Scotland County was founded in 1899 from the southeastern part of Richmond County, which was divided to reduced the travel time for residents to the county seat of Rockingham. The county name documents the strong historic and cultural influence from the early settlers from Scotland. Scotland County is often referred to as the “Soul of the Carolinas,” and prides itself as a top area for retirement.
Festivals include the Scotland County Highland Games (held the first weekend in October), the Storytelling Festival of Carolinas, and the John Blue Cotton Festival (second full weekend in October). Historical sites include the John Blue House (Laurinburg) and the Old Laurel Hill Church. Museums and heritage include the Scotland County Museum, Indian Museum, and Scottish Heritage Center. For a bit of nature or outdoors, discover Cypress Bend Vineyards, St. Andrews Equestrian Center, the Chalk Banks, and the Lumber River.
While traveling through Scotland County, you’ll find small towns and unincorporated communities, such as Old Hundred, Whispering Pines, and Hasty.
Named a Tree City because of its tall, stately oaks, settlers arrived at the present town site around 1785, which was named for a prominent family, the McLaurins. In 1840, Laurinburg had a saloon, a store, and a few shacks. Laurinburgh High School, a private school, was established in 1852. The settlement prospered in the years following.
A line of the Wilmington, Charlotte and Rutherford Railroad was built through Laurinburg in the 1850s, with the first train reaching Laurinburg in 1861. The railroad’s shops were moved to Laurinburg in 1865 in the hope they would be safer from Union Army attack; however, in March of that year, Union forces reached Laurinburg and burned the railroad depot and temporary shops.
Laurinburg was then incorporated in 1877, and the first courthouse in Scotland County was erected in Laurinburg in 1901. A new courthouse was built in 1964. The Laurinburg Institute, a historically African-American school founded in 1904, is also located in Laurinburg.
Laurinburg, North Carolina, is also a three-time All America City located in the Sandhills region near Fort Bragg, a U.S. Marine base. The large town offers the charm and quiet living of a small southern town with close proximity to larger cities, the mountains, and the coast. Developing from its rich agricultural heritage, Laurinburg is still an agricultural community and it is also the progressive business and cultural center of Scotland County.
During the annual Scotland County Highland Games, you can watch athletes compete in traditional events such as the caber, the hammer throw and the sheaf toss. Plus, witness piping, drumming, dancing and more Tartan glory. The Annual John Blue Cotton Festival held each fall allows you to experience rural life in the South 100 or more years ago, bringing together the old and the new.
Interesting facts: Main Street in Laurinburg was paved in 1914, and actor, dancer, and singer Ben Vereen is from the area.
John Blue House and Heritage Center
The John Blue House (13040 X Way Rd) is currently closed for renovations but the Heritage Village and two museums are open.
The John Blue House and Heritage Center is the go-to destination for learning more about rural North Carolina’s rich history. Tucked away in a grove of pecan trees, the house is over a century old and is a perfect example of the Steamboat Gothic architecture that dominated the late 19th and early 20th centuries. While at the house, you can marvel at the intricacy of the house’s design and furnishings, which have all been immaculately well-kept over the years. The Heritage Center is a collection of three homesteads, a restored pre-Civil War cotton gin, country store, tobacco barn, and an operational miniature steam locomotive. Together, these structures give us a sneak peak into Scotland County’s past.
The century-old John Blue House provides a glimpse into an important part of Scotland County’s past – the culture of the rural Carolinas – as well as insight into the heart and soul of Mr. John Blue. Constructed 25 years after the end of the Civil War in 1891, John Blue, Sr. (then only 30 years old) – but a successful inventor and manufacturer of farming equipment designed the home after visiting family in Mississippi where he became intrigued by the riverboats. Upon his return, he designed the home to reflect this look – including the “bridge” of the home that served as his favorite sitting area. Also contributing to the riverboat design are the rare double circular porches, as well as the ornaments that decorate the porch and railings — all hand carved by Mr. Blue himself. The house is built entirely of heart of pine lumber from trees on the grounds.
Inside you’ll find 12 rooms–and 12 exterior doors. The doors display decorative stained glass, a feature of which Mr. Blue was especially proud. Today more than 90% of the original stained glass windows remain intact. One window that Mr. Blue especially enjoyed was the red stained glass window in the front door. This window allowed him to look through it, across the road to his cotton fields. The red tint illuminated the fields and allowed Mr. Blue to see his “rose garden.”
Indian Museum of the Carolinas at the North Carolina Rural Heritage Center
Located near the John Blue House, the Indian Museum of the Carolinas (13043 X Way Rd) is dedicated to educating the public about the history, cultures, and importance of the Native American groups that currently and previously inhabited the Carolinas. The museum includes 40 exhibits on various native groups, including the Cherokee, Coharie, Tuscarora, Waccamaw-Siouan, Catawba, and Lumbee, and features a number of artifacts, pottery, tools, weapons, art, and jewelry, some of which are more than 10,000 years old! Additionally, the exhibits include unique items such as an original canoe and projectile points (arrowheads).
Through the millennia, the region now known as North and South Carolina was home to more than 45 different Native American Indian cultures. Among the descendants today are the Lumbee, Cheraw, Cherokee, Tuscarora, Waccamaw, and Catawba.
Museum of Agriculture and History
Also located at 13043 X Way Rd, you’ll also find this lovely museum, comprised of four primary sections: Inventions of John Blue and other agricultural trend-setters, an exhibit of hit and miss engines and other farming vehicles, a look at household appliances from yesteryear, and one of the most fascinating collection of antique cars you will find in the Southeast. Additionally, the museum boasts a retired locomotive engine, an exhibit on textiles, a local sports hall-of-fame, and an honorary exhibit to the armed forces.
In 1886 John Blue and his father established a business on John’s land. In the shop, the younger Blue repaired cotton gin parts and other farm tools and equipment. The small business grew into a large plant where implements were made. Blue built a foundry—a building that contained equipment to melt iron and cast it into parts he needed and that building burned in 1947. The factory where the equipment was built is the building that now houses the Museum of Agriculture and History.
And still at the same spot (13043 X Way Rd), nestled in a grove of pecan trees, the John Blue House serves as the centerpiece of a collection of homesteads that tell the story of a different time in the region. Each of these structures was first built elsewhere by settlers and farmers in the areas and moved to the grounds for presentation, including an original cotton gin and tobacco barn. From the structures to the homesteads that occupy the land, the grounds provide a glimpse of the culture of the rural Carolinas of the late 1800s.
The town was named for the Battle of Wagram, a Napoleonic battle at Deutsch-Wagram in Austria.
Cypress Bend Vineyards
Cypress Bend Vineyards (21904 Riverton Rd, Wagram, NC) is Scotland County’s local winery. The Vineyard serves Scotland County’s first Muscadine winery, using five grape cultivars that thrive in North Carolina’s unique climate. A trip to Cypress Bend Vineyards will give you the opportunity to sample some of of the area’s finest wines in a beautiful, open environment. The vineyard’s tasting room and retail boutique is open every day. They hold weddings and events as well as private parties. And every fall, they hold the Fall Harvest Festival and Grape Stomp. Be sure to check it out and partake!
Chalk Banks State Park/Lumber River State Park
For a peaceful getaway, stop here for scenic water views, picnicking, fishing, boating, hiking, primitive camping, and more (26040 Raeford Road, US Highway 401). The Lumber River is the only black water river in North Carolina, is designated a National Wild and Scenic River, and is one of the top ten Natural Wonders of NC. The Lumber River meanders through Scotland, Hoke, Robeson, and Columbus Counties and connects with the Little Pee Dee River. The Lumber River State Park is comprised of 9,874 acres and 115 miles of waterway.