A Journey through Yadkin County
“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.”
― Henry Miller
August 24, 2019
I hemmed and hawed the night before my departure about whether or not to go. Earlier in the week, the weather had looked pleasant for Saturday. But by that night, it looked like definite rain… no chance for a ray of sunshine all day… periods of light rain and sprinkles. But it was my inaugural outing and I had planned it for about two weeks, so off I decided to go into the North Carolina countryside–Yadkin County–rain or shine. After a quick stop to fill up my tank, I was on my way…
On a cloudy, slightly rainy Saturday morning, there wasn’t much traffic on the road. I arrive in Huntsville about 9:20 a.m. with two things on my list to see: The Big Poplar Tree and the H.H. Sofley House. The Big Poplar Tree was the site of the 1780 Battle of Shallow Ford, an American Revolution skirmish on October 14, 1780. Six hundred Loyalist militia attempted to cross the Yadkin River to join General Cornwallis in Charlotte. A battle ensued and Loyalist militia fled. One Patriot died in the skirmish: Henry Francis, who is buried at the site of the Big Poplar Tree, believed to have been shot out during battle. I stopped at the local Battle Branch Café to ask for directions to find the tree, but was told that the tree is now on private land and the owner doesn’t much like people trespassing to find the tree. So, the best I can offer you is this photo from the Yadkin County Historical Society Facebook page, which has not been kept up for years.
The H.H. Sofley House, or the White House as it is also called, was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. Built in 1795, the house is representative of Early Republic/Late Georgian style with a Quaker plan. This home is also now a private residence, so no tours and no photo to show.
A short jaunt from Hunstville is Yadkinville, at the center of the county. It appears that Unifi is the main employer in town with one very large production plant and another building, possibly a trucking facility nearby. I was expecting a larger town, but the downtown area was just a few blocks, and nothing happening on a rainy Saturday. I’m planning on heading back here on a future weekday when I get the chance, and I’ll write a minipost for you then.
First named Wilson, for Louis D. Wilson, a legislator who died in the Mexican War, Yadkinville was chosen as the county seat with the founding of Yadkin County in 1850. The town’s name was changed to Yadkinville in 1852 after it was discovered that another NC town was already named Wilson. Yadkinville was incorporated in 1857. It’s first courthouse was made from bricks handmade on a farm north of town.
The Yadkin Cultural Arts Center’s (226 E. Main St.) modern design juxtaposes against the small-town backdrop. Harboring the Welborn Gallery with artist exhibitions and several art studios in the surrounding spaces as well as the Willingham Theater (shows year-round), it’s quite kitchy. Regular hours are Monday–Friday, 9am-5pm. They boast “Big City Excitement, Small Town Charm.”
Before leaving Yadkinville, I’ve got two more things on my list. Shallowford Farms popcorn is also only open Monday–Friday; however, you’ll find their popcorn sold at the local Food Lion: butter, cheese, and kettlecorn flavors. Look for it in the deli section.
Next comes my first of three winery visits of the day: Hanover Park Vineyard (1927 Courtney-Huntsville Rd.), a lovely old restored home located on a former tobacco farm, surrounded by rows of grape vines. It’s the first bonded winery in Yadkin County since prohibition. Stop by for a wine tasting of their European varietals and enjoy a glass on their porch, or picnic on the lawn under the breezy canopy of old, majestic oak trees. And be sure to say hello to Pearl, the owners’ so-adorable cocker spaniel, who also has a rosé named for her.
Then… what a find! A beautiful waterfall at Shore-Styers Mill Park (photo at top of post). It was the highlight of my visit to Yadkinville. It’s truly not much of a park… just a small parking area and few meandering trails along side the waterfall’s runoff. I suppose you could also picnic under the canopy or on the rocks on a pretty day. But a beautiful discovery nonetheless.
P.S. There is a few inches of a drop-off between the road and the parking lot. However, there is one small section that does meet the road pretty well.
I found another sweet surprise a few miles down the road in Hamptonville: an area with a quiet Amish settlement established in the 1980s. Just after passing into town, I saw an honest-to-goodness Amish buggy passing in the other direction! And the kind gentlemen even waved! I had never seen an Amish buggy in person before. So, for me this was the highlight of my day. I still get excited just writing about it. I know, some of you may not think this is a big deal. But I’ve come to appreciate the small things in life. And for me this was a small joy; hence, a big joy.
Just around the corner, I found my next destination: Shiloh General Store (5520 St. Paul Church Rd.), an Amish-run market, which is apparently a big destination because the parking lot was packed… people coming and going, folks sitting on the porch chatting and snacking. Inside, you’ll find a large variety of jarred goods, soup mixes, baked goods, cheese, spices, and so much more. The line at the register snakes around the corner continuously, but moves quickly. And of course, the gentlemen at the registers are oh-so-kind. I purchase four soup mixes, chocolate ice cream cookies (a treat for my daughter), nonpareils ( a treat for me), and some Dutch Kettle blackberry jam. I plan to stop by The Dutch Kettle (5016 Hunting Creek Rd.) afterward for a photo, but I know they are closed on Saturday, so I pick up a jar here. Incidentally, you’ll find Dutch Kettle jam at local stores too and even at a gas station all the way up in Jonesville (my next stop).
A few interesting tidbits… The Hampton House is believed to be the oldest residence in Yadkin County. And at one time, the town’s well was located in the middle of a street, but it was paved over when U.S. 21 was constructed in 1940.
Jonesville is by far, the largest town in Yadkin County. In less than a mile stretch, you’ll find a small Best Western hotel, a Cracker Barrel, a large gas station, a variety of fast food chains, and a few local restaurants as well.
I did dig up this little bit of history on Jonesville. Back on December 21, 1912, a the Jonesville High School second floor auditorium collapsed during a Christmas concert. More than 300 people were present when people fell to the first floor when the floor collapsed. Two elderly women and a young girl (Nancy Swaim, Mrs. William Smith and Lexie Luffman, a 12-year-old girl) were killed and nearly 100 people injured. Sam Ray extinguished a stove fire in the auditorium as the floor began to collapse, also saving many lives.
I decide to peruse through the Antique Mall, then head to Lila Swaim Park with a beautiful tunnel of trees to drive through. You may also want to take a walk on the Jonesville Greenway.
P.S. You’ll find some Dutch Kettle jam at the gas station here beside the Subway restaurant.
My final two stops of the day are two more wineries. The Yadkin River Valley is a rich, fertile area. So, you will find many local wineries here: Brandon Hills Vineyard, Cellar 4201, Divine Llama Vineyards (Yes, they have llamas!), Flint Hill Vineyards, Dobbins Creek Vineyards, Hanover Park Vineyard (see above), Laurel Gray Vineyards, RagApple Lassie Vineyards (the newest), Shadow Springs Vineyard, Windsor Run Cellars, Sweet Home Carolina Vineyard & Winery, and Sanders Ridge Winery, Restaurant & Cabin and The Big Woods Zip Line.
I hadn’t planned on stopping at Flint Hill Vineyards–a quaint yellow 1800s restored farmhouse and gardens that sit among century-old oaks–but I had passed by it twice and decided to head in. The owners, Brenda and Tim Doub, are Dutch, hence the windmill motif on the labels and inside as well. A friendly crowd was already into their tasting, so I joined alongside and headed out with a bottle in tow. Quite interestingly, they have a white wine Viognier variety that is aged in stainless steel. Enjoy their wine on the porch, patio or picnic area.
My last stop before heading home was… drumroll please… Divine Llama Vineyards. Yes! That’s what you were hoping for, right? This delightful winery opened in 2009 and sits on 77 acres, boasting views of Pilot Mountain from various spots on the property.
Now, whereas the other two wineries I visited were rather laid back with merely a small crowd, Divine Llama was rocking. In fact, the parking lot was packed and the tasting bar was packed too. The wait, about 10-15 minutes, was well worth it. I left with no less than three bottles–and *blush* the first bottle of red wine I’ve every bought. (I guess I wasn’t born with a palette for red wine, so I surprised myself in finding a red wine that I liked.) Enjoy your wine in the rustic farmhouse, on the rocking chair porch, or at the picnic tables under the trees.
Before you head out, be sure to walk the gravel path past the llama statue to visit the real llamas on the farm. In spring, fall, and winter (when weather is more temperate) you can head out on a two-mile trek with your very own llama (and feed them too).
P.S. You get a 10% discount if you buy three bottles… twist my arm. And many of the wines are named after their llamas.
Other areas of interest:
Donnaha Site (archeological significance)
Morse and Wade Building (100 E. Main St.)
Kitchen Roselli (105 E. Main St.), open 12-2p.m. and 5:30-9p.m.
Richmond Hill Law School and Nature Park (tours of the Law School on certain Saturdays)
Lake James Antique Mall (2420 Harmony Rd.) Open 10a.m.-5p.m. on Saturdays
Glenwood Plantation (1820 Taylor Rd.), private residence
Durrett-Jarrett House (0.35m north of jct. NC 1605/1569)
Do you live in or have you visited Yadkin County? What do you love about the area?