Have you ever wondered where many of the place names displayed
on road signs originated?
Was a city, town, or historical site named for a founding
father, a geographical feature, historical event, or something
else that brought this area into prominence?
Names tell a story and the story is not always obvious.
A visit to Blowing Rock, North Carolina taught me that a name
can have several meanings.
The story behind Blowing Rock’s name is based on both a
physical feature and local lore.
There is an actual rock outcropping on the spot where the legend
takes place. I’ll
leave it up to you to decide which is the most appropriate
reason for the name. What follows is a shortened version of the
It was told that a
Chickasaw maiden took a fancy to a wandering Cherokee brave who
returned her flirtatious advances.
They became lovers.
One day a strange reddening appeared in the sky that drew the
lovers up to The Rock.
To the brave it was a sign of trouble, commanding him to
return to his tribe in the plains. The maiden pleaded with him
not to leave her. Torn by conflict between duty and love, he
leaped from the highest rock to the wilderness far below. The
grief stricken maiden prayed daily to the Great Spirit until one
evening a strange reddening again appeared in the sky and a gust
of wind blew her lover back onto the The Rock from the valley
far below. For Native Americans of the area this was reason
enough for the name.
Blowing Rock’s mysterious winds often caused even the snow to
fall upside down from the valley far below the jutting
precipice. Why not a brave who was returned to his lover by the
Great Spirit? Ripley’s Believe-It-Or-Not named this the only
place in the world where snow falls upside
The site of this legend
persists today through the marketing efforts of the local
community and draws enough visitors to warrant a building
housing an information center and gift shop. It is worth a visit
just to stand on the spot or after reading the caution signs
climb the famous rock.
The unrestricted views are stunning with most of the
highest peaks in the southern Blue Ridge Mountains in view.
To use a line from one of Barbara Streisand’s hit songs,
“On a clear day you can see forever.”
This is an area to which residents of the southern states have
gravitated for generations to escape the summer heat and
humidity down below.
At almost 4,000 feet above sea level, with spectacular
views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Blowing Rock continues to be
a favorite destination for visitors.
|Famous sign at Blowing Rock
|| The rock
Today the Blowing Rock area is a Four Season destination
offering year ‘round outdoor activities and those magnificent
fall colors that have to be appreciated in person. The vistas
are just too vast and colors too intense for a photo to do it
Blowing Rock is the total opposite of its sister city Boone to
the north with that city’s traffic and commercial sprawl.
Its main street is rife with every fast food restaurant
chain known to man.
Blowing Rock has no high rise buildings.
Main Street is a delightful collection of individual
restaurants, shops, and businesses. The architecture is of
different designs and periods making for individuality not
look-alike chain motels and restaurants.
Surrounding residential areas feature one-of-a-kind
residences, many quite impressive. Everything says stability and
When driving up the
mountain on US Hwy 321 to Blowing Rock, the first thing that
visitors see is a sign announcing
“The Blowing Rock,”
the formation from where the town gets its name. Directly across
the road is the Green Park Inn with its charming 19th century
My stay here was not in
one of the newer motels or even in one of the delightful B&B’s
sprinkled throughout the downtown and
surrounding areas but in the
Green Park Inn
located at the “gateway to the High Country.” For many years it
was considered to be the most luxurious hotel in all of the High
|Green Park Inn
Built in the Victorian style of architecture of the period, the
hotel is the last of the “Grand Manor Hotels” in all of Western
North Carolina. Like all of the old grand hotels of that era the
structure is made almost entirely of wood in this case American
chestnut, a tree which is now extinct
Now well into its second
century of hosting visitors the Inn, it opened in 1891 more than
125 years ago and is listed on several historical registers and
is a member of Historic Hotels of America. In its early days
when the rich and famous came to visit this then remote
location, it was a different time when the world was a more
genteel place. Much
of its gentility has been retained.
Presidents, Hollywood celebrities and notables, some of whose
pictures adorn the walls of its lobby have been guests of the
My favorite is a photo of Annie Oakley.
When guests pass though the front doors to the lobby they
quickly come to understand the reason why the Green Park Inn’s
reputation for charm is evident even to this today.
The lobby, front desk, library, tea room, crystal
chandeliers, furniture and decorating give one the feeling of
being in an old mansion of another era. There is no chrome or
amplified music but all modern amenities have been installed in
public areas and the comfortable guest rooms.
|Library at Green Park Inn
The Green Park Inn sits on top of the Eastern Continental Divide
making the name of its
Divide Tavern very appropriate. On the western side of the
Continental Divide water flows west and eventually into the
On the east it eventually reaches the Atlantic Ocean.
In this softly lit tavern there are no banks of muted TV’s
staring down from the walls or loud music. It’s a place to meet,
relax with a beverage of your choice and engage in conversation.
The menu at the Inn’s famous
features its own unique specialties. The atmosphere allows
patrons to enjoy dining with no loud background noise or the
This is a unique 88 room inn with roots stretching back to the
late 1800’s, back to an era of charm and civility.
In no way does it resemble today’s look-alike chain
hotels or cracker box design mentality.
If you want to eat at the same fast food restaurants and
stay at the same chain motels you have at home…why travel?
Guests are encouraged to spend time in the lobby, library and
other public areas where they can meet friendly fellow
travelers. One thing not to miss is the Friday and Saturday
evening piano entertainment in the lobby.
|Charlie Ellis entertains guests
in the Green Park Inn Library
Local legend, Pianist Charlie Ellis, has been performing in the
area and around the country for more than 40 years delighting
listeners with his American Song Book collection. Enjoy a couple of hours of
easy listening music. If you know the words to his many songs,
feel free to sing along.
Any time is a good time to visit the historic Green Park Inn.
Stop in, stay a while, relax and recharge your batteries. A
visit to their web site will start you on your way.
American Roads and
Global Highways has so many great articles you may
search it for you favorite places or new exciting destinations.