North Carolina People, Places, and Things-December 7
I am the dad to five adult children. As they were growing up I attempted to remind them they were special and to implore them to learn something new. My goal was to do that daily.
In 2016 my goal is to learn something new daily on the people, places, and things that make North Carolina special. Everyday this year I am doing a post on what I have learned new.
Wilkes County is one of those counties that finds there county seat of Wilkesboro not being the largest town in the county. That honor belongs to North Wilkesboro. Wilkes County was formed in 1777 from parts of Surry County and what was known back then as the Washington District (which is now Washington County TN).
Map of Wilkes County is outlined in red on map below:
An interesting piece of Wilkes County history is the Tom Dula legend; it was popularized in a Kingston Trio ballad called Hang Down Your Head, Tom Dooley. After the Civil War, Private Tom Dula moved back to Elkville, now known as Ferguson, and planned to elope with Laura Foster. I wrote about Tom Dula and Laura Foster earlier in year-blog post link is below:
Once described as the “moonshine capital of America” in the mid 1900s, North Wilkesboro was in a prime location for not only the illegal production of distilled liquor but also for its transportation.
Bootleggers drove their modified cars, full of liquor and fast engines, to delivery spots all across the state, and when bootleggers were not delivering whiskey, they would race their cars on the weekends for bragging rights and extra cash.
Soon people would gather to watch bootleggers race their cars and a dirt, oval-sized track was built in North Wilkesboro. Thousands of spectators would gather and watch races year after year in Wilkes County, and soon other tracks were built across Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina.
In 1947 the National Association for Stock Auto Racing or NASCAR was born, and many historians consider Wilkes County the birthplace of NASCAR. Sadly there has not been a race there for over 20 years and the track is falling into disrepair.