North Carolina Fall 2017 Digest
Camp Meeting: Culture
An Endangered Tradition Events
Thrives in the Foothills Opinion
Preserving Nature for Our Future
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CARMEN ECKARD JON ECKARD
Chief Editor Principal Photographer
Carol Ann Crocker
Heather Wood Davis
James Thomas Shell
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Letter from Editor
I’m so excited to offer you this magazine. I’ve been like a mad woman, unable
to shake the idea that I needed to make this. It has positively consumed me.
Now that I’m able to put it in your hands, I feel sane again.
I’m a North Carolina girl, born and always confuses me because our region
bred, but I have to be honest with you: is overflowing with activities and nature,
I’m not from these parts. I grew up in not to mention art and history and very
the center of the state, but about 20 good restaurants. I’ve thought a lot
years ago, as soon as I was old enough about why people have this complaint,
to make the choice myself, I moved to and I’ve settled on this: they must just
Boone. After my schooling, I settled in not know how amazing this place is. So,
Hickory, because my soul alerted me I’m going to tell them.
that I needed to live where I could see This magazine would be very boring
mountains everyday. Now that I’m here, I without the contributers listed to the
don’t have any intention of leaving. left, and it wouldn’t be very pretty if
Ten years ago I married into a wonderful it weren’t for the photography of my
family with roots here that ago back husband, Jon Eckard, so I want to be
generations. Watching my boys grow sure to thank these folks.
up here has made me fall in love with We will publish quarterly, and I’d love
this land more than I was before. I’m your input and submissions. Why do you
watching them become anchored here, love the Foothills? You can always reach
which is truly a delight. me at Editor@foothillsdigest.com. I’ll
I hear people complain, “Oh but there’s always be excited to hear from you!
nothing to dooooo here.” This statement
Visit our site, foothillsdigest.com!
Contents FALL 2017
05 Letter from the editor 42 Fox and the Hound
10 Hart Square: One Family’s Passion to 46 Inside the Movement that’s Turning
Preserve History Abandoned Mills into Community
18 Mitchell and Tim Gold Centers
20 Local Art 50 Grandfather Mountain
26 Hidden Gems of the Parkway 56 Granny Eckard’s Mountain Memories
28 Camp Meetings-An Endangered 59 Carolina Reads
60 What’s Stress Have to Do With It?
American Tradition Thrives in the 61 Anxious Giving
Foothills 64 Fresh Design for a Lakehouse
36 Lying Beneath Rain, On a Strange Roof 68 Matthew Good
38 Newton, Then and Now
FALL IS MITCHELL
Enjoy several apple recipes, p. 18
including a savory apple
cheddar pie, apple muffins,
a pressed apple panini,
apple walnut scones and
72 End of the Season ARTIST
73 Edison Project MATTHEW
74 Double Shoals Cotton Mill
75 Rebuild your Credit in 4 Steps GOOD
76 Local Venues and Museums p. 68
78 Which Comes First, the Chicken or the
81 Egg Custard Recipe
82 Standard Oyster Company Review
88 Apple Recipes
92 Restaurant Guide
98 Craft Beer in the Foothills Check out our pull-out kids
101 Craft Beer Guide magazine! Share it with
104 New River Trail some children in your life.
106 We See What We Want to See The theme of this issue is
112 Dear David Advice Column
113 Subscription Information OUTER SPACE!!
114 Foothills Astrologer
118 Grit Boy-Short Story
124 Closing Photography
S U B M I T/ S U B S C R I B E
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O N E FAM I LY ’S
THE NEW STORY OF HART SQUARE VILLAGE
The beginnings were modest, museum, and for one day a year, passion is sharing it. And it
as beginnings often are. In the the experience is immersive. turns out, she’s quite good at it.
early 1970s, Dr. Hart began
purchasing land in Catawba “The focus here is on Rebeca Hart grew up here. She
County with the intent to create showcasing the artistry of the played in these houses the way
a nature reserve. His love of 1800s,” says Dr. Hart, and most little girls play school on
history, however, proved to be each October, 350 artisans their back porches. For her,
stronger than he knew, and he gather at Hart Square Village to history was alive, palpable, and
began purchasing, preserving, demonstrate what day to day very important. She can tell
and restoring old cabins. What life was like in our region during you more than you’d ever want
evolved is quite like a living Colonial times. 3,500 people to know about the buildings
interact with these artisans and here, and the history they hold.
10 gain a better understanding of She seems as permanent here
local history. It’s truly something as the towering trees and the
everyone should experience. ponds her grandfather carved
Basket weaving, molasses into the hills.
making, cotton-pressing, tin- Rebecca is now the Executive
making, and so many other Director at Hart Square Village,
demonstrations are quite and under her leadership,
educational, and the buildings
are each stocked full, looking
as if the owner just stepped
Dr. Hart’s passion was
building this treasure, but
his granddaughter Rebecca’s
the venture has thrived. the popularity of the trips. The
She is focused on sharing and
preserving the artifacts here, and kids love them! The activities
has better situated the group
for success by reorganizing as a vary but recent classes have
included “Corn Husk Angels
She has also created an
extensive educational program and the History of Corn in the
that hosted 2,000 students
this year. 8,000 are slated to South” and “Banjo Making
attend in 2018, marking truly
spectacular growth. and the History of Appalachian
The growth can be attributed to Instruments.” Native American
story telling and blacksmithing
are both popular field trip
activities. Hands on activities
and lots of fresh air and
exploration always make for an
exciting trip, and Hart Square
Village offers both.
Photo by Morgan Williams 11
This blacksmith demonstrates Sell this.
his trade at the Hart Square
Village Festival, which features
the largest collection of log
structures in America!
831 Old Lenoir Rd NW, Hickory
R ebecca is always looking for
new ways to connect history
to the present, and she’s
found a pretty exciting way.
Drawing on the immense popularity
of craft beer, Hart Square Village
has entered a partnership with the
Old Hickory Brewery. They have
crafted a historical beer. Cabin Fever
Olde Time Ale is both delicious and
historically accurate. It’s created
only with ingredients that were
readily available to our ancestors,
using methods they had access to.
All of the ingredients were grown
on site, and even the grist mill was
used. An old fashioned sorghum
molasses is the finishing touch.
An authentic beer may be the one
thing the festival has been missing.
The festival is October 2, and tickets
go on sale October 28. They sell
out almost immediately each year,
a fact which may ultimately extend
the dates of the festival. Tickets
are $40 and can be purchased at
the Catawba County Museum of
History in Newton, or with a card on
the phone at (828) 465-0383. They
may be purchased in person at the
Catawba County Museum of History
in Newton or over the phone, with a
credit card, at (828) 465-0383.
After the festival, Hart Square
Village is partnering with Highland
Avenue Restaurant, which is housed
in the renovated Hollar Mill, to bring
an exciting dinner to the region.
Highland Avenue is a farm to table
restaurant, which is a very historical
concept. Together, the two groups
will be serving an authentic historical
meal, served Pioneer style. This is the
only event of it’s kind, and it dovetails
so nicely with the intent of both
groups. The historically accurate Fall
dinner adds one more way the Hart
Square Village is bringing history to
all of our senses.
The Caldwell Chamber of Commerce is an organization
that helps businesses in the foothills region grow,
connect, and thrive. Operating as the Caldwell County
visitor’s center, they can be found along Hwy 321 in
Lenoir. Find out more at caldwellchambernc.com.
Also located in beautiful Caldwell County is the Wilson
Creek Visitor Center, situated within the Pisgah National
Forest. Wilson Creek is a nationally designated “Wild
a n d S c e n i c R ive r,” wi t h a vi bra nt h i s t o r y a s hu ntin g
grounds for the Cherokee Indians and bountiful land
for logging communities. The river has the highest
elevation drop of any river this side of the Mississippi.
Community members in this area have long repeated
th e mant ra, “ I ’d rath e r b e o n Wi l s o n Cr e e k .” T h e c e nt er
is open 7 days a week, April through November, from
10 AM - 4 PM and on weekends year round.
I n 1989, Mitchell Gold and Bob Williams for med a fur niture COM·FORT
c o m p a ny b a s e d o n t h e s i m p l e m ot to “c o m f o r t f o r all”. T h e
company has thrived on that motto, as anyone who has sat on ˈkəmfərt
their American-made upholstery in the last 28 years is probably
aware of. noun
As you might imagine, Mitchell stays busy. Mitchell Gold + 1.
Bob Williams is environmentally responsible, ethical and wildly a state of
popular. Mitchell’s strong leadership and confident, bold choices physical ease
in advertising and design helped his company blossom as many and freedom
companies in our region were forced to close their doors. from pain or
“Comfort for all” most obviously refers to the high-quality constraint.
furniture the brand produces. But a stroll through the grounds of “room for four
the business, located at the whimsically named “One Comfortable people to travel
Place” in Taylorsville, makes it obvious that the comfor t of his in comfort”
employees, as well as their families, is well-tended. 2.
A top-notch and highly esteemed daycare is on the premises. the easing
Having their small children close and safe is a tremendous or alleviation
comfort to his employees. So is the food. A chef prepares a large of a person’s
selec tion of delicious food ever y day, and all of it is prepared feelings of grief
with health in mind. After getting in better shape, Mitchell or distress.
wanted to offer his employees an opportunity to feel as good as “a few words of
he does. Good benefits and a nice atmosphere are key to happy comfort”
employees, and he has more than 700 of those.
It’s clear, however, that comfor t for all isn’t just a company 19
motto. Mitchell and his husband Tim have also woven that motto
into the fabric of everything they do personally. Each of their
passions seems to come back to that notion. Mitchell has been
featured in the media, from the Today Show, CBS This Mor ning
and CBS Sunday Morning to the New York Times, Time, Wall
Street Journal, Fast Company, and Inc., but he remains humble,
and his family sticks true to its goals.
Tim’s passion is dogs. He sees dogs that need help, more help
than most people would be willing or able to give them, and he
helps them. Time and time again, he’s fostered injured dogs,
tending to their needs meticulously until they are ready for a
“furever” home. He wants for each dog a comfortable and happy
life, and he dedicates so much of his energy to that. He works
hand in hand with the Catawba County Humane Society.
Zola, a sweet Doberman pup, is the family pet, and she is well-
mannered and patient. That’s a good thing, because she helps
train the foster dogs, teaching them how to behave. She’s also
famous, featured in the Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams catalogs, as
w e ll a s h e r o w n i n s t a g r a m a c c o u n t, i n s t a g r a m.c o m /a m a z i n g zo l a /.
Mitchell and Tim are also passionate about Exodus Homes, a
local nonprofit which provides supportive housing for recovering
addicts and formerly incarcerated people who are returning to
our communities from treatment programs and prison. This is
an excellent ser vice for the community, because suppor t during
that time is vital, and often lacking. Unsupported, these men are
much more likely to return to prison or their addictions, and this
program helps turn that around.
The couple are internationally regarded in the LGBTQ community.
Mitchell created Faith In America in 2006, with the intent to
engage religious communities to end the harm to LGBTQ kids.
This work takes them all over the world, and it’s safe to say they
are making a difference. They are, again, seeking to make life
more comfortable in meaningful ways.
That second part of the definition of comfort, “the easing or
alleviation of a person’s feelings of grief or distress,” is something
Mitchell and Tim have truly made their personal goal. They are
very effectively living the motto set by the Mitchell Gold + Bob
Williams company in 1989. And the Mitchell + Bob Williams
company continues to help keep alive the tradition of exceptional
furniture making that the foothills enjoy, while suppor ting many
communities and causes that matter. We applaud them.
Mitchell co-founded Mitchell Gold + Bob Tim is passionate about helping dogs,
Williams, and the furniture is top-notch and he does that locally by donating
and world-renowned. The business was time, money, and effort to the Catawba
started in 1989 and has locations around County Humane Society. This humane
the world. The furniture is manufactured society was started in 1971 and ran for
i n Ta y l o r s v i l l e , w i t h o v e r 7 0 0 l o c a l 3 decades staffed only by volunteers. In
employees helping to make that happen. 2000, a grant from the Beaver Foundation
With good benefits, a highly ranked allowed the organization to form a board
day care center, and a chef on staff and hire full-time staff. They quickly set
at Cafe Lulu, the employees are very to building a no-kill shelter and have been
happy. Happy employees make better shining stars in the region every since.
furniture, and they employees here The Humane Society of Catawba County
have furniture making in their blood. always needs volunteers and supplies.
The furniture created here is sent to Walking dogs is enjoyable and there
over 30 stores, in addition to being is great need. You can lear n more at:
sold on line. A hospitality division
sells to hotel chains and eateries.
While many local furniture manufacturers
struggled to remain profitable during
the 2000s, Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams
thrived, and is thriving even more today.
Exodus Homes is a faith-based United Mitchell founded Faith in America in
Way agency, offering transitional 2006. The goal was to end the centuries
and permanent supportive housing of using religion and religious teachings
for homeless recovering addicts, to justify discriminating against and
alcoholics, and formerly incarcerated marginalizing the LGBTQ community.
people returning to our community The organization uses facts and logic to
from treatment programs and prison. kindly show religious leaders that they
Exodus Homes has a comprehensive are causing irreparable damage to some
array of services to meet the physical, of their flock.
emotional, and spiritual needs of our Faith in America is dedicated to
residents. Exodus Homes currently has influencing media and faith community
62 beds with 8 program locations. We narratives regarding sexuality.
have four major programs: The ultimate goal for Faith in America
Supervised Independent Living Prison is to remove being gay from the “sin
Ministry and Post Incarceration list.” Until that goal is reached, the
Aftercare, Family Preservation and organization will work to soften the
Family Reunification and finally, Exodus hearts of the religious community
Works Social Enterprises with statistics that make clear the
damage being done. Find out more at
“Love brought me to the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina where long range vistas and
four seasons provide the backdrop for my interpretative landscapes. I paint the light and atmosphere
that lends a mystique to the beginnings and endings of ordinary days. Drawing comfort and inspiration
from the workings of farms passed down through generations, I’m curious about the people whose
homes appear as distant rooftops reflecting the last glints of a setting sun.” This painting is “Splish-
ITnhsep isrteuddbi oy othf elawnodrskcsapoef Ipnna ienstsera,nCd aTruorl ynner,Asnhnee iCs rdorcakwenr t(oRwu ea)r,d i ss cseint ueasttehda th ihgahv ei na tsheen sBel uoef mR iydsgtee r yM. oDuanwt ani n- spoi nfkN- toi nrgt he dCaanrodl ifnual.l
ionft op rmomemisoer, albatlee oaifltepranionotinnghsa.z e, a nd the l um i no us v ei l of e v e n i n g f o r m l a s t i n g s e n t i m e n t s of l i g h t a n d c ol or w h i ch sh e t r an sl at e s
Carolyn has been a full-time artist exhibiting with national level galleries for close to twenty years. In addition to painting, Carolyn
ianl otenrgnsaitdieonhael lry houustboafndR,a lJeai gmhe,sNSCe.l bayndRuusee, dhabvyea rdtei svtesl ot hpreodu gah soi gunt atthuerew ol irnled .o fHpe ra tweonrtke di s fbi nyereapr trepsreondtuecdt sb yt hRaeti naerert dFiisnter i bAurtt eidn
2 1Blowing Rock, NC and Charleston, SC; Leiper’s Creek Gallery in Franklin, TN; in Bethesda, MD and the District of Columbia at
Marin-Price Galleries. CarolynAnneCrocker.com
22This painting is “Reflections on a Beautiful Day” by Carolyn Ann Crocker
by Hannah Grace
path at the Moses
Cone Manor looks
like a scene from
26 a story book.
Gems of the Parkway
Moses Cone Manor is tucked away from the hustle and bustle of modern
life. It’s located on the Blue Ridge Park way, near Blowing Rock. The
beautiful 13,0 0 0 square foot mansion built in 1901 was the home of
Moses Cone, a tex tile entrepreneur, conser vationist and philanthropist.
The 20-room home is elaborate, built in the grand Colonial Revival Style,
and is used now as a shop for the Southern HIghland Craft Guild. The guild
features homemade crafts by hundreds of regional artists, and is an excellent
place to shop for more traditional items. The local artists and artisans also
demonstrate their craf t s throughout the year, including quilting, embroider y,
weaving, pot ter y, glass blowing and woodcar ving, all right on the front porch
you see above.
But as beautiful as the house is, it’s not why most people stop here. There
are more than twenty-five miles of carriage trails on the grounds. The
estate is 3,500 acres, which provides ample space for exploring nature. The
trails can be used by horse-drawn carriages, horse back riding and hiking.
A favorite trail is the Craftsman trail, a beautiful twenty minute walk which
the Cones each morning. Because of his interests in nature, and at the advice
of conservationist Gifford Pinchot, he planted white pine forests, a 10,000
tree apple orchard, and hemlock hedges, as well as multiple lakes stocked
with trout and bass.
This parkway stop closes during the winter months, but will be open until
November 30, from 9am to 5 pm daily. Admission is free. Moses Cone is
located at mile marker 294 on the parkway, at 667 Ser vice Road, Blowing
Rock NC. 27
An Endangered American Tradition
Thrives in the Foothills of North Carolina
Camp meetings used to thrive across the United and shaped gradually into a stanza that qcuoiuclkdlyb”e1
States. In a time where transportation was difficult learned easily by others and memorized
and life was hard, people all over the nation would
gather together once a year for an outdoor revival. American Camp Meetings were so ubiquitous
Without cars, the journeys to these revivals would take that they are even mentioned in the classic The
quite some time, and it became practical to set up Adventures of Tom Sawyer. But, as time marched
“tents,” which allowed people to stay for longer times, on, these camp meetings faded. In most areas,
typically a week or two. These meetings came to be the tradition was forgotten, and the campgrounds
known as “Camp Meetings” and they were popular in fell to ruins, or burned down. In fact, in 2017,
most states. In the 1800s, these meetings were vitally only a handful of these places still remain, and
important. With so much distance separating people, the large majority are right here in the foothills.
it was difficult to find good mates. These meetings
became a dating pool of sorts, as they were the best Balls Creek Campground, pictured on these pages,
time to meet good Christian people who weren’t is the largest camp meeting that survives today.
your neighbors. They also served the purpose of a 350 “tents” are situated in two rows around a
community anchor-bringing people together with center meeting space. The tents look like shacks,
shared experiences. but stand the test of time. Most don’t have running
Camp meetings fostered a love and appreciation of water. Some don’t have electricity. But they do
music; hymns were memorized and sung by all, but have porches, and that seems to be the most
with a certain spontaneity that’s hard to find elsewhere. important part of each tent. Nearly ever one of the
“Specialists in nineteenth-century American religious 350 tents have people swinging on the front porch,
history describe camp meeting music as the creative and people “walk the circle,” which is actually a
product of participants who, when seized by the spirit square, to socialize.
of a particular sermon or prayer, would take lines from
a preacher’s text as a point of departure for a short, Attending Balls Creek when Camp Meeting is in
simple melody. The melody was either borrowed from session feels almost zen. It feels like a mix between
a preexisting tune or made up on the spot. The line a family reunion and a high school reunion. The
would be sung repeatedly, changing slightly each time, key word here is reunion-most of the people here
have been coming their whole lives. They look
forward to the two weeks they spend each year
30 Photo by Jeffrey Wilhelm Photo courtesy of
1-Annie J. Randall, “A Censorship of Forgetting: Origins and Origin Myths of Robert Oren Eades
‘Battle Hymn of the Republic’”, in Music, Power, and Politics, edited by Annie J.
Randall (Routledge, 2004), page 16.
People gather for a
service at Balls Creek
Alcohol, drugs, profanity
and dogs are prohibited
on the grounds.
with their neighbors. The word “community” very came from all over the state. They moved to their current
much applies, and the relationships forged here location in 1830. This site has 260 dirt floor “tents.”
form an invisible but supportive webbing that lies The first tent built on the site, called “Number One,”
underneath everything locals do. is still occupied by the original family, and is passed
Una Mae, shown in red at left, and as a child, has on generation to generation. The original arbor is still
attended Balls Creek Campground for 2 weeks standing, and is still used for church services.
of each of her many years. She remembers riding Some of the original rules included: “No person shall
horse-drawn carriages and the sense of excitement disturb or violate the public worship in any shape or
she felt when they arrived. Her tent has been form, or shall appear drunk within the said 45 acres”,
in her family her whole life, although like many the penalty if convicted was a fine of $5.00. and “A black
campground tents, it did burn down. The family person, slave or free, shall (not) be found with liquor
rebuilt it, better than it was before, and on camp in his possession or be drunk”, the penalty if convicted
meeting nights it is filled to the brim with happy was to receive “39 lashes on the bare back”. It’s easy to
family members sharing food, laughs, and stories. understand why the camp meetings segregated when
So why have our camp meetings survived when they you see the difference in punishments. It is interesting
didn’t elsewhere? A popular theory insists that it’s to note that the rules against alcohol continue today at
because our lifestyles are still more agriculturally most of these sites.
based than most places. Here, harvest time still The black campgrounds are more numerous, and tend
matters, as does the needed break afterwards. It’s to be smaller, but are well-attended and anchors of
also possible that our slower lifestyles have allowed their communities.
space for this tradition to still exist, where most McKenzie’s Grove Campground was established in 1876
places have gone the way of fast food, interstates and is home to 20 tents. At some point in time, a road
and Wal-marts. We still have those things, but they was built through the center of the campground, which
don’t seem to matter as much here, and they don’t hasn’t discouraged the people that attend the meetings.
seem to hold the importance they do in other places. A wall was added to the arbor to block the sound,
Balls Creek isn’t the only camp ground in our
region. In fact, there are several that are still quite 31
active. These campgrounds are quite segregated,
entirely, in fact. One doesn’t get the impression that
a person from other races wouldn’t be welcome.
They would. Before the signing of the Emancipation
Proclamation, Rock Springs was the largest of the
meetings and whites and blacks both attended.
Once signed in 1863, the meetings split, and now
we have several.
Rock Springs Campground is near Denver. In 1794,
this group began meeting annually, and people
It’s common to see four
generations of families playing
together at Camp Meetings.
but otherwise, the grounds remain
unchanged by time.
The largest black camp meeting
by far is Tucker’s Grove. Located
near Iron Station, seven acres was
purchased by William Tucker in 1878.
With over 100 tents, this meeting
is quite large. The property was
originally a white campground,
so many of the structures existed.
The original arbor still stands and
it’s constructed with a traditional
tongue, groove and peg system.
Mott’s Grove Campground has 30
tents around an arbor in Sherrill’s
Ford. It is named after Dr. John J
Mott, who happened upon a group
of African Americans worshiping
together in the woods. After the
Civil War, Dr. Mott gave the land
to the black community. Dr. Mott
eventually led the Republican party
in NC. The campground was officially
established in 1872.
Abraham Lowrance McCombs was
the grandfather of Jerry McCombs,
shown left. Jerry remembers his
grandfather being an excellent
leader. He fondly recalls his
grandfather walking the perimeter
of the grounds, telling everyone he
saw that it was time for the service.
He was very strict with the children-
if they weren’t going to attend the
service, they must be quiet inside the
tents. They listened obediently, and
anytime any trouble arose, Abraham
called the Sheriff with whom he
had an excellent relationship. The
Sheriff trusted Abraham’s word, and
his ability to keep things moving
There are a handful of these camp
meetings outside of North Carolina.
One at Martha’s Vineyard is wildly
popular. It’s also important to note
that Pentecostals and Wesleyan still
hold camp meetings each year as
well, but they are modern affairs,
without tents, arbors or palpable
The Foothills of North Carolina are
a special place, as everyone who
lives here knows. We cherish our
history, and we want to preserve it
for our children, and their children.
This tradition doesn’t seem to b3e5
“Laying Beneath Rain , On A Strange Roof”
A column of nostalgia, growing up in the foothills
by Robert Canipe
William Faulkner writes, “How often have live through the return.
I lain beneath rain on a strange roof, This is the way of many stories.
thinking of home.” In fact, so many that one would believe everyone
Lots of stories begin with the return leaves the place they’re reared. However, the largest
to home of the prodigal, the person majority of folks are born, raised, live and die in one
who left under cloud or in the belief geographical area.
that happiness bloomed elsewhere. I’m one of those. I’ve lived in Catawba County,
These characters always return for some in the foothills’ shadow, for now 55 years. I’ve
reason—a reckoning, an opportunity for slain local dragons, reckoned with existential
redemption, a nostalgic calling that itches crises, and tracked change all from a few square
like the healing abscess of emptiness. The miles. However, I identify with Faulkner’s quote.
characters notice how much the area has His “strange roof” is, of course, the different
changed, how many people have died, geographical location from where he dreams of
how things are not the same, and they are “home.” The words “How often” exemplifiy that
either jubilant or dismayed. But they’re he does so many, many times, as he is not asking a
back. Ready to fact the demon, the parent, question but stating that even though his longitude
the bully, the lost love, that thing they left and latitude is not “home,” home is not far from his
behind. The characters find redemption, mind and soul.
slay the dragon, earn more scars, but they As someone who’d never ventured far from home
for an extended length, I still identify with Faulkner.
To me, the “strange roof” is my age, my mindset,
my current situation. Even though I am educated,
a dad, a granddad, a husband and friend, each
one of these are “strange roofs” upon which to lie,
each rainfall the cause of the nostalgia for “simpler
times,” easier times. But these rainy ruminations are
important in distilling the thoughts about who and
what we are as humans.
I find myself still an 8-year-old boy excited about
comic books, TV shows, scared of bullies and
school, pining to be an adult even though I have no
idea what that means. Each rainfall on each strange
roof causes a meandering trip through what was and
what could have been.
We’re all on our roofs, looking at the cast sky,
occluded with storm clouds, the sun occasionally
peeking out, but we always return home to the
present, the thing we have to do to make it through
In the coming issues of Foothills Magazine, I’ll invite
you onto my multiplicities of roofs, my storms, which
you can compare to your own and you’ll see that we
homebodies who live of our lives in one area are no
different than the travelers who leave and return.
Then & Now
38 Art provided by the Historical Association of Catawba County and Jake Mikeal.
Main roads won’t take you to Newton anymore. Interstates and bypasses,
heralding a faster paced life, have long sidestepped one of the Foothills’ most
picturesque towns. But a new study of Newton promises insights to a small
town unseen when see driving by. Newton: Then and Now digs into the town’s
appeal by seeing its past in its present.
For those of us unable to travel back in time, this new work combines seasoned
experience with fresh eyes. Catawba Valley Community College photography
students, under the direction of instructor Clayton Joe Young, combed through
a myriad of historic photos provided by the Historical Association of Catawba
County to select images that could be “re-photographed” from the same angle
as originally shot, demonstrating the ways in which the city has changed. The
results are striking.
From the dirt streets of early 20th to return every Soldiers Reunion to open
century to the fads of the 1970s, Newton up the house on North Main Avenue,
has weathered change gracefully. The walk to the courthouse on The Square,
results of the renewed look show a and receive friends and acquaintances
landscape adjusting to new challenges, in the main courtroom. “They held court
new lifestyles, new priorities but never at like the queen of England would do,” she
the expense of its past. Side by side, the says, still astonished.
images offer a perspective reminiscent of Newton came into being as the county
a family album, where, in an instant, kids seat for the newly created county of
grow up before our very eyes. On a few Catawba, which seceded from Lincoln
occasions the two are blended as students County in 1842. It is historically believed
endeavor to meld past and present into that the name came from state legislator
one scene, the traffic jam of 1952 placed Nathaniel Wilson’s new baby who
on the street today. was born about the time the General
To give another perspective on what it Assembly passed the bill creating the
means to walk the streets of downtown new county. That baby was Newton
Newton and know the surrounding Wilson, named for an officer in the
events of the past, Newton: Then and guerilla warriors of the Southerners’
Now includes commentary from the favorite Revolutionary War hero, Francis
town’s most seasoned reporter. Sylvia Marion, the legendary South Carolina
Kidd Ray wrote her first article on what Swamp Fox. By 1850, 84 residents lived
she saw as important about Newton (her there including the most prosperous
kitty cat) at age 7 and over 70 years later, man in Catawba County. By comparison,
she still observes her beloved community and at last count, over 13,000 call Newton
in a weekly column in Newton’s Observer- home. In 1884, a cyclone ran through
News-Enterprise. Her family’s business in the town. The center of town has hosted
the news of Catawba County goes back several courthouse buildings, including
to the 19th century. She recalls crossing the one built in 1924 that is now the
the streets of the downtown area at age home for the Historical Association of
four, “they taught me,” she said, as she Catawba County. Republican presidential
ventured down to the City Pharmacy for a candidate Robert Taft gave a speech on
“slumgullion,” the unique soda concoction the courthouse steps.
only to be found in Newton. Newton has always been the patriotic
Sylvia’s remembrances give voice to the Center of Catawba County, as evidenced
images of Newton from past days, some every third Thursday in August for the
from her own recollection, some passed past 128 years. Soldiers Reunion remains
down to her by earlier generations. When the oldest non-holiday patriotic parade
she went to get her groceries at Honey’s in the United States. Internationally
Supermarket, friends would teasingly ask noted singers, national leaders and
if the street in front was the site of the even a Cold War spy have all come from
1865 shooting of a Confederate officer by a Newton.
band of Union cavalry, many having heard
Sylvia tell the story in public settings.
“You know it is,” she always replies.
Every building has a story and Sylvia Kidd
Ray has probably reported on them at one
time or another. To say that the events
that, at one time or another, occurred in
Newton are unique is an understatement.
One prominent family, Sylvia recalls,
packed up their house in town when
a member of the family got a federal
government job in Washington, DC, only
The experiences of a town often fade with time as one generation fails to carry on the
family history. Capturing those occasions, in visual and remembered moments, helps
everyone who comes along later to see the community for its true value. A visit to
Newton, a walk along The Square in downtown, maybe a stop at one of the restaurants
or specialty shops downtown and a look at Newton: Then and Now instantly gives one
a deeper feel for the character of a town that has much to convey, from its big events
Newton: Then and Now will be available early next year from Redhawk Publications, a
Catawba Valley Community College initiative, just in time for a visit when the weather
turns warm again. Get a copy when visiting the History Museum, on The Square at the
1924 courthouse, in Newton, of course.
In our initial Fox and Hound opinion article, Cliff Moone and Thom Shell
give their viewpoints on Economic Development in our region. The focus
of the article is upon Economic Regeneration and how it is necessary for
us to creatively reinvent who we are as we move forward through the
21st Century. Hickory, the largest city in the Northwest Foothills, is in
many ways the Economic Hub and gateway of the region. The various
communities of our region face the same issues. The loss of so much
of our manufacturing base, changes in how we are now defined socio-
economically and culturally, and how do we evolve to remain relevant
in an ever changing landscape. Hickory provides the backdrop for the
debate about how best to move forward…
Since 2000, our region, here in Northwestern North possibilities years before it happened.
Carolina has faced a great many economic challenges. Upstate South Carolina leaders did not bemoan the lack
We haven’t grown very much in population and the of trained/experienced workforce and by all accounts
economy has never fully recovered from the hits it took BMW did not care either. When the plant opened in
following the implementation of several International 1994, 60,000 people had applied for 1,000 jobs. Since
Trade agreements at the start of the new century and the then, BMW has invested about $10 billion and created
great financial crisis of 2008. 9,000 direct jobs — not counting the indirect jobs related
Our region is experiencing many of the pains that similar to automotive manufacturing. BMW has also invested in
U.S. Industrial/Manufacturing cities have gone through the local technical college system to enhance the concept
in the present generation. “Legacy Cities,” as these of pre-employment training of potential workforce. The
communities are defined, relied on industrial production “halo effect” and positive publicity related to the BMW
to provide their economic base. Unfortunately, they have experience is something money could not buy.
seen their manufacturing capacity diminish greatly. As a In Hickory, $40 million in Bond Referendums were
result of the economic flux, these communities have seen approved in 2014. The City Officials’ plan was pitched
reduced real estate property demand lead to diminished to businesses well before it was proposed to citizens.
property values and in some cases abandonment. This has This plan had basically no input from Hickory’s citizenry.
presented many challenges to municipal governments The subsequent years have lacked the energy displayed
(and their resources), constraining their ability to deal in the referendum election process and lacked the
with burgeoning economic and social predicaments. accomplishment of any meaningful transformative
But what should be understood is our region, and objectives.
its various communities, has many assets that can be We need input from the community’s people to develop
catalysts for regeneration; including vital downtown a forward “Vision” and a strategy to implement it. The
areas, stable and historic neighborhoods, transportation Vision’s goals need to be purposeful; not a rearranging
networks, educational assets, medical centers, and rich of the status quo. An audit, assessing market realities,
artistic and cultural resources. In regenerating our area, should be performed to develop a foundation for a
we must capitalize on these assets and relate their value, rooted economic/financial plan that helps implement
while renovating our local economic engine. the Vision. The plan should take into account the area’s
What’s First? We have to have a real plan! present residents and potential attracted newcomers.
In our regional corridor (Megalopolis), a true success story The plan should be creative, fundamentally sound, and
is Greenville-Spartanburg, South Carolina. Upstate South have specific details about the elements that will lead to
Carolina has seen many successes over the past 25 years the expected outcome.
related to its recruitment of BMW to build an automotive Plan objectives should be deliberated openly and
plant in the area. This has led to the formation of an honestly from all perspectives. Setting up transparency
“Economic Cluster” of automotive related businesses. processes, accountability measures, and defined
This did not occur through happenstance. Upstate South benchmarks ensure the plan is followed and builds
trust. This leads to community buy-in and the support
Ca4ro2lina interests began exploring BMW recruitment necessary to face difficult tasks head on.
Like Greenville, plans and targeted investment are
important; but much of what we need, money cannot
buy. Our most important asset is our people.
James Thomas Shell
The Hickory Hound
When you attend as many civic events as I do, Cliff Moone
you frequently hear presentations on economic
development in the Hickory Metro Area. Eventually, you need a multi-faceted, non-singular solution, no one
you get the impression that the operating premise aspect of any “plan” will bring you to the promised
for economic development is “throw as many ideas land. It takes a lot of ideas and a lot of folks trying many
as you can up against the wall and see what sticks.” things to achieve success.
I intentionally overstate, admitting I write not as an
economist or economic development expert, but as In the midst of the Great Depression, after over three
an attentive citizen and dedicated promoter of the years of waiting for recovery to just happen, a new
region for which Hickory is the hub. Still, from my President, FDR, initiated what he termed the “New
perspective, the “throw it all against the wall and Deal.” The operating principle of that New Deal was
see what sticks or works” approach may be better every idea is welcome and we’ll try anything and
than it sounds. almost everything. We’ll keep what works and we’ll
Clearly, any notion economic development in all its discard what doesn’t. It mostly worked, not everything,
facets is an exact science seems obviously flawed. but despite what revisionist historians will assert, the
Otherwise, most businesses wouldn’t fail within New Deal approach lifted a country frozen in fear,
their first ten years; otherwise, we could predict defeat and despondency back on its feet and on a path
precisely under what exact conditions recessions to economic recovery.
and expansions will occur; otherwise, successful Most critics of the recent economic development
economic development could be accomplished by proposals for the Hickory Metro Area I’ve encountered
formula. This is not to say that economic planners, have argued something like “a City Walk or a River Walk
economists, or even political leaders don’t have any won’t bring permanent, sustainable jobs.” Others have
knowledge or experience that applied appropriately critiqued the 1764 Project as being too removed from
won’t help spur successful economic growth. Hickory or have critiqued some other specific piece
Today, there’s an abundance of data regarding the of the plans being proposed. Others have suggested
conditions under which economic growth is most that the planning process itself has been out of order,
likely to occur. For example, we know tax policy diminishing the potential effectiveness for attracting
can have a definite impact, so too, the regulations new businesses.
government places on businesses, whether to These critiques have some merit. I suggest none I’ve
limit fraud or for consumer protection, so too, heard are so crucially serious as to derail the potential
whether appropriate infrastructure is put in place. success of what development professionals, business
Additionally, incentives offered by state or local leaders, our political leaders, and the voters have
governments can influence economic development. envisioned and initiated. Admittedly, I’m an optimist,
But you don’t have to be an expert to know that but notwithstanding that every plan, every vision has
no one of these or other “condition setters” is flaws, I remain excited and on board with our multi-
automatically determinative as an input to get the faceted, “build it and they will come,” now is the time,
desired output of economic growth. Even something better try something, and let’s see what sticks adventure
as nebulous as a positive, hopeful outlook versus a toward a better economic future.
negative, “it can’t be done” outlook can make a
Which brings me to the main point this non-expert,
sixty-eight year old observer would like to suggest
to the critics of the bond projects, the efforts of
the area EDC, the Chamber of Commerce’s work
in economic development, or the Hickory City
Manager’s recently proposed vision to move our
city and metro area forward from “recovery” to
“prosperity”: When nobody has a “magic bullet,”
a shotgun is a really good weapon of choice. When
A civil discourse
We’ve noticed The Questions
that people have
Cliff, I agree that Economics is an inexact science. Your proposal, the shot gun
forgotten how approach, is valid if the ideas process comes through a group of diverse individuals
to argue. So, we from different social and cultural backgrounds, but coming from an individual (or
small, closed circuit group), it reminds me of what we call in the restaurant business,
want to show “Winging It,” which is what we do when we aren’t prepared and we improvise to
them how to get through a moment.
discuss, even I would like to ask: 1) Even if we do follow the shotgun approach, shouldn’t we set
disagree without benchmarks and metrics to define a program’s success or failure?
anger or malice. 2) Given that the people of the community are putting their full faith and trust in
Community Leadership in this endeavor, isn’t part of the leadership role to define
We intend to the “Vision” and its objectives? As a member of Hickory’s Bond Commission, here
bring a question is your opportunity to tell us specifically what we are doing in all of this to bring
about more jobs and increased prosperity in our area?
and have 1. I think that the “benchmarks” are fairly obvious. No matter what ideas for
economic development are tried, as City Manager Warren Wood has indicated,
that question results will be measured by “Job Growth, Population Growth, and Tax base
answered by Growth.” I think these are reasonable metrics to look at when assessing economic
both the Hound development success.
and the Fox. 2. In answering this question, let me comment on a couple of things Thom says
Then, both in his statement above. First, I am not “proposing” a “shotgun” approach. I am
will have the commenting on the reality that when planners and citizens and government leaders
opportunity to do not have a “magic bullet” to ensure economic growth, they will inevitably and
ask each other rightly suggest a multi-faceted, multi-level approach to what is a complex and
questions, then multi-layered problem. If one is simply going to be a “critic,” by zeroing in on
answer the one or two specific aspects of an approach as if those were the only actions being
questions asked taken, then of course, it is easy to say it won’t work. For example, I agree that the
amenities infrastructure of the Bond Projects, whether we are talking Gateways,
of them. River Walk or even the City Walk will not, in and of themselves “create” sustainable
job growth. What they will do is project a new and more vibrant image for the city
If you want and establish new conditions making Hickory more attractive as a place people
to join in the want to live and work. Indeed, as just one aspect of an economic development
conversation, plan, “place making,” as Mr. Wood describes the Bond Projects, is very important,
e-mail editor@ but clearly not all encompassing in bringing a new era of prosperity to our area.
As to Thom’s implication that the economic development process is being carried
foothillsdigest.com! out through a small “closed circuit” circuit group is not completely accurate. I find
that the Bond Commission, for example, is made up of individuals of many varied
Opinions professional backgrounds, is diverse in the ages of the people involved, and is
discussed are inclusive as to race and gender participation. Also, it should be noted that members
of the Commission participate on staggered terms, so every year, new members
held by the are brought on board expanding citizen participation. Personally, I would advocate
authors, not for more minority community input from the African American, Asian, and Latino
necessarily by communities. I strongly believe that if more persons from these communities will
this publication. apply to serve, the City Council would gladly appoint them.
I would mention as well that all of the meetings of the Bond Commission and its
44 subcommittees are publicly noticed and open for anyone to attend. I attended
almost every meeting of the Commission for a year before my appointment, and
except for not being able to “vote” on specific proposals during that time, I was
allowed and encouraged to join in on all the discussions as much as any appointed
member. Finally, it should be noted that beyond the Bond Commission, the local
Chamber of Commerce has also been very active in pursuing a vision for the
future economic growth and development in our region. Various committees and
working groups, most recently including the K-64 Education Project, are actively
engaged in the process of envisioning and planning to address the challenges
our area faces. To my mind at least this is not “winging it.” It is instead a rational,
multi-faceted approach to the multi-dimensional problems involved with economic
development and bettering our community, which I expect to see yield positive,
long term results.
Thom, I generally agree with your description of what happened here since 45
2000. That’s pretty well established history. I also concur with you about our
assets and much of what you have to say about a “vision” and “plan.”
Where we diverge in our views is when you start asserting that we have had
“no input from citizens” on the Bond projects. First we had and continue to
have some public hearings and discussions at City Council before putting the
Bond Referendum to a vote. Then the citizens voted. Since then, the Bond
Implementation Commission has met at least quarterly (and subcommittees
even more often) all of which were open to the public. The Commission
itself (and its individual members) is a conduit of and for citizen input on an
ongoing basis. Members of the Commission also serve limited terms so new
members are often being added.
So, my question is what is your evidence that citizen input has been or is
lacking in this aspect of our economic development plan?
Second, your comment about the projects now in process “have lacked the
energy displayed in the referendum...” reflects a concern I, as a Commission
member have voiced on several occasions. Despite some small efforts to
keep the public informed about the progress of the projects, not enough has
been or is being done in this area in my view. However, those who are well
acquainted with where things are in the implementation process are aware
that we are right where we are supposed to be as we move toward our first
“groundbreaking” in 2018.
What would you propose as ways to better keep the public attuned to the
progress being made and to keep people “energized”?
I also agree that our “most important asset is our people.” One aspect of
economic development neither of us really addressed in our articles is the
education of our citizenry for 21st century jobs. According to the data from
the Chamber of Commerce here, there are more than 3000 unfilled positions
in our MSA, due primarily to the lack of appropriately trained workers.
What specifically do you suggest ought to be done educationally to enhance
the preparation of our citizens for the present and future?
With respect to citizen input, my evidence comes from Hickory City Leadership
three years ago, when they said, “they only wanted ‘positive people’ serving
on the ‘Bond Commission’.” To me, the subsequent lack of energy after the
voting process is because the vast majority of the people in the community
don’t feel like they are a part of these projects. The evidence speaks for itself.
The critical thinking process nets the best results. We put the cart before
the horse. It seems, city officials decided what they were going to do and
created a process to implement it, instead of creating a process to decide
what we needed to do to move our economy into modern realities.
Unfortunately, trust is not the default setting in our community, because of
how we have been governed in the past. Where is the transparency website
that we were promised (and the public paid for) right after this referendum
was passed. Mayor Wright championed this and it should be done to
honor him. Transparency processes, accountability measures, and defined
benchmarks ensure plans are followed and builds trust.
With respect to the Chamber’s hypothetical jobs, that’s just the Chamber
being the Chamber. Their job is to represent their shareholders, and that’s
really local big businesses. Established big businesses want to say they aren’t
hiring ‘because people aren’t qualified.’ If the demand were there, they
would find a way to fill the positions. When BMW chose Greenville, neither
they nor South Carolina officials said anything about workforce quality. They
had 1,000 jobs, 60,000 people applied, and they filled ‘em.
How does it behoove us to constantly denigrate our workforce? Our history
has shown the ability to train a workforce and have them be very productive.
Over time, BMW has invested multi-millions of dollars in pre-employment
training at Upstate South Carolina’s technical colleges. I know some local
businesses are dabbling in that today, but if big business wants the rewards,
then it is the responsibility of big business to make that investment. It is a
company’s responsibility to train its workforce.
With regards to education, the responsibility of the public is to make sure
that children have a solid foundation of fundamentals and to make sure
adults can enhance themselves through libraries and public education and
arts infrastructure. That’s one thing we’ve gotten right around here. Will we
continue to make those investments? I certainly hope so.
INSIDE THE MOVEMENT
THAT’S TURNING ABAND ONED
MILLS INTO VIBRANT
Drive across North Carolina, through any these communities as the social fabric spaces. Local entrepreneur and
town and you’ll probably see familiar created by these textile companies developer Pete Zagaroli began eying
images of boarded up, deteriorating began to disintegrate. different decaying buildings both in
brick factories and mills, monuments Fast forward twenty-five years and we town and around the county and
to the once thriving textile and see these now well-known dilapidated began looking into the viability of
manufacturing industries that built our structures dotting our landscape. revitalizing many of the old structures
state’s economy for the better part of Community leaders recognized that into new, vibrant mixed-use spaces.
a century. These dormant, overbuilt, industries were not coming back to As luck would have it, the NC
rather inefficient behemoths, while a work in these factories, so what now? Department of Natural Resources
blight on the cityscapes they inhabit, Many called for developers to destroy began looking at the benefits of
are significant historical structures that the facilities to make way for cheaper, offering incentives to developers
tell the story of North Carolina’s success more efficient facilities but many of the who reinvented existing industrial
during the Industrial Revolution and, of sites became toxic wastelands filled spaces instead of tearing them down.
course, the subsequent decline of our with old chemicals, asbestos, and other In 2005, Senators David Hoyle (D)
economic strength and stability during environmental hazards that had to be and Fletcher Hartsell (R) introduced
the past several decades. cleaned up before new construction the “Mills Bill” to the North Carolina
Catawba County was one of the leaders could begin. Senate, entitled “An Act to provide a
in the economic boom of the late 19th Following the trends set in the Northeast, tax credit for revitalization of historic
and early 20th century. At the height several North Carolina communities mill facilities and to allow tax credits
of the textile revolution in the 1950’s, began investigating the validity of for certain historic rehabilitations
our community boasted a whopping rehabilitating the old mills after seeing the to be transferred to long-term
200 mills and manufacturing facilities. overwhelming successes of developers lessees.”The bill passed into law,
These businesses became the epicenters who turned the eyesores into amazing becoming Chapter 105, Article 3H of
of smaller communities, creating an community-centered architectural works the North Carolina General Statutes.
intricate web of relationships between of art. In 2015, the bill was revised to
mill workers, local businesses and mill The trend finally made its way to Hickory include a tiered system of incentives
owners. As these mills began to see a early in the 2000’s when several old mill based on location within the state
decline in business in the 70’s, Catawba buildings were sold and rehabilitated and economic conditions in the
County witnessed a similar decline in into vibrant businesses and community community.
The NC Historic Preservation Tax
46 Credit has been extremely successful
in creating new energy in decaying
communities suffering from the loss
of manufacturing jobs. Over 25
projects have been completed across
the state because of the credits, with
several here in Hickory that have
made a significant difference in the
landscape, economy, and outlook of
The HPTC piggybacks on federal
programs designed to breathe life
into communities that have seen
Hollar Mill is pictured, before
renovations and after. The scallop
me al is served at Highland Avenue
Restaurant which is located on the
SELECT A MILL DETERMINE NEEDS RENOVATE
Go to https://www.nps. What is lacking in your Be careful to hire a
gov/nr/research/ and community? That’s a reputable architect and
search your area, and great place to start! builder. Old buildings
you likely have a place Think of things you need special love and
in mind already. If you could offer that would attention, and it’s im-
use a building on the bring your community portant for your team
together. Music venues to value history, or they
registry, you will be able and restaurants are a likely won’t share your
to apply for local, state great choice, as are
and federal grants. You apartment complexes attention to detail.
can always contact a City for young professionals. Don’t throw away your
Hall Clerk to find out scrap because many
who owns buildings that companies specialize in
you are interested in. reusing old materials.
tremendous loss economically and socially over the past several decades. One of the stipulations on the NC
HPTC is that the building or structure must be on the National Registry of Historic Places. They also must have
been 80% vacant for at least two years.
But even with the credits and incentives, rehabilitating these buildings is not for the faint of heart. While the basic
structure is well suited for up-fitting and revitalization with sturdy, over-built wood floors, immense square-footage,
and redundant fire-safety measures, the expenses can be overwhelming. Those who specialize in bringing these
structures back to life see the long-term benefits.
“The thing about old buildings is that they have personality, they almost have a soul. New construction just
doesn’t have that, no matter how great the building is, it doesn’t have that history that these old mills and factories
have,” stated Pete Zagaroli.
In Hickory, several projects have shown our great personality and soul, and have truly reinvigorated the industrial
corridor that used to be thriving. The conversion of the Hollar Mill, Moretz Mill and Piedmont Wagon into beautiful
buildings that now house shops, restaurants, spas and businesses have given our economy and our community
morale a much needed boost. The decrepit Lyerly Full Fashioned Mill was refurbished, updated, and occupied
by Transportation Insight, who in turn won an award for the Best Rehabilitation Project of 2016 by NC Mainstreet
In 2014, the City of Hickory received a grant from the NC Historic Preservation Office to examine the possibility of
rehabilitating more historic properties in our area. The possibilities of bringing even more economic development,
more community-minded expansion using existing resources and more community pride as areas known for crime
and blight are rejuvenated into thriving centers of culture and commerce.
100 years ago, the brick mills and warehouses of old Catawba industry were built to be a utilitarian, sturdy, basic
building to serve the industry of the day. Who’s to say that in 100 years from now, the less-than-lovely abandoned
metal buildings dotting the Unifour’s landscape won’t serve the dreamers and designers of the time by becoming
the reclaimed and refurbished trendy locales we see today.
Drawing and photo provided by
Pete Zagaroli. It shows a South
Carolina abandoned mill and his
ideas for what it could be .
The first time my grandson Sam saw Grandfather Mountain, he pulled against
the straps of his car seat and said, “Look, Papaw! That man is smoking!”
I looked to see a fluffy cloud floating above the famous profile, looking all the
world like a plume of smoke from a just lighted cigarette.
No one ever forgets the first time they see Grandfather. And everyone, once
they visit him, cannot wait to stopover again.
“Three hundred million years of landscaping” has created a park of natural
delights, curated by knowledgeable folks who love the park and adore visitors
who appreciate natural beauty.
Open every day of the year, weather permitting, except Thanksgiving and
Christmas, entrance tickets range from $20 ages 13-59, $9 for children ages
4-12, with children under 4 free. Senior citizens 60 plus get a $2 discount.
At the park’s website, a perusal of the “Plan Your Visit” button provides a
complete, dated schedule of events, seasonal, special, and regular.
Autumn offers the opportunity for a “Beauty of the Night Hike” where
naturalists, “challenge your senses and [enable you to] experience the beauty
of the night atop the mountain.” Cost is an extra $20 and you may need a
One can “Celebrate Migration on Grandfather” by joining a 6-hour course on
raptor migration. Cost is an extra $40. These birds are bigger in person than
they look on TV, so be prepared to be impressed.
Another exciting special event is the “Creatures of the Night Bonfire Delight”
where folks can “Enjoy rare after-dark tours of Grandfather Mountain, fireside
tales and a chance to meet the park’s nocturnal residents!” Cost is an extra
$20 and this event always sells out weeks in advance.
Some free special events are the “Guided Walks,” such as the “Colors of
Grandfather,” where visitors can see the splendor of the leaves changing