A Step Back In Time: Sloan Park
If I could find a word that depicts my first visit to Sloan Park, it would be “timeless”. When I walk around the park, I can feel the life of the proposals, picnics, weddings, and gatherings that have taken place there.
Every bit is historical for some reason or another. Landmarks include Kerr’s Mill, the Alice Stanback Monument forest, and the Henry W. Culp, Jr. Historic Trail. Other attractions include Fred’s Pond, the amphitheater, Country Living Museum, and Don’s Gazebo.
History Behind Sloan Park
Sloan Park was erected through the historical significance of Kerr Mill. Spearheaded by James A. Sloan, the Rowan County Historical Properties Commission, and NC Department of Cultural Resources, Kerr Mill remains preserved and accessible to the people of Rowan County. The park continued to expand with the help of the County Parks & Recreation Department and envisioned a great park with the help of many parties, families, and funds. Shelters were built for public utilization. The first shelter was named the Morgan shelter house, built by the Morgan Family who initially owned a plot that is now part of Sloan Park.
Sloan Park was named in honor of James and Carrie Sloan on Sunday, May 22, 1983. “The park consisted of one shelter house, restrooms, a ball field, playground, and Kerr Mill. Over the next several years the facilities at Sloan Park increased, as did the total acreage.” Sloan Park has now accumulated 5 shelters on a total of 93 acres along with all of the other amenities.
Sloan Park is proof of the good that can happen when people put their minds, hard work, and funds together.
There were three particular landmarks that impacted me most positively. The Henry W. Culp, Jr. Historic Trail, Don’s Gazebo, and Kerr’s Mill.
Henry W. Culp, Jr. Historic Trail
There is a hardwood forest that contains 76 “witness trees”. These trees are the offspring of others alive during a time where you and I weren’t, such as the American Revolution and the American Civil War. Some of them even endured a trip to the moon. I have never been more jealous of a seed or a tree cutting for being so well-traveled. It is such a beautiful display to walk through, especially during fall. Deep reds, oranges, and yellows are within the tree canopy of poplars, dogwoods, oaks, ginkgos, and pines. Each tree contains a plaque distinguishing what time its predecessor witnessed. Some of the names that the trees are memorialized with include Robert E. Lee, Abraham Lincoln, and Clara Barton. Additionally, the common name of the trees are located on the plaques.
What really enthralled me was Don’s Gazebo. This structure was built by his friends and family in memoriam of Donald Stiller, a local businessman who thoroughly enjoyed Rowan County parks. Standing on the structure’s steps, I felt like I was transformed to another time. This spot is perfect for a wedding venue, a memorial, or for reading a juicy book.
Kerr Mill was initially a grist mill built in 1823 by Dr. Samuel Kerr. James A. and Carrie Sloan owned the structure until it began to deteriorate. Many were interested in utilizing the material for other projects, but Mr. Sloan thought it important to keep the structure to serve a greater purpose, which it has. It has been admired by many from pedestrian to student almost 200 years later, including me in which I am thankful for Mr. Sloan. When I visited, the mill was closed and I was unable to go inside. The outside was entertaining enough with its preserved brickwork and stonework.
As for the Trails…
I was lost on the trails for a little bit as there are many small trails along the creek. I would recommend hiking boots for those trails, but tennis shoes should work. You can wear dress shoes to navigate the park as well if you really need to.
The five shelters that have been erected are kept in pristine condition and available to rent for events. It also features a nice disc golf course that I plan on trying out sometime soon. This park is also a great biking spot and has a handy-dandy bike maintenance station if your bike gives out. Additionally, Sloan Park is handicap accessible and possesses public restrooms. I also think this is a perfect spot for lesson plans and school visits. Sloan Park is worth a visit. Be sure to bring a picnic and loved ones to walk with and enjoy this beautiful park.
Spring is right around the corner. And with that, comes critters waking from their winter naps to the warmth of the sun. Plants and flowers will sprout everywhere along with an intense allergy season. For a lot of people across the globe, it is time to start identifying for the City Nature Challenge!
Rowan Wild at Dan Nicholas Park consists of three exciting adventures: the Nature Center, T.M Stanback Barnyard, and Wildlife Adventures.