highlands; the Highlands Historical Museum and Archives, and Bug Hill Cottage, once part of a tuberculosis treatment center.

The Highlands Heritage Trail offers a suggested itinerary for visiting the many heritage sites in the Highlands area.

Festivals & Events

The Annual Chili Cook Off in March puts some heat into the fading days of winter. In summer, the community celebrates Independence Day with traditional Fireworks. The Highlands Motoring Festival is also held in July.

The Highlands Cashiers Chamber Music Festival has long been a highlight of summer, with performances throughout July and August.

The Annual Highlands Culinary Weekend in November is a popular early winter festival, with food, wine tastings, cooking classes and demonstrations–everything for the discerning food lover!

The town’s Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony is held the Saturday after Thanksgiving, with its annual Christmas Parade the first Saturday in December..

Location

Highlands is located between Franklin and Cashiers on US Highway 64.

For More Information

Highlands Chamber of Commerce
866-526-5841

Highlands Historical Society

Elkin

The confluence of the Yadkin River and Big Elkin Creek in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge mountains has drawn people to the site of what is today’s city of Elkin since the coming of the Paleo-Indians 10,000 years ago. Records show that the Sioux Indians settled along the Yadkin River as early as 500 B.C.

Early Settlement Brings Cotton Mills

Around 1840, Richard Gwyn left Jonesville to settle on the north side of the Yadkin River, recognizing the value of the forested hills and water power of the Big Elkin Creek. Within a decade, he and several family members established Elkin Manufacturing Company, a cotton mill which continued to operate during the Civil War, producing fabric for Confederate uniforms. Most early Southern textile mills were damaged or destroyed during the war, but Elkin’s mill survived intact and remained fully operational.

Further up Big Elkin Creek, Alexander Chatham and Thomas Lenoir Gwyn opened a woolen mill in 1877 that grew and became Elkin’s largest industry. The Northwestern North Carolina Railroad arrived in 1890, and Elkin was poised to take the opportunities the railroad brought for commercial and industrial expansion. Elkin’s history includes the Revolutionary War and the Civil War, the Second Industrial Revolution, and the Elkin and Alleghany Railroad.

Elkin Today

Listed on the National Registry of Historic Places, Elkin has embraced its history and added a touch of sophistication. Visitors can hike the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail, shop in one-of-a-kind specialty stores, experience fine dining, paddle the Yadkin River, and enjoy an exhibit at the Foothills Arts Council.

Elkin is located within twenty minutes of twenty wine tasting rooms, all within North Carolina’s first federally recognized American Viticulture Area – the Yadkin Valley AVA, including the Brushy Mountain Winery in Historic Downtown Elkin.

The Arts, Galleries and a Museum

The Foothills Arts Council is home for the visual and performing arts in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

The Yadkin Valley Craft Guild represents fine and heritage crafts and craft education in the Greater Yadkin Valley Region.

The John Furches Gallery is located at 123 West Main Street in Historic Downtown Elkin.

The Richard Gwyn Museum – Elkin’s founder, Richard Gwyn, built Gwyn School-Elkin Chapel around 1850. The building is the oldest in Surry County to have been used as either a church or school. The Jonathan Hunt Chapter of the D.A.R. converted it to a local history museum and items on display include farm tools, domestic artifacts, textiles, a weaving loom, photographs, and documents.

Parks, Trails and Outdoor Activities

Elkin Municipal Park is a 25-acre Park with three ball fields, eight lighted tennis courts, a mile long scenic walking track, a playground, two picnic shelters and a band shell, as well as an outdoor swimming pool that is open to the public during the summer months.

Crater Park has a ball field, multipurpose field and Yakin River Access with a public boat ramp.

Chatham Park has a picnic shelter, along with baseball, softball and soccer fields.

Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail – Elkin is the eastern trailhead for the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail, one of only 15 such trails in the nation. This trail commemorates the journey of the “Overmountain Men” who traveled from Tennessee, Virginia and North Carolina, and fought and defeated the British at the Battle of Kings Mountain. The Wilkes/Surry Patriot Militia mustered in present day Municipal Park on September 7, 1780. The Patriots, along with their Tory prisoners, traveled back through Elkin after the victory at Kings Mountain. Elkin is the only location the Patriots gathered and came back through after the victorious battle.

Yadkin River Trail – Paddling, fishing and bird watching can all be enjoyed on this section of the 165 mile river trail, rich in natural beauty and American history. Access the river at the boat ramp at Crater Park.

Leaf-to-Vine Scenic Byway – 65 miles of farmland, foothills and mountains with interpretive sites tell the story of how the local communities have been impacted by agriculture, how tobacco farms have become wineries, and the region’s connection to NASCAR. This North Carolina Scenic Byway begins and ends at the intersection of North Bridge Street and Market Street in Historic Downtown Elkin.

Friendship Speedway is a 4/10 mile dirt track that runs on Saturdays from mid-March through Halloween.

Festivals & Events

The Yadkin Valley Wine Festival, held annually in May, showcases the region’s growing collection of prize-winning vineyards and wineries.

The Pumpkin Festival, held in Historic Downtown Elkin on the third Saturday of October, highlights local crafts, arts, music and dance, and of course, who’s grown the largest pumpkin!

Several local organizations host events throughout the year, including a Fourth of July Children’s Parade and a Christmas Parade. For more information on events sponsored by Downtown Elkin, Inc.

Farmers Tailgate Market

The Elkin Farmers Market is held every Saturday in the Elkin Town Hall parking lot located at 226 North Bridge Street from mid-April through mid-October. Hours are 9:00 a.m. – noon.

Location

Elkin is located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains – just one mile from Interstate 77, 9 miles from US 421 and 18 miles from Interstate 40. It is 25 minutes from the Blue Ridge Parkway, 30 minutes from Virginia and 45 minutes from Winston-Salem.

For more information

Town of Elkin
226 N. Bridge Street
Elkin, North Carolina 28621
336-835-9857

Additional information may be found at:
https://www.yadkinvalleync.com
http://visittheyadkinvalley.com
http://ncwine.com