Winston-Salem NC – The Revolutionary War, NASCAR, Tobacco, Textiles, Railroads, Motorcycles and More


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Published: April 8th 2014
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The View To The Right…The View To The Right…The View To The Right…

Oak Hollow Family Campground – High Point NC
The drive from Asheville NC to the Oak Hollow Family Campground in High Point NC, a suburb southeast of Winston-Salem, was just over 160 miles and slightly less than three hours. The weather was great. Just before reaching metro Winston-Salem, the driver spotted a billboard touting Granny's Country Kitchen in Icard NC and pulled off the freeway for some people-fuel. Proverbially looking for something new and unusual, whether as a tourist attraction or as a menu item, I spotted a livermush breakfast combo and blurted, “What, for Pete’s sake, is livermush?” After a brief explanation (actually a total waste of words because my decision already had been made), I ordered, “Livermush with eggs over medium, home fries and a biscuit will work just fine!”

The livermush came as a deep-fried, rectangular patty and tastes like it has a liverwurst foundation. Since I like liverwurst, I was in piglet nirvana. Livermush is composed of pig liver, head parts and cornmeal and is commonly spiced with pepper and sage. In some regions, the dish is called Liver Pudding. Irrespective of the moniker, it is commonly cooked by cutting a slice off of a premade loaf and frying it until golden brown. At
And To The Left…And To The Left…And To The Left…

Oak Hollow Family Campground – High Point NC
breakfast it traditionally is served alongside grits and eggs - I like my grits in a bowl so I can mix in the butter really good! For lunch it can be fried as above or left cold and made into a sandwich. As livermush's popularity has risen, it has gained usage as an ingredient in dishes such as omelettes (okay) and pizzas (hmmm).

‹Singing› “On the road again….” The remainder of the trip to High Point was uneventful. The Oak Hollow Family Campground sits on the banks of Oak Hollow Lake and is owned by the City of High Point. The campground operates on a first-come, first-serve basis – another good reason to have a mid-week travel day. I arrived early afternoon. The campground attendant saw my Illinois license plate and related that he had grown up in the Chicago area but was glad to be out of the severe cold. Before assigning me a lakeside site, he cautioned me the site he had in mind required some leveling and asked for my approval. Indeed, the site required 4-1/2 inches (three 2x8’s) of shimming to level the Pilgrim, but that was a minor inconvenience for a fantastic RV site.
And Back Toward The RV SiteAnd Back Toward The RV SiteAnd Back Toward The RV Site

Oak Hollow Family Campground – High Point NC


The tranquility was rejuvenating, and I was treated to several daily visits by a flock of ducks. I also had one visit by a sweep rowing team in practice. According to the US Rowing Association web site, athletes with two oars – one in each hand – are scullers whereas athletes with only one oar are sweep rowers. Sweep boats of pairs and fours may or may not carry a coxswain (pronounced cox-n) but the eights always carries a coxswain. The eight is the fastest human-propelled boat on the water with a world-class men's eight team capable of moving at almost 14 miles per hour. Pretty cool.

My first stop on Friday, November 8, 2013 was Guilford Courthouse National Military Park in Greensboro NC. The Battle of Guilford Court House was fought on March 15, 1781. A 2,100-man British force under the command of Lieutenant General Charles Cornwallis defeated Major General Nathanael Greene's 4,500-man American force. The British Army, however, sustained such heavy casualties that the result essentially was a victory for the Americans. Despite the relatively small number of troops involved, the battle is considered pivotal to the American victory in the Revolution. Before the battle, the
Artifacts That Are Directly Tied To Guilford CourthouseArtifacts That Are Directly Tied To Guilford CourthouseArtifacts That Are Directly Tied To Guilford Courthouse

Guilford Courthouse National Military Park – Greensboro NC
British, with the aid of strong Loyalist factions, had success in conquering much of the south. The British were, in fact, in the process of recruiting in North Carolina when the Battle of Guilford Court House ended their recruiting drive. In the wake of the battle, Greene moved into South Carolina, while Cornwallis chose to march into Virginia and attempt to link up with roughly 3,500 men under British Major General William Phillips and American turncoat Benedict Arnold. These decisions allowed Greene to unravel British control of the South and led to Cornwallis’ surrender at Yorktown.

In 1912, local resident David Schenck initiated plans to gain control of land to commemorate the Guilford Courthouse battleground as a park. The following year, he chartered the non-profit Guilford Battle Ground Company (GBGC) to advance such efforts. From an early date, the group planned to donate the property to the federal government. When Congress finally established Guilford Courthouse as a national military park in 1917, the GBGC turned over its 125 acres at no charge.

Although generous in starting the park, the five years of control by the GBGC left a mixed legacy. First, Schenck did not preserve the terrain in
There Were Very Few Battlefield Artifacts As Well As Very Few Colorful LeavesThere Were Very Few Battlefield Artifacts As Well As Very Few Colorful LeavesThere Were Very Few Battlefield Artifacts As Well As Very Few Colorful Leaves

Guilford Courthouse National Military Park – Greensboro NC
its approximate historical state but beautified the landscape for a “more aesthetically pleasing experience.” Second, he adopted an interpretation of the battle that encompassed a much smaller area than is indicated by contemporary accounts. Historians believe his limited funds, coupled with the landowners' demands for top dollar, influenced his interpretation; however, this misled researchers and historical groups who relied on his work. They placed historical monuments and markers in the wrong place.

The Visitor Center offers a thirty-two minute film, "Another Such Victory." A ten-minute animated Battle Map Program explaining the tactics of the battle, and original artifacts and weaponry are also on display. A narrated automobile tour of the battlefield is also available on CD, but I opted to forego its purchase. That might have been a mistake; however, with the thick vegetation I found on the battlefield, I believe not.

The Guilford Courthouse National Military Park is one of the least impressive NPS facilities I have visited; however, that deficiency does not rest solely on the shoulders of the NPS. When the NPS assumed responsibility for the park, its historians and researchers learned of Schenck's errors. Those errors also have hampered government efforts to acquire additional
Did Richard “The King” Petty Really Drive This Car?Did Richard “The King” Petty Really Drive This Car?Did Richard “The King” Petty Really Drive This Car?

Winston Cup Museum - Winston-Salem NC
battleground land in areas outside Schenck's original depiction and to resist development in those historical areas. Since then, the growth of Greensboro has encircled the park with private development and destroyed some of the authentic battlefield area. The history found at Guilford Courthouse National Military Park still makes it worthy of a visit; however, I would suggest you temper your expectations.

My next stop was the Winston Cup Museum in downtown Winston-Salem NC. There are at least three methods of using the GPS to reach a destination – the GPS coordinates, the name of the attraction and the street address. I have always been successful using the first method; however, the name of the attraction is not always included in the data base or the name is entered differently than my method – i.e. the spelling out of the number in 12 Bones Smokehouse at my last stop in Asheville NC (the same glitch happens with numbered streets) OR the GPS might not differentiate north from south or east from west and then take you to the opposite direction from your desired location.

When I entered the street address for the Winston Cup Museum, Informational Irene (my GPS)
Wendell Scott Sent This #34 To The Scrap Dealer In 1973Wendell Scott Sent This #34 To The Scrap Dealer In 1973Wendell Scott Sent This #34 To The Scrap Dealer In 1973

Winston Cup Museum - Winston-Salem NC
took me to south instead of north. The rocket scientist in me decided the Winston Cup Museum probably wasn’t located on a college campus; but, at that location, I was close enough to use the attraction list and selecting the name of the attraction took me right to the facility. Life as a professional tourist is so plagued with obstacles! LOL (PS I am aware that I can spell the name of the attraction but that too has limitations.)

In my mind, North Carolina historically has been associated with four things – college basketball, tobacco, textiles and NASCAR. Check out the city names of (Sir Walter) Raleigh, Winston, Salem and (Bull) Durham. Since most of the NASCAR team shops are located in North Carolina, it made sense to me that the R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company (the maker of Winston cigarettes) was a flagship sponsor of NASCAR.

The top racing series of the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) originally was known as the Strictly Stock Series for one year (1949) but quickly became known as the Grand National Series from 1950–1970. From 1971–2003, while leasing its naming rights to R. J. Reynolds, it was known as the Winston Cup Series. Later a similar deal was made with NEXTEL with the series becoming the NEXTEL Cup Series (2004–2007) and, after Sprint acquired NEXTEL, is now known as the Sprint Cup Series. With three name changes in ten years, many fans now simply refer to the series as The Cup Series (and the cars as Cup cars, the drivers as Cup drivers, etc.) vs. the “minor leagues” – the Nationwide Series and the Craftsman Truck Series.

Interestingly, the Winston Cup Museum is not affiliated in any way with R. J. Reynolds (do y’all get “not affiliated in any way” or should I try to spell it out with a laundry list of lawyerese jargon?), but is owned by JKS Incorporated which owns JKS Motorsports which (from the web site) “operates over 30 different show cars that travel across the country to various racing and corporate events. We have the ability to supply multiple race cars for one-time events up to a series of events based on each client's needs that range from still photo shoots to moving (on track) commercials. Both long term and short term leases are available.”

I’m sure the lawyers have reviewed the language used to promote the museum, but I must wonder exactly how many of the specimens in the museum were actually driven by a Real McCoy vs. how many were show cars. I can assure everyone that at least one car on display was “race-driven,” because it was “race-demolished!” That car would be the #34 driven by Wendell Scott at Talladega AL on May 6, 1973. The other cars are “showroom ready” and lack any blemishes that typically adorn a Cup car after 500 miles at speeds approaching 200 mph. Regardless of the authenticity of the specimens, it was fun to see some of the symbols of a bygone era. With that disclaimer, I cannot make a recommendation but will say the $8.00 admission fee seems sorta steep for what is offered.

Saturday, November 9, 2013 found me heading to Burlington NC and the Alamance Battleground State Historic Site. Historically, historians ‹wide, tooth-displaying grin› have considered the Battle of Alamance to be the opening volley of the American Revolution; however, modern historians reject this notion since there was no intent to rebel against the king or crown but merely to protest taxation and corrupt local government. I suppose
The John Allen House And SmokehouseThe John Allen House And SmokehouseThe John Allen House And Smokehouse

Alamance Battleground State Historic Site - Burlington NC
it was naïve for me to believe that political corruption materialized in my lifetime. Named for nearby Great Alamance Creek, the battle took place in what was then Orange County but has since become Alamance County.

A rebellion had been brewing in the western counties of North Carolina for several years but had been limited to minor acts of violence followed by the refusal to pay fees, the disruption of court proceedings and the harassment of government officials. On May 11, 1771, Royal Governor William Tryon marched approximately 1,000 militia troops west from New Bern to confront about 2,000 Regulators who hoped to gain concessions from the governor by intimidating him with a show of superior force.

On the morning of May 16, Tryon's troops set out to a field about one-half mile from the camp of the Regulators and formed two lines. The Regulators were quite disorganized (there was no officer ranked higher than Captain) and; they, fully expecting that their superior numbers would dissuade Tryon's militia, really were not expecting an attack. Tryon sent one of his aide-de-camps, with a proclamation:

“To Those Who Style Themselves ‘Regulators’: In reply to your petition of yesterday, I
The Regulator Battle Lines Are Nearer The Visitor CenterThe Regulator Battle Lines Are Nearer The Visitor CenterThe Regulator Battle Lines Are Nearer The Visitor Center

Alamance Battleground State Historic Site - Burlington NC
am to acquaint you that I have ever been attentive to the interests of your County and to every individual residing therein. I lament the fatal necessity to which you have now reduced me by withdrawing yourselves from the mercy of the crown and from the laws of your country. To require you who are now assembled as Regulators, to quietly lay down your arms, to surrender up your leaders, to the laws of your country and rest on the leniency of the Government. By accepting these terms within one hour from the delivery of this dispatch, you will prevent an effusion of blood, as you are at this time in a state of REBELLION against your King, your country, and your laws.”

The Regulators rejected his terms. Although the Regulators lacked the leadership, organization and ammunition that Tryon possessed, they adopted "Indian style" fighting – hiding behind trees and avoiding structure and lines – and the early course of the battle went well for them. The governor sent a second white flag, but the aide-de-camp was killed. Outraged at the disregard given the second white flag, the governor rallied his troops against the insurgents whose ammunition was nearly
Red Flags For The Redcoat Battle Lines (Blue For The Regulators)Red Flags For The Redcoat Battle Lines (Blue For The Regulators)Red Flags For The Redcoat Battle Lines (Blue For The Regulators)

Alamance Battleground State Historic Site - Burlington NC
exhausted. Many of the Regulators fled the field; however, some Regulators remained behind to continue firing upon the militia. Tryon ordered the woods be set on fire.

Losses for both sides are disputed. Tryon reported nine dead and 61 wounded among the militia, but historians indicate greater numbers – between 15 and 27 were killed. Both sides count nine dead among the Regulators and dozens to over one hundred wounded. Tryon took 13 prisoners. One of them, James Few, was executed at the camp, and six were executed later in nearby Hillsborough. The governor pardoned others and allowed them to remain on the condition that they pledge an oath of allegiance to the royal government. Many Regulators traveled on to frontier areas beyond the boundaries of North Carolina.

I started in the visitor center where an orientation movie, "Alamance," offers a review of the oppressive British colonial policies that sparked the revolt and provides an account of the battle. A limited number of quality artifacts are on display. Outside, on the small site, the visitor can tour the 18th-century Allen House, a period log dwelling; see flags representing the locations of the battle lines; and see the battlefield monuments.

I remembered hearing of the Regulators, but knew virtually nothing of the pre-Revolutionary War causative factors beyond unfair taxation. I would suggest the attraction is worthy of a brief stop for most when in the area if for no other reason than to see the movie and to step outside to survey the very historic battlefield. In addition to the Battle of Alamance, the site was host to a couple of minor skirmishes during the American Revolution, a decade later; and of a Civil War era Confederate encampment. There is a lot of history at the Alamance Battleground State Historic Site.

My next stop was the Textile Heritage Museum in Burlington NC which is open only 1-4 PM on Saturdays and Sundays. The Textile Heritage Museum is located in the village of Glencoe on the Haw River three miles north of Burlington. After the Civil War, Southern states, particularly the Carolinas and Georgia, were turning to the cotton mill as a means of economic salvation. The Haw River in Alamance County was ideally suited to waterpower technology and was one of the principal manufacturing streams in North Carolina in the 19th century.

The Glencoe Cotton Mill was founded by William E. and James H. Holt, sons of E. M. Holt, founder of the Alamance Factory. The mill and the mill village were built on a 105-acre site, where a sawmill and a gristmill once stood, between 1880 and 1882. The village houses were built along two streets perpendicular to the river. James Holt managed the mill until his death in 1897. His son, Robert L. Holt, succeeded him, and the mill remained under Holt management until it closed in 1954.

The principal building of Glencoe Mills is a three-story structure. In it was located the carding, spinning and weaving departments. The mill began operations with 186 looms and 2120 spindles. Other buildings contained the dying and finishing operations as well as a two-and-a-half-story machine shop, the offices and the company store. At its peak, the mill supported up to 500 people, and approximately half of them lived in the mill houses. The houses rented for 50 cents a week, and land was provided for farming.

James Holt required the children of the village to attend school a given number of months each year (2, 3, 4? – the placard didn’t say) before allowing them
A 1920s Circular Knitting MachineA 1920s Circular Knitting MachineA 1920s Circular Knitting Machine

Textile Heritage Museum - Burlington NC
to work in the mill. This makes Glencoe the first mill in North Carolina to require that children attend school before seeking employment. A small wooden company school building stood at the top of the hill, but a brick public school, built and operated by the county, was erected across the road from the company school. A Methodist Church that was built soon after the village was constructed was torn down in 1976, but a Baptist Church that was built later remains.

The 1880 building that housed the former company store and the mill offices in the Glencoe Mill Village was purchased for the Textile Heritage Museum in 2004 and is an ongoing restoration project. The museum was created for the preservation and study of Southern textile heritage and highlights the history of Southern cotton mills, the machinery used by the textile industry from its birth as a “cottage industry” to the present, the family labor system and life in the mill village. There also is a large exhibit depicting the company store. Today, Glencoe Mills is one of the most undisturbed mill and village complexes in North Carolina and provides a comprehensive picture of the social and commercial
The Company Store Sold Virtually EVERYTHING!The Company Store Sold Virtually EVERYTHING!The Company Store Sold Virtually EVERYTHING!

Textile Heritage Museum - Burlington NC
structure of a late 19th century water-powered cotton mill and mill town.

The pulse of the textile industry in the United States has been in the Carolinas for many years, and if I had not visited the Textile Heritage Museum, my “Great Adventure” would have become a “Not-So-Great Adventure!” The limited hours of operation forces the visitor to go the extra mile to get the attraction tucked into the agenda, and there is nothing extraordinary about any specific, single display. For many (especially those who take photographs without alighting from the car but by rolling down the window), the museum would be an entire waste of time; however, for those with an interest in the history and the culture found along the byways of America, this is a “must see” attraction. I was fortunate enough to be the only patron and got a guided, deluxe tour.

I had found one attraction that was puzzling - the Whistlestop Exhibit at Company Shops Station in Burlington NC. With hours from 7:30 AM-7 PM seven days a week, this was not your ordinary attraction – but, what is it? A restaurant? A shopping mall? I had to solve the mystery; so
The Exhibit Area Is Totally RailroadThe Exhibit Area Is Totally RailroadThe Exhibit Area Is Totally Railroad

Whistlestop Exhibit at Company Shops Station - Burlington NC
on the way back to the RV park, long after other attractions were no longer available, I stopped. It looks like a railroad passenger depot and is situated next to railroad tracks. It’s definitely not a strip mall. It turns out that it is, indeed, the Amtrak station, and there are exhibits in the lobby that relate the genesis of Burlington NC.

In the 1850s, the North Carolina Railroad needed a location where it could build a maintenance facility. With Alamance County's position along a new railroad line, it became the logical choice for the shops' location. By 1859, construction of the shops had begun, and, seemingly overnight, a town was born. A church, a bank, a hotel and a restaurant sprang up. The town, which became known as "Company Shops," was also chosen as the railroad's headquarters. By the time the shops were completed, the village had grown to twenty-seven buildings. By 1864, Company Shops population was about 300 people.

After twenty-five years of operations, the shops closed as did most of the railroad's facilities. In 1886, the North Carolina Railroad Company transferred its operations to Spencer NC. The railroad shops and offices at Company Shops were
I Saw No Documentation For Any Of These BikesI Saw No Documentation For Any Of These BikesI Saw No Documentation For Any Of These Bikes

American Classic Motorcycle Museum - Asheboro NC
closed. With the railroad shops no longer operated there, the citizens of Company Shops decided a new name was needed, and Company Shops was reborn as Burlington on February 14, 1893. The city of Burlington was incorporated, and a charter was issued by the State Legislature.

The early history of Burlington is appropriately housed in a railroad passenger depot. The display tells of life as a railroad employee in Company Shops – working at Company Shops, the “rolling stock” and Company Shops Academy – and relates additional information about the community during the early days – the population of farmers and planters; transportation on dirt roads, plank roads and waterways; and education. The exhibit is interesting, unusual, very well done and worthy of thirty minutes of extra time before or after visiting other attractions.

Monday, November 11, 2013 was Veterans’ Day, and I purposely scheduled the North Carolina Vietnam Veterans Memorial for this day. Given that the memorial would not occupy the entire day, I selected other attractions and a scenic drive that would integrate easily into the itinerary. My first stop was the American Classic Motorcycle Museum in Asheboro NC. This attraction is on the second floor
Note The Stone PilingsNote The Stone PilingsNote The Stone Pilings

Pisgah Covered Bridge (1903) - Asheboro NC
of a restaurant, is free and is totally self-guided. There is no pamphlet, and, unfortunately, about half of the specimens are undocumented. There are some cool-looking bikes, but I was totally dumbfounded. This might be a great stop for the die-hard motorcycle enthusiast but is an “oh, by the way” stop for the casual observer.

Just outside Asheboro, there is a covered bridge. You’re right – I couldn’t resist! The 54-foot, one-lane Pisgah Covered Bridge, spanning the west fork of the Little River, was built in 1903 at a cost of $40. The local and federal historic landmark, closed to traffic after a nearby two-lane concrete bridge was built in the 1950s, is one of two remaining original historic covered bridges in the state (the other being the Bunker Hill Covered Bridge in Claremont NC).

The bridge was washed away by a flood on August 9, 2003 but was rebuilt the next year using many of the original materials that were retrieved by local volunteers. They were able to salvage from the original structure about 90 percent of the materials that were used in the restoration. What is really neat about the Pisgah Covered Bridge is the venue
The Memorial WallThe Memorial WallThe Memorial Wall

North Carolina Vietnam Veterans Memorial - Thomasville NC
– there are about a half dozen picnic tables for the benefit of the community. The stone pilings also make the bridge unique. Recommended for the enthusiast, for those who are passing by and for those in the area with a picnic lunch in the car!

I made my way southwest on scenic NC 49 to Richfield NC and turned northwest on US 52 toward Salisbury NC. Before reaching Salisbury, I took I-85 north. The North Carolina Vietnam Veterans Memorial is located in the Rest Area near Mile Marker 100 (35° 50’ 35.32” N, 80° 07’ 51.89” W) between the northbound and southbound lanes of I-85 so it can be accessed by travelers in either direction. FYI (and if you have a choice), the memorial is closer to the southbound lanes than the northbound lanes and, indeed, there is a road from the southbound rest area to the memorial parking lot. From the northbound rest area, it’s a short walk for most but might be a challenge for those with walking limitations!

The memorial was dedicated on Memorial Day 1991 to the 216,000 North Carolinians who served and to the more than 1620 that were killed or are
The 1998 Daytona 500 Winning EntryThe 1998 Daytona 500 Winning EntryThe 1998 Daytona 500 Winning Entry

Richard Childress Racing Museum - Welcome NC
missing. The memorial sits in an earthen bowl about 100 yards across and was constructed with a circular back made of North Carolina bricks. The center panel of the front face of the memorial contains the names of those killed or missing. The memorial is nice but unremarkable, and the traffic noise disrupts contemplation and reflection. Please, stop as you travel I-85 and pay homage to my brethren.

My next stop was the Richard Childress Racing Museum in Welcome NC. RCR, as the team is known to NASCAR fans, fields three NASCAR Cup entries (No. 27 - Paul Menard, No. 29 - Kevin Harvick and No. 31 - Jeff Burton); three Nationwide cars; and two Camping World Truck Series entries. This might mean little to those who don’t follow NASCAR, but a former driver for RCR should register with everybody – Dale Earnhardt, Sr.

The first several exhibits in the museum are, essentially, a memorial to the legend. There are about 15-20 cars with Dale Earnhardt’s name emblazoned above the door and almost all the “action display” vehicles tout his famous #3 against the familiar black Mr. Goodwrench paint scheme. That sponsorship was so engrained in my mind I had forgotten that he had had other sponsors – Wrangler, Wheaties, and AC Delco among them – or that his car had ever been painted anything but black! Very impressive, and well done.

This is the first of many NASCAR team shops I have on the “to do” list; however, most are in the Charlotte NC area where I plan to visit after seeing my cousins in the Raleigh-Durham area. I will have to hold any comparison until I have seen those facilities; however, the museum is located in the old RCR shop and does a great job of portraying the behind-the-scenes activities of a NASCAR team. I will include several pictures and let them speak for the institution.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013 found me heading for Historic Bethabara Park (pronounced beth-ab-bra) in Winston-Salem NC – “the place where it all began.” It definitely had me guessing! The Moravian Church had its beginning in 1457, in what is now the Czech Republic, and is regarded as the oldest Protestant denomination. The Moravians were followers of the reformer and martyr Jan Hus, who was burned at the stake in 1415. In 1457, the Moravians formed the Unitas Fratrum or the “Unity of the Brethren.”

Throughout the 1700s, the Moravians travelled to carry the Gospel to all the people on all the continents. As the first Protestant missionaries in the New World, they did not seek to convert the native peoples to the Moravian Church but instead emphasized Christian love vs. church doctrine. At the time, the Moravian community in Herrnhut, Germany was about 600 people but found 70 missionaries departing the community between 1732 and 1742 to convey the love of God to places hither and yon. The first Moravian mission in America was founded in Savannah GA in 1735 and was followed in 1740 by missions in Bethlehem, Lititz and Nazareth PA. In 1749, the British Parliament passed an act declaring Unitas Fratrum a Protestant Episcopal Church.

With a reputation as a quiet, sober, religious group; the German-speaking Moravians were recruited by several countries to form settlements in the new world. One of the most lucrative offers came from British Lord Granville. On August 25, 1752, a party led by Bishop Spangenburg departed Bethlehem PA to explore Lord Granville’s tract of rolling woodlands; and in London on August 7, 1753, the church’s acquisition of a 100,000 acre tract of land they called Wachovia was completed. On October 8, 1753, a party of fifteen men left Bethlehem PA to establish the first Moravian settlement in Wachovia. After suffering much hardship, the men arrived on November 13, celebrated their safe arrival with a “lovefeast of stewed pumpkin and cornmeal mush” and found shelter in an abandoned cabin. The construction of Bethabara began the next morning.

Bethabara is taken from Hebrew, means "House of Passage" and is the name of the site traditionally believed to be where Jesus Christ was baptized. Bethabara was never meant to be a permanent settlement but was intended to house the Moravians until a more suitable location for their central village could be found. In 1771, that site, Salem, was established. Many of the settlers moved to Salem, and Bethabara became an outlying farm that supplied the residents of Salem and other Moravian villages with food. Eventually, the village of Bethabara was no longer needed and fell into disuse. Most of the original buildings collapsed, and the foundations were filled in to create more farm land. Only the Church and a couple of other buildings continued in regular use.

Other than
The Docent Was Entertaining And Very KnowledgeableThe Docent Was Entertaining And Very KnowledgeableThe Docent Was Entertaining And Very Knowledgeable

Historic Bethabara Park - Winston-Salem NC
the excavated foundations of the original buildings, all that remains of Bethabara Village today is the restored 1788 Bethabara Moravian Church with attached minister’s quarters. The dual function building is also known as the Gemeinhaus or communal house. The Historic Bethabara Park, declared a National Historic Landmark in 1999, is a 183-acre park and wildlife preserve that also offers 20 miles of nature trails.

I really couldn’t get a feel for the attraction from the literature and had to satisfy my curiosity – “Where it all began…” sounds like history and culture to me. When I arrived, I was told (very nicely – no complain here) by a costumed docent that there was a school group on a tour and that my tour would have to wait for that group to finish. I’m not sure why, but “I’m retired – what the heck!”

There are very few artifacts on display, but the interesting introductory video and a series of well-done placards presenting a history of the events leading to the purchase of and the settlement of Wachovia kept me occupied – for a while. Two other couples arrived. The docent kept moving between the foursome and me apologizing
Austere But Pretty – Note The Entry Door For Late ArrivalsAustere But Pretty – Note The Entry Door For Late ArrivalsAustere But Pretty – Note The Entry Door For Late Arrivals

Historic Bethabara Park - Winston-Salem NC
and asking if there were any questions. I must admit that I was growing slightly impatient.

Eventually, the school group finished and our tour began. We first stopped at a reproduction 1865 calf barn that housed a display of 18th century tools – all of which were nice but none of which was exceptional. We walked across the street to the Gemeinhaus. The docent provided an interesting description of the ritual that accompanied the church service. The men sat on one side with women on the other, the young sat closer to the exterior walls with elders near the aisle and the rear entrance to the church was secured at the beginning of the service so late arrivals had to enter through a door in the sanctuary where all could note their tardiness.

On the parsonage side of the Gemeinhaus, there are two interesting wood burning stoves either covered with or built of tiles (I don’t remember him saying and I surely didn’t think to ask) and used strictly for heating. We learned that, once a good fire was built, the tiles held the heat thereby reducing the need for stoking and rebuilding the stove fire to only
A Great Venue For A Visitor CenterA Great Venue For A Visitor CenterA Great Venue For A Visitor Center

Downtown Thomasville NC
once during the night. The stoves are beautiful in their own right. We learned that the parsonage dining table also served as the school desk for the children of the village before a school was constructed. The self-guided tour is free; however, the supplemental information provided by the entertaining docent is the nucleus of the tour and markedly elevates the attraction’s value beyond the small fee.

There were lots of interesting tidbits about the church, the organ, the parsonage and the lifestyle that was passed along by the docent to make the tour interesting and worthwhile. In spite of the “school tour delay” and given that the bone-chilling wind caused me to waived the other self-guided outdoor exhibits, I will recommend this attraction simply because of its uniqueness and its historical significance.

On my way back to the RV park, I stopped in Thomasville NC to peruse two unique attractions I found in the literature. The 1870 Train Depot serves as the Thomasville Visitors’ Center and is “One of the State’s Oldest and Best Railroad Depots.” Knowledgeable Knelly (the “K” also is silent in the moniker I ascribed to the attendant – LOL) told me the station had originally been located across the railroad tracks but had been moved to this more centralized location. It’s a cool building and worth a stop if you’re driving past OR if you come to Thomasville to see the World's Largest Chair.

The Big Chair of Thomasville garnered national attention when Vice Presidential candidate Lyndon B. Johnson greeted local supporters from atop the chair while on a campaign whistle stop in 1960. The Big Chair has since hosted governors, university presidents, mayors, beauty queens, and even an evangelist. The Big Chair is 18 feet tall and is mounted on a 12-foot base - yep, three stories from the bottom of the base to the top of the chair. The seat is 10-1/2 feet wide. It, too, is cool but is not a “must see.” While returning to my truck, I happened upon three interesting murals.

I thoroughly enjoyed my week-log stay in Winston-Salem. You might have deduced by now that the weather cooperated, for the most part, and I was able to complete my “to do” list – something that hasn’t happened for some time. There were times I thought Informational Irene (my GPS) was making me emulate a dog chasing his tail but referencing maps after the fact showed otherwise. Regardless, no matter the time of day, the traffic was never a problem so I’ll give a “hats off” to whomever for building infrastructure as an action plan and not as a reactionary necessity. The city was clean, and I never felt in danger. Winston-Salem has a diverse menu of attractions and should make a great stop for almost anybody.


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8th April 2014

great narrative, missing but one component
Pulled pork sandwiches.

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