Blowing Rock was incorporated in March of 1889 but its “civilized” history reaches back to at least the early 1750’s when a Moravian Bishop named Spangenberg visited the area. In those days, the area was populated by the Catawba and Cherokee Indian tribes.
The popular legend of “The Blowing Rock” was probably the creation of an overactive imagination back in the day when tall tales were shared along with a jug of mountain moonshine but, it has endured down through the years. The tale is a Native American version of Romeo and Juliet, the Hatfield’s and McCoy’s or the hilarious episode about the feuding families on the Andy Griffith Show.
According to this legend, the two Indian lovers were from different warring tribes, one Cherokee and the other from the Catawba tribe. Torn between his loyalty to his tribe and his love for the young maiden, the tortured brave leapt off The Blowing Rock in an attempt to end his suffering. As he leapt off the cliff, the beautiful young maiden prayed to the Spirits for her lover to be spared. Suddenly, a fierce wind came rushing up from the John’s River Gorge and delivered the young man back into his lover’s arm safe and sound. Hey….it could happen! They got married but sadly, divorced five years later.
Ok, I made up that last part.
There are numerous versions of this tale but, I like this one best.
Early settlers to the area were of Scotch-Irish descent and were primarily hunters, trappers, and farmers who came in the early to mid 1800’s. The first known permanent settlers were the Green’s who lived on what is now the Green Park Inn location.
One can only marvel at the pioneering spirit and toughness of the early families who settled in Blowing Rock in those days. Winter in Blowing Rock can be extremely cold and harsh at times. Remember, these were the days before
Blowing Rock was fortunate during the Civil War in that it survived relatively unscathed although, as with the rest of the nation, many men fought in the war while leaving their families in the relative safety of the mountains. Times were hard but, in the true spirit of these hearty pioneers, they survived and prospered. Actually, according to local lore, many war deserters from both sides also made their way to the area to escape the horrors of war and, eventually settled there.
After the war, people from all over the world began visiting the area primarily as a summer retreat due to the pleasant climate and gorgeous scenery. Through the subsequent years, Blowing Rock was a destination for the rich and famous such as Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, John D. Rockefeller and even few notorious criminals such as Al Capone. Annie Oakley even put on shooting exhibitions at the Green Park Inn. In the early 1920’s a toll road was built by the owners of the Green Park Inn and this led to the modern boom in tourism in the area. The invention of the automobile and the creation of better roads only multiplied the influx of tourists. The economy of Blowing Rock was soon primarily driven as it still is to this day by tourism.
Modern day Blowing Rock is home approximately to1,500 year round residents and upwards of 10,000 summer residents and still maintains its quaint ‘little village’ atmosphere. Few places in can rival Blowing Rock for its climate, spectacular scenery, breathtaking views and hospitality.
You owe it to yourself to visit Blowing Rock. Don’t be fooled by this sleepy little village. Few area’s in the nation offer such a broad range of activities to enjoy. Numerous top level golf courses abound and, you haven’t really played golf until you’ve played a true mountain golf course. World class restaurants and accommodations are too numerous to mention here but, suffice to say, no matter what your tastes or budget, you will find exactly what you are looking for in Blowing Rock. Hiking, Biking, Whitewater rafting, rock climbing, caving, fly fishing, horseback riding, and snow skiing….the list goes on. Blowing Rock is an outdoorsman’s paradise year ‘round.
Blowing Rock is also home to the famous Tweetsie Railroad, a mecca for families for almost fifty years. Originally, the Tweetsie Railroad was a real, honest to goodness working railroad but, in later years, the railroad just couldn’t compete with the booming over the road trucking industry. This, coupled with the fact that severe flooding literally washed away entire sections of the rail line led to the demise of Tweetsie. Back in the 1950’s, movie icon Gene Autry bought one of the original steam engines to use on his movie projects but later sold it to Grover Robbins Jr. and, in 1957, Tweetsie was relocated to Blowing Rock and the rest is a history of fun for the entire family. Themed to recreate a Wild West atmosphere, thousands upon thousands have enjoyed the parks attractions and ridden the three mile circuit of tracks aboard the trusty Locomotive number 12. Don’t miss it; Tweetsie Railroad is an experience your family will never forget.
All things considered, Blowing Rock is truly the “Crown of the Blue Ridge”.