Waxhaw, NC – Twelve Days of Christmas events begin the Friday after Thanksgiving and continue on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through the weekend before Christmas. Festivities start out with the illumination of over 75,000 lights in historic downtown Waxhaw, known as the Holiday Festival of Lights, followed by a Snack with Santa. The Waxhaw Christmas Parade, attended by 10,000, Senior Citizens Christmas Party and weekend carriage rides continue to bring Christmas spirit to all that visit. For more information:
Swansboro, NC – Christmas Flotilla – Don’t miss this spectacular parade of lights from the White Oak River. Parade begins at dusk and remember Santa Claus is sure to make his way on deck for a special visit. Held annually on the Friday evening after Thanksgiving. Rain date is Saturday.
Lexington, NC -
Start your holiday season in Uptown Lexington!
On Saturday evening, November 17, 2012 meet us in the square at 6:30 pm for the 5th Annual Lighting of the Uptown Lexington trees. Look for information about a special addition to the 2012 event!
Come back to Uptown Lexington for an old-fashioned Christmas celebration, the Annual Uptown Lexington Christmas Open House. Always held on the Sunday afternoon before Thanksgiving from 1-5 pm, the 19th annual Uptown Lexington Christmas Open House will be Sunday, November 18, 2012..
More than 25 merchants invite you to visit their shops to get a jump on your holiday shopping while enjoying holiday decorations and activities. Events include horse-drawn carriage rides, holiday music, a kids art activity area, The North Pole Express train, and of course Santa and Mrs.Claus. For more info: http://www.uptownlexington.com/Events/christmas.asp
A tid-bit of trivia for you –started in 1921, not only is it recognized as the “The Oldest Consecutive Veterans Day Celebration in America”, but the Veterans Day National Committee has designated Warsaw as a Veterans Day Regional Site for 2012. This time- honored tradition offers a full day of celebration and reverence beginning at 8am with a pancake breakfast, a memorial service at 10am, and a parade at 11am. Not to be missed! For more info: http://www.townofwarsawnc.com/
Edenton, NC – Join Edenton from November 2012 – December 2013 as they celebrate their founding and the incredible histories that go along with it. Much excitement is building with activities and events that will delight all ages. Here is our Kick-Off Week Schedule:
11/4: Happy Birthday Cupcakes on the 1767 Chowan County Courthouse Green in Celebration 1 pm – 3:30 pm
11/5: Prayer Service at the 1767 Chowan County Courthouse Noontime
11/5-10: Birthday Cake and Punch served at the Edenton Visitor Center and a student K-2 Art Exhibit on how Edenton looked 300 years ago
Free Walking Tours on the Founding of the Town
11/6-7: Carolina Charter @ 1767 Chowan County Courthouse
11/6: Ringing of 1767 Chowan County Courthouse Bells 300 Times & Church Bells – noontime
11/8: Dr. Marty Matthews Speaking on Founding of Edenton & Its Early History
11/9: Gospel Sing by Local Church Choirs in the 1767 Chowan County Courthouse
For more information: http://www.visitedenton.com/calendar-event.php?id=150
I could say a lot about the small towns in the coal-mining area of northeast Pennsylvania. I am a product of the region–my grandparents came over from Italy to work as laborers in the mines, and eventually settled in the towns of Pittson and West Pittston. Pittston welcomed laborers from southern Italy, and West Pittson welcomed the higher-standing northerners, at least that’s what my Aunt Rose tells me. One of my grandfathers was from the north and one was from the south, so they settled in the appropriate towns, separated by the Susquehanna River. Regardless of their class, both grandfathers worked in the mines, and, in the case of my mother’s father, Cesare, died in them.
I’ve been traveling to this region during the holidays for my entire life to visit with my extended family, but I’ve never done much exploring beyond the homesteads. However, this past Christmas, an old friend from high school said he would be in the area. Rick and his wife Anna would be visiting Anna’s family in Hometown, PA. Since we both liked to explore historic small towns, Rick suggested meeting up in the nearby Jim Thorpe for lunch.
The first thing you assume when you visit Jim Thorpe is that the town’s namesake, the famed Native-American Olympian and overall sportsman, was a native of the town. You would be wrong to assume that. The town, originally named Mauch Chunk, was looking to rename itself to attract businesses in 1953, the year of Jim’s death. After negotiations with his widow, the town “bought his remains,” erected a monument, and renamed the town in his honor. He was from the midwest, although he did attend the Carlisle Indian Industrial School in nearby Carlisle, PA.
Jim’s name was pretty well-known around that time, but I have no idea whether the scheme caused a positive blip in the economic health of the town. Now, what I really want to know is how they got their original name, Mauch Chunk. Can someone help me with that?
There are several other historical nuggets that really caught my attention during my brief visit here. One of the trials of the Molly Maguires took place in Jim Thorpe. The Molly MaGuires were a secret organization of Irish men who banded together for protection during the conflicts the miners had with mine bosses during those days. In the late 1800s, labor unions were on the rise because the workers needed to improve working conditions–12-hr workdays, child labor, fires, etc. The mine bosses would use mine police and private security forces, such as the Pinkertons, to control strikes and the overall population, and the miners would counter with their secret organizations. Anyway, there was a whole lot of violence in those days. The MaGuires would probably be considered terrorists in today’s terminology, since they were a little on the rough side, handing out coffin notices and such.
Anyway, they were infiltrated by a Pinkerton detective, and several of them were eventually brought to trial for murder. Four were hung near the old prison in Jim Thorpe, which still stands. One of the executed man’s hand prints is reputedly still on the wall of the prison there, in some way proving his innocence. There is a Sean Connery movie about them, called the Molly Maguires–it’s worth seeing if you are into this kind of stuff.
Anyway, we ate lunch at Flow, which is located in the Carbon County Cultural Project. Lunch was good, we had a pizza appetizer, and I had a veggie burger and some coffee. The waitress was very nice as she explained all she knew about the shocking truth that Jim Thorpe never lived here. The Stabin Morykin Gallery adjoins the restaurant. The building is an old wire mill, which later became a silk mill and dressmaker’s factory.
There are a few B&Bs and hotels in town and other interesting restaurants. This town is very picturesque, running along a mountain ridge on one side and a stream on the other. One other cool fact about the town is that they have a gravity railroad, which served as the model for the first roller coaster.
We would definitely like to offer them smallwander membership. There are several other nearby towns that are worth visiting as well. Stay tuned as we explore this region further.
The Town of Hillsborough was established in 1754, two years after the formation of Orange County, where the Great Indian Trading Path crossed the Eno River. For many years Hillsborough was a leading town in its region of North Carolina and many significant historical events occurred here.
There remain more than 100 late eighteenth and nineteenth century structures that illustrate this history. In addition, there are numerous secondary buildings, bridges, millsites and dams along the Eno, and Native American relics from the locations of ancient towns stretching back thousands of years.
William Churton first laid out the town of Hillsborough, then called Orange, on 400 acres granted by the Honorable John Earl Granville. He provided for spacious public squares at each intersection of main streets. In 1766, however, this plan was abandoned, and in spite of the hilly situation of the town, the familiar checkerboard-and-cross street plan was employed by surveyor and town founder William Churton. Hillsborough took its present name in 1766 after the Irish peer, William Hill, Earl of Hillsborough, Secretary of State for the Colonies from 1768 to 1772 under George III. The street names – Tryon, Wake, King, Queen, Churton – still recall this early history.
Hillsborough was a center of political activity during the colonial and Revolutionary period. Several royal and elected governors lived here, as did a signer of the Declaration of Independence, William Hooper, whose house still stands. The War of the Regulation (1766-1771) ended here. The town hosted the third Provincial Congress (1775); the state’s Constitutional Convention of 1788, which demanded that a Bill of Rights be added to the U.S. Constitution; and five General Assemblies (1778, 1780, 1782-1784). Hillsborough was the base of operations for the Continental Army led by Revolutionary General Horatio Gates. Later, General Cornwallis raised the Royal Standard here during his stay in February 1781. Hillsborough remained a political and cultural center in the nineteenth century. It was from temporary headquarters near town that General Joseph E. Johnston rode out to surrender the largest of the Confederate armies to General Sherman in 1865. The farmhouse where this took place has since been moved into downtown Hillsborough and serves as the Orange County Visitor Center.
Hillsborough is ideally situated, at the merger of Interstate 85 and Interstate 40, providing easy access to all points in North Carolina. The town that was once the colonial capital of North Carolina is now the county seat of Orange County. During the Revolutionary War, Hillsborough was a political and cultural center in the area and it remains so today, with interesting shops and restaurants and many activities celebrating the arts and history being held monthly.
For more information, visit The Alliance for Historic Hillsborough:
An excerpt from an article from the Orange County, NC Visitor’s Bureau…
By Michael Malone
In Casablanca, “Everybody comes to Ric’s.” In Hillsborough, everybody comes to Churton Street, where now, on curiously balmy winter days, sidewalks bustle with outdoor diners under umbrellas and with shoppers carrying parcels. Everybody comes, and more and more, they fall in love.
Hillsborough, the seat of Orange County, has a past. Its downtown blocks commemorate so many crucial scenes in our nation’s founding that drivers do not have time to read the historical markers, even in traffic, as they go through town. It had a past in 1000 A.D. when Occaneechie Indians lived and traded here. It had a past when Revolutionary firebrands chased away the Royal Governor and fought the Battle of Alamance, years before Paul Revere galloped into Concord, Massachusetts, yelling that the British were coming…
Smallwander.com stopped by Mt. Airy on March 13 for a brief visit. Members of the team hit all the hotspots suggested by the Visitor’s Center. You of course know that Andy Griffith grew up in Mt. Airy, so we checked out The Andy Griffith Collection located at The Andy Griffith Playhouse. Be sure to eat at Snappy Lunch, the only true Mount Airy establishment mentioned on the Andy Griffith show.
I personally appreciated the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History, where I learned about the Hillsville Massacre. Unbelievable. If you do anything, stand in the top floor of that museum and read a copy of the original newspaper article about this courtroom shootout in 1912 in nearby Hillsville, which left the entire law dead in the county. But, it really is more of a family-friendly place. Learn about the amazing Eng and Chang, the original Siamese twins.
And, make sure you visit the largest open-face granite quarry on the planet, the North Carolina Granite Corporation. I’m really just scratching the surface here.
<The following article was written in the summer, and is reprinted here to archive it in our new blog.>
I just returned from a three-day weekend vacation with my wife, and I feel great. I needed a respite from the daily doings, and for me that called for equal parts relaxation and adventure. A mid-July Friday morning promised heat and humidity in the piedmont of NC as we motored happily eastward from the Triangle. Our elbows rested out the windows and caught the morning breeze as did the tips of rope that held our big red canoe atop our little car. We cruised on like this under a clouded sky towards the Pamlico Sound and two old towns.
As we neared Washington we pulled out the large, trusty NC Atlas and Gazetteer as well as a tidy collection of official tourism information we had ordered from the town. The town’s info poetically and enticingly directed us to the waterfront loop where the local docks held bobbing sailboats and other sea craft at the ready for the weekend. With the car windows still down, we took in the sights at a very slow pace. Driving an initial loop around town gave us a sense of place. I checked the large map to make sure we had encircled the town and then settled on a free parking space on East Main Street, curbside to a welcoming set of steps lined with perfectly potted flowers leading up to one of the many charming front-porch houses. The sidewalk safely took us two blocks into the heart of town, passing one of a series of large, colorful Crab Sculptures alike in dimension and size to others on the streets but each rendered uniquely by different artists and businesses. I’ve loved this public art concept seen across America in large cities like Dallas and Baltimore, as well as in some lucky small towns of North Carolina. My wife posed gleefully with one of the more outlandish creations.
Historical markers on the homes and on the street posts told the history of the town named for General George Washington. Three-story red-brick buildings, several studded with the old cast iron star plates, stood opposite each other on the broad mainstreet, and housed a variety of businesses, including antique shops, a serious book and toy store, a sportsman’s outfitter, a handful of little art boutiques, a good selection of eateries and even a furniture store whose wooden rocking chairs lined the front walk and served as a gathering place for locals and visitors alike.
Posted flyers on windows and on street corners proudly notified us of town activities including a Friday Music Series and a Saturday Street Market. A smiling public works employee told us they were preparing to close the street to vehicle traffic for the evening as pedestrians would soon be converging on the town for an evening of music and entertainment.
We had a late lunch at the casual “Down on Mainstreet”. The high-ceiling, multi-sectioned café and bar served us a tasty appetizer of tender, battered “grouper fingers.” We read about local sights including the NC Estuarium, (an educational center focusing on the rich ecology of the local estuary) and the historic Turnage Theatre Performance Center as well as the beautiful Coastline Train Depot now housing the Beaufort County Arts Council.
As we walked back to the car we talked of the livability of this downtown, and how sustainable it appeared. The impressive renovations and ongoing preservation of the town’s history was very encouraging. It is certainly a good day trip and more if a performance is in town. Don’t pass this one up on your travels along the Inner Banks of NC.
Now, when you go to Washington, plan to head a dozen miles eastward to Bath, the first incorporated town in NC. We chose to stay at The Inn on Bath Creek after reading online about the quiet little historic village. While Washington offered entertainment, shopping, and dining, Bath’s charm rested primarily on its unhurried and unpretentious yet unmistakable historic presence. Crossing the bridge over Bath Creek forces you to slow down and view the lush cypress tree-lined creek that widens gradually to meet the Pamlico River. It was here in 1705 where, Surveyor General, John Lawson recognized the beauty and bounty afforded by the small peninsula of upland overlooking the creeks and rivers.
Once we slowed down on that bridge, we had no inclination to speed up again for the rest of the weekend. The large Willow Oaks,shading the straight and wide South Main Street, cast shadows down to the water’s edge. Among the trees sits the old town core composed of church, home, and empty store front.
While walking, you hear the sea gull cries mingling with the clink of shipmast riggings. A dog happily barks at children playing on the lush green creek-bank of a nearby backyard. As in Washington, we again drove the perimeter of town to sense the size. We rounded the peninsula point where loblolly pines shaded a picnic park with a broad view of the creek. The evening was cooling nicely. We checked into our B & B and promptly set out on foot to explore our weekend retreat. Our yard had two guest bicycles racked and ready for a morning pedal. Kayaks hung from the car port. An elderly couple walked casually down the street and waved at us and resumed their exercise. There were no sidewalks, but rather a wide, level thoroughfare which seemed to self-govern the speed of all who traveled. There was a certain joy of freedom in not worrying about which side of the street to walk on as we crisscrossed at will and whim. Being one who often treads a crooked line, while spying distant birds through the trees, I felt safe and unrestrained in Bath.
We found two restaurants in town, both locally owned. One, within walking distance of the heart of the historic district, sold creative pizzas and Italian ice (and ice cream!) while the other, about a half mile up the road, served country comfort food and deliciously battered seafood.
The following morning, we found the visitor’s center which sits underneath the maritime live oak trees, behind the historic Palmer-Marsh House, and showcases the town’s history with artifacts, maps, a nice 15- minute video, and a staff-guided walking tour. Within 2 hours, by foot and bicycle, we did it all including the self guided tour of the state’s oldest existing church. Back at the Inn, the front porch Adirondacks were waiting. And soon we were each reclined with something to read. I checked out some maritime maps to plan our canoe trip for the next day.
Nearby, the Goose Creek State Park offers camping and general recreation. On our final day and in our big red canoe, we spent three sunny hours exploring the quiet reaches of Goose Creek, another little gem along the inner banks. With our weekend now complete and filled with adventure and relaxation, we headed west for home. We will return to that historic quarter of North Carolina and check in on those two old coastal towns from time to time. –Jayson Delisle of Smallwander.com.