Cabarrus, Davie, Davidson, Iredell, Mecklenburg, Rowan, Stanly, Union

he economy and cultural traditions of counties along the lower I-85 corridor is often linked to engines, motors and speed!  During the heyday of the steam locomotive, the town of Spencer was home to one of Southern Railway’s important service facilities.  The Spencer Shops outfitted and repaired big steam engines that hauled Southern's passenger and freight trains. Today, Spencer Shops is the site of the North Carolina Transportation Museum, where visitors can see a train depot, antique automobiles, and a fully restored roundhouse that includes twenty-five vintage steam engines.

A newer transportation tradition has made the region the heart of the largest spectator sport in America. Stock car racing has its roots in Prohibition, when country boys used souped up cars to deliver moonshine whiskey to towns and cities. Competition to prove who had the fastest car led to weekend races at tracks laid out in cow pastures and corn fields. In recent decades, the sport grew to venues like the Charlotte Motor Speedway and fans embraced drivers like Cabarrus County’s Dale Earnhardt. To understand this devotion, immerse oneself in stock car culture by visiting sites along the Dale Trail in Kannapolis and end up in a gallery of motorsports art.

If you want a change of pace from traveling the interstate highways running through the region, consider taking side roads to experience rural and small town life. Farms offer fun in a corn maze or a pumpkin patch and vineyards and farmers’ markets await the adventurous visitor. Those who are excited by steam engines and vintage stock cars may choose to take in an antique tractor show and view the machines used to cultivate piedmont fields in past generations.

Other arts and cultural opportunities abound on this trail. You’ll find the first gold rush in America documented at Reed Gold Mine State Historic State.  Sample nationally renowned Lexington barbecue or attend the annual Barbecue Festival, which attracts visitors from around the Southeast. Salisbury in Rowan County offers an African American Heritage Trail and several Civil War sites. 

Music lovers can hear bluegrass and country music performed in the intimate setting of Oakboro Music Hall. Visit Cannon Village, one of the largest and most intact mill villages in the world. The village now houses furniture showrooms as well as the Fieldcrest Cannon Textile Museum. Plan your trip using the drop down list of towns and the map at the right, or by the category links on the left.

 

Scenic Byways
   
Vista courtesy FoxFarms
Sculpture by Michael Baker
Pumpkin photo by Bill Russ
Peppers from Windcrest Organics
Laws Stained Glass
NC Transportation Museum
Stock Car Racing-The Dale Trail
Painting by Thomas McNickle, Waterworks Visual Art Center

 

     
 
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