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Published by Carmen Eckard, 2019-05-31 15:57:02

SummerGood2019 Flip

SummerGood2019 Flip

Summer 2019 Digest

Food The Blue Ridge
History Parkway
Events Mount Airy as
Style Mayberry

The History and Future of Foothills Flavor of

Moonshine Dollywood

$6.95 1


We are pleased to announce the opening of our new art gallery. In it, you’ll find the
art of the various artists that we’ve featured in our magazine. The gallery is located
in our offices in Downtown Hickory, and pieces are available for purchase.
Please join us for our Ribbon-Cutting and Grand Opening on August 15th. The ribbon
cutting will be at 4:30 PM, followed by a reception and art viewing from 5-7.

42 3rd St NW Hickory NC



Foothills Digest

619 2nd St NE
Hickory NC 28601

Phone: 828.475.1323
E-mail: [email protected]

Stock by Adobe Stock




Chief Editor Principal Photographer Partner

James Thomas-Shell Richard Eller
Diane Taylor Sarah Everly Lisa De Maio Brewer
Calvin Reyes
SPECIAL Donna Steele Al Stout
THANKS Granny Eckard Adam York
Amber Bryson
Craig Distl Kat Dellinger STAFF
Tracy Hall
Heather Woods Davis Chris Dedosis
Tara Bland



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Experts in


I’m enjoying a new season of life with my sons

A self-proclaimed “mad gardener,” making the world a more beautiful
place is Deward’s calling. When fatigue became a thorn in his side, the
team at Frye Regional Medical Center helped Deward get back to creating
beautiful outdoor spaces with his sons.

As part of Duke LifePoint Healthcare and the region’s only Duke
Health affiliate in heart, Frye Regional Medical Center has a team of
experienced doctors with specialty training in heart to provide the very
best care for Deward and others in our community with heart disease.

To learn more or to schedule a primary care appointment online,



Letter from the Editor


Dearest readers,

Summer is here! This issue was especially fun to put together. It involved
several trips to Dollywood, a visit to Mayberry and a lot of really delicious
taste testing. Lots of that taste testing involved my favorite food: North
Carolina watermelons. It also let me get up close and personal with the
butterflies at the Catawba Science Center’s FlutterBy Butterfly Exhibit.

It’s during the summer that Mason jars are put to their more exciting uses: lightning
bug holders and containers for moonshine. Moonshine is woven into
the history of these hills so thoroughly it truly can’t be
separated. Long after prohibition ended, the hills
of Southern Appalachia were sprinkled with
stills-as many as one for every 8 families at
some times. We take a look at the attitudes
that surrounded underground and illegal
distilling both in the past and now, and we
look at some distilling companies using
traditional methods to make legal liquor.

The Blue Ridge Parkway holds a special
place in all our hearts, and I’d imagine
it’s my favorite road. Is it yours? We
look at the history of the Parkway and
consider its importance.

Stay cool and stay safe!

Thank you, as always,
for reading.

All my love,


7 Letter from the Editor 42 Blue Ridge Parkway

10 Event Calendar 50 Lux Lucet in Tenebrus

12 One Tank Trip-Mt. Airy 55 From this Day Forward

20 Time Travel In NC: Return to 61 FlutterBy Butterfly Exhibit
66 Dollywood
Mayberry 78 Shining Hope Farms
80 Cavendash Brewing Company
28 Mayberry Days
30 Shine on the Hills
37 Moonshine from South Mountain


84 Fox & Hound
88 Granny Eckard
90 Dan Smith
96 Waterfalls All Around
101 Letters from Mayberry
102 One Subject you Can’t Talk

about Enough

104 Stay Healthy Travel Tips
106 Cafe Rule

Page 16 110 North Carolina Watermelons
114 Watermelon Recipes
120 Peace and Quiet
122 Summer Fashion
124 Summertime Shine
128 Eventfully Yours
129 Butterflies
130 Rosemary’s Remembrances
136 Photography


Event Calendar


11-14 1-4
Grandfather Mountain Spruce Pine

The 64th Annual Grandfather This 4 day festival allows gem
Mountain Highland Games celebrate and mineral sellers from around
Scottish heritage and bring together the country to offer their wares.
many Scottish Clans. Crystals, gemstones and fossils are

11 10
MARATHON West Jefferson

Grandfather Mountain 57, 75 or 100 mile bike rides through
the Blue Ridge Mountains. Begin at
One of the world’s most challenging the Ashe Civic Center. Boondocks
marathons. Brewing provides beer and lunch.


11 to 15
Lenoir Hickory

Street festival dedicated 4:30 Ribbon Cutting followed by
Blackberries. reception and gallery opening from
Balls Creek
This two week campmeeting has
Fiddlers, fiddlers everywhere. 25 always been a Catawba County
years and going strong. Staple. Come to a service.


26-27 15-17
Enjoy Grammy Award winning artists
Mountain music and contests. A at this three day festival.
celebration of the traditional music
of the hills.



Newton TGIF CONCERT SERIES Connelly Springs
A celebration of Veterans featuring 3rd Saturday, May through August.
an annual parade. Live music and Enjoy food and free music every Classic cars galore.
food, a car show and a beauty Friday June 3rd through July 26th.
contest are all features of this 128 THE SAILS MUSIC SERIES
year old festival. MUSIC ON MAIN Hickory
WWW.NEWTONNC.GOV Live music every Friday through
First Friday of each month, May September. This year the concerts
24 through October. will be held in Trade Alley because
HIGH COUNTY BEER FEST of downtown construction.
Live music and craft beer make this Hildebran FESTIVAL
a can’t miss festival. Boone
Held the 4th Saturday of each
WWW.HCBEERFEST.COM month, June through September. Summer long
Classic cars, food vendors and live arts program that includes artists
SEPTEMBER music. like Ben Folds and the Temptations.

Chimney Rock Valdese
Held every 4 weeks June through
Occurring during the annual hawk October. Arts and crafts downtown. Outdoor drama tells the story of the
migration, this event celebrates Waldensians who settled Valdese.
birds of prey with different programs
and walks led by local experts. APPLE CITY CRUISE-IN MUSIC AT THE MARKET
Taylorsville Morganton
Held every 4th Saturday June Don’t miss this farmers market
14 through October. Showing arts and which also includes live music.
CAROLINA BIBLE CAMP crafts downtown. At Scotty’s on
Mocksville Morganton
GRAMMY award winner Dom Boone Family-friendly music on the Historic
Flemons, Terry Baucum’s Dukes of Burke County Courthouse lawn.
Drive and more! Unique vendors, Visit the nation’s oldest Every Friday from May to July.
delicious food and free activities for Revolutionary War outdoor Food vendors and beer garden open
kids. drama, running June through at 6pm, bands play from 7-10pm.
August, each night but Mondays.
23-29 Blowing Rock CAR MEET
Mt. Airy This train-based amusement park
is a great place to spend time with Muscle cars, music, vendors and
This festival celebrates Mayberry children. Opening on June 7th, the a 50/50 raffle, every month on a
and Andy Griffith. park stays open until the last day of Sunday. More info at www.facebook.
October. com/groups/catawbavalleymuscle.
Granite Falls

Live Bluegrass and BBQ every Friday
and Saturday Night.


AiMrytOTnreipT: ank .

By Carmen Eckard Photography by Jon Eckard


Mount Airy is distilled Americana. Car Tour, which we recommend.
You don’t have to squint very hard
to see the picturesque town that Mt. Airy is part of the Yadkin
inspired the Andy Griffith Show, as the Valley, which means that it is
past is just below the surface here. home to vineyards and wineries.
The temperatures, the breeze
The friendly, easy-going spirit is visible coming off the mountains, and the
everywhere you look, and the pace particular type of rain saturation
seems slower. Front porches seem more makes this valley very similar to
important and you never have to tell the France, and delicious grapes for
waitress that your tea should be sweet. winemaking are grown here.

Folks have been traveling to Mount History buffs will love the Mount
Airy to see Mayberry for decades, and a Airy Museum of Regional History
robust tourism economy has developed. and the Gertrude Smith House. The
But Mount Airy is a fascinating town museum details the history of the
even for tourists who aren’t interested county from prehistoric to now.
in the television show. Thorough exhibits bring the history
to life. A full-size rugged cabin
We immediately noticed the beautiful is reconstructed in the museum,
and abundant granite churches, as well as Merritt’s Hardware
municipal buildings and even homes. Store, and a fire fighting section
It’s everywhere, even in the curbing features three historic engines.
and benches. It turns out, Mount Airy is The celebrities who are from Mount
home to the largest open face granite Airy all have exhibits, including
mine in the world. The historic owners Andy Griffith, Donna Fargo and
of the mine have been very generous Chang and Eng Bunker, the original
in providing stone for the churches and “Siamese Twins.” The Gertrude
other buildings. Smith House is a Victorian-Colonial
Revival home filled to the brim with
Legend has it that the white granite antique furniture and the trappings
mine is visible from space, and that of daily life during the Victorian Era.
NASA has used it as a wayfaring point
in missions. The granite slab could be Riverside Park provides a good
mined at current rates for another 500 opportunity to stretch your legs
years before it ran out. The huge granite and connect with nature. The park
deposit makes up the actual foundation follows the river and allows you to
of the town...much of the area only has dip in your toes.
3 inches of topsoil, and some basements
are carved into the stone. The Historic Earle Theatre is a
stop on the Blue Ridge Music Trail.
We visited the mine as part of a Squad The WPAQ Saturday Morning



Merry-Go-Round is a live radio show hosted Chris and Pam Bastin are charming hosts
in the theatre weekly and it is the second with knowledge of the whole area. The
longest currently running live radio show breakfast they served us was inventive and
in the nation. Attend a the live recording delicious. The first course, shown above,
session for only $5! was a rich cheesecake with a homemade
blueberry syrup. They followed it with a
There are a lot of options for lodging, but hearty meal of crepes, a squash and tomato
two that we recommend. The first is Heart medley, potatoes and eggs. As we ate, they
& Soul Bed and Breakfast. We stayed told us about the town, and made custom
in this beautifully renovated historic
home and were suggestions for us.
delighted with The level of customer
our experience. service stood out.
The second is
the Mayberry We think the best
Motor Inn, which reason to choose this
is a delightful Bed and Breakfast
experience for the is the wine tour
Mayberry seekers. service they offer.
We must also Chris drives guests to
mention a third: several wineries in his
the home that antique car, providing
Andy Griffith grew a memorable
up in is available experience and a
for overnight designated driver.
rentals as well. It’s easier to enjoy
We imagine that’s a winery tour when
a can’t-miss you know you won’t
experience for any be driving, so we
die-hard fans. certainly recommend
this lodging option.
Heart and Soul
Bed and Breakfast The house was built
offers an top- in 1900 by one of
notch lodging Mount Airy’s titans
experience. of industry. The
Themed rooms, decadent gardens and “William Merritt Home” was built by the
luxurious common spaces make for a grand entrepreneur behind Merritt’s Hardware
first impression. (on display at the Mount Airy Regional
History Museum).
Our king size bed was very comfortable,
with a mountain of blankets and pillows. A The home was one of the most prestigious
large tub made it easy to relax, and coffee houses in town when it was built. On the
was always on hand, making it easier to edge of Downtown on a quiet one-way
wake up. road, the location can’t be beat. Granite



detailing and gorgeous old brick stand out 17
on a street full of beautiful homes.

When we visit a town to tell our audience
about it, we look for the best culinary
experience possible. We found it in
Old North State Winery. This winery
and restaurant is one of the top tourist
destinations in the Yadkin Valley, and we
think that is well-earned. Housed in the
old Merritt’s Hardware building, the whole
experience is steeped in history. The tin
ceilings and original oak floors create
the foundation for a hip-yet-vintage

Chef Chris Wishart is a delightfully
irreverent artist. He uses fresh, locally
sourced ingredients to make food that
practically sings.

Our first course, at left, was as bold in
flavor as it is visually. Shaved fennel
tops butter lettuce and blackberries with
creamy goat cheese and a trio of sauces
which complemented each other much
like a musical chord.

Next, we were served seared sea-scallops
with sunflower sprouts. The scallops were
tender and sweet, succulent even. The
simple presentation allowed the flavors
to resonate, and three sauces blended
beautifully to create a unique flavor

Lastly, we were served a gorgeous plate
of crab cakes with lions mane mushrooms
and a fresh pesto. There was nothing in
this dish that didn’t need to be there
and it was delicious. The texture of the
crabcake juxtaposed with the mushroom
was notable.

We think Chef Chris Wishart is a master
of culinary harmony. Any visit to Mount


Airy should include a visit to Old North State IV Hydration is the quickest and most effective
Winery. way to hydrate, prepare, and recover when the
body has become, or will become, depleted of
We also visited Round Peak Winery, shown fluid and vitamins. Our special blend of vitamins
at left. This 12-acre vineyard has gorgeous and medications will help an athlete prepare
views of Round Peak and Skull Camp Peak. for a rigorous workout or competition, a traveler
The area is rented out for weddings and reset from jet lag, a patient recover from illness or
events, and a full disc golf course brings surgery, and those wanting to stay well and prevent
in many visitors. Owners Ken Gulaian and aging to feel at the top of their game. 100% of the
Kari Heerdt bought the vineyard in 2008. fluids, vitamins, and medications are absorbed
They have expanded to include not only a immediately and provide rapid results.
vineyard, but also a brewery, called Skull
Camp Brewery, and cabin rentals. Feel Your Best!
Be Your Best!
Yadkin Valley is home to a great many One DROP at a time.
vineyards, and this one is the Northernmost, Some of the IV Hydration therapies offered are:
at 1,300 elevation. The best way to enjoy • ”About Last Night”- Hangover Relief
the vineyard is while tasting a selection of • ”The Recovery Room”- Recover from illness,
the wines that they produce. surgery, or Injury
• ”Reset The Clock”- Jet lag recovery
Mount Airy is also home to Mayberry Sprits, • ”Game ON”- Pre and Post workout
which is a business after our own hearts. • ”Turn Up The Heat”- Fuel your fat burning
Owner Vann McCoy, a Mount Airy native, Power
spent 25 years as a monk before returning • ”The Vice Grip”- Migraine and headache relief
home to care for his mother. • ”An Apple A Day”- General wellness

He’s built his business on history, tradition, (828) 322-1498
steadfastness, kindness and chemistry, with
a fair amount of showmanship sprinkled 19
in. He gave us a tour of his facility, where
he makes moonshine and whiskey the old-
fashioned way. He explained the process
theatrically yet simply and we walked
away understanding the basics of alcohol

He doesn’t stop at making good liquor. He’s
created a robust line of products made
with his liquor, like extracts, as well as
products like bitters and oak wood blocks
that complement his whiskey. We were
impressed by the business, the liquor and
the man, and we hope you visit the store and
take a tour.

Mount Airy is a lovely town and a nice home
base for a Yadkin Valley Wine Tour.

MayberryReturn toTNimorethTCraavreolliinna:
By Lisa De Maio Brewer Photos by Jon Eckard



Some memories, wrapped in nostalgia’s cotton candy gauze, become sweeter with time
while others take on an entirely new life of their own.
A trip to Mt. Airy, North Carolina, can transport you back in time if you are one of the
many tourists seeking Mayberry, the mythological center of the popular 1960’s television
program, “The Andy Griffith Show.” Mayberry-inspired tourism opportunities can help you
in your quest to find the “spirit of Mayberry” even as you make new memories in the town.
Considered by many to be North Carolina’s best export, the television series was regarded
as humorous but not biting, traditional but not backward, sweet but not syrupy. Actor Andy
Griffith, himself born and raised in Mt. Airy, was said to have based many of the show’s
characters and locations on his own experiences.
Bluegrass musician and promoter Tim White of Blountville, Tennessee, has been a guest
and participating artist in Mt. Airy’s Mayberry Days festival for more than twenty years. He
is the songwriter behind, “Whatever Happened to Mayberry?” As the host of the television
program, “Song of the Mountains,” a series that airs on PBS, White believes he understands
the legacy of Sheriff Andy Taylor, Aunt Bee, Opie, and the rest.
“They loved each other,” White said simply. “They cared about each other. And I think
whether people consciously or unconsciously know it, that’s what it was about.
“You don’t see them, like in a lot of shows, picking on each other or insulting each other.
They’d get aggravated with Otis for being drunk or Barney for screwing up, but they cared
about each other,” White said. “Andy and the other characters could solve all the problems
in a half hour!”
White pointed out that the show was set in a simpler time. Although it was created and took



Mrs. Alba Venable
24 of Mayberry Motor Inn.

place in the 1960’s, stage props establishing the ambiance were from the 1930’s. He
credited “The Andy Griffith Show” for teaching life lessons of integrity and morality.
“There are Sunday school classes that people give that are modeled on the show,”
White said. “You can take the lessons learned on the show and apply them to your
life today.”

The Mayberry Motor Inn’s well-loved matriarch Alma Venable mused that the show’s
characters had their morals rooted in the morals of their Mt. Airy ancestors.

“Most people here grew up in churches and loved the Lord,” Mrs. Venable said. “To go
back in time is what people want, to see Andy’s homeplace and everything. So far,
we’ve been able to walk downtown. That’s a freedom that a lot of cities don’t have.”

She added that when Griffith returned to Mt. Airy to visit, he did so without a bit of
pretentiousness. He was known to be generous with anonymous gifts, she said.

Bill Hiatt of Floyd’s City Barber Shop believes that those who look for the spirit of
Mayberry will find it in Mt. Airy.

“They bring it with them,” he said, “because this is what they are looking for.”

White acknowledged that his favorite episode was “Opie the Birdman,” which famously
featured young Opie accidentally killing a mother bird with his slingshot. Opie cared
for the baby birds until they grew big enough to return to nature, which he reluctantly
allowed them to do.

“’Pa, don’t this cage look mighty empty?’” White quoted Opie as saying. “But then

Andy Griffith’s Childhood home and Squad Car Tour driver.


Andy says, ‘But don’t the trees seem nice Both City Barber Shop and the Snappy
and full?’” Lunch were mentioned in episodes of “The
Andy Griffith Show.”
Today’s modern television situation
comedies may be lacking the warm ANDY’S CHILDHOOD HOME is a charming
Mayberry spirit, but it lives on, nice and full, one-story structure a short distance from
among Mt. Airy and its people. Main Street sites. Guests may call the
The real-life inspirations behind the series, Hampton Inn of Mt. Airy and rent the well-
fond tributes to the show, down-home maintained, modest property (sleeps five!)
charm and more make for a memorable day through the hotel. Features include a copy
trip to Mt. Airy. Here are a few not-to-be- of Griffith’s birth certificate, photographs
missed items for your itinerary: of Sheriff Taylor and Deputy Fife, and a
cheerful lemon yellow and white kitchen.
THE ANDY GRIFFITH MUSEUM: First, get Contact the friendly and professional
grounded comfortably in all things Andy General Manager Lenise Lynch for a dose
Griffith with a visit to the museum. You’ll of “Hamptonality,” Mayberry style.
enjoy a pleasing collection of authentic
memorabilia from the iconic show as well as MAYBERRY ANTIQUE MALL: Looking for
other aspects of Griffith’s life. The displays your own piece of Mayberry memorabilia
are modern with plenty of audio and video to take home with you? The array of booths
presentations paying tribute to those with furniture, jewelry, china and more
simpler times. The $8.00 admission fee display everything you need to furnish your
includes admission to the Surry Arts Council own corner of Mayberry memories. Clerks
next door (including The Betty Lynn Exhibit are helpful and friendly but not overbearing
as well as the Siamese Twins Exhibit). so as not to hinder your browsing.

sweetest atmosphere of any place that owned business that includes a small
ever carried scissors. Enjoy a visit with a treasure trove of “Aunt Bee” collectibles.
charming Southern gentleman, Bill Hiatt, The lucky guest will be treated to a visit with
son of “the original Floyd,” Russell Hiatt. proprietor Alma Venable, who has spent
Bill will be happy to tell you about “the way more than twenty years portraying “Aunt
things used to be” as well as how much he Bee” at the annual Mayberry Days festival.
appreciates the enthusiasm of his guests. In her former career as a hairdresser, she
Marvel at the original barber chairs (circa styled the hair of Andy Griffith’s mother,
1929) and the tens of thousands of tourist Geneva. The motel features replicas of
photos lining the walls. Yes, you can get the sheriff’s squad car and Emmett’s pick-
your hair cut there! up truck as well as spotless rooms where
guests are treated like family.
THE SNAPPY LUNCH will be proud to serve
up their famous pork chop sandwich. On Lisa De Maio Brewer is a legal assistant at the Law
a “slow” day they may prepare only 200, Offices of Brewer & Brewer in Wilkesboro, NC, and
while the summer season number may Executive Director of Carolina Bible Camp Bluegrass
reach as high as 500. Here, too, the walls Festival in Mocksville, NC. Her favorite episode of
are adorned with Mayberry photographs “The Andy Griffith Show” is “A Blind Date for Gomer.”
while the booths are filled with friendly
tourists who are simply excited to be there.


Moonshine ice cream from Miss
Angels, with glassware from
Mayberry Antiques.

Wally’s Service Station

Fried Pork chop Sandwich
from Snappy Lunch


MayDbaeyrsry September 23-
September 29.

Mayberry Days are a favorite event for fans in the series. Betty Lynn, who played Thelma Lou,
of the Andy Griffith Show. The event was is the most loyal. She moved to Mount Airy and
started in 1990 and has been going strong always attends Mayberry Days. She also has regular
since. Mayberry Days has parades, autograph autograph sessions throughout the year.
sessions and bake sales. There are loads of
contests, including apple peeling contests This festival, dedicated to The Andy Griffith Show, is
and whistling championships. There are also a great way for a dedicated fanship to have fun and
concerts and other cultural events. fellowship with other like-minded folks. It’s also a
great way for families to spend time together, and
This is when town is the most crowded, so be have good-natured fun that doesn’t involve staring
sure to get a reservation if you’re planning on at a phone screen.
staying overnight during this time.
Each year there are special guests who acted


We are Eckard Photographic,
the team that brings you
Foothills Digest.
We are visual story tellers.
Let us help tell your story.



Shine onthe Hills

By Richard Eller

Has there ever been an elixir so loved and hated? In Colonial
America, every community had at least one person who
produced it. In Victorian America, a great wave sought to ban
it. Ever since it has been under strict government control. But
now the clear liquid moves from the shadows to take its place
on the drink menu alongside every other tradition-filled spirit.

You know it by its name, or should that be variety of names, from
“skullcraker” to “blue john,” “catdaddy” to “tiger’s sweat.” It is more
regularly known as “white lightning” or “moonshine.” However, my
favorite is a term used by a friend: “Wilkes County Spring Water.”

Distilled spirits hold a special place in the foothills of North
Carolina and is responsible for many a great party, but also the
big money business of bootlegging and the even bigger, and
legitimized sport of NASCAR. Moonshine drove (pardon the
pun) economic activity for the better part of three centuries.

The consumption of ‘shine has never been a completely legitimate
affair, with both lovers and haters pushing it on and off the table.
For example, in March of 1890 this item appeared in the Charlotte
Democrat (newspaper) from March of 1890 proclaimed the following:



It seems that not drinking made the man a more virtuous
type and may have accounted for adding years to his life.
On the other hand, this notice from the same newspaper,
15 years earlier offered readers the best place to buy:
And from the 19th to the 20th century, the debate
raged. Almost every self-respecting southern
genealogy has some family member who “pulled a stretch” in the “pokey” for dabbling in
the art of making whiskey. Meanwhile, the story goes that in Claremont, NC, they turned
off their one traffic light at 9:00pm each night so they didn’t slow down the “thunder
roadsters” heading to Charlotte for delivery. Conversely, preachers and proselytes
both deplored the use of “demon spirits.” Many got behind the idea of banning all
alcohol because of the violence and poverty that sometimes came with it. But instead
of eradicating the problem, the ban brought new, albeit taboo fame to the elixir.

During the Prohibition Era, when some Americans linked illegality to abstention, the practice
simply went underground. In Hickory, it meant going upstairs. At the Harper House, a historic
site owned by the Historical Association of Catawba County, the third floor was reserved
as a speakeasy by the family. Neighbors had a safe place to go have a drink but, admission
was selective. The only way one would gain admission was if their profile matched a
silhouette on the wall. By the way, those silhouettes remain with many still unidentified.
Supposedly, more than one Hickoryite made regular stops at the Harper House in that


era to purchase some “special water.” requires expertise and care. Since the
Most shiners also sold their creations, colonial era, every community had a
gaining for them the moniker of distiller, averaging one for every seven
bootleggers. Just as it sounds, many to eight households. Some became
a pint was carried in the boot for famous and grew their practices into a
immediate and stealthy sales. Eluding working business. Many did not survive
the cops became an art in much the same Prohibition and those that did had to
way that fast driving became a sport. adhere to the strict regulations dictated
The process of making liquor is as old as by the federal government. Throughout it
Europeans in the hills. Passed down from all, the enjoyment of spirits has persisted,
generation to generation, the practice even becoming part of local lore.
was as much a part of life as hog killings. Several reputations have been made on
However, after Prohibition the practice the production of moonshine, with both
went “uptown.” Drinking out of a mason positive and negative results. NASCAR
jar became old hat. “Store bought” legend Junior Johnson from Wilkesboro
liquor became fashionable (and safe). freely admitted to “running shine” in his
When an imbiber “busted the seal” on early days, thus giving him a career when
a purchase from the liquor store (ABC stock car racing gained popularity. The
in NC) he or she was assured consistent sport evolved from runners bragging over
taste and purity. After all, untold numbers whose car was the fastest.
of people had died from stills where The unfortunate side of
the alcohol had been run through an moonshine
automobile radiator, poisoning the person. fame is
The practice of making moonshine and best seen
properly aging it to be credited as whiskey in the story
of Popcorn
Sutton, a maker and


bootlegger. He shunned
legitimacy with an operation
that regularly spanned
across the mountains from
NC to TN. Showcased in
several films including the
cult classic, This is the Last
Damn Run of Likker I’ll
Ever Make, Sutton revealed
his methods as well as his
unique personality. Being on
the opposite side of the law
caught up with him, thanks
partially to his on-camera
notoriety. Sentenced to
prison time, he chose suicide
instead of serving 18 months
in 2009. He took the role of
moonshining rebel seriously
and went down in history
as his own kind of legend.

Recently, the whole practice
has begun to come out from
the shadows and has grown
respectable. Communities
looking for economic
development have welcomed
distilleries to their areas.
Relaxed regulations on the
once forbidden process
have created the new
opportunities to take the
forbidden practice and make
it respectable. We’ve come
full circle back to a time when
the whiskey makers in town
were a respected member
of the community, providing
a local audience with a
taste unique to our taste.

Art by Caitlyn Propst


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Moonshine from
South Mountain
By Al Stout

It is now more of a footnote in history than it is news, but over 100 years ago an unknown
journalist had this to say in an editorial about the people living here. He wrote: “As long as
water runs downhill the South Mountain people will boil corn without regard to law. The
law of nature, strongest of all laws, tells us that there is one thing the Gov’t of the United
States can not do, and that is to conquer the South Mountains.”

He was celebrating in print the fierce independence of the moonshiners. He was writing

about the legends of his time; men like Amos Owens, of Rutherford County, and Marvin

“Popcorn” Sutton traveling the backroads of Maggie Valley, and Ben Hudson of North

Fork Creek in Golden Valley. He may have known some of them personally and would not

have been surprised that some of them later on would become fictional heroes in movies

like “Thunder Road,” and real life stars like Jr. Johnson, using his driving skills and

experiences running moonshine to later go on to win NASCAR races.

These days the rebellious spirit of moonshiners has
waned some. It became legal to distill corn liquor
and sell it in 2010 eliminating much or all of the
risks. Still there are 55 legal stills in North Carolina
that carry on the time honored practice of making
corn whiskey. So there is still some competition in
the making and distribution of corn liquor.

But it isn’t all that easy,
competition aside.

“I bottle 1000 jars of corn
a month,” said Don Smith,

“and end up paying about
49% of whatever I make
in taxes.” At the end
of the day it is just the
cost of doing this kind of
business, and for Smith, the


We are thrilled to welcome great grandson of Ben Hudson, it’s not
our new Music Director and just about business. It’s family.
Conductor, Matthew Troy!
Wearing a baseball hat that reads
38 “You’re in “Shine Country”, Smith who
makes several varieties and flavors of
corn whiskey, is perhaps proudest of
the family recipe that goes back four
generations. It is called Sinister, in part
because he is left-handed and as he
said,”It invites corruption.”

“You have to remember some of these
people in my family and others further
west in the mountains had no other means
of supporting their families,” Smith said.
“Corn on the cob had very little market
value. But cook it in a still and if you were
willing to take the risk you could make
some big time money.”

While “Poppy” Hudson taught him the
basics, it was his uncles Carl and Clyde
Smith that took him under their wings and
taught the younger Smith how to perfect
the craft. “I’d been around it since I was
16,” Smith said. “The old-timers would
share it at family gatherings.” Smith goes
on to say it was Clyde’s wife, Marge, who
was clever enough to find a loop-hole in
the law. She got Clyde a license to make
ethanol which also made it legal to make
moonshine. “That piece of paper saved
them from jail time.”

Smith always considered himself an
entrepreneur. In Jr. High school he sold
candy and pencils to classmates for
profit. Later on, he and his wife Dawn
would open several chains of tanning
salons, video stores and fitness centers.
But it was the opportunity of making
moonshine legally and keeping a rich

part of his family’s history alive that In a short period of time Smith began
caused Smith to get his still up and winning more awards. The recipe he
running in 2015. Not surprisingly inherited calls for corn and malt barley.
Smith called his new business venture No sugar. After distillation his moonshine
the South Mountain Distilling Co. is left alone inside used buffalo trace
considering his family’s roots. barrels for 12 to 18 months before it is
bottled. Smith says if he used new barrels
Still getting SMD off the ground
was not easy at first. He knew the corn mash would make bourbon,
how to do it but he and that would ruin his moonshine.
wanted the right
still for his premium Over the counter where
spirits. “I showed Smith serves samples in
my design Jesus jigger communion
for my still to cups is the Telecaster that
a couple of
engineers and was owned by David
they couldn’t “Doc” Friendenburg.
make any Doc was a medic in
sense out of Viet Nam and was
it. I wondered Smith’s right arm for
why they got their 18 years. “Doc was
degrees if they sorta like a brother,”
couldn’t understand Smith said. “He was a
the basics of making steam multi-talented guy and
and letting that condense at he really helped me get
the end of a copper tube,” Smith this business up and running.
said. “Finally I found this guy out in He died last summer and this area
Missouri and he built it for me. My of the store is part of his legacy.”
still works great and I don’t think the
guy is even an engineer.” Smith likes to brag on his friend saying
Doc once put out a CD of music he
Moonshine recipes arrived in the recorded on his Tele. “Some were so good
foothills with the Scotch-Irish that Al Gore called him to ask permission
migrations in the 1700’s. The ancient to use them for one of his political
Gaelic word for moonshine roughly campaigns.
translates as “the water of life”.
Smith said, “I wanted to do it the way Not much grass, or corn for that matter
my ancestors did it. I wanted to make grows under the feet of Don Smith.
the smoothest 101 proof whiskey Even with the loss of Doc he was able to
money can buy. People say it is.” He lure J.B. Rader, who was the protégé of
has the awards to back it up. “Popcorn” Sutton and has his own show
on the Discovery Channel to come to
Rutherfordton College this past May 25.
“Man,” Smith said,”I don’t think our little


town ever saw so many people come here for a day as we had here. We had over 3000
come into our store. It was great.”

While Rader may be the reigning star among the current batch of moonshiners (they
all revere him as the legend after all), friends are quick to say he is the most humble of
people you’ll ever meet. One of them said, “JB was invited out to an event. His room
and board were all paid for by the sponsors, but JB left a $40 tip for the cleaning ladies.
I said JB, why did you do that? And JB said the room didn’t cost him nuthin’ and the

cleaning ladies were all nice to him. An’ I said, JB, that’s too much. An’
JB said to me if you got too much money then you need today you got
too much money. I didn’t say another word.”

South Mountain Distilling Co. is also getting very well known in its short
time in business. It goes without saying that customers are coming
in from all over the U.S. southeast. But also trek in from Canada and

Last week a couple came in from Australia. They spoke in that style,
with the accent, that they had just put shrimp on the barbie. “‘Ello.
mate. Me an the misses here are touring America , and we left
Charleston this morning. On our way to Asheville, but we had to stop

here just to meet you and taste some fluids.”

Smith invited them to have a seat at the counter and sample a
new whiskey he created especially for J.B. Rader—the soon to

be famous Honeycrisp Apple Moonshine. “Very good,” the
Australian said. “Smoothest whiskey I ever drank.” But his
wife put her cup down. “Too strong for me.”

Her husband looked at her and said, “The strongest stuff she’ll
drink is half a Foster’s. Tell me, what’s that Sinister whiskey
you got over there?”

Smith smiled knowing he had a new convert. Smith in no way
represents the Beverly Hillbillies, or characters drawn by Al
Capp. His easy nature shows he is part of a long culture when
the moonshiner was the real deal, an American hero. He may
not feel that way about himself, but give him a minute and
he’ll tell you the stories. And his moonshine is now legally
sold in 125 ABC store across the state.

To find the South Mountain Distilling Co. travel west on I-40
to exit 113. Turn right. The address is 1027 Malcolm Blvd.

By Carmen Eckard

At 469 miles long, the
Blue Ridge Parkway is
the longest linear park
in America. Beginning
in Virginia, it follows the
spine of the Blue Ridge.
The Blue Ridge is just
one of many mountain
chains that are part of the
Appalachian Mountains,
but it is beautiful and
wild, and it holds a very
special place in the hearts
of North Carolinians. The
parkway ends in Southern
North Carolina, at the
Cherokee Reservation.

The Blue Ridge Parkway
is a federal park, and it
is considered a “National
Parkway” and an “All-
American Road.”

It isn’t just locals that
love the Blue Ridge
Parkway. The National
Parks service owns land
on both sides of the road,
allowing for excellent
hiking opportunities as
you travel. Frequent
overlooks put you
immediately in touch with
the nature that surrounds

For most of us, it seems
that the parkway has


been here forever. Construction for the parkway began in 1935, as part of FDR’s New
The New Deal had three points of focus, the “3 Rs”: relief for the unemployed and
poor, recovery of the economy back to normal levels and reform of the financial system
to prevent a repeat depression. There were many ways the New Deal attempted to
accomplish these aims, and most focused on putting people to work to improve our
infrastructure. This particular parkway was kickstarted by President Franklin Delano
Roosevelt himself, when he visited the Skyline Drive, a similar project in Virginia. U.S.
Senator Harry Byrd suggested, on that trip, that a parkway be created to connect Skyline
Drive to The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and planning crews quickly got to
Building roads on the ridge of a mountain chain is hard, tricky work, and construction
continued until 1966. At that point, the whole road was complete, except for an important
section near Grandfather Mountain. That 7.7 mile stretch proved to be very complicated,
and the solution was to build the Linn Cove Viaduct, seen below and on page 142. It was
completed in 1987, at a cost of $10 million.


The 1,243 foot viaduct
was planned from the
beginning because of
the damage a cut and fill
road would have caused
to Grandfather Mountain.
This mountain is almost
6,000 feet tall, and it is
one of the highest and
most rugged peak in the
mountain chain. In fact,
it is the most ancient
mountain on the whole
continent. The very
popular viaduct was one
of the most complicated
concrete bridges ever
built at that time.


The Blue Ridge Parkway isn’t just a road.
Truly, it’s a way of life for mosts folks in
our parts. Foothills Digest asked, “Why
do you love the Blue Ridge Parkway?”
and our readers were excited to tell us.
“If you go early, the fog and the sunrise
has a beautiful way of making you forget
your worries.”-Krystal
“All the hiking trails along the
“I love driving around on the parkway alone with my car stereo playing loudly to clear my
head. I have favorite stopping points where I wander around the overlooks and trails to
read or write. Everything about it is just so calming.” -Collean
“It is because my mom and her family were born near the parkway. We have had our 68th
Pittman reunion near the parkway. It is a place to go and remember all that lived a happy
life in my family near the parkway. It brought work to the locals. Some are buried off
the Apple Orchard area where many family members worked. My mom would tell stories
about her journey on the parkway. Lots of fun times she would say. We would leave my


grandparent’s home in Spruce Pine and have a picnic at one of the lookout areas every Sunday.
Favorite moments would be laying on a blanket overlooking the different shade of blues of
the mountains. It is so breathtaking. The air is fresh. You never know when you will see wild
animals. Sometimes driving through the canopy of trees gives you a peaceful feeling. Sometime
we would drive and the rays of sun hits the road guiding us through a magical forest. The rain
or morning snow is unbelievable. It is a place to leave your stress behind. Some trees have
not been touched since they built the road. My Family members helped build the Blue Ridge
Parkway. Every drop of sweat that dropped on the road and land from their hard work still lives
on. It is a place our family call home. We cherish the gift that was given to us. THANKS Pap
and Mam.”-Renee

“Letting my daughter drive it from Asheville to Jefferson when she just got her learner’s permit.
Terrifying and memorable.” -Alan

“The Blueness of the Ridges”-Matt

“Every time I take my family to the blue ridge parkway, we find new trails to do as a family. We
have been to many over the years and every time we find a new one.”-Matthew

“Walking the trails as they change from season to season. The views--always those views!
And that it’s such a quick getaway.”-Carol

“As a child we traveled regularly to the Parkway for picnics and camping at Julien Price Park.
On pretty days we would just get on the Parkway to ride. Today I hit the Parkway for so many
of the beautiful sights along the way and the amazing hikes I am able to do. It is an amazing
resource to our state and it is free to the public. I am poor so I take advantage of anything free. I
am sad that some administrations don’t fund the BRP like it should be because those of us who
are poor enjoy the amenities and beauty that this beautiful state has to offer.”-Shari


Junior Rangers

Explore. Learn. Protect.

Friends of the Blue Ridge Parkway are working with the National Park Service on a wonderful
program for kids called “Junior Rangers.” Just last year, 800,000 kids became Junior Rangers
across the country, which helps to instill a life-long love of nature. The tenants “explore, learn
and protect” do a great job of summarizing the sort of stewards our mountains need as we
move into a future fraught with climate instability.

The program asks children 5-12 to take an oath: “I _________, am proud to be a National Park
Service Junior Ranger. I promise to appreciate, respect, and protect all national park areas. I
also promise to continue learning about the landscape, plants, animals and history of these
special places. I will share what I learn with my friends and family.”

To become a Junior Ranger, children will need the handbook, Parkway map and one activity
sheet. They must complete all the activities in the handbook and at least three of the activities
on the activity sheet. Then they may bring the completed materials to any park visitor center
for a Ranger to check their answers. Rangers are typically available from Memorial Day
through October. New Junior Rangers will receive a badge, certificate and sticker for their

You can use this code to download the handbook and activity sheets, although you can also
pick them up at any ranger station. There are 10 different activity sheets,
each for different areas of the parkway. We think this is a great way to turn
a hike into a deeply educational activity. It also helps create a feeling of
ownership and responsibility for our land, and that is needed.

Most kids today aren’t able to freely play in the woods like their parents
and grandparents did. Our society doesn’t allow that sort of free roaming
adventure for children. This program encourages children to play in nature, and teaches
them how to be responsible citizens while they do. It also helps them learn to notice the
small things most people walk right past, which is the first step to appreciating them. We
truly have a National treasure in our back yards, and this program helps ensure that we don’t
lose site of that, and that our kids don’t either. We salute the Friends
of the Blue Ridge Parkway and the National Park Service for
this wonderful program, and we encourage you and your
children to go on an adventure!








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