What do these Awards
really mean to You and
Your Community Hospital?
For the sixth consecutive year, Catawba Valley Medical Center has been
named a recipient of the Women’s Choice Award as one of America’s 100
Best Hospitals for Patient Experience.Also, for the fifth consecutive year, a
recipient of America’s Best Hospitals for Obstetrics.This Women’s Choice
Award identifies the nation’s best healthcare institutions measured against
the needs and preferences of women, providing her the opportunity to
identify which hospitals deliver the quality patient experience she seeks for
her and her family, and for her birthing experience.
These credentials signify Catawba Valley Medical Center’s commitment and
passion towards an extraordinary healthcare experience for all patients,
and are further examples of the many ways we’re working to improve the
health of our community.
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619 2nd St NE
Hickory NC 28601
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CARMEN ECKARD JON ECKARD
Chief Editor Principal Photographer
Heather Wood Davis
James Thomas Shell
Contents WINTER 2018
05 Letter from the editor 36 Lost Cities
10 Data Corridor 42 Granny Witches
14 Looping in the Foothills 44 Henry River Mill Village
16 Appalachian Mural Trail 52 Recipes
18 Fox and the Hounds 58 Baking with Kids
22 How We Talk 62 Make a Cheese and Charcutirie Board
24 Beekeeping 64 Restaurant Index
30 Eustace Conway-Mountain Man 66 The Olde Hickory Station
34 Granny Eckard 70 Guardian of the Webb
74 1936 Tudor Remodeled into a French MITCHELL
Modern Luxury Oasis AND TIM
80 Bears in NC GOLD
86 Why I Paint Trees by Stephen Brooks p. 18
94 Kids Magazine
96 Minnie Reinhardt 122 The Season of Limited Light
102 Leonardo DaVinci’s Flying Machines 124 Seasonal Affective Disorder
104 Art of Sean Presnell 127 Salt and its Benefits
110 Edison Competition 128 Dear David
112 Activities and Venues 130 The History of Commercial Dog Food
114 Crawdad’s Baseball 132 Foothills Astrologer
116 Ski Resorts 136 Carolina Reads
118 Stay Fit in the Winter 138 Rural Legend
120 8 Heart Attack Signs 142 Selections from L 2
144 For the Kings and Queens of
146 Laying Beneath Rain on a Strange Roof
148 The Robin
150 Golden: a Love Letter to Appalachia
Letter from Editor
I hope this issue finds you somewhere warm and snuggly, and
that the stories capture your interest. We followed our bliss this
issue, and we wrote about the things that caught our interest. That
includes Henry River Mill Village, bears, art, and so much more.
You’ll notice as you flip through these pages that I’ve added some
odd squares. They are called QR codes, and they work like barcodes,
except that you can scan them with your smart phone. I hope you’ll
take a minute now to go to your app store and enter “QR reader”.
There are many choices and almost all of them are free. Once you’ve
done that, it’s as easy as taking a picture to follow these codes.
The black QR codes are for road trips. If you scan the square,
google maps will open on your phone and give you directions to the
location. Colored QR codes are informational. They’ll take you to a
site with more information. Go now! Then let’s
test a code!
Now, if you’ve downloaded an app, you’ll just
open the app, point your camera at the code,
and it will do the rest! If everything is going
according to plan, you should now be on our
subscription page. If you are, now you’ll be able
to use all of our codes! And, while you’re there, consider signing up
for a subscription. We publish quar terly, and we promise to keep
pouring our hearts and souls into this magazine.
Be sure to check in for our Spring issue as well. We’ll talk about
pot ter y, an exciting new Cider y, and as always, histor y of our region.
I’m excited to bring you new artists and authors as well.
Let me know what you think of our magazine! You can always reach
me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I love to hear your input. If
you have story ideas, send those as well!
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You can always subscribe online at http://foothillsdigest.com, but you can also fill
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notice that most of our photography is by Jon Eckard.
He is a commercial photographer based in Hickory, North
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BY CARMEN ECKARD
TECHNOLOGY’S BIGGEST NAMES,
LIKE FACEBOOK, GOOGLE,
AND APPLE CALL THESE
HILLS HOME. BUT WHY?
As you drive through our hills, sure you’ve felt the back of your
marveling at the beauty, you computer-they put off a good deal of
are probably unaware of the heat. Google has said that evaporative
massive amount of data being stored cooling commonly can use “hundreds
and transferred all around you. Google, of thousands of gallons of water a
Facebook and Apple, three giants of day,” and this is the cooling system
industry, have data centers here. In fact, most large data centers employ. Our
it’s completely fair to say that SIRI lives in region is appealing regarding water
Catawba County. both because of our ample supply, but
also because of cooperation from our
“I think most in our area major utilities, like Duke Energy.
would be surprised to know That dovetails with the second factor,
that, to my knowledge, every which is cheap and available power.
transaction on an iPhone--song or This is a unique way that the departure
app download, ask Siri, mapping, of our previous manufacturing led to
Apple Pay--worldwide--goes the development of the Data Corridor.
through Catawba County at some In most larger cities, power grids
point. That’s simply amazing. And operate near capacity. Because our
very cool.”-Scott Millar, President system was built to support a great
of the Catawba County Economic deal of manufacturing businesses, their
Development Corporation. departure has freed up the electricity
the data centers need. But don’t be
Apple, Facebook and Google are joined concerned that these companies are
by many other companies: AT&T, Bed a drain on our resources. Apple, for
Bath and Beyond, Disney, Boeing, and instance, is generating enormous
others. This new movement is helping amounts of solar electricity, and their
to revive our region, replacing many of new renewable energy facility will use
the jobs lost to overseas manufacturing. treated methane from the landfill to
But why? Why are such industry giants create electricity using fuel cells.
choosing our humble hills as their home? Space and privacy are also important
The answer is more complex than most factors. These campuses are large and
people realize, and it’s the culmination house industry secrets. In fact, most of
of many factors, as well as an intentional them are protected by the Department
push by local governments, who are of Homeland Security. Our wide open
working hard to bring industry home. spaces and our sparse populations in
The first factor is part of our rugged
landscape-our water supplies are key
to attracting large data centers. I’m
Fields of Solar Panels like these are becoming
more common across our hills. Solar energy and
other cutting edge technologies are employed
at our many data centers to save money and
to improve environmental stewardship.
What is a Data Center?
A large group of networked computer servers typically used by organizations
for the remote storage, processing, or distribution of large amounts of data.
certain pockets are a large factor in bringing business here, and our climate is unique in the Southeast,
as it remains cool enough to be cost effective.
It also doesn’t hurt that Catawba County is home to 3 companies that are the world’s top manufacturers
of coaxial cable and fiber optic cable: CommScope, Corning Optical Communications, and Prysmian.
Perhaps one of the most important factors has been the involvement of local governments. Google,
the first major Data Center on the scene, moving to Lenoir in 2006, is saving $212 million in taxes over
30 years. NC Legislature approved $46 million in tax savings for Apple, and our local governments
cut their property taxes by half. But tax incentives are only part of it. Local governments and business
leaders. Like the Catawba County Economic Development Corporation (www.catawbaedc.org) took
a 4 pronged approach:
1: They established ready-to-build data center sites. This saves a great deal of time for companies,
and was a deciding factor for Apple-they were able to move in quickly.
2: They created a cohesive marketing plan and pushed information about our data centers. The plan
was aimed at consultants, engineers and other firms who worked with data center operators.
3: They developed focused incentives. These included tax breaks, but our local leaders did much of
the leg-work, making the sites very appealing.
4: They continue to develop events and reach out to media, and an annual DCIX convention brings
home 50 national data center people, who speak about best practices and business practices, over
a beer or two.
Some reporters also cite a lemming effect. Now that the advantages of our location have been proven,
more and more data centers are being built. I can’t say whether that’s true, but it is true that we’re
quickly becoming a popular destination for the world’s largest brands. It’s exciting!
Data Centers are growing globally at a rate of 15%. North Carolina is home to some of the
world’s largest data centers. As companies around the world, and consumers as well, create
more content and move more services into the cloud, and as more people around the world
get internet access, it will create a need for even larger data centers, and the people of
the Foothills are ready for this, and our leadership sees the trend. They are working towards
ensuring that we will have the space and the electrical capacity to handle these coming projects.
This is an industry to keep your eye on, and as you search Google for information, log into Facebook
to chat with your friends, or upload something to the iCloud, remember the role your communities
play in the never-ending stream of data transfer.
LOOPING There is evidence as far
back as 1874 that there
IN THE were looping machines
being used in North
FOOTHILLS Carolina to knit together
the top and back flap of
sock toes. This made a
very smooth-fitting sock, as
opposed to other methods
which sewed the sections
together, leaving a raised
seam that irritated toes.
BY GRANNY ECKARD This looping machine was
invented during Germany’s
industrial revolution. It was an electric machine which housed a large circular
dial filled with pin-sharp needles. Following a faint line in the sock, the operator
would insert certain knitted stitches onto this dial; first the back, turn the
corner, then the top. The dial was fit ted with a sewing needle that sewed
between the needles. At the end of the circular dial there was a blade that cut
the leftover threads, thus separating the socks. The dial continuously moves
while the operator installs the socks in this fashion, one af ter the other. If she
is efficient enough, she never stops the dial. It continues for hours and hours
and is very boring work.
Early in the history of hosiery in North Carolina, children were used for this work
for obvious reasons After all, they had already been performing much harder
work on the farm and in the kitchen, and now they were able to contribute to
the family income. In 1900, 18% of American workers were under the age of 16.
Eleven year old Nannie Colson can be seen working as a looper at the Crescent Hosiery Mill in Scotland Neck, North Carolina. Sitting in a chair in front of a hosiery machine,
she is absorbed in her work. She is so short that she is at eye-level with the machine. Next to her, a woman works at the same job. A looper attaches a toe portion to a sock.
Copyright ©2009 by Lewis Wickes Hine.
Shot in 1914. Courtesy of Learn NC.
Photograph of the author’s mother looping in their Baker’s Mountain home. Provided by Granny Eckard.
But this began to change around 1916 with the child labor laws of the progressive
reform. However, the Supreme Cour t declared this change unconstitutional.
Then, Congress passed an amendment authorizing federal child labor legislation
in 1924, followed by the Fair Labor Standards Ac t of 1938, which set minimum
wage and maximum hours. This, along with the world wars, market crash, Great
Depression, and record unemployment, paved the way for more adult women
to enter the workforce.
In 1941, my mom learned to loop at a looping school of f of Highway 127 in the
Viewmont area of Hickor y. There were many of these home-industr y schools
located in private homes throughout the South. When she finished the school,
she was employed in one of the local mills. Mom’s looper was a 22-guage, which
demanded more respect because the needles were tiny and extremely close
together. She prided herself on her ef ficiency.
Our family was blessed with elec tricit y in 1950. About this time, my older sister
returned home from the polio hospital and my baby brother was born. With 5
children, a farmer husband, and a handicapped child, Mom began to realize she
needed to make a change and start looping at home. This enabled her to take
care of the kids, run the household, receive an above-average wage, and have
flexible working hours.
Being home meant that we could spend our summers playing and performing
chores. I’m sure we did not realize it then, but it was a blessing to have our Mom
home for breakfast during the school year and still have her home when we got
off the bus in the afternoon.
Photo by Jon Eckard
T he Appalachian Mural Trail aims to highlight the beautiful murals in our hills. Visit http://
www.muraltrail.com/ to see an updated list of murals across our region. There are also lovely
murals in some of our towns that aren’t part of this trail, like murals in Downtown Hickory and
Downtown Morganton. Murals, like barn quilt squares, dot our landscape and highlight the love of
art that’s present in our people and our towns.
A Time to Forest City Town of Valdese
Build Mural Downtown Mural Village Park Mural
Old Fort, NC Forest City, NC Valdese, NC
Blue Ridge MilePost: 344 Blue Ridge MilePost: 384 Blue Ridge MilePost: 292
Latitude:35.628934, Longitude:-82.18135 Latitude:35.333531, Longitude:--81.863619 Latitude:35.742031, Longitude:-81.557223
Hugh Chapman History Tells a Under the Wilkes
Memorial Mural Story Mural County Sun Mural
Elkin, NC Elkin, NC North Wilkesboro, NC
Blue Ridge MilePost: 229 Blue Ridge MilePost: 229 Blue Ridge MilePost: 248
Latitude:36.244696, Longitude:-80.851479 Latitude:36.244694, Longitude:-80.851477 Latitude:36.160514, Longitude:-81.146643
Where the Mountains New River Cut at Devil
Begin Mural Traditions Mural Stairs Mural
Wilkesboro, NC West Jefferson, NC West Jefferson, NC
Blue Ridge MilePost: 276.4 Blue Ridge MilePost: 261 Blue Ridge MilePost: 261
Latitude:36.148297, Longitude:-81.151977 Latitude:36.40231, Longitude:-81.49242 Latitude:36.40272, Longitude:--81.49241
First of all, I would like to congratulate Carmen on winning the Edison Project for 2017. I, Thom Shell, was a part of the Future Economy Council group, created
by Danny Hearn of the Catawba County Chamber of Commerce that spoke to the “Vision” of such a contest for start-ups and innovators in our community. We all
must thank Garrett Hinshaw - President of Catawba Valley Community College, Bill Parrish - formerly of the Small Business and Technology Development Center, Sid
Connor - formerly Director of the NC Center for Engineering Technologies, and Jeff Neuville and Tom Shea local Business Developing Entrepreneurs (and others) who
all came together to establish, implement, and mentor this program.
These and other endeavors can help our area move forward. We should all take an interest in such initiatives and support them in whatever way we can. You may not
realize that, just by reading this magazine, you are helping support several local entrepreneurs, innovators, and creative people in our community. I hope that you will
spread the word about this interesting magazine. We need to support the true assets of our community.
The subject matter of this Fox and Hound opinion article is about “Vision” for our region. It is an open ended discussion and here are some ideas about our future.
James Thomas Shell involves Charlotte, which has always done its own thing
The Hickory Hound pretty well. Most of the other areas in North Carolina,
including the Northwest Foothills, have been left behind
“Vision” for our community? … Something that I have by the narrow focus of the decision makers in the State
elaborated on before on my site “The Hickory Hound.” and Federal governments.
What are our objectives? Where do we want to be in 5, Three – No investment equals no growth. Look at your
10, to 25 years as far as Economic, Cultural, and Social personal life. You have to make investments to have
Development? personal growth. You have to buy food to live. You have
One - I truly believe the backbone of progress is based to have shelter. You have to have health and hygiene. Of
upon the necessity to engage and encourage the course, there are two types of investments – good and
broadest possible dialogue with the largest number of bad.
people possible. Society is strongest when there is an One thing is for sure, Charlotte’s population has nearly
active, informed citizenry. A small pool of participants doubled over the past 25 years. Charlotte, with over
tends to limit initiative and stagnate ideas, ultimately 800,000 people, is now larger than Atlanta. Charlotte
leading to a small closed circuit group acting in their own has been good at taking care of Charlotte and our area is
self interests with the public interest taking a backseat. going to have to get good at taking care of our interests.
Two - Economic growth correlates to quality of life. Over Generally speaking we have nine counties that have
the past several years, I have taken a trip down to the the same interests – Alexander, Alleghany, Ashe, Avery,
Eastern half of the State to visit family that live east of Burke, Caldwell, Catawba, Watauga, and Wilkes. We are
Fayetteville. This journey involves the most heavily a much more rural area than the City of Charlotte, but
traveled driving routes in this State and I have observed together this area has a population of over 500,000.
what is the reality of economic division in what is the ‘Tale The bottom line is that our area deserves more
of Two States’ in North Carolina. attention. We have a great University in Appalachian
The northern route I-40/I-85 corridor has been developed State and we have access to several technical schools.
rapidly over the past 25 years. From Winston-Salem to What is important is that our area must become more
Raleigh, it is hard to tell where one city ends and the next interconnected.
begins. Raleigh is the fastest growing metropolitan area What I envision is a Regional Economic Development
in our State. The I-95 corridor from Raleigh to Fayetteville Corporation that incorporates all of these Northwestern
is growing by leaps and bounds. The southern route North Carolina counties. This entity would coordinate the
overall economic interests of our entire area. The counties
would no longer be competing amongst themselves for
viable projects. They would begin working together
to compete against larger markets, such as Charlotte
and Raleigh. I would also like to see a consolidation
of the various Chambers of Commerce in the region.
In my opinion, we don’t need a separate Chamber of
Commerce in every county. It just isn’t viable. Each county
would have representatives and headquarters within
these entities to ensure they are properly represented,
but they would coordinate towards the big picture.
Of course there is more, but I believe these are good
initial steps towards building a solid, constructive
foundation for our future.
EThcoonuogmh incsot technically in Northwestern North Carolina, Gabriel Sherwood
Catawba County is a waystation between that region and
the Piedmont’s economic activity. Our economy is invariably don’t support the graduates for the most part. Charlotte
linked to those regions we connect as neighbors and we and other cities traditionally get the new blood, but we
should see our futures as intertwined. With investment in can change that by getting more of the most sought-
the area by 21st century industries and infrastructure, and after industries to settle outside of city expenses. CVCC
local governments advocating for citizen interests without has had a Cyber Security program, its return should
reserve, the diversity of our young population will stay and be lobbied for. In recent years, Cyber Security’s open
expand the economic capacity. positions are going unfilled nationally and there are 80-
There are ways we can capitalize on our neighboring county’s 100k jobs begging for qualified candidates in Baltimore
successes, we just need potential companies and our and some other cities. Let’s have Western NC become a
citizenry to find common ground here to build on. Economic home from Cyber Security Education and service, along
opportunity must reach everyone, and the whole of our with its national security investments, and bring a couple
diverse population should be respected and supported in thousand professional positions in the 40-80k range to
efforts of growth as well. Our public transportation systems air conditioned rooms across the NW and Foothills.
are basic and limiting, which is a hindrance to both our If we build it, they will come…both the companies
citizenry and attracting more progressive industry. Among looking for less expensive overhead and the graduates
our goals should be public transportation options to allow of CVCC, App. State, and UNCA.
mobility of our masses to meet the needs that are only a TSohociuagl h we expanded diversity and mixed the political
few miles away, and options for efficient travel to and from ideologies a bit in recent elections, we saw less than 20%
the Charlotte area. turnout. We will need to improve that if we really want
With the completion of the 485 loop and the recent everyone bought into a vision. How about demographic
improvements to highway 16 the trip from Charlotte’s targeting with real incentives, like an expansion of
Douglas International Airport to the heart of Catawba our power systems to include solar on all store and
County is quicker than ever, which makes us a prime warehouse roofs? If we want to get attention and make
target for corporate investment. A line along the highway it easier for younger folks to invest in property and add
16 route to connect to Charlotte’s Lynx Light Rail would to the community, bill North Western NC as the lowest
open doors for commuters to live cheaper here and invest cost energy in the state. Not to mention…keep things
city salaries in our communities. We have inexpensive going the next time a tornado waltzes by.
land that is connected to the Northwest region and the We have young African American communities, we
national roadways with I-40, we have inexpensive energy have young Latino communities, we have young Asian
that includes some from renewables, we have a young and communities, we have a strong LGBTQ community, and
diverse population, we have varied recreation opportunities, plenty of Conservatives and Liberals who sit together
and we have moderate weather. All we need are a few more and talk like people of good will do. Hickory hosts a
options for industrial growth and an efficient means for our Free Thinkers Convention welcoming Atheists from all
workforce to move around. over the world each year, surrounded by many churches
Because we are a forward-looking area…potential of many faiths, so we have a great melting pot of ideas
companies, our communities, and our educational centers, and cultures. I think we have the civic will and social
are working on some of it already. tolerance to make these things happen.
That is a great strength of Catawba County, North
TEhdeucHaitcikoonry, Morganton, Lenoir, area was recently rated as Western North Carolina, and the state as a whole. Let’s
the 8th least educated in the nation. One reason we don’t be sure, that our little corner, no one gets left behind.
attract such investment in modern economic activity is a
need for skilled workers in varied fields. We have one of
the most advanced centers for medical education in the
simulated hospital at Catawba Valley Community College,
which now sees 25% of its enrollment come from county
high school students. The college’s recent investments in
the expansion of their manufacturing and furniture programs
can help us rebuild some of the ground lost to outsourcing.
The center for modern manufacturing techniques will tune
up those jobs in the region and the Furniture Academy will
help solidify the presence of one of our oldest industries.
The Northwestern region also boasts great centers for
higher learning, but their resort and tourist economies
A civil discourse
We’ve noticed that The
people have forgotten
how to argue. So, we Gabriel, since I pretty much agreed with what you addressed in your open
want to show them how summary on “Vision”, please tell us what you think the younger generations are
to discuss, even disagree going to need to make our region a viable option for living and desirable quality
without anger or malice. of life issues? Please, as a Millennial, define our area’s present reality from
your perspective/point of view…
We intend to bring a
question each quarter, Yes, congratulations to Carmen for the recognition of her work and skill, to Foothills
and have that question Digest for the acclaim. Thanks also to James for his insightful reporting and work
answered by both the for the area and our neighbors. To your question: Access is key to growth, and
Hound and the Fox. according to research from 2014 less than 25% of 16-year-old’s in the US had
Then, both will have their licenses. That’s a 46% drop from 30 years earlier, and those in their 20’s
the opportunity to ask were nearly 20% less likely to drive. Whether this is fuel cost issues, auto cost
each other questions, issues, licensure requirements, or whatever, the point is clear…younger people
then answer the need transportation options. As may have been noted in your writings on Hickory
questions asked of them. Hound, the mass transit systems within the county are quite constricting.
After losing a business in Charlotte during the recession, my daughter and I spent
If you want to join in a few years in public housing in Hickory. So, we relied on public transportation for
the conversation, e-mail a while, and had I not had friends with cars and the skills to get hired in specialty
editor@foothillsdigest. services we could still be there. The bus system really doesn’t cover much of our
com! area’s housing, and though the lines cover main thoroughfares, lower income folks
and young people lack access to much of the economic activity. Not to mention
Opinions discussed are the hours of operation. Also, and sadly, during early voting days each year the
held by the authors, voting place for the citizens of Maiden is the Newton Main Library. For those with
not necessarily by this no transportation, and no bus that connect the downtowns, many of those citizens
publication. can’t make it.
There are grants available for transportation expansion from both the federal
government and the state, with millions available to an innovative approach,
so let’s put folks to work getting other folks to work. How about contracts with
transportation companies to subsidize fares for cabs, which can charge 10 bucks
to go 5 miles in some cases, or perhaps the expansion and regulated use of
services like Uber? This expands fleets and drivers, gets young people to work
and school, and makes a statement about access and its impact when we see
the resulting economic activity? This model is intended for Catawba County, and
other counties in the NW NC region must work with their demographics and
needs, but I think it could be an option for some.
In many ways, the young people of the area have been let down. Reeducation
and training after the loss of industry wasn’t incentivized locally and access
wasn’t prioritized, though it is now being worked on for certain citizens, many
aren’t feeling it. As you have mentioned in regards to CVCC, and thanks for your
efforts there too, investments have been made in the future. I would advocate a
more open trade education, though. I am the Business Manager of a Plumbing
Company, and I would love a few plumbing courses, or a certificate program in
ours and other trades. But, that’s what we are here for, to observe and inform and
advocate reasonable goals…would you advocate for that as well?
There are a lot of young people here who feel separated, and little ownership in
our communities. I recently spoke to government classes at CVCC and noticed
in one of them that most of the class was in the largest seat section to the left of
me, while the five African American students sat to themselves on the right of me.
Though I am a few years senior to a Millennial, these folks were right there in the
age range and demographic to feel the impact of the decimation of the strong
middle-class model in favor of “Voodoo Economics” and dog whistle politics.
Other groups, like our Latino citizens, our LGBTQ community, and even some
secular students in very religious parts of our area, are feeling a bit more directly
targeted of late. This won’t engender a desire to stay, though many of us are
trying to encourage the will to work towards change the old-fashioned way. With
the patience, character, and the work ethic, of Western North Carolina.
Que sti on s
How should we go about connecting the economic centers of Northwestern
NC and Catawba County with Charlotte in order to bring companies to a
future suburban area? Public transportation investment, or attracting private
enterprise…preferably both? How about a Hyper-loop…It’s possible, if far
How should we most effectively engage our population and activate its
diverse base? Public events management, educational outreach, outside
Gabriel, I cannot disagree with anything you have proposed. 100%, I agree
that we must interconnect ourselves with neighboring communities and
the region at-large. Whether we like it or not, we are a part of Charlotte.
As a person with direct connections to Charlotte, I appreciate the growth
Charlotte has experienced over this generation. Charlotte has grown from a
regional to a national and is becoming an international city right before our
With regards to your question/statement regarding direct transportation
connectivity to Charlotte, I could not have said it better myself. On the
Hickory Hound, I spoke of this direct light rail link into Charlotte - Light Rail
to Charlotte: One Investment Worth Making – January 25, 2009.
That article also involved the connection of Amtrak high speed rail between
Charlotte and Atlanta. The region we live in is a Megalopolis that stretches
from Birmingham, Alabama and Memphis, Tennessee in the West to
Raleigh in the East. As a whole, the Piedmont Atlantic Megaregion has a
population of over 25 million people. It includes Interstates 40 and 85 and
encompasses several major cities interconnected through a major backbone
of transportation connectivity. We must engage our region.
I have also wanted to see passenger rail service reinstituted from Asheville
to Salisbury with a stop in our area. Gabriel, we are not alone in wanting to
see this happen. Locally, our State Representative Jay Adams promoted the
idea of renovating the Caldwell County rail line. This would have gone a long
way towards redeveloping the sub-corridor that runs from Hickory to Lenoir.
If not renovated through rail, the line could be paved and a tram could be
run along that path. It could also become associated as an artery for open
greenspace pedestrian and bicycle travel.
As far as encouraging industry and people to become a part of our area,
we must look at what we are presently and honestly accept the reality – no
buzzwords, no catchphrases, no propaganda. I believe we have failed our
young people in this community. Area leadership must be willing to open
their minds to possibilities, accept people for who they are, be willing to
engage and work well with others, and then decide where we want to be
in 5, 10, 25 years… Then develop a plan accordingly with detailed steps,
transparent processes, benchmarks, and accountability measures to move us
towards our objectives.
The Way We Talk
Most Importantly: It’s App-uh-LATCH-un. If you say it wrong,
we’ll correct you. If you keep it up, we can’t be friends.
For a long time, people have assumed that the
dialect and language we use here in the Foothills
and the Blue Ridge Mountains is “bad English”.
That’s not true at all. It’s actually “very old English.”
We still use a large number of the words that the people
who settled this land used. “Afeared”, for instance, is
considered archaic English, except here in our hills. In
some ways, it’s as if the last 200 years of linguistic changes
just didn’t happen here. We speak the way our ancestors
spoke, and our lexicon doesn’t seem to be dying out.
We are Southerners, but that’s not all we are. We speak the
language of the hills. If you’d like to understand us better,
here are some tips.
Long I sounds turn to A sounds. Tire and fire become “tar”
and “far”. Iron is “Arn.” The “o” sound at the end of words
is often replaced with an “er”...holler, mater, tater, backer for
hollow, tomato, potato and tobacco. You noticed we dropped
the beginning syllable from some of the words we use the
most-we just expect you to keep up.
Blowed-past tense of blow
Briar-patch child-a child out of wedlock
Britches-pants, but not your dress pants
Et-past tense of eat Lible-likely to
Ever war-everywhere Might-could-there is a possibility
Heared-past tense of hear
Heared-tell-heard by way of gossip Passel-a lot
Plum-all the way
Her’n-hers Reckon-to reason
His’n-his Right-very (He’s right smart)
Holler-shout Scald-land that won’t grow plants
Hollow (pronounced “holler”)-
valley surrounded by mountains Schoolhouse
Jail house Seed-past tense of saw
Jasper-someone not from our hills
Larn-to teach Skift-just a little snow
Sweet milk-regular milk
You’ns-similar to y’all
Scan for more info.
in the foothills
P eople have been keeping bees for thousands of years. In fact, there has been
honey found in Egyptian pyramids that is still edible after all this time. Bees
are incredibly important to our world. In North America alone, they pollinate
95 kinds of plants. 60-80% of our food supply is pollinated by bees. Unfortunately, the
bees are in trouble. Bees in the wild and kept bees have been experiencing colony
collapse syndrome, with almost a third of colonies being lost in the last several years.
It’s a bit of a puzzle-why are the bees dying? Many theories have been floated, including
cell phone interference, but most experts seem to agree that pesticides are the cause.
While there isn’t much individuals can do about the huge amount of pesticides used
annually in our country, there are two excellent ways we can help. First, we can voice
our concern about the overuse of pesticides. We can write
our legislators, as well as large corporations like Monsanto.
Secondly, we can keep bees. This pastime is traditional and
incredibly useful, plus you’ll be taking concrete steps to save
our environment. Beekeeping is labor intensive at times, but
At left, bees in a hive. At right, a traditional foothills woman keeping bees at the
turn of the century. Below, beehives.
Honey is often compared to gold. Store bought honey doesn’t hold a candle
to local honey. Did you know that honey can have many flavors? Take a
trip to your farmer’s market once it’s open, and you’ll likely find several
variations. The type of flower the bees pollinate influences the flavor and
has helped to create a huge market. But honey isn’t the only useful product
Beeswax is also very useful. Traditionally, we’ve used it to make candles in
the foothills, but this was the Duct Tape of history. It’s been found on sunken
Viking ships, in Egyptian pyramids, and in Roman ruins. Like honey, it never
goes bad. It’s also quite good for oiling squeaky joints.
One other advantage of bee keeping is the boost it gives your garden. You’ll
never have more beautiful flowers than the ones near a bee hive!
There’s an old saying that if you ask 100 beekeepers a question, you’ll get
101 answers. Beekeeping is as much art as science, and methods vary wildly.
If you’re interested in starting a hive, your first step is to learn more about
bees. A great place to start is the book The Bee: A Natural History by Noah
Wilson-Rich. Once you begin understand the nature of bees, you’ll be better
suited to care for them.
This traditional hobby is useful and well-suited to our climate. It’s a great
family activity, and is an important step in saving our earth. Environmental
stewardship is all of our responsibly, and we can begin to fix the damage,
leaving a better world for our children.
Honeycomb, dripping with delicious local honey.
There are a great many books Granny’s Country Kitchen is a revival
on the topic of beekeeping, of down-home country cooking
but two rise above the rest. The entrenched in the Foothills of North
first is called the Beekeeper’s Carolina. We serve breakfast all day,
Bible, and it’s the go-to book lunches, & dinners that bring friends,
for most beekeepers. family and the community around
The other is called Honeybee our tables for conversation. We hope
Democracy. and it comes with one taste of our home cooked meals
the highest recommendations. will take you back, to your Granny’s
This book focuses on what
happens with Bees swarm, home for Sunday Dinner.
and it’s full of information that
was previously unavailable to grannyscountrykitchen.com
beekeepers. Now with 3 locations!
3448 Miller Bridge Rd, Connelly Springs, NC
2147 N Center St, Hickory, NC
3165 NC HWY 10 E Claremont, NC
Eustace Conway was a Mountain Man
long before he starred on the show with a
similar name. It seems to be in his blood,
along with the desire to preserve nature,
and teach others how to live off the land.
By Carmen Eckard
Eustace is the owner of Turtle Island Preserve in Boone, which guides people through experiences
with the natural world to enhance their appreciation and respect for life. It’s part education center,
part naturalistic setting which allows Mr. Conway and guests to live off of the land, and feel the
bond with it.
Eustace attributes his passion for stewardship to his grandfather, who founded
Camp Sequoia in 1924. Like his family before him, Mr. Conway hasn’t forgotten
his connection to the land. He lives his life more like our ancestors than most.
Most of us have sanitized our lives with technology. We rarely need to get our hands dirty,
and even gardening is considered a hobby. On a large scale, this disconnection has caused a
lack of concern for the environment, as if the “environment” were a thing outside ourselves.
Mr. Conway draws his life and his living from the earth, and that makes him notable in our
region, since that is a thing most of us have forgotten. Our grandmothers remember, but we
only know the stories. Turtle Island offers us, and our children, an opportunity to experience
a simpler way of living. It’s a living history experience that is rare, and we think, beautiful.
We encourage you to go to their website, www.turtleislandpreserve.org, or call (828) 265-2267.
Please note they are a working farm and education center, and can only entertain guests by
appointment, so make sure you call ahead.
Like every bona fide Mountain Man, Mr. Conway has hiked the Appalachian Trail. In fact, he
hiked ALL of it, at the age of 17. He’s also broken speed records for traveling horseback from the
Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean.
Eustace Conway works to create traditional shingles at
Hart Square Village’s annual festival.
His presence drew crowds but he remained focused
on the task at hand, keeping a nice rhythm with the
gentlemen he was working with.
Photo by Jon Eckard
Photo by Clayton Joe Young
The most recent television series
Eustace was involved with was History
Channel’s Mountain Men, but this
certainly hasn’t been his first brush
with fame. He has enjoyed continued
media coverage throughout his
life, The weekly radio show “This
American Life” reported on Conway’s
cross-country journey in the episode
“Adventures in the Simple Life.”Full
Circle: A Life Story of Eustace Conway,
was directed a documentary about his
life, directed by Jack Bibbo. Conway
is a main characters in the 2012
documentary film Reconvergence,
which was directed by Edward Tyndall.
In 2012, Fox News aired a feature called
War on the Little Guys, hosted by John
Stossel, which focused on a fight the
North Carolina lawmakers regarding
code violations for primitive structures.
Turtle Island Preserve was locked in
a long and expensive battle, as the
traditional buildings couldn’t possibly
meet code requirements. In the end,
NC lawmakers voted unanimously to
pass H774, which is “an act to direct
the building code council to adopt
rules exempting certain primitive
structures from certain provisions of
the building code.” His fight has made
it easier for many groups across the
state to preserve and share our history.
Foothills Digest salutes the work of
(Call ahead at 828.265.2267)
Visit the Turtle Island
The author in 1960 at Baker’s Mountain
SLEDDING IN GRANDPA’S PASTURE BY GRANNY ECKARD
I use the word “sledding” very loosely. We didn’t have sleds. Our corrugated boxes slid
a lot faster since they had no brakes, but you had to keep an eye out for obstacles down
below since there was no steering mechanism either. This meant that you had to roll out of
your sled at just the right time. Late on a still, full-moon night with the refrozen snowpack
glistening like diamonds, we could sled for hours. When our “sleds” fell apart, we would
use the pieces.
In 1960, I think it was, it snowed every Friday for three weeks and we were out of school
for a long time. We were all getting rather bored and even Mom was ready for a change.
Our neighborhood was made up of all cousins, eleven of us, with acreage in between.
Some of these cousins were from Mom’s family, and some from Dad’s family. Then there
was Grandpa’s and Grandma’s spread with a four or five acre wide-open pasture. Since
the cows were long gone by this time, the vacant pasture was perfect for our version of
We begged Mom to go sledding with us. Normally that was something that would not happen
on a work day, or most days for that matter, since Mom had no time to play. But this day
was special. Mom worked at home as a looper (see page 14) which enabled her to catch up
late at night any work she missed. Most of the time, her work catch-up happened because
of running errands to Newton Implement for parts to fix up vehicles and machinery of Dad’s
that broke down. But this winter, Dad was driving truck long-distance and he was away.
So, Mom threw caution to the wind. She, with her brood, and the sisters-in-law with theirs
gathered in Grandpa’s pasture with our virgin corrugated boxes. After a while, someone
remembered we had an old car hood. What genius! You should try it. When we hit the
terraces, that thing would give us a powerful lift. We still had to remember to somehow
roll off each time before the car hood landed in the barbed wire. Several of us older kids
would then pull our heavy “sled” back up the hill so another four or five could have a turn.
We had the most wonderful fun that we still remember today: with boxes and a car hood, in
slippers, with no gloves, neither bonfire nor hot chocolate, and barreling towards towering
pines and barbed wire, and our moms did NOT get arrested! Those were the days!
Lost Cities of
By Richard Eller
In the upper foothills of western North Carolina where mounds begin to feel like
mountains, remain the remnants of two lost cities. Both thriving and prosperous
a century ago, their features are now unrecognizable as anything other rural
landscapes. These forgotten towns locations, and what caused their demise,
explain the absence of any community bigger than a crossroad in northern Caldwell
County and why nothing—even a city-- is permanent.
“I cannot imagine a better location for a little town
than the one on which Mortimer is built,” --an admirer in 1905.
Today, the lost city of Mortimer is just north of rocky rapids through which Wilson’s
Creek runs. Known locally as “The Gorge,” the creek serves as a natural waterpark
for local folk. But in 1905, excitement in the area centered around the creation of a
prominent town when the Ritter Lumber Company bought land with the intention
of supplying furniture factories in Lenoir and Morganton with wood. Jim Mortimer,
a superintendent for the company, brought along his brother Bill, who organized
and promoted the town.
At its zenith, Mortimer claimed 800 residents, a movie theater, hotel, company store,
and post office. Straightaway, the Carolina and Northwestern Railroad laid tracks
to Mortimer. In fact, the train went even further north, to the small community of
Edgemont, where most of the management chose to live, out of sight of the lumber
yard. By the spring of 1916 Mortimer threatened to overtake Lenoir as Caldwell
County’s largest town. So prestigious was new city that when former president
Theodore Roosevelt came to western North Carolina, he stayed at Mortimer’s Laurel
Inn, reportedly dancing in the hotel’s ballroom with Mrs. Bill Mortimer.
Twenty miles to the east, on less hilly ground, came another entrepreneur with similar
goals. William J. Grandin took an early interest in not only the southern furniture
industry but also transportation. He wanted to build a line that ran to Boone that
would connect with the East Tennessee and Western North Carolina Railroad, a rail
line carving out a path to Boone from Johnson City, Tennessee. Grandin’s Watauga
At left, W. M. Ritter Lumber Co. Store at
Mortimer--Dressed man is Bill Mortimer.
At right, the cotton mill in Mortimer in 1923.
Photos are from the collection of
Arnold Walker and shared on web.utk.edu,
courtesy of University of Tennessee Knoxville.
Scan this QR code to get Google
Map directions to the location!
& Yadkin Valley Railroad would be part of other amenities. A post office, boarding
a significant time-saver for goods going house, and store that sold hats as well
across the mountains. as women’s dresses gave the little
But when Grandin’s men came to the area metropolis sense of pride. The town also
and started buying land for the venture sported a blacksmith shop, baseball
they were warned. One old-timer pointed field, and an elaborate fire prevention
to marks on the river banks to where the system with fire hydrants strategically
water had risen from earlier floods. “I can placed around the town.
stop the water with the heel of my shoe,” Both the towns of Grandin and Mortimer
sneered Grandin’s man. Construction proved to be money making ventures,
commenced. growing rapidly in the effort to reach
By May of 1913, daily passenger service their potential and become established
from North Wilkesboro began along the as permanent entities.
line, including logs hauled down from the It took one event to bring them both
hills. It took the building of 20 trestles down and stop their momentum: the
and a tunnel, but Grandin’s vision was Flood of 1916.
becoming a reality. In its day, Grandin For 36 hours in mid-July, it rained
looked a lot like Mortimer, with elaborate constantly. In Mortimer, Wilson’s creek
machinery for planing lumber as well as
This picture shows Mortimer during ROAD TRIP!
the flood of 1940.
Scan this QR code to get Google
Photos are from the collection of Map directions to the location!
Arnold Walker and shared on web.utk.edu,
courtesy of University of Tennessee Knoxville.
swept away 30 houses, while down Crystal Pool Bridge after 1940
river, the Catawba crested at 42 feet Flood in Mortimer. Edgemont
above normal. The Ritter Lumber
Company, which had already weathered Hotel in Background
a mountain wildfire that summer, saw
its lumber washed away. Similarly, the Map courtesy of UNC.edu
Yadkin River rose to levels never before
seen or since. Trains on the Watauga & and the lumber mill were abandoned.
Yadkin Valley Railroad were stranded as Mortimer tried to diversify. With Ritter
all 20 trestles along the line disappeared Lumber having mined most of the
in the torrential rains. wood from the area, local interests
However, both communities vowed to built a cotton mill. But the same watery
rebuild. fate that crushed Grandin also befell
For Grandin, the funding to rebuild its textiles, only later. It was the 1940
momentum to Boone became harder. flood that upended the Mortimer
Prior to the flood, his rails had extended Cotton Mill.
only one mile north of Darby, still 15 Since then, remnants of each town
miles south of Boone. The setback called remain, but the land has morphed
for refinancing, made more difficult
by the American entry into the First 39
World War. The deathblow came with
another, smaller flood in 1918, called
a “freshet.” The plans for the railroad
into something quite different. A visit Photo by Richard Eller,
to Mortimer gives few clues of its past of the remains of the Mortimer
glory. Actually, neighboring Edgemont cotton mill (shown on page 41).
reveals more about the glory days than
does Mortimer. The old railroad depot is Grandin and Mortimer, once full of
now privately owned. Coffey’s General economic bustle and promises of
Store hearkens back to the early days prosperity now lie lost, with only hints
of the 20th century, serving the few of their former stature. Seeing what was
local residents who remain as well as and what failed to come demonstrates
visitors. Down the road in Mortimer, to us that nothing is inevitable. People
the cotton mill ruins stand. More recent think of towns and cities as permanent
relics include a Civilian Conservation and unfailing. They are not. Towns
Corps camp from the New Deal era, a have come and gone from the maps of
country store, and campground. Today, western North Carolina, some exiting
if anyone is there, chances are they spectacularly as Mortimer and Grandin,
are wading in Wilson’s Creek, either fly victims of catastrophic events, some
fishing in the cold or splashing around dying the slow death of population
whitewater in the heat. Either way, their decline as residents gave up and simply
frame of mind is far from the city. moved away. Under a landscape that
Grandin has a much different vibe. belies their former existence, lost cities
One of the mill buildings still stands, can still be found. A person only needs a
but today it’s a barn for a local farmer. good history book—and a wish to know-
The only other structure extant from -to do it.
back then is the boarding house. For
years, the daughter of one of the
original managers of the mill, Doris
Hawkins, lived there. Her passing in the
1990s wiped from the ledger the last
original resident of Grandin. The land
is now privately owned, used mostly
for farming. The fire hydrants are gone
but some of the wood from earlier
buildings was repurposed in 1925
for the relocation of Grandin Baptist
Church to its present site. Walking
what were once the streets of Grandin
evokes a feeling far from the sights and
sounds of a city.
Hickory’s Fresh Seafood Haven
2147 N Center St | Hickory, NC | 828-322-1705 | standardoysterco.com
BY CARMEN ECKARD
Our land has always been rugged. Interestingly, these women expected
We’ve always been a bit separated from no payment for their services. They
the rest of the world. In our past, our were sometimes thanked with food,
communities were much more isolated quilts, and the like, but it wasn’t
than they are now. required.
Our ancestors were self-reliant. Every In the 1800s and early 1900s, midwifery
community had a “Granny Witch” or was one of the most important duties
“Granny Woman” who filled many for these women. Childbirth was
roles. Specifically, they were in charge dangerous and often deadly. Granny
of healing and magic, and sometimes Witches were absolutely integral to
the line between the two was blurry. our communities, because they kept
Doctors were few and far between, but mother and child safe, with truly
Granny Witches knew the human body excellent survival rates for the day.
very well. They also knew the secrets of Spells and charms were commonplace
our forests...they held the knowledge and expected. During childbirth,
of which forest plants would heal, Granny Witches would often place
which would kill, and they safe guarded an ax under the bed, to symbolize
the information for many generations. “cutting the pain’ and windows were
When people fell sick or had always opened. This was to represent
accidents, there was rarely time for the opening of the birth canal. It
a doctor to arrive. But a Granny wasn’t until 1923 that formal midwife
Witch could always be fetched. training began, but before that, the
The blend of science and magic was responsibility fell to these women.
peculiar. The magic wasn’t the Wiccan Grannies also practiced divination.
magic of today or the “magic” that Looking into a bowl of water (much
uses cauldrons, frogs, and newt eyes. like a crystal ball) was called scrying,
It was the old magic of the Scots and and tea leaves were read frequently.
the Irish, who populated our hills Today witchcraft is seen as evil, or
in the early days, and whose blood something to be feared. But truly, it
flows through so many of our veins. was thanks to these women that we
This magic had been passed on, were able to survive in these hills.
mother to daughter, for generations. We should honor their memories and
It was focused on nature and healing. traditions.
These lines of women knew the purpose
they also grew and cultivated their own.
by Calvin Reyes
Six Miles Outside of Hickory
I find myself at a standstill outside two swinging metal gates. Its calm, quiet,
and cold. Its sunrise on a fall morning, and on the surface, the landscape looks
eerie and uninhabited. However, looking around, my sense of wonderment
and curiosity can’t help but take over. I fall deep into a feeling of serenity and
lose myself in the sensations provided by the juxtaposition of decaying man-
made history and the overpowering force of Mother Nature.
B efore I know it, the landscape starts to speak. I start to hear the vehicles speeding up and
down the road bisecting the property as they take a hard turn north and lay on the gas to
make it up the hill. At the same time, I tune into a tractor firing up across the Henry Fork
River as its engine echoes along the river bank. Then, the chord is completed by the howling
sounds of chainsaws in the distance. The typically unpleasant sounds of the city become fresh to
my ears as they play into the perfect man made ambiance. Then suddenly, silence sweeps back
over the entire landscape. Only for a second, the sounds go lifeless and time starts again.
I walk up to the metal gate blocking the road, unlock the royal blue coated lock and let the heavy
duty metal chain fall down against the metal gate. The metal on metal clang acts as a trigger, like a
shot of espresso, or a Pavlovian response of sorts that signifies the start of a fresh day of hard work.
I drive through the gates and lose myself to the mercy of the roaring sounds of the Henry Fork River
and the voices of the Mill Hill, its people, its history, and its future.
This is my Henry River Mill Village experience. Mine is a unique one in that my family and I recently
purchased the Village last October. However, it’s far from the most significant experience in the
history of the Mill Hill. While we have been welcomed with open arms into the Henry River family
over these last few months, we are humbled knowing that our ties to the Village are minute in
comparison to Henry River’s vast historical impact on our culture and our community.
Our personal journey with Henry River is primarily focused on preservation and adaptive reuse.
The Mill Hill was once bustling with activity, hard-work, and life. While the Village has more recently
become known for possible paranormal activity, or better yet, as District 12 from the Hunger Games
series, the real lives and their stories still reside within the walls of the remaining structures. Our
goal is to bring those stories back to life and allow the public to enjoy the beauty, serenity, and
history of their own Henry River journey.
The Company Store, a popular icon from the movie HUNGER GAMES, and the future location for the new restaurant.
Photo courtesy of Kelsey Crowe.
The Henry River Manufacturing Top:
Company Photo of the Mill at Henry River Mill Village, provided by the author
andcourtesy of the Aderholdt family.
While the area was known for it’s water- Center:
power as early as 1860, the most relevant An aerial shot of the mill burning in 1977, provided by the author and
historical impact came from the purchase courtesy of Marshall Denton.
and development of the land in the early Bottom: Bud Rudisill, the last resident (and Anita’s dad) sits on his porch in
1900’s. The Aderholdt and Rudisill families the early 2000’s. Photo courtesy of Jeffrey Wilhelm.
partnered to establish the Henry River
Manufacturing Company, which was a
cotton yarn manufacturer that opened it’s
doors in 1905. During its initial operation,
the Company erected 35 worker houses, a
two-story boarding house, a bridge, a brick
company store, a power producing dam,
and the original 3 story brick mill building
where the yarn was produced. Until
1914, all operations were fully powered by
water-power. This was later converted to
steam power and electricity as technology
advanced and upgrades were made to
increase production. By 1963, the Company
had tripled its initial production from 1905,
but due to economic pressure from overseas,
the textile industry had already begun a hard
In 1977, just after Wade R. Sheppard
purchased the property, the main mill
building burned to the ground after a
believed lightning strike. At the time, this
may have appeared to be a coup de grâce
for the Mill Hill, but the community still
prevailed. In fact, many former residents
of the Village recollect the last native
moving out of the Village in the late 90’s or
early 2000’s. That’s sometimes difficult to
comprehend, since the village still has no
running water, and no sewer system. To put
it in another perspective, while I was learning
to use my graphing calculator in geometry
class, people at Henry River were still using
outhouses in the dead of winter. This is an
example history that seems so distant, yet
it can still be seen, touched and heard with
our own eyes and ears as witnesses.
While the same stories can vary in detail from one Village resident to another, one theme
seems to stay intact: community. Throughout the entire history of the Henry River Mill Village,
there is story after story, example after example, of Village residents coming together in a
time of need to help one another. Henry River was more than a group of workers that
happened to live in the same neighborhood, raising their families, and minding their own
business. Instead, Henry River became a large family, better yet, a Village network, that
valued the strengths they had as a community over the strengths they had as individuals.
Anita and the author, Calvin Reyes, stand on the porch of Anita’s old home. She asked to put a wreath on the door when he bought the property, to remind
her of her youth. Her mother kept a wreath on the door, and her father, who was born here, was the last resident to move away. Photo by Jon Eckard.
It Takes A Village…
My family comes from a long history in the Brittain did when she offered to make her Black
restaurant business. All of my earliest memories Walnut Pound Cake straight out of Henry River.
are surrounding food, and if my memory serves When Anita brought up the idea of making her
me right, I loved food so much growing up Black Walnut Pound Cake, I didn’t realize that
that my step-brother used to refer to me as she intended to harvest her black walnuts directly
the family garbage disposal. All joking aside, from our trees at Henry River. As a city boy, this
food is something that brings people all over is something that seemed archaic, but I was
the world together. It acts as its own universal fascinated by the idea of knowing how to harvest
language, and a meal prepared from the heart and use the large green and black fruits that always
can express emotion, and can even take you stood out more as ankle busters than as food. Of
back in time. That’s exactly what Anita Rudisill
course, black walnuts are readily available at grocery stores, but
this exercise was more than learning how to harvest and use
an ingredient. Instead, it was a history lesson about community,
culture and my favorite topic of all, food. With every crack of
the hammer, Anita outlined the tedious step by step process of
harvesting the meat from the black walnuts. With every crack of
the hammer, Anita took us back in time to her childhood and to
the way life was in the Village. We were riding in a modern day
Anita is a special part of the Henry River family, and she comes
from a long line of Henry River natives. There is not a photograph,
news article, or activity that goes on in Henry River without her
being a part of it. History is more than acknowledging major
events in time. Its also about taking the time to understand the
lifestyle, emotions, and thoughts that helped sculpt the culture
we have today. Since we’ve embarked on this project, Anita,
as well as all of our other amazing volunteers, has been an
indispensable asset and a wealth of information on what life was
like growing up at Henry River.
Anita cracks black walnuts on the porch of a Mill
House for her famous cake. Photo by Jon Eckard.
The village isn’t open to the public yet, so you’ll want to touch base ROAD TRIP!
with Calvin before you visit. You can reach him at
firstname.lastname@example.org. Scan this QR code to get Google
Map directions to the location!
I will never be able to return the gifts that have been given by
the Henry River family. However, since I am a firm believer that
food is a gateway to the soul, I thought it would be fitting to give
a sample of the food our restaurant at Henry River Mill Village
We are sharing a recipe for pork, which was a staple at the
village, and a recipe for brussel sprouts, which grow very well
here. White bean and cornmeal cakes serve as an appetizer, and
Anita is sharing her black walnut cake recipe!
I hope you enjoy each of the recipes, and more importantly,
I hope you will join the Henry River family and support
this journey to preserve our local history and culture.
Black Walnut Cake
CAKE INGREDIENTS: ICING INGREDIENTS:
1 CUP (2 STICKS) BUTTER, SOFTENED 16 OZ CONFECTIONERS SUGAR
1/2 CUP VEGETABLE SHORTENING 1/2 CUP BUTTER, SOFTENED
3 CUPS GRANULATED SUGAR 1 1/2 TSP BLACK WALNUT FLAVORING
2 CUP BLACK WALNUTS 8 OZ CREAM CHEESE
1 1/2 TSP BLACK WALNUT FLAVORING 1/2 CUP BLACK WALNUTS
6 EGGS 1 CUP WHOLE MILK
3 1/2 CUPS ALL PURPOSE FLOUR, SIFTED
1 CUP WHOLE MILK