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East Rowan County…Rich in History

by | Oct 31, 2022 | Attractions

When I decided to write about East Rowan, I wasn’t sure what I would find.  However, after doing a little digging and chatting with a few folks I discovered there was a lot more going on than I knew. 

The Town of Granite Quarry

Driving out of Salisbury on Highway 52 you will see the first stop in East Rowan is the Town of Granite Quarry. Granite Quarry, named after its rich resource of granite stone, has several attractions to enjoy.

Many people that have lived here long enough will remember the Granite Lake Swimming Pool. There were a lot of summer memories made there over the years, but the town came up with a great idea and converted the pool into a beautiful lake and park in June of 2007. Located at 500 North Salisbury Avenue (right off US Highway 52) you can now enjoy the beautiful lake with its water fountain, enjoy a nice picnic at one of the picnic tables, or take to the walking trail where you can walk to yet another park, Centennial Park.

Centennial Park is located at 301 East Bank Street, Granite Quarry, and is nestled into a lush, wooded area. You will also find a beautiful gazebo with tables that can offer shade if it is a sunny day. Along the trail, you may want to take a break on one of several benches and just sit and do a little birdwatching. One of my favorite pastimes!

Granite Quarry

All these parks are usually open from the early morning hours until late afternoon. I highly recommend that you visit www.granitequarrync.gov for parks located inside the Town of Granite.

Another area to visit in Granite Quarry is Dunn’s Mountain Park. Located at 1740 Dunn’s Mountain Road, you will find a beautiful 83 acres of land. This is one of the newest parks in Rowan County opening in November 2006. The view on top of Dunn’s Mountain is so gorgeous that you will want to stay and linger for a while. In addition to the spectacular views, you will find a blacksmith shed, hiking trails, and a picnic area. This area overlooks the quarry itself which everyone should remember is illegal to trespass on. You can visit www.rowancountync.gov/1282/Dunns-Mountain-Park for more information on their weekend hours.

Dunn’s Mountain Park

Another historical attraction in Granite Quarry is the Old Stone House. This home was built in 1766 by Michael Braun. It is a colonial two-story house and is known to be the oldest German home in Rowan County and is amongst some of the oldest in the Piedmont of North Carolina. The home, purchased in 1959 by the Rowan Museum, is a site of multiple functions during the year. I attended an event where people were dressed in clothing that represented historic times, cooking, and performing chores that were done back in time when this house was lived in. It is a must-see when you are in the area. You can visit www.rowanmuseum.org for more information on this great gem in Rowan County.

Old Stone House

The Town of Rockwell

In pursuing information on the Town of Rockwell I spoke to the Chief of Police, Cody Trexler. Cody himself grew up in the rural area of Rockwell “fishing and hunting.”

When I inquired about a park in Rockwell Cody told me about Rockwell Park. This park is located at end of Ashley Drive and when you turn onto 100 Park Drive you will find a park that had previously been a cow pasture. A few previous mayors had a vision for this land and before you know it a dedication was held in June of 1997. Since that time, it has gone from its previous use to a great gathering place for families.

Welcome to Rockwell

Now you can find (3) shelters, a playground, a volleyball court, a basketball court, and a baseball field. They also now have a gazebo where you can sit and enjoy the park or grab a swing in a covered area. If you like to walk or bike you can also enjoy the paths around the park.

You can find additional information about the park at www.rockwellnc.gov.

Rockwell also has a museum that started in 1996. It was a work of love by people in the town that wanted to preserve some history of their town. The museum is located at 105 East Main Street, Rockwell can be visited by calling 704-279-2180.

Tiger World is also located in Rockwell and if you have not been you are missing out. I wrote a blog on the organization not too long ago. I loved visiting this attraction and I still enjoy it to this day. You can read that blog here Tiger World: An Educational Attraction – Live Original (yourrowan.com). They do special events all year and Halloween is a great time to visit!

Tiger World

Town of Faith

The Town of Faith is no stranger in the Eastern part of Rowan County. Famous for their 4th of July celebrations yearly in a town where everyone joins in for a week of activities. The Faith Soda Shop is another draw in this town. Enjoy reading Celebrating the 75th Year in 2021 – Live Original (yourrowan.com). This town is rich in tradition and is certainly a quaint place to visit.

Town of Faith

High Rock Lake

One of the second largest lakes in North Carolina is in Rowan and Davidson Counties. High Rock Lake, which gets its name from “High Rock Mountain” in the Uwharrie Mountains offers so many attractions. There are water sports such as boating, skiing, and even an annual Dragon Boat Race in Rowan County each July. One of our fantastic bloggers, Joyce Caron-Mercier, lives on High Rock Lake and writes blogs about lake life at High Rock Lake – Live Original (yourrowan.com). I encourage you to click on the link and see all the wonderful things going on at the lake.  I enjoy visiting and grabbing a meal and a cold beverage on the lake and I bet you would enjoy it as well.

Be sure to also enjoy fishing on High Rock. I have watched several fishing tournaments while at Tamarac Marina. These fishermen always take their sport seriously, and the prizes are great.

High Rock Lake

Dan Nicholas Park

Rowan County is certainly lucky to have a beautiful park called Dan Nicholas Park. Located at 6800 Bringle Ferry Road, Salisbury you will be able to spend an entire day at this park with plenty of things to do. The 330 acres of land were originally donated in 1968 by Dan Nicholas who was a local entrepreneur and philanthropist in Rowan County.

The park is free to visit and there are only small fees for some of the attractions such as the beautiful Haden’s Carousel (that even a big kid like me enjoys riding), a fun train ride at Hurley Station where you can also purchase tickets and goodies. You will enjoy seeing the animals at the Wildlife Adventures and don’t forget to visit the Barnyard. Also located on the grounds you can visit the gem mine and pan for treasures. Always a fun time is the mini golf where you can play on one of two courses. One of our favorites is the paddle boats and the splash pad!  The park recently added a newly constructed concession stand that offers food and beverages.

If you are the camping type, you can also camp at Dan Nicholas or rent one of their six cabins. While in the campground you can enjoy fishing or one of the several activities that they plan for guests. Consider adding this park to your campground list to visit.

Information on Dan Nicholas can be found at www.rowancountync.gov/185/Dan-Nicholas-Park.

Dan Nicholas Concessions

Dan Nicholas Paddle Boating

Historic Gold Hill

Chief Cody Trexler was again one of the several people I spoke to about Historic Gold Hill. A fun place to make time to visit by everyone I spoke to about this town.

Cody spoke highly about the “Bluegrass Jam” which happens every Friday night from 7 – 9 p.m. at the Montgomery General Store. He told me “Go to Historic Gold Hill at dusk.” They will be playing bluegrass in an old store and a little further down the street at an old service station. It is quite the spectacle. “All of Historic Gold Hill will be active.” Previously another blogger, Bailey Wingler, wrote about Gold Hill here Slow Down and Enjoy the Music | Gold Hill Experience – Live Original (yourrowan.com).

“Bluegrass Jam”

Cody recommended that I speak to another legend in Gold Hill, someone apparently known to all, and that would be Bob Drew.

So, I called Bob and I have to say he was quite entertaining. I’ll refer to him as “Mr. Gold Hill.” Born originally in Swansboro, North Carolina where his grandpa was the mayor, he and his family moved here as a child, and he has ever since called Gold Hill home.

Bob talked about the Service Oil & Supply Building where he worked. They sold gas and oil, along with farmer supplies such as fertilizers.

One thing he talked about the most was the Founders Day Celebration which is celebrated on the 4th Saturday, of each September. He said, “The first one we had a street dance and Brunswick stew. We had maybe 600 people. I bet we had 3,000 this past year!” He shared they have had a lot of “weddings” at Gold Hill Park and said, “if we could have divorces there, we’d make our money back!” I couldn’t argue with him on that! He ended with, “I have seen a lot of changes in 80 years, and we still live in a good country. I could tell you a lot of tales, but you probably couldn’t print them!” Again, I’m sure he is correct on that too!

Gold Hill

The next big event that is coming up is on November 19 and it is the “Lighting of the Fall Fires.” On that night the town will open, and you will find bonfires set up all around. I spoke to a dear lady, Eleanor Sandifer. She attended this event last year and indicated that there were a lot of folks there. She spoke of a shop called “Once in A Blue Moon” and how she loves to visit there and then the Gold Hill Percantile and all their goodies. My ears perked up when she talked about River Pines Art where you can find lovely pottery pieces. “I go there often. It’s a great little place to shop!” There are so many other shops to visit while you are in the village, and you can find good food to eat such as Flynn’s Village Grill.

You should add Gold Hill to your places to visit if you are in the area or just want to take a day trip from a neighboring county. You can visit them at www.historicgoldhill.org.

If a winery or a brewery is something you like to visit, then consider Morgan Ridge Winery while you are in Gold Hill. You may enjoy reading 3 Must-See Wineries of Rowan County – Live Original (yourrowan.com) or Looking at the Pint Glass Half Full in Rowan County – Live Original (yourrowan.com).

I think it is easy to see that there are a lot of opportunities to have a fun day, week, or weekend in the Eastern part of Rowan County. Take time to explore all that is around you near and far and add a few new things to your bucket list.

Community Partners

About The Author

Janet Ruffin

I’m an adventurous soul that loves to interact with people everywhere I go. You might say I’ve never met a stranger! I look forward to discovering and sharing all the things Rowan County has to offer because it’s Your Rowan!