Category Archives: News & Events
A recent article in the Watauga Democrat shares what those in Mitchell County have known for centuries….there’s a little bit of Canada in Mitchell County…Roan Mountain to be specific.
“On Grandfather, Roan and Mitchell Mountains, a naturalist can be transported in time and place. On those high peaks, you can explore an Appalachia of long ago — one that is filled with evergreens and the smell of balsam.”
Watauga Democrat contributor Amy Renfranz writes “It would take a High Country-traveler 12 hours and two layovers to fly to New Brunswick in Canada. There, they would find a view that would look remarkably familiar. Renfranz is a Certified Naturalist through the Yellowstone Association Institute and a Certified Environmental Educator in the state of North Carolina.
Range maps support this salient picture. A number of trees, shrubs and animals that live in Maine and Canada extend their range southward along the highest peaks of the Appalachian range.
The cause of this juxtaposition of north and south can be found in the climate books.”
Read all about the cool details of how you can stand on Roan Mountain and see similar surroundings and flora as if you were in Canada. Again…we say, Roan Mountain North Carolina is a cool place!
The Mitchell County Chamber of Commerce partnered with seven area county Chambers and organizations to create the Neck of the Woods Trail, a culinary trail featuring area farm to table restaurants, farmer’s markets, breweries and wineries.
“This was a great opportunity for us to work with our friends in the region to promote our wonderful local businesses in Mitchell County who feature local foods and culture,” said Patti Jensen, Executive Director of the Mitchell County Chamber of Commerce. “Our hope is that this trail will be another tool in our efforts to market our beautiful area and our innovative businesses.”
A recent article by CNN Travel called the trail “One of the “World’s Most Enticing Food & Drink Trails”. “We were excited to see the national coverage that was generated at the launch of the Neck of the Woods Trail and especially happy to see some of our own Mitchell County businesses highlighted in the article,” said Jensen. We will have printed maps of the trail soon and will make these available to our visitors who stop in the Mitchell County Visitor Center.
The Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy recently purchased 142 acres in the Highlands of Roan to protect clean mountain streams and habitat for native trout and other wildlife.
AHC’s acquisition will protect water quality and aquatic habitats of the Nolichucky/Cane/Toe Rivers Conservation Area, which includes at-risk aquatic species, like the Eastern Hellbender, and Federally Endangered species, including the Appalachian Elktoe mussel.
“This project was essentially about the water and the watershed — a high priority for conservation on a big scale,” Crockett said.
Conservation of the mountainous land also protects habitat for birds and other animals as well as scenic views. Rising to an upper elevation of 4,700 feet, the forested acreage can be seen from public recreation areas in the Roan, including the Appalachian National Scenic Trail and Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail.
Approximately one third of the land lies within the Audubon Society’s Roan Mountain Important Bird Area. According to Audubon, the Roan IBA is one of North Carolina’s most important sites for Northern Saw-whet Owls and one of the most significant sites in the southern Appalachians for Magnolia Warbler.
Other key resident species include: Alder flycatcher, willow flycatcher, red crossbill, brown creeper, winter wren, veery, Canada warbler, golden-winged warbler, chestnut-sided warbler and golden-crowned Kinglet.
OnlyinYourState.com featured Little Switzerland, NC as a place you’ll never want to leave. “North Carolina is far from the Swiss Alps, but if you travel up the Blue Ridge Parkway, you’ll find a charming little village tucked away perched high in the mountains. With its sweeping vistas and views, this beautiful place feels like our very own version of Switzerland.”
The article features several Little Switzerland businesses including the Switzerland Inn and Skyline Inn. The beautiful views, unique properties and delicious food options were highlighted in the article. There is no better time to visit Little Switzerland than during the Fall season when the foliage and the views are breathtaking. To read the full article click here.
by Sam Greenwood
There are 44 bunkers at Augusta National, each majestic and hazardous in its own right. The glistening sands look impossibly white, radiating in such a way that only nature could produce something so pristine.
Which is exactly what happened.
It’s called “Spruce Pine sand,” named for the mining district in Western North Carolina in which it’s found. It’s actually quartz, and it’s so pure that it prevents golf balls from burrowing into devious lies and has played a major role in computer technology.
The sand has filled these bunkers for the past 40 Masters, ever since Augusta National co-Founder Clifford Roberts was moved by its texture and how it contrasted beautifully with the emerald fairways and shimmering ponds of Augusta National.
“I’d rake it with my hand if I needed to,” said Jim “Bones” Mackay, the caddie for Phil Mickelson. “It fits the place so well. It brings out the green in the grass. It plays very, very well. You don’t hear about guys complaining about lies or balls getting away from them out of the bunkers.”
Of those 44 bunkers, 32 stand guard around greens and 12 are located in fairways. Nos. 3 and 7 have the most bunkers (five each) and No. 14 is the only hole without one. Whether they realize it from the tee or not, players face 10 holes in which they don’t have to worry about any fairway bunkers.
They are basically distributed evenly across the course. The first nine has 15 bunkers surrounding greens and nine in fairways; the second nine includes 17 at the greens and three in fairways.
“They give you certain holes you can aim for a bunker and still give yourself a good chance to get up and down for par or birdie,” said Zach Johnson, the 2007 Masters champion.
“It’s very soft on top and has a firm base,” Johnson said of the sand. “You can’t necessarily spin it a ton, but it’s pure. What’s great about it is you have substantial high lips, but you won’t see a ball plug. Ever. It’ll hit the bank and go back to the middle of the bunker or go through it.”
Those were Roberts’ thoughts, too, after he first saw the stunning white sand in the early 1970s, when it was being used at courses in Western North Carolina. He liked its look and texture so much that he ordered truckloads of the sand delivered and installed in time for the 1975 Tournament.
“I’d rake it with my hand if I needed to.” – Caddie Bones Mackay
“On those greens, you have to be so precise,” said Mike Weir, who won the Masters in 2003. “The ball comes out a little slower. You have to be more aggressive with it. It’s very consistent sand. You have to get in there and get used to it, because it is a little different feel and requires a different touch.”
At first, the sand was viewed as a cheap waste product of feldspar, a valuable mineral extracted and used in making aluminum and ceramic products.
Scientists soon learned, though, that the sand was quartz, and an extremely pure version of it at that. Its makeup created a firm surface, and its pureness was such that Spruce Pine quartz is used in manufacturing semiconductors; computer chips throughout the world contain it.
The sand often is identified with Augusta National, but the Club doesn’t hold the mineral rights and there’s no patent given for quartz.
“I’ve certainly heard people say, ‘Oh, this is Augusta-like sand,’ but I don’t think I’ve seen it somewhere else,” Mackay said.
The huge fairway bunker at No. 10 is arguably Augusta National’s most recognizable and photographed. It’s almost 400 yards off the tee, at the bottom of the hole’s steep slope, and it used to protect a green that was moved back to its current position in 1937. If a player lands in there, he mishit or even shanked his second shot.
“There’s no way you should be in it,” said Johnson. “You really don’t want to hit that trap.”
Among the par-4 holes with bunkers players fear the most: the fairway bunker at No. 5; the back bunker at Nos. 7; and the fairway bunker at No. 18.
On the par 3s, the bunker behind the green at No. 12 leaves a player with a treacherous downhill shot while staring at Rae’s Creek in front of him; and both greenside bunkers at the long fourth hole.
“You basically don’t want to shortside yourself around any of the greens,” Weir said.
On the par 5s, the back bunker at No. 13, especially to a front hole location, is the one fraught with the most danger.
“The green is sloping away from you towards the creek, and like No. 12, you’re looking at the water,” Weir said.
Augusta National hasn’t significantly altered the layout of its strategically placed bunkers over the 79-year history of the Tournament. However, in contrast, No. 9 initially had one big greenside bunker, then five of various sizes, then in the late 1940s it was restructured with three. Now, two are located greenside.
The 14th has been bunker-less since 1952; prior to that, the hole had just one, which was largely out of play near the tee. The 15th did not have a bunker until 1957, when, at the suggestion of Ben Hogan, one was put to the right of the green.
And in them all for the past 40 years, there has been sand so pure that players never complain about buried lies.
Spruce Pine has a castle (yes you heard that right) with breathtaking views and stunning architecture and now most of the world has seen it due to a Game of Thrones themed wedding shoot that has gone viral! Several wedding vendors got together including photographers, wedding planners, bakers, stylists, designers, a wolf sanctuary and more to create a stunning depiction of the Game of Thrones wedding.
Photographer Katherine Elena told how this amazing event came to be reality. Everything from the venue—Smithmore Castle in Spruce Pine, North Carolina—to the outfits and invitations could have come straight out of GOT and the media is officially obsessed.
“This shoot was something that I’ve had in my head for a while and wasn’t quite sure how to make it come alive. I wanted to really highlight the women of the show for their strength and beauty, so I talked to Samie Roberts at Something Perfect Weddings about taking some inspiration from Daenarys Targaryen (a.k.a. the Mother of Dragons) as well as Sansa Stark. Both are very strong, powerful women in their own right while also having an ethereal air about them. The House of Stark on the show has a dire wolf on the family crest and a large part of the show is the dire wolves that help to protect each of the Stark children, so I really wanted that to be the “wow” element of the shoot.
“I started researching wolf dog rescues (there are no full-blooded wolves in this region anymore) and found the website of Full Moon Farm in Black Mountain. I reached out to them to see if they might be interested in participating in the shoot and they were happy to do so! I think one of my favorite parts of the day was when we were about 30 minutes into shooting and someone walked into the room and said, “I think the wolf is here.” River was an incredible animal (and way larger than I expected!) and couldn’t have been better for the shoot.”
Don’t you want to visit Smithmore Castle now? You can! Check out their website here http://www.smithmore.com/
Check out these links to media outlets who joined us in thinking this is amazing!
MSN http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/article/39436657/this-game-of-thrones-wedding-will-cheer-up-fans-waiting-for-season-seven Huffington Post http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/game-of-throne-wedding-shoot_us_58d40cfee4b02d33b749a3ce?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000035
Carolina Bride http://www.carolinabride.com/game-of-thrones-wedding/
Business Insider https://twitter.com/businessinsider/status/847412343126413312
Smithmore Castle Spruce Pine https://www.facebook.com/Smithmore-Castle-136449103061581/
The folks at Our State Magazine say “Some might scratch their heads at the existence of a farm-to-table restaurant in a town with just over 2,000 residents, but to chef Nate Allen, Knife and Fork’s location in Spruce Pine makes perfect sense. “We’re really in an agricultural promise land here,” Allen says. The restaurant’s proximity to so many of its farmers allows for an innovative menu that changes daily. Allen appreciates the creative opportunity that comes with using seasonal ingredients, and he enjoys showcasing the plants he uses in their entirety. “I get such beautiful products. I don’t want to chop them into little cubes,” he says. Try Knife and Fork’s regularly featured spicy kettle corn. Mixed with turnips sautéed with garlic and olive oil, this side dish has a nice bite to it.”
KNIFE AND FORK
61 Locust St., Spruce Pine • knifeandforknc.com • (828) 765-1511
“Hike through abundant high-elevation beauty at Roan Mountain, a series of five mountain summits on the Appalachian Trail near the NC / TN state line. With gorgeous views, lush forest and abundant wildflowers, the remarkable beauty of Roan’s highlands, knob and bluff make for an exceptional hiking adventure.”
Appalachian Trails highlights their favorite eight hikes on Roan Mountain. Ranging from 2.4 to a little over 10 miles, each of these hikes offer something unique. They detail out their favorite hikes including those crisscrossing the Appalachian Trail, to those offering “exceptional 360-degree summit views at Round Bald, Jane Bald, and Grassy Ridge Bald.”
“Hike through the Roan Highlands to outstanding summit views from soaring mountains, through mossy, rocky forests, and to sun-drenched fields of wild berries on the Appalachian Trail. And explore the Roan Mountain’s forested beauty on Roan High Bluff and Roan High Knob, visiting the historic site of the Cloudland Hotel and the historic Roan High Bluff AT shelter, the highest-elevation shelter on the Appalachian Trail. The mountains’ beauty is wildly varied, continually changing, and well worth the visit: Roan Mountain is home to some of our all-time favorite hikes in western North Carolina.”
If Roan Mountain, NC isn’t on your bucket list…it should be. Great hikes and experiences for families, experienced hikers and those of all ages. Don’t miss stopping in Bakersville, NC for a quick bite to eat at a local diner or shopping for handcrafted NC art at one of the galleries and studios.
Several popular spots in and around Mitchell County made the Vacation Times Magazine’s List of “12 Cool Things to Do in the North Carolina Mountains”. We are pretty proud of all of these area attractions!
One popular area attraction featured on the list is the Orchard at Altapass . Vacation Magazine says “The Orchard at AltaPass is along a crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains and everyone can enjoy live mountain music while visiting Wednesdays through Sundays. There are numerous hiking trails, guided walks, children’s activities, a butterfly exhibit, garden, and hayrides complete with stories. Before leaving the orchard, guests may want to stop in the country store to purchase some fudge or a souvenir or two.
Emerald Village in Little Switzerland makes the list with Vacation Times Magazine telling visitors that they are “only three miles from the Blue Ridge Parkway and people can pan for gold, search for gems, explore museums, and shop in the quaint little gift shops.”
Hiking the Appalachian Trail also made the list of Cool Things to Do. “The Appalachian Trail is the coolest thing to do in the North Carolina Mountains or any other mountains that it crosses through. The entire trail is 2,160 miles long and only a small portion of that is in North Carolina. Any time a person completes a small section of this trail, they can still say that they have successfully hiked the Appalachian Trail to all of their friends.”
Going into a cave is pretty cool so we understand completely why Linville Caverns made the list. Just up the road from Spruce Pine, Linville Caverns offers visitors a chance to go inside a mountain. “There may be caverns and caves all over the world, but in North Carolina there is only one cavern. At Linville Caverns, visitors get to explore the natural limestone cavern that features stalactite and stalagmite formations plus an underground stream.”
Another Chamber Member making the list of Coolest Places in the NC Mountains is Mast General Store in Valle Crucis. “The Mast General Store was established in 1883 and it still sells supplies to those who enter the store. The store is on the National Register of Historic Places, which makes it a must-see destination while in the North Carolina mountain area.”
Mitchell County had nearly half of the cool places on the list, and of course we have many more to visit! Whether a traveler is seeking outdoor recreation, peaceful hikes, cool underground explorations, or family fun…they will find it all here and more!
To read the other NC places making the list visit the article here.