Cherry Bounce Trail - Scenic Drive
The Cherry Bounce Trail in Rutherford County, North Carolina is a mostly rural historic scenic driving tour that cruises through the central foothills, valleys and northeastern mountains of this remarkable and officially oldest governing body in far Western North Carolina. Featured along this auto sightseeing tour is the beauty of the county's landscape along with its impressive rural history of the Colonial settlers that predate the Revolutionary War along with other historical and more current events.
The trail was created and presented by the Isothermal Community College's Leadership Rutherford Class of 2006 to aid in the historical awareness of Rutherford County's diverse history for the enjoyment of visitors, local residents and the ancestral families who have made this their home for generations.
This historic by-way is laced with small towns and communities, textile mills, rural homes, farmlands, meadows, orchards, forest land, foothills, valleys, modest to larger sized mountains with the distant mountain ranges of the Blue Ridge bordering the north and west ends of the county. Today, much of the landscape looks as though it hasn't changed since the arrival of the Scot-Irish in the mid-1700's. Historical markers dot the roadside, marking the sites of significant historical events and there are plenty of these markers to checkout.
There are many places throughout Rutherford County where you can pick up a map for the Cherry Bounce Trail to help you along your drive. Most folks start in Rutherfordton, Forest City or Spindale. The trail follows several roadways that link together creating a type of circle from beginning to end. Following the map's directions along this historic trail will lead you through the largest and some of the smaller towns and communities the county has to offer. The journey will take you across the countryside where the foothills reach up to touch the sky, valleys roll up to meet a mountain's slope or flow outward across a low rolling landscape to meet the vast horizons to the east.
This driving tour will take you to many historical churches along the route from modest to grand in size and appearance. These houses of worship have been gathering points for generations of Rutherford County residents whose roots and commitments were to their faith, family and community here in far Western North Carolina.
The old Golden Church of the Brethren located along Cane Creek Road stands as a testament to a time long ago. This humble house of worship has a separated, two front door feature, one for the men and the other for the women members of the congregation. Some of these old rural churches would have large gaps between the floor boards for hardy frontier's men to conveniently spit their "chawin' tobacy" thru during Sunday services or community meetings while they held onto their seats during many a fire and brimstone sermon or heated political debates.
New homes in rural neighborhoods often reside near older homesteads creating a nostalgic look at Rutherford's past co-existing with their present.
Along the trail, tucked away in a rural tree covered setting, you'll find the Washburn House built in 1913. Edgar Nollie Washburn built the striking, white columned, red-bricked Neo-Classical Revival House at a cost of just under $9,000. It has remained in the family for three generations, and is currently owned by Edgar Nollie Washburn, III (Edward) and his wife Catherine. The Washburn House is privately owned and not open to the public.
The Historic Washburn Village which includes the Washburn Home, the Barn and Washburn General Store were rightfully placed on the National Register of Historic Places in February 2002. The "stately presence" of this meticulously maintained estate is a regal example of the prosperous history within this rural farmland community.
The location of the Historic Washburn Village was originally a crossroads-trading center in the 19th century between Shelby and Asheville North Carolina and the city of Lincolnton and Rutherfordton, North Carolina.
Washburn is an old family name in Rutherford County, the Washburn General Store was established in 1831, and is a must see along the trail. It the oldest family business we have located in Western North Carolina, that is still in existence.
In our research we were able to contact Nollie Washburn Neill, Sr., Edgar's cousin which was kind enough to provide us with a little history of the family and estate, Nollie Washburn Neill, Sr. writes....
Our Grandfather was the founder and President of Bostic Bank which he and others founded in 1915. The Washburn House was built from 1913 - 1915. It has 8 bedrooms, each with a fireplace. A few years ago my cousin's wife, Catherine found the ledger book that our grandfather kept of the construction of the house. The first entry was for $1.75, for gasoline for the Maxwell (auto) to go to Belmont, N. C. to see a house that was built in 1908 for a mill owner, before Grandfather Nollie ordered the plans from the architect in Baltimore.
The little ledger books are a real treasure as it tells where each and every part of the house came from and specific information about how it was built. For example, the house has solid brick walls which are 18" to 20" thick. The facial brick on the home came from Tennessee. The maple floors came from New Hampshire. The outer walls were built that thick for durability. There is not a crack in the plaster and the pocket doors have not been touched since 1914 and still work perfectly. There is no pine lumber in the house, only oak and maple. And, the house was the first house to have electricity in the County. A small generator building was built to the right rear of the house with solid brick walls like the house. The generator could run the lights in store as well as the house. The generator house burned one time, after it was no longer used to make power, only the roof burned and this was easily replaced.
My Mother loved to tell me how thrilled she was when she and her three sisters got to pick out the mantels for the fireplaces in their bedrooms. My mother was 8 years old when the family moved into their new home in 1915. I have the original photograph that the editor of the Forest City newspaper took in 1915 right after they moved in.
The barn was built in 1915 and is in the location of their original home. The present Washburn General Store building which is the 4th building, was built in 1925. My cousin, Edgar Nollie Washburn, III (Edward) is the 6th generation to own the store. His children and grandchildren who work in the store on a part time basis, as needed, are the 7th and 8th generation to work in the store. Our State, North Carolina Public TV did a show on the Store in 2006. In their research they found that the store was the oldest family business in North Carolina, still in business.
Our grandfather provided the land and one third the cost of the construction for the Salem Methodist Church in 1929 which is located across the road. My cousin Edward and I were Christened together on Oct. 29, 1932 in that church.
The little red brick house next to the Washburn House was built in 1934 as a Funeral Home, but was never used for that purpose. At one time the House was used as a funeral home in the sense that only visitations were held in the house.
My aunt, Mrs. Edgar Nollie Washburn, Jr. lived in the home until she died, as did my Grandmother, Mrs. Edgar Nollie Washburn, Sr. When our grandfather Nollie died in 1935 in New York city he had four country stores, the other three were in Sunshine, Bostic and one in the Pea Ridge area.
Edward and Catherine have provided land for their three children and they all built homes and raised their families in the Washburn Village area and all of the grandchildren love to get married on the front lawn.
For over 40 years we have had a family reunion on Mother's Day. I've always lined up the entire Clan on the front steps of the House, after Church Services and a Covered Dish Dinner at Church and taken a family photo with a large format camera. Each and every family member that returns the next year gets a free 8 x 10 compliments of myself, Nollie Sr. and my wife Martha. My son Nollie, Jr. has now taken over most of the picture taking work, due to my old bones.Sincerely, Nollie Washburn Neill, Sr.
Mrs. Highlander and myself would like to thank Nollie for his help, what a rare treat. There is nothing better than family history passed down, generation to generation, we feel privileged to have received your help...now back on the trail.
The upper north end of the Cherry Bounce Trail connects to the South Mountain Scenery By-Way for a few miles before heading southward again along the historic Cherry Bounce Trail tour.
As these two scenic by-ways temporarily join together at the northern end of the trail in the southern section of the South Mountains, they cross through "Golden Valley." The name Golden Valley was given to the area after the local gold-strike which began in the year 1828. Cherry Mountain, a local mountain in the region is one of the high peaks on the horizon and known for its abundance of wild cherry trees. After the gold rush and the Civil War, moon-shiners found this out of the way region of Rutherford County to be a relatively safe haven for the production of distilled liquors, one in particular was called Cherry Bounce, from whence the Cherry Bounce Trail takes its name. This popular libation was transported from the local mountains to as far away as the Mississippi River.
Just before the South Mountain Scenery By-Way crosses the northern county line, you continue to stay on the Cherry Bounce Trail by taking Cane Creek Road to Highway 64. A noted skirmish between the American Patriots and Loyalist Tories was fought on the old Cane Creek Road.
Highway 64 south along the Cherry Bounce Trail travels through some of the oldest settlements of the Scot-Irish in this region of far Western North Carolina. This southern route will take you through beautiful scenery and past some of the oldest well-maintained rural historic homes in the county and into Westminster, the oldest and still existing settlement in Rutherford County, which pre-dates the Revolutionary War. The area has both residential and farmlands, some of the old villages are still intact. Historical markers along the way tell the tales of early settlements, old forts and blockhouse sites that no longer exist.
In Westminster you will find the historic Brittain Church organized by the Presbyterian's in 1768. Today this historic and still active church stands as a symbol of a glorious past. The Brittain Church standing today is the third erected building constructed by the Presbyterian organization. It was built in 1852, nearly 100-years after the church's founding. This particular structure was brick-veneered in 1940. The nearly 250-year old site is one of the county's most significant historic sites and a true jewel in Rutherford County's rich heritage.
The Cherry Bounce Trail presents the county's historic past coexisting with its natural landscaped beauty. While driving along the trail you might have the privilege of spotting a stray fox foraging for vittles, a small herd of deer grazing in a field or a flock of wild turkeys out for a countryside stroll. You'll also find friendly folks along the trail happy to share local history with you. The numerous informative historical markers sites, public parks and hiking/biking trails will invite you to take some time off the roadway for a "shoes on the ground" first-hand experience of what makes Rutherford County so special.
A morning, afternoon or early summer evening drive is all you need for this driving tour. The Cherry Bounce Trail is both enlightening and enjoyable.