Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Where was I?

Ah yes, Mitchell county. Well, this is another one of those counties formed later and they start their history at the formation. I hate that. It misses the significance of the ones who lived there before it was a "certified place" and I have to hunt elsewhere for things of interest to me. I am being a grouch today and I have to apologize. I am stuck here in this brace (can't drive til its off) and everybody is at the march in Abingdon for the Overmountain Victory Trail annual reenactment of the Campaign to Kings Mountain. In fact Mitchell County is on the trail I believe. That will likely be my start.

“What’s There to Do Around Here?”
You Say “Nothing”
Watch trains go by in downtown
Spruce Pine.
Watch Jack grind corn at
Dellinger’s Mill (a 130 year old mill, the state’s oldest working mill of its type) on Cane Creek in Bakersville.
Hike Charlie Woody Mountain.
Row the Toe – Canoe, kayak, or raft the
Toe River.
Play a round of golf.
Go antique shopping in Bakersville and Spruce Pine.
Visit the Home of the
Perfect Christmas Tree Store in downtown Spruce Pine featuring handcrafted work of over 70 local and regional artists. (As seen on HGTV!)
See a show and enjoy live music at the
Carolina Theatre, the home of the original Carolina Barn Dance!
Hear the hammering of the anvil at the
Fire on the Mountain Blacksmith Festival each April! (Don’t miss the handcrafted sarvis berry tree by artist Elizabeth Brim)
River’s Edge Outfitters in Downtown Spruce Pine for a fly-tying lesson and some good ol’ fishing tales.
Walk the historic bridge over the Toe River in Downtown Spruce Pine.
See handmade crafts at the annual Creekwalk Arts Festival in Bakersville.
Stay in a cabin at Bear Den Campground.
a local artist studio for a demonstration and shopping experience.
Mine for real treasures with Rock Mine Tours.
Have a home-cooked breakfast a Big Lynn Lodge (and see the site of the old Big Lynn tree).
Be a part of history at the annual re-enactment at the Overmountain Victory Celebration in September at the
Museum of NC Minerals.
Visit Wal-Mart.
Get a latte and a snack at DT’s Blue Ridge Java.
Visit the
EnergyXchange where trash is turned into treasure. Artist’s studios and a native plant greenhouse all operate from the gas of the landfill. Hwy 80N.
Stop in at the
Mitchell County Historical Society in Bakersville and learn about our past.
Visit the Wednesday Farmer’s Market in Spruce Pine on the porch of Wildflowers for homemade jams, bread and fresh veggies.
See an old-time general store at
Pine Crossing Antiques.
Visit a local produce stand for the season’s freshest picks.
Mine and Shop at the Travel Channel’s pick, Gem Mountain Gemstone Mine.
See sheep sheared and wool spun at Laurel Oaks Farm in Bakersville.
Visit the world’s largest natural rhododendron garden –
Roan Mountain.
Walk the Appalachian Trail.
Learn why Spruce Pine is the most important mining district in the world at the Museum of NC Minerals.
Celtic Spirit Resort in Spruce Pine for a relaxing massage.
Get to know
NC Living Treasure Arval Woody’s family, new owners at Woody’s Chair Shop. Ask them about the $10,000 Kennedy chairs Arval made.
Hear iron sing at
Bea Hensley’s iron works shop. (Ask him to tell you the story about Mrs. Lyndon B. Johnson)
Browse the area’s artistic works at the galleries in downtown Spruce Pine and Bakersville.
Stop in at the
Toe River Arts Council where you can see area art work on display or maybe catch a show.
Visit the shops at
Little Switzerland.
Stretch your legs on the Bakersville Creekwalk.
Find your own treasure at one of the many local gem mines.
Check out the mining museum at Emerald Village.
See a clock made at Luther Stroup’s Hobby Shop.
the Orchard at Altapass for a taste of a local apple (and enjoy a hayride, too).
Drive the
Blue Ridge Parkway.
Raft, canoe, or ride horses at Springmaid Mountain.
Hike to
Crabtree Falls.
Go rafting on the
Get Wet at the annual Springmaid Splash 10K and 5K Trail Races
Get the season’s freshest at the Bakersville Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings.
Be a Street Walker: Enjoy the shopping in downtown Spruce Pine, Bakersville & Little Switzerland.
Visit the six Living Treasures in Mitchell County: Bea Hensley, Arval Woody, Harvey Littleton, Billie Ruth Sudduth, Cynthia Bringle & Norm Schulman.
Tap your feet and dance the two step at
Young’s Mountain Music.
Fish Cane Creek, Pigeon Roost & Buladean.
Visit the “Beauty Spot.”
Enjoy the famous Friday Night Prime Rib and Seafood Buffet at The Chalet Restaurant in Little Switzerland.
Go see Gouge’s Creek Falls.
Take in a play at the Parkway Playhouse.
Climb to the top of
Mt. Mitchell.
See jewels from all over the world at the NC Mineral and Gem Festival (August).
Visit with a multi-generation mining family at Spruce Pine Gem & Gold.
Enjoy solitude without the bother of television or phones at The Alpine Inn in Little Switzerland.
Hear a tall tale at the Storytelling Festival in Spruce Pine (July).
Celebrate our famous bloom at the NC Rhododendron Festival in Bakersville (June).
Visit Sugar Plum Farm or Harrell Hill Tree Farms, for a tour and to pick out your Christmas tree for this year.
Enjoy at wonderful lunch in a quaint tea room at Dot’s Coffee and Tea Shop in Bakersville.
Penland’s Gallery.
See gems from around the world at Rio Doce Gem Mine.
Tour an inn that was once a school (Pinebridge Inn.)
Brown Mountain Lights from Wiseman’s View.
See the laser show in the mine at
Emerald Village’s Day on the Rocks and Dynamite Days.
Step back in time at Spruce Pine’s Cruise In and Car Show the 2nd and 4th Saturdays during the summer.
Walk through 1200 colors of Daylilies at the Daylily Farms and Nursery on Hwy. 261 in Bakersville.
Visit an organic nursery at Murdock Farm on Hwy. 80N. An artist studio and gallery are also at the Farm.
Camp and roast marshmallows at Buck Hill Campground.
Find that little something you always needed at Bakersville’s Annual Town Wide Yard Sale every July 4th week.
See soap made at Blue Ridge Soap Shed on Hwy 226 in Spruce Pine.
Check out the General Store at the Switzerland General store in Little Switzerland. (Have a slice of a great dessert next door at the Switzerland Café).
Check out the unique M.R. Knot boxes and “Windows in Pine” at Melawil’s Gallery in downtown Spruce Pine.
Visit the local airfield and take a tour (maybe even get an aerial view of the area!)
Have a weekend getaway at home by renting one of the local cabins.
Tour the
Old English Inn in Spruce Pine, which housed soldiers in the American Revolution.
See apple butter made and maybe even milk a cow at the Annual Mineral City Heritage Festival in Downtown Spruce Pine.
Visit nearly one hundred artists’ studios during the Spring and Holiday Studio Tours.
Park your camper or tent at the Spruce Pine Campground. Enjoy getting away while staying close to home.
Enjoy a meal just like the good ole’ days at the City Drive In!! Park your car and enjoy a lunch of cheeseburgers and milkshakes with your family.
Inspect artifacts of the Native Americans as well as rocks and minerals at the newly opened Rocks and Things on Upper Street in Spruce Pine.
Tall tales will be spun when you fish the Toe River and Cane Creek, designated as Mountain Heritage Trout Cities. You can even borrow a free rod and tackle!
See inside a mountain at Linville Caverns.
Catch some of the finest trout in Loafer’s Glory.
Browse through a treasure trove of unique gifts at Dellinger’s Christian Bookstore.
Drive over to Mayland Community College to check out one of their entertaining shows, or new exhibit.
Go cross country skiing on the trails of Roan Mountain during the winter months.
Grab a picnic lunch at an area restaurant and head over the Brad Ragan Park.
Stay in a local cottage or cabin like the Chinquapin Inn at Penland, a 1937 mountain house.
Visit the Blue Ridge Gemstone Mine in Little Switzerland.
Drive down Halltown Road to see the impressive antique collection of Calvin Hall.
Howl at the moon at the
Wolf Sanctuary on Cane Creek.
Swing your partner at the Summer Square Dances at Geneva Hall in Little Switzerland.
Visit the Richmond Inn, a half-century year old Inn in downtown Spruce Pine.
Enjoy the walking path or have a picnic at Spruce Pine’s Riverside Park.
Visit Mountain Farm’s annual
Lavender Festival in July where you can see soap making demonstrations, make your own gifts to take home and much more!
Visit the original Penland Post Office (circa 1879.)
Visit our neighbor, Grandfather Mountain, to see the bears (did you know Grandfather Mountain was once in Mitchell County?)

*101. Take a drive through the county and enjoy the natural beauty of the area.


More than a billion years ago, the Black Mountains were formed. This mighty range of peaks once stood lofty and rugged. But over millions of years, wind, water and other forces wore down the pinnacles to their rounded, more subdued profile of today. Only the erosion-resistant igneous and metamorphic rocks allowed Mount Mitchell to retain its dramatic height of 6,684 feet.

Long before explorers left Europe in search of the New World, various Native American tribes inhabited the area surrounding the Black Mountains. In the mid-1700s, the tribes were joined by settlers primarily of Scotch-Irish and English origin.

In 1787, French botanist Andre Michaux journeyed to the Black Mountains to seek the region's most valuable plants so the French government could cultivate them on their royal plantations. On his botanical excursions to the area, Michaux collected more than 2,500 specimens of trees, shrubs and other plants.

About the same time that his French counterpart explored the area, Englishman John Fraser collected plants from the region to introduce to his native land. It was for this botanical explorer that the most abundant tree along the crest of the Black Mountains — the Fraser fir — was named.

In 1835, Dr. Elisha Mitchell, a science professor at the University of North Carolina, made an excursion to the area to measure the mountain elevations. At the time, Grandfather Mountain was assumed to be the highest point in the region, but previous trips to the area had persuaded Mitchell that the Black Mountains were higher. Through the use of barometric pressure readings and mathematical formulas, Mitchell figured the highest elevation of the range to be 6,476 feet, higher than that of Grandfather Mountain. Subsequent visits to the Black Mountains in 1838 and 1844 led Dr. Mitchell to calculate the height of the peak at 6,672 feet — amazingly, only a mere 12 feet in error of modern calculations.

In 1857, Dr. Mitchell returned to the Black Mountains to verify his measurements. While hiking across the mountain, he fell from a cliff above a 40-foot waterfall. Knocked unconscious by the fall, Dr. Mitchell drowned in the water below. In honor of his work, the highest peak in the Black Mountain range was given his name in 1858. Though originally buried in Asheville, Mitchell's body was reburied atop Mount Mitchell a year later.

Until the late 1800s, the Black Mountains remained largely in a wilderness state. The only apparent influence of man upon the environment was a reduced animal population caused by increased settlement and hunting. This lack of exploitation of natural resources was not to last, however. By the early 1900s, extensive logging operations had denuded much of the Black Mountain range. Logging activity had expanded rapidly by 1913 and citizens began to voice their alarm about the destruction of the forest. Foremost among them was Locke Craig, governor of North Carolina from 1913 to 1917.

In 1915, a bill was introduced in the state legislature establishing Mount Mitchell as the first state park. The legislation passed both houses quickly and on March 3, 1915, the North Carolina State Parks System came into being. In appreciation of Governor Craig's efforts, the second highest peak east of the Mississippi, with an elevation of 6,647 feet and also in North Carolina, was named Mount Craig.

Well, not much on the Revolution but LOTS TO DO. The highlight is the actual trek of the overmountain men 1780. The Orchard at Altapass is the place to see this on the evening of September 28th. There will be a program of storytelling that should make goosebumps rise on your arms. I want more information on the Old English Inn, the oldest wooden structure in NC, it was an inn during the Revolution. I found a statement that part of it was built in 1767, but no other data other than the link above.


It's A Girl Thing said...

Wow! Thank you so much for listing our 101 Things to Do in Mitchell County! We hope you get a chance to experience even a few of them sometime soon! It is truly a special and beautiful place!

Donna Ashworth said...

My husband sent me the link to your blog because we are moving there to the Bakersville area soon. I am so excited to FINALLY be getting there I don't know what to do. He, on the other hand, is concerned he will not be able to find work. He is a very talented man at almost any kind of work and has a CDL but he's not wanting to go long haul. He keeps telling me how distant we will be to everything and how dreary the days are going to be, almost as if he has lived there already and is an expert on the area. And almost as if he's trying to talk me out of moving there. It's been a dream of mine to live there for as long as I can remember and we finally made the decision to do it. Personally, I am going to WELCOME the opportunity of not having anywhere to go if that is ever the case. I'm sure it's not though. I know for a fact from visiting friends there that there is plenty of things to do. It's not like we're huge social butterflies as it is. We never do anything here and we are in Houston, Texas, an entertainment mecca. I despise it here though. All the crime and filth and rude people who would rather stab you or shoot you as to look at you. Everywhere you go people are walking around with a cell phone stuck to their heads or a telephone widget stuck in their ears like a bunch of drones. Had a gun pulled on me at a light last year, all because the man was mad because he thought I was going too slow to intentionally hold up HIS progress. I will enjoy being able to walk down the hill to my own mailbox without my heart skipping a beat wondering if I will live to walk back into my house. Looking forward to people raising their hands to say "hi" instead of raising them to shoot you the bird. I'm sick of this life here in this huge place. It is not fit for human habitation and since Katrina, it's only gotten worse and worse. Parts of town that used to be considered upper echelon are now where the dregs of society live. The kids half dress for school. Look like they are going to do a pole dance routine rather than a game of school volleyball. And the men and boys wearing their pants so low their cracks show. It's a disgusting and filthy hole of humanity here in Houston. I have found NOTHING I like about the place. To me it will be HEAVEN to be there and just sit out on the porch and watch the life around me. Thanks so much for letting me vent. I envy you that you are there. I will be soon and I will be happy as a little pig in slop. -My name is Donna too!

Donna said...

WOW! Thanks for reading the blog, Donna. I sometimes think I am talking to a mirror so comments are great. BUT, I love NC. I admit I was feeling a little tired of the mountain e-visiting I was doing because I wasn't finding much more Revolutionary War history. But I always search for the county highlights and try to tell stories about things I have done in NC or would like to do. I was in such a funny mood the other day. So I was cheered up by researching all the spots they put on this list for Mitchell county and I remembered all the fun things you could do there. I realized that they probably have MORE culture that far up in the mountains than I have in the foothills. BUT, I think you'll like it. Jobs are hard to come by, but people are friendly and the land is beautiful. It can be a real winter up there so come prepared. But, I'm with you, when the rare day comes that you have no place you have to go, it is great to be at home on a porch or by a fire. Check out the previous comment. This girl has a store I think. She can probably introduce you to folks. I haven't really looked for industry up there. I myself am job hunting (again!) But, I bet your husband can find something. We know reenactors up there who also make and sell children's toys from the 1700s. Be sure to go see the Altapass Orchard and meet those folks. I imagine they know everybody. And double check your genealogy. You will probably find a relative from the 1700s from NC, SC, or Virginia, maybe from the militia that went to Kings Mountain. You will be surprised. My husband's boss's wife from Oklahoma found an ancestry right in Wilkes County where they now live who was even one of those famous militia of 1780. I love reading about the people and even one fact about an ancestor just makes me feel even more connected. Hope you enjoy it when you get here. If you want to know about the rest of the state, keep reading my past posts or check out www.VisitNC.com.
Welcome "home!"