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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.

Polk County History Museum

The Polk County History Museum in Columbus, NC, comprises a fine collection of historic artifacts that tell the story of Polk County, including an early 1800’s stage coach, antique farm tools and implements, a school display, a home setting, a doctor’s office, a beauty parlor and many pictures from the past. In addition, the museum’s research desk can provide assistance with genealogical searches. The museum has a gift shop with variety of items including vintage postcards, Polk County History Book, Polk County Cemetery Census and more.

The Polk County History Museum is within walking distance of the Polk County Courthouse which was built in 1859, and historical markers and points of interest such as the Howard Monument, the Dough Boy statue and Stearns Park.

Hours of Operation

Open Tuesdays and Thursdays 10 am – 1 pm, Saturdays 10 am to 4 pm or by appointment. There is no charge for admission.

Location

The museum is located in The Feagan Building at 60 Walker St., lower level. The entrance is in the rear of the building.

The History Museum of Burke County

The History Museum of Burke County is dedicated to preserving and displaying our heritage for both current and future generations. Located in Downtown Morganton, North Carolina, the History Museum of Burke County features special exhibits and events year round

The History Museum of Burke County seeks to promote the collection, preservation, educational interpretation and display of those artifacts, documents, and events most representative of Burke County – its prehistory and history, its cultural and economic development, its people and institutions.  Artifact collections change regularly – so please visit often.

Hours of Operation

Old City Hall                    Rail Road Depot

Tuesday-Friday                 Saturdays

10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.     2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Saturdays

10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Closed Mondays

Others days and hours available by appointment. Tour groups should schedule several days in-advance so that Docents will be able to be provided.

Admission

FREE to the public. Doantions are accepted.

Location

201 West Meeting St., Morganton, NC 28655

Blowing Rock Art and History Museum

A museum of native stone, a mountain of native talent

The Blowing Rock Art & History Museum (BRAHM) expresses a mission of promoting the visual arts and the history and heritage of the mountains through educational programs, exhibitions, and significant permanent collections. 

Given any season in the mountains, that mission can come to life in art club meetings, yoga classes, puppetry workshops, art classes, concerts and curator tours of exhibitions that have ranged from etchings and lithographs to archival photography to great swaths of mountain history.

While not continually on exhibit, the museum’s permanent collection includes a number of works by its “patron artist” Elliott Daingerfield, donated by Cora and LaMont Hudson, a gift that led to the organization of the museum in 1999. It opened to the public in a new building in October 2011. BRAHM’s permanent collection also includes a selection of glass art made by artists at the Penland School of Crafts, donated by Sonia and Issac Luski, and examples of North Carolina pottery, donated by Elizabeth and Leo Kohn.

The museum offers many educational opportunities for both adults and youth, as well as many special events throughout the year.

For hours, fees and other information, visit blowingrockmuseum.org.

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

Valdese

On May 29, 1893 Southern Railway’s “Number 11” deposited a travel-weary band of 29 souls from Northern Italy who were to break ground for a settlement. They were called the Waldensians, and that settlement became the Town of Valdese.

Who Were the Waldensians?

The Waldensians were both a people and a church. Joining the Reformation in 1532, they predate John Wycliffe, John Huss, Martin Luther and others Reformers.

Known as a “people of the book”, they held the Bible to be sacred and the final authority in every aspect of life. They believed the Bible to be an “open” book – open to interpretation by each Christian as guided by the Holy Spirit. This belief exposed them to relentless persecution during the 12th century.

When crowded living conditions forced the Waldenses to leave their beautiful valleys, they brought with them across the ocean a rich heritage of faith and culture. Today, through artifacts, attractions and special events, Valdese honors its French-Italian heritage and shares the story of the Waldenses’ heritage and their journey to prosperity

Waldensian Presbyterian Church

The history of the Waldensian Presbyterian Church is so intertwined with the history of the town of Valdese that it is impossible to study one without embracing the other. In education and industry, as well as in the religious life of the community, the Church has been and continues to be the center of Waldensian life in Valdese.

Waldensian Heritage Museum

In the early 1970s, Valdese’s growing collection of Waldensian historic exhibits, coupled with increasing numbers of annual visitors, created the need to build the Waldensian Heritage Museum.  Like their Italian ancestors, the descendants wasted little time and built this beautiful structure on the corner of Rodoret Street and St. Germain Avenue.

The Trail of Faith

The Trail of Faith is a collection of 15 scaled buildings and monuments that preserve the history of the Waldensian people. Here you can see Barbi College where young men were trained and sent out as missionaries in an age when this was punishable by death. Explore a cave where the Waldensians worshipped while in hiding. Step inside the world’s oldest Protestant Church, the children’s school and original 1893 homesteads.

From This Day Forward

Valdese is home to the 4th longest running outdoor drama in North Carolina. From This Day Forward, which portrays the story of the Waldenses’ journey to create a better life for themselves and their descendants, has been performed every summer since 1967 at the Outdoor Amphitheatre in Valdese.

Waldensian Wine

The Waldensians learned the craft of creating great wines in their Italian homeland and brought this skill with them to the foothills of North Carolina. In fact, the site of Historic Valdese was chosen by the settlers because the terrain, climate and soil composition was similar to their homes in Italy. Today, visitors can view processes that reflect a combined 250 years experience in wine making at the Waldensian Heritage Winery, which opened in 1930.

Piedmont & Western Model Railroad Club

The Piedmont & Western Model Railroad Club, located in the Old Rock School in Valdese, was established by local railroad enthusiasts to create a fictitious rail line serving Western North Carolina. The HO scale railroad runs from Marion, NC to Leadvale, TN, carrying loads across the scenic Blue Ridge Mountains. Total trackage covers over 1,000 feet.

McGalliard Falls

Approximately 40 feet high, McGalliard Falls was a favorite hangout for the Waldensian settlers and is enjoyed by Valdese citizens and visitors today as a park. This outdoor recreation facility has four lighted tennis courts, a volleyball court, playground swings, picnic facilities and restrooms in addition to the natural attraction of the falls.

Special Events

  • The Waldensian Festival, held on the second Saturday in August, celebrates the “Glorious Return” of Waldenses from exile in Switzerland to their native valleys in the Cottian Alps of Italy in 1689. This celebration is mirrored around the world by other Waldensian communities.
  • Family Friday Nights, which begin in May, provide free entertainment for the community, with music and an antique/classic cruise in.

Tailgate & Farmers Market

The Burke County Farmers Market is located in Valdese and operates Wednesday from 8 am – noon and on Fridays from 2 pm – 5. All products are locally grown in Burke County.

Location

Valdese is located 20 minutes west of Hickory, NC, and 45 minutes east of Asheville, just off Interstate 40, exit 111 or 112.

For More Information

Valdese Department of Tourism
Old Rock School
PO Box 339
Valdese, NC 28690

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

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Rutherfordton

As the county seat of one of Western North Carolina’s oldest counties and the seat of the oldest continuous government in the region, Rutherfordton, established in 1787, has a rich history.

Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail

During the American Revolution the corps of Patriots known as the “Overmountain Men” marched through present-day Rutherfordton on their way to the Battle of Kings Mountain. The Patriots defeated British troops under the command of Maj. Patrick Ferguson on October 7, 1780, and in the opinion of Thomas Jefferson, “turned the tide of the war.” Today, the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail runs through the town.

A Community of “Firsts”

Rutherfordton was also the location of the first U.S. Post Office in western North Carolina, established in 1798. The town was home to the first school chartered by the state legislature for Western North Carolina, the Rutherfordton Academy, which opened in 1806, and also the site of the first newspaper published in the western portion of the state, The North Carolina Spectator and Western Advertiser, founded in 1831.

Rutherfordton Today

But Rutherfordton offers contemporary riches, too. Explore one of North Carolina best children’s museums, a variety of independent restaurants, one of the premier women’s clothing outlets in Western North Carolina, and opportunities for golf in Western North Carolina, in addition to other activities and attractions.

In Rutherfordton, many visitors enjoy seeing the town’s history as reflected in its architecture on one of the North Carolina walking tours. A walking map of Historic Downtown Rutherfordton includes a cluster of antebellum homes and historic churches that represent fine historical architectural examples.

Tiffany Stained Glass

St. Francis Episcopal Church downtown has a collection of Tiffany stained glass windows in one of the North Carolina historic districts on the National Register of Historic Places. Walking tour maps can be found inside the Town Hall building on Main Street. For more information, visitors can also call the Downtown Rutherfordton Revitalization Project at 828-287-2071.

Located in the foothills of the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina, Rutherfordton enjoys the benefit of being in a “thermal belt”, providing a moderate climate in all seasons.

Parks

The Town of Rutherfordton maintains four municipal parks to accommodate a broad spectrum of recreational activities from Little League baseball games to a family picnic under a canopy of shade trees next to a creek. The Rutherfordton Golf Club provides another alternative to relax and enjoy the beauty of the area. Area parks include Crestview Park, Kiwanis Park, 2nd Street Park, and Main Street Park.

Festivals & Events

Rutherfordton’s annual festivals draw enthusiastic crowds. MayFest in May offers art, live entertainment and children’s activities.

The Hilltop Fall Festival in October features a 5k run. The Tour de Pumpkin, the same weekend as the Hilltop festival, highlights cycling in North Carolina. The tour, sponsored by the Rutherford Outdoor Coalition, includes 100k and 50k rides and is among the most popular Western North Carolina biking events.

Farmers Tailgate Market

The Rutherfordton Farmers Market is located at 146 North Main Street. Crafts, fruits, vegetables, local specialties and organic food. May-September, Saturday 9 am – 12 pm. 828-287-2071.

Location

Rutherfordton is located 40 miles east of Asheville, NC on Highway 74/I-26 and is easily accessed from North Carolina Highways 74 and 64, and Interstates 85, 26 and 40.

Some Nearby History

Listen to the stories of the North Carolina Gold Rush, the Overmountain Victory Historic Trail, and the theory that Abraham Lincoln was born in North Carolina on these Living Traditions Moments audio vignettes.

North Carolina Gold

Overmountain Victory Historic Trail

Abraham Lincoln

For more information

Rutherford County Tourism
117 West Court Street
Rutherfordton, NC 28139
Phone: 828-287-6113; Toll Free: 800-849-5998

Forest City

Forest City began as a crossroads on the Shelby-Rutherfordton and Spartanburg-Lincolnton Roads. Originally, the town was incorporated as Burnt Chimney in 1877. A replica near the site of the original chimney adorns the public square today. The “chimney” was the remains of the McArthur home that marked the crossroads.

The name was changed to Forest City in 1887, named after a prominent citizen, Forest Davis. In 1914, the Forest City Betterment Club embarked on a project to beautify the town’s Main Street and today the original landscaped medians and fountain still exist.

In 1927, the town was selected as one of the ten most beautiful and best planned towns in the United States by the US Department of Agriculture. The town remains the commercial hub, and the legacy of “community betterment” can still be seen in the pride the town and its residents take in keeping Forest City a beautiful and livable community.

Museums

There’s history on wheels, too. One of the newest car museums in North Carolina is Bennett Classics Antique Auto Museum, with a selection that ranges from the Model A era to sports cars of recent decades.

Those interested in agricultural museums in North Carolina will want to visit the Rutherford County Farm Museum, one of the North Carolina farm museums that includes tractors and a still that was used for moonshine.

Parks

The new Forest City Owls team provides high-caliber North Carolina summer baseball in the Coastal Plain League at McNair Field, also a venue for outdoor concerts and festivals. From May through August, the Owls fill the new stadium with fans of summer collegiate baseball in North Carolina.

Festivals & Events

For fans of North Carolina car shows, the annual Hot Nights, Cool Rides event in August fills Forest City’s streets with hundreds of participating autos that glitter and gleam. The Forest City car show is one of the biggest car shows in the Southeast.

Brighten your holiday with a visit to Forest City to see an extensive display of Christmas lights in North Carolina. Half a million decorative lights downtown provide a warm setting for shopping, chats with Saint Nick at the Santa House on Main Street and other holiday activities. The Christmas lights in Forest City also illuminate the popular carriage rides along Main Street in December. Eighteen horse-drawn carriages let you enjoy the sights in elegance, one of the few opportunities for Western North Carolina carriage rides.

Farmers Tailgate Market

The Farmer’s Fresh Tailgate Market is a seasonal Farmer’s Market located in the parking lot of the Tri-City Mall in Forest City, right off of Oak St., next to the Carmike movie theater. Open between April and September, Saturday mornings  7- 11am (or Sellout). The farmers in are strictly local, and only sell what they themselves or a neighboring farmer grow.

Location

Forest City is located six miles east of Rutherfordton, the county seat, and is situated in the foothills of the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains of North Carolina. The town is interconnected by three U.S. highways, 74, 221, 64, and one state highway 108.

For more information

Rutherford County Tourism
117 West Court Street
Rutherfordton, NC 28139
Phone: 828-287-6113
Toll Free: 800-849-5998