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Blowing Rock is a town in North Carolinamarker, situated in both Caldwellmarker and Wataugamarker counties. The population was 1,418 at the 2000 census. However, during the summer the town's population increases to about 10,000. These "summertime residents" consist mainly of people from the State of Floridamarker who come to Blowing Rock to escape the heat and humidity of the Deep South.

The Caldwell County portion of Blowing Rock is part of the HickorymarkerLenoirmarkerMorgantonmarker Metropolitan Statistical Area, while the Watauga County portion is part of the Boonemarker Micropolitan Statistical Area.

Attractions

The observation deck at the Blowing Rock.
The town of Blowing Rock takes its name from an unusual rock formation which juts over above the Johns River gorge. Due to the rock's shape and size, wind currents from the gorge often blow vertically, causing light objects to float upwards into the sky. The Blowing Rock area was once fought over by the Cherokee and Catawba Native American tribes. According to legend, two lovers - one from each tribe - were walking near the rocks when the man received a notice to report to his village and go into battle. When his lover urged him to stay with her, he became so distraught that he threw himself off the blowing rock into the gorge. The woman prayed to the Great Spirit to return her lover, and the Spirit complied by sending a gust of wind which blew the man back up the cliff and landed him safely on the blowing rock itself. This story of course is fictional but it was used as a draw for the attraction. In the 80's a billboard in Wilkesboro for Blowing Rock showed two Indians holding hands, one standing on the rock and one "floating". Today "The Blowing Rock" is a popular tourist attraction and is well-known for its superb views of the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains.

Another popular tourist attraction in Blowing Rock is the Tweetsie Railroad theme park, which is home to the only remaining fully-functional steam engine train in North Carolina. Visitors to Tweetsie can ride the train for three miles (5 km) and enjoy the mountain scenery; the park also contains traditional amusement-park rides and attractions. Other attractions in the Blowing Rock area include the elegant and historic Green Park Inn, Mystery Hill, the Blowing Rock Country Club, and the Mariam & Robert Hayes Performing Arts Center, which presents music, dance, and films as well as being the home to a professional theatre company (Blowing Rock Stage Company). On the nearby Blue Ridge Parkwaymarker is Moses Cone Memorial Park, which offers scenic views of the surrounding mountains. The park contains the impressive Moses Cone Manor and Estate, and features two large lakes surrounded by forests and trails. These well-maintained trails wind miles, and were once carriage trails for the Cone family. Adjacent to the park is the Blowing Rock Equestrian Preserve, where visitors can board their horses convenient to the trails; there are of riding and carriage trails in the park. Annual festivals and events in Blowing Rock include: the "Art In The Park" festival, a monthly summertime (May-Oct) event in downtown Blowing Rock where artists of all types set up booths to sell their work to tourists; the "Fourth of July" festival and parade; Blowing Rock Winterfest in January; the Blue Ridge Wine & Food Festival in April; Christmas in the Park & Lighting of the Town festivities, including a Holiday Parade; the Symphony by the Lake at Chetola Resort; and the Blowing Rock Charity Horse Show which has been a tradition for 84 years. It is the longest continuously-run horse show in the United States. The show features some of the best horse riders in the Eastern United States.

Geography

Blowing Rock is located at (36.129663, -81.672566), in the Blue Ridge mountain range.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has
  • a total area of 3.0 square miles (7.8 km²).
  • 3.0 square miles (7.7 km²) of it is land and
  • 0.04 square miles (0.1 km²), or 1.00% of total area, is water.


Climate

The town's elevation of 3500 to 3600 feet (1067-1097 meters) above sea level results in substantially cooler summer temperatures compared to lowland areas to the east and south. Daytime temperatures in the summer rarely rise above 80 degrees fahrenheit (27 degrees Celsius). However, temperatures in the winter are much colder and harsher than would be expected in a southern state. Daytime highs can frequently fall into the 20s or lower. Snow, sleet, and freezing rain are all common in the winter months. Springtime in Blowing Rock is cool and generally pleasant.

Rainfall is moderate; thunderstorms are occasional, and rarely severe.

Demographics

As of the census of 2000, there were 1,418 people, 663 households, and 387 families residing in the town. The population density was 477.9 people per square mile (184.3/km²). There were 1,524 housing units at an average density of 513.6/sq mi (198.1/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 97.95% White, 0.35% African American, 0.21% Native American, 0.35% Asian, 0.07% from other races, and 1.06% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.63% of the population.

There are 663 households, of which
  • 16.9% have children under the age of 18 living with them,
  • 52.3% were married couples living together,
  • 4.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and
  • 41.5% were non-families.
35.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.03 persons and the average family size was 2.59.

The population consists of
  • 15.0% under the age of 18,
  • 4.9% from 18 to 24,
  • 20.0% from 25 to 44,
  • 34.1% from 45 to 64, and
  • 26.0% 65 years or older.
The median age is 51 years. For every 100 females there were 86.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 80.4 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $54,271, and the median income for a family was $66,979. Males had a median income of $45,417 compared to $27,361 for females. The per capita income for the town was $34,294. About 2.9% of families and 9.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 16.1% of those under age 18 and 6.5% of those age 65 or over.

History

Before 1752, when Bishop August Gottlieb Spangenberg of the Moravian Church visited The Blowing Rock, the windy cliffs of the area were home to the Cherokee and the Catawba Native American tribes.

After the mid-eighteenth century, when hardy Scots-Irish pioneers began to settle in the region, the mountain passes from southern Virginiamarker into Kentuckymarker attracted many colonists, farmers, hunters, and trappers who continued south to the mountains of North Carolina. The first family to settle in Blowing Rock were the Greenes, who were established by the mid-1800s on a site that would become the Green Park Hotel property. Other early settlers in Blowing Rock included the Hayes, Coffey, Bolick, Estes and Storie families. During the American Civil War the mountains of North Carolina often witnessed fierce guerilla warfare between groups of pro-Confederate and pro-Union fighters. To keep their families safe, men leaving for service in the Confederate Army often sent them to Blowing Rock, which became a local refuge from the fighting. After the Civil War many of these veterans would join their families and remain in the Blowing Rock area. At the same time, summer residents began to come up from the nearby city of Lenoirmarker to enjoy the cool fresh air and magnificent mountain views. Seeing the potential of their village to become a haven for well-to-do tourists, the residents of Blowing Rock had their village incorporated into a town on March 11, 1889. The town's first mayor was "Uncle" Joe Clarke, and the town initially had a population of about 300.
As word traveled to other parts of the South about the merits of Blowing Rock, more visitors began to arrive, first camping out, and later taking rooms at boarding houses such as the Hayes and Martin Houses on Main Street. Eventually there were more visitors than the existing boarding houses could handle, and so many homes were turned into hotels. The first hotel in Blowing Rock was the Watauga Hotel, built in 1884; the hotel added cottages in 1888. The Green Park Hotel opened in 1891, it was followed eight years later by the Blowing Rock Hotel. Walter Alexander, a prominent local resident, touted the clean air and healthy environment of Blowing Rock; in 1922 he opened his own hotel, called Mayview Manor.

As the tourist economy became Blowing Rock's main industry in the late 1800s, the town was forced to adapt to meeting the needs of tourists. The need for cleaner and better streets (most streets then were simply dirt tracks) led to the paving of the town's streets and highways. Another issue involved the need to build fences to keep farm animals from wandering into town and disturbing visitors - at the time most farms in the area were not fenced. In 1896 the town passed an ordinance which required local farmers to fence in their livestock.

The introduction of the automobile and improved roads early in the twentieth century further eased the journey to Blowing Rock, and visitors began to arrive from as far away as Florida. Today Blowing Rock remains a popular tourist destination for visitors from all over the United States. Due to the town's well-to-do, out-of-state summertime residents, Blowing Rock boasts top-quality restaurants, hotels, golf courses, and other attractions. A recent priority for Blowing Rock's residents has been to preserve and protect the town's historic structures and maintaining the small-town charm and scenery that has attracted so many people for the last 150 years.

Miscellaneous

The town has a vibrant economy based in part on tourism. A small, quaint downtown area is characterized by numerous shops of varying types, a pleasant public park, and diverse restaurants. The mountainous terrain provides scenic views with long-range vistas from several locations around town, including the Blowing Rock itself.

Most essential services are available in Blowing Rock, in Boone, North Carolinamarker, approximately eight miles away, or elsewhere in the county. The town is served by U.S. Highways 221 and 321 as well as the Blue Ridge Parkwaymarker. For other transportation facilities, consult Boone, North Carolinamarker and Watauga County, North Carolinamarker.

Author Tom Robbins was born in Blowing Rock in 1936 before moving to Burnsville, NCmarker in 1943. He recounts some early memories of Blowing Rock in Wild Ducks Flying Backward. Blowing Rock is also home to a popular group referred to as "The Mormish Council". Blowing Rock is currently the home of numerous artists of all types, many of whom use the local scenery for their work. Jan Karon, a native of nearby Lenoir, North Carolinamarker moved to Blowing Rock in the late 1980s to write fiction. Her bestselling Mitford series of novels is set in a small town based on Blowing Rock; she calls the town "Mitford".

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