Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Surry County: Pilot Mountain State Park

While on our weekend getaway in Winston-Salem in mid-July, George and I spent Saturday afternoon at Pilot Mountain State Park in Surry County, North Carolina. As we drove up Highway 52, we could see Pilot Mountain (left) ahead of us!

Surry County has been around since 1771, as was named for the county of Surrey in England.

I saw this welcome sign on 52 and asked George to pull over; it's one of the prettiest county signs I've seen.

When we got to Pilot Mountain State Park, we stopped at the park office first, and George checked out the info sign. We'd stopped at a Subway in Rural Hall (on the way) and wanted to know where the picnic tables were.

We enjoyed a leisurely lunch, and decided to start hiking. The first path we took had a number of scenic overlooks, like the picture here.

At another overlook, someone offered to take a picture of the two of us, and this turned out to be one of my favorite pictures of the weekend!

Another pretty shot.

After taking a number of pictures, George and I continued hiking, and found a trail marked "moderate" on a neaby sign, so we decided to take the .8 mile loop. On THAT trail, we came upon another trail, a 2-mile loop marked strenuous! Uh oh! George was DYING to take that trail. I, however, had run 10 miles on the hotel treadmill that morning to keep pace with my training schedule. We'd already walked a bit, and my legs were getting tired. We went back and forth about it for a few minutes, then I gave in and followed him down the path. It was a pretty walk, but turned out to be even more strenuous (and longer) than even George had anticipated. We did run into a fair number of people on this trail, though, most of them rock climbers at several points along the way. (Does that tell you something about the steepness?!)

We started asking people along the way how much farther we had to go until we hit the end of the trail. The stock answer was, "Oh, about half a mile that way!" We even passed a sign that said 1/2 mile, with an arrow pointing in the direction we were traveling. Finally, we saw some hikers who offered us water, and I graciously accepted!

Along the way, we saw the yellow trail marker painted on a rock, with a face penned on it with the tongue hanging out. It was very appropriate, so here's a picture of George underneath it. If you click on the picture to enlargen it, you can see the yellow face better. :)

Surry County is also home to Mt. Airy, but George and I didn't have the time to go visit. Mount Airy is most famous, I think, for its "Mayberry" connection on "The Andy Griffith Show." In fact, the 18th annual Mayberry Days will be held in Mt. Airy the last weekend in September! If you've seen the show, you may remember the references to "Mount Pilot" (out own Pilot Mountain, of course) and Raleigh (the state capital, for real).

Although Mt. Airy is probably the most well-known city in the county, Dobson is Surry County's county seat. I've also had the pleasure of visiting White Plains, near Mount Airy, back in the 1990's, soon after I started working on my family tree. One of the names in my family tree is Yates, and as it turns out, two Yates sisters-Sarah Ann and Adelaide (2nd cousins 5 times removed to me) married Eng and Chang Bunker. The Yates sisters were from neighboring Wilkes County, where several of my family branches are from, the the Bunkers moved to nearby White Plains after initially settling in Wilkesboro (in Wilkes County).

Friday, August 15, 2008

Forsyth County: Old Salem

While in Winston Salem (Forsyth County), North Carolina, last month, George and I visited the historical community of Old Salem. It was founded in 1766 by Moravians, and was a thriving community through part of the nineteenth century. In 1913, Salem merged with nearby Winston to become Winston-Salem, and in the 1950s, Old Salem became a not-for-profit to maintain and restore the historic buildings of the community.

Old Salem reminds me somewhat of a smaller version of Historic Williamsburg (though it's probably been 30 years since I've been to Williamsburg). George and I started in the Visitor's Center, which included a couple of shopping areas and a mini-film theater, where we watched a well-done introductory film about the area (including what we'd expect to see).

Although it was after lunch, we decided to buy passes to see as much as we could. (We were inspired by the film, and had several places in mind already.) It's a walking tour, and some of the buildings have people dressed in period costumes, explaining different places and activities around the community. Those places required the pass to get in, and we decided it would be worth it. I'm so glad we did, because it turned out to be a fascinating and fun afternoon!

In addition to visiting Home Moravian Church, we stopped by the apothocary, the Single Brothers' Home, and the bakery (yum!). (George and I bought a couple of small loaves to share, and I got some of the lemon cookies to share at work.) We also enjoying walking through the Toy Museum, where I was charmed by the lack of technology.

I was impressed by the history of this Moravian village, where people seemed to work together for the survival of the community. After children finished their education (around 13 or so) they moved into the single brothers or single sisters homes (like boarding houses), where they contributed to the upkeep (rent, cooking, cleaning, etc) on a regular basis. It was a skill-based community, and both men and women learned trades needed by the community when they came of age. They were grouped by "choirs," and Moravians buried in God's Acre in Old Salem were buried based on the choir they were in.

Although those choirs weren't the musical type, Moravians were also known for their music, with musical groups that played for a number of occasions, including the Easter sunrise service that's a local tradition which draws hundreds to the Moravian cemetery there.

The Single Brothers House

Here are two pictures from the sidewalks of Old Salem. I especially like how the shot on the right turned out. If you look carefully (or enlargen the picture), you can see a lady in her period costume (either heading to her post in the village or heading home, I suppose), next to tourists like George and me. I like the contrast in attire.

The picture below was taken from a second floor window of one of the buildings we toured.

Although Old Salem wasn't a farming community, many people had gardens, so several gardens are maintained within the community today.

Here's George in front of God's Acre, where a number of Moravians are buried. While the cemetary is much bigger than "God's Acre," this is where people who chose to be buried with their "choirs" were buried. (Families buried together were not part of God's Acre.)

The white stones are part of God's Acre at Old Salem. The building on the right holds the Southern Province Headquarters of the Moravian denomination. The building in the background on the left is the Wachovia Center, the largest building in the Triad (which includes Winston-Salem, Greensboro, and High Point). It served as the headquarters for Wachovia Bank, until it merged with First Union, and the headquarters for the merged bank of Wachovia moved to Charlotte, North Carolina.

Although I was pretty tired from my 10-mile run and the hike at Pilot Mountain State Park from the day before, I really enjoyed the afternoon at Old Salem. If I had it to do over, I'd plan to give Old Salem more of the day, including lunch at Old Salem Tavern.