Sojourn to Eastern USA (Continued from last issue)
By REX VOGEL
From Waynesville, North Carolina, we traveled east on I-40 (a good to very good road) to Asheville; east on I-26 (a mostly good road) to Henderson and Columbus; east on U.S. 74 to Forest City, Shelby, and Kings Mountain; east on I-85 to Gastonia and Charlotte (a very good road); north on I-77 to Statesville (mostly a good road, but very rough around Statesville); northeast on I-40 (a good road) to Mocksville; and, finally, east on US 64 to Thousand Trails Forest River Preserve where we spent seven wonderful days, (222 miles/357 km).
The 305-acre Forest Lake Preserve is located on the Yadkin River in the heart of the Piedmont region, midway between Mocksville and Lexington and approximately 25 miles/40 km south of Winston-Salem. This preserve was once part of the Cooleemee cotton and tobacco plantation, which dates back to 1817. Trails suitable for hiking and biking crisscross the hilly and forested property, and the lake on the property offers fishing, boating, and a swimming beach. Thousand Trails is surrounded by two dry counties ? Davie and Randolph.
Southern Railway and the North Carolina Transportation Museum
?Most people have the fantasy of catching the train that whistles in the night.?
The Southern Railway Company was created by New York financier J.P. Morgan in 1894. On March 23, 1896, Southern Railway began construction of one of the largest railway steam repair shops in the South, located halfway between Atlanta and Washington DC.Streets were laid-out and new homes sprang-up in the village that was soon to be become the source of the largest payroll in the county?s history.The new town was named Spencer in honor of Southern?s first president, Samuel Spencer.Spencer Shop repaired steam locomotives that hauled Southern?s passenger trains and freight trains filled with North Carolina furniture, textiles, tobacco, and produce.For many years, between 2,500 and 3,000 people worked in the shops of the Southern Railway system.
Southern Railway was one of the first US rail systems to experiment with diesel-electric locomotives, and by 1953 Southern had retired its last steam engine.By this timeSpencer Shops were in decline with employment dropping steadily through the 1950?s and 1960?s until it finally came to a halt in the late 1970?s. In September 1977, Southern Railway donated four acres and three buildings to the state of North Carolina.Today, it is the site of the North Carolina Transportation Museum, a North Carolina State Historic Site.
We begin our tour of the North Carolina Transportation Museum at Barber Junction, a restored passenger station built in 1898 in the nearby town of Barber.The four-room structure, modified to just two rooms, was moved to this site in 1980.
The Master Mechanic?s office once housed the head of operations for Spencer Shops, but today the exhibit ?Wagons, Wheels & Wings? and a gift shop fill the historic structure.Displays trace the story of all forms of transportation in the state, including a Conestoga wagon, a corduroy road, and an amphibious airplane, which had been built by a North Carolinian in his backyard.
With its hundreds of glass panels, the Flue Shop served as the repair area for the boiler flues of steam locomotives.Now the exhibit ?Bumper to Bumper? traces the evolution of the automobile in North Carolina from tiny buggy-type vehicles to sleek 1940?s roadsters and modern cars.The vehicles are set against backdrops that feature life from the 1920?s through the 1980?s.
The restored 1924 Robert Julian Roundhouse let us experience the days of a working railroad repair shop.With 37 bays, it is one of the largest roundhouses ever constructed, and one of the few remaining in the country.The building houses more than 25 restored locomotives and rail cars.Exhibits focus on the lives of the men who made Spencer Shops run and the history of railroads in North Carolina. A video presentation, interactive exhibits, and a huge scale model of Spencer Shops bring the story of the rails to life.
Twenty-five-minute train rides around the 57-acre complex and five-minute rides on the 100-foot-long turntable are available seasonally.Rides originate in the orientation room in the Roundhouse.
From our RV Park at Thousand Trails Forest River Preserve, it was a 30-minute drive to Winston-Salem.
In 1753, German Moravians arrived in the area and ten years later,a group of them bought 100,000 acres in the rich Piedmont region of North Carolina from Lord Granville.They named their new land Wachovia, after the Austrian estate of County Nicholas Lewis von Zinzendorf, an early protector of the Moravian Church.
The town of Salem, meaning ?peace,? was established in 1766 and became a centre for the church congregation, for backcountry trading, and for crafts and trades.
The opening of cotton and wool manufacturing companies helped the town prosper. The young settlement witnessed many historical events:Nathanael Greene?s soldiers and Cornwallis passed through Salem, and in 1791, George Washington spent two nights in the small town.Salem prospered and grew as opened.
In 1849, Forsyth County was formed with the community of Winstonas the county seat.The courthouse square was laid only one mile north of Salem Square, and the streets of the two towns were planned to run together.With the completion of a railroad line to Winston and Salem came years of great commercial growth for the communities.Winston, named for Revolutionary War hero Major Joseph Winston, became an industrial dynamo as the tobacco, furniture, and textiles industries grew.In 1913, the cities of Winston and Salem merged. Now North Carolina?s fourth largest city with a population of 173,500, Winston-Salem is recognized for its diverse collection of industries.
The Pottery of Seagrove
?If North America has a ?pottery state?, it must be North Carolina.?
?Jack Troy, from ?Wood-Fired Stoneware and Porcelain? (1995)
No other state has so deep and dynamic a tradition in pottery as North Carolina. The Seagrove area, one of the largest and oldest communities of working potters in the country, traces its roots back to the eighteenth century. We drove rural North Carolina roads through gently rolling hills and lush stands of tall trees to Seagrove, a thriving community of pottery artisans who have been practicing the craft for generations.
Native Americans were making pottery in what is now the Seagrove area thousands of years ago, long before the colonial potters began arriving in the 1700?s. In the early years, Seagrove potters crafted utilitarian glazed earthware or stoneware ? churns, milk crocks, jars for food storage, whiskey jugs, and kitchenware which were sold from covered wagons traveling throughout the state. By the 1900?s, many families made an annual trek to Seagrove to purchase pottery for family use and gifts. The tradition continues as tens of thousands of visitors come to the Seagrove area each year to see, enjoy, and buy pottery. The North Carolina Pottery Center preserves and promotes this unique heritage.
By the early twentieth century, as glass containers became more common and North Carolina?s stills were closed, there was little need for stoneware containers and whiskey jugs. Some potteries closed in the early 1900?s, but a revival in the industry began about 1920 when the potters began creating art pottery to sell to Yankee visitors. At the same time, Jacques and Juliana Busbee established the Jugtown Pottery to preserve the folk pottery of the area, bringing in master potter Ben Owen to re-create traditional salt-glazed stoneware and orange earthenware. In 1924, North State Pottery, another important revivalist pottery, was opened nearby with potters Jonie and Walter N. Owen. Many of the old pottery families such as Cole and Owens are still operating shops throughout the Seagrove area today.
The traditional area of the Seagrove pottery industry covers the countryside for about 15 miles around the village of Seagrove. The scenic roads of the area wind through rolling hills and picturesque farmlands dotted with small country villages. Down the beautiful back roads, in distinctive barns and charming log cabins we found the beautiful treasures of the Seagrove pottery tradition. Many nationally and internationally recognized potters maintain individual shops in the area.
At the North Carolina Pottery Center, located in the center of the village of Seagrove, permanent exhibits trace North Carolina pottery from prehistoric Native American times to the present. Displays of pottery in the museum include pieces dating back to the early Native Americans of the region, who for thousands of years made use of the rich natural clay deposits, as well as pieces from the earliest of the European potters of Seagrove. In addition to the historic pieces on display, the Pottery Center also features pieces from each of the current potteries in the Seagrove area. The center provides maps, information, and displays to assist visiting over 90 potteries in the Seagrove area and hundreds of potters across the state.
The annual Seagrove Pottery Festival, held the Sunday before Thanksgiving, is a one-day event that brings the potters of Seagrove to one location to demonstrate their craft and sell their wares.
?We North Carolianians know ?
we are not taught, we are born knowing?
that barbecue consist of pork cooked over hickory coals
and seasoned with vinegar and red pepper pods.
No serious Tar Heel barbecue chef
would disclose his or her proportions of the latter;
?season to taste? is the proper commandment.
But here?s a tip:
You want 1 quart of vinegar,
seasoned with a taste of red pepper, for a 65-pound pig ?
and that?s been handed down to me through generations of pig fanciers.?
New York Times columnist
Throughout the hills of the Piedmont, barbecue is discussed seriously among connoisseurs. At Tar Heel Q we enjoyed Lexington-style barbecue ? chopped pork shoulder, smoldered over hickory coals for a long while, and served with semi-hot ketchup and vinegar sauce, along with slaw on the side and iced tea.
From our base at Forest River Thousand Trails Preserve, we traveled 16 miles/25.75 km toWestern Horizon?s Bass Lake RV Resort, which is located several miles north of historic Salisbury(pronounced ?SAULS-bur-y?).Named after the cathedral town in England, Salisbury was chartered in 1755 as the county seat for Rowan.As the largest city in western North Carolina in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Salisbury was the major center of trade and politics.The coming of the railroad in 1859 further boosted the town?s economy. (Continued next issue.)
Rex Vogel and his wife Dania are Canadian Snowbirds who have wintered in Southern California, Arizona, Texas, and Florida. They may be contacted at Vontheroad@aol.com.
Because prices, dates, and other specifics are subject to change, please check all information to make sure it?s still current before making your travel plans.