NC history marked

A twin cities merger and N.C. acquires a landmark highlight

Mark Turner—Mark Turner
Chimney Rock State Park looking east towards Lake Lure in a photo from 2008.

May 13, 1913 Winston and Salem merge The election of a new unified city board brought the town Salem and the city Winston together as one to create Winston-Salem. Both respective places had completely different backgrounds. Salem’s roots were traceable to 1753 and established by Moravian Bishop August Spangenberg. Winston was created in 1849 as the county seat for Forsyth County. In 1879, the first attempt to merge the cities failed when Winston residents didn’t want their city to be called Salem. The local post office was renamed “Winston-Salem” to show the closeness of the cities. By 1913, the second attempt proved successful. May 14, 1932 First concert for North Carolina Symphony The North Carolina Symphony gave its first performance at Hill Hall on the UNC campus. The concert featured 48 musicians from around the state and included the music of Wagner, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky and others. The symphony was the first state to receive financial aid with the passage of what later would be known as the “Horn Tootin’ Bill” in 1943. Today, the North Carolina Symphony is a highly regarded professional orchestra known as the “people’s orchestra” with a strong legacy of music education. May 18, 1947 North Wilkesboro Speedway, the roots of NASCAR, opens North Wilkesboro Speedway opened the track to a crowd of more than 10,000 spectators. The 5/8-mile oval dirt track was best known for challenging drivers, and the speedway was among the first tracks recognized by NASCAR during its inaugural year of 1949. North Wilkesboro Speedway is often known as “The House that Junior Built” in regards to NASCAR legend Junior Johnson. It was there Johnson began his career there at age 16 and won four of his 50 NASCAR victories. The last Cup race held at North Wilkesboro was on Sept. 29, 1996, with more than 60,000 fans in attendance and won by Jeff Gordon. May 21, 2007 Chimney Rock purchased by the state The state bought Chimney Rock State Park from the Morse family who had owned it for more than a century. Located in west Rutherford County, two months later the General Assembly merged the park with neighboring Hickory Nut Gorge and renamed the entire 5,942 acres to Chimney Rock State Park. The first stairway to the mountaintop opened in 1885 while the Morse family constructed the 252-foot elevator shaft inside the mountain, along with a gift shop and snack bar at the top and included nature center and hiking trails. Today Chimney Rock is managed by the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation. Source: North Carolina Department of Cultural and Natural Resources