A Year-Round Guide to Franklin and Nantahala

[caption id="attachment_177904" align="aligncenter" width="1140"] John Harris (right) learned to hang glide in Nags Head. Through Kitty Hawk Kites locations up and down the East Coast, he now helps others fly,

Rosemary and Goat Cheese Strata

[caption id="attachment_177904" align="aligncenter" width="1140"] John Harris (right) learned to hang glide in Nags Head. Through Kitty Hawk Kites locations up and down the East Coast, he now helps others fly,

The Wright Flyer at Jockey's Ridge; Bucket of Pepsi Cola and Cheerwine; NASCAR race track.

North Carolina Originals

Hang glider on Jockey's Ridge and John Harris, founder of Kitty Hawk Kites

John Harris (right) learned to hang glide in Nags Head. Through Kitty Hawk Kites locations up and down the East Coast, he now helps others fly, too. photograph by Chris Hannant

Est. 1903

Over the past 50 years, Kitty Hawks Kites has taught more than 400,000 people how to fly. What has grown into the largest hang-gliding school in the country all began when cofounder John Harris saw a picture in the Winston-Salem Journal of a man flying an early prototype of a hang glider in 1973. “That was an epiphany for me,” he says. A year later, Harris and his friend Ralph Buxton opened a hang gliding school at Jockey’s Ridge, a pivotal location for aeronautical pursuits. “It’s been an honor that we’ve been able to continue to teach people to fly and glide, which is what the Wright brothers spent most of their time doing here — learning to fly gliders,” Harris says. “We feel like we are continuing in their footsteps.” — Molly Harrison

Read more about Kitty Hawk Kites.

Virginia Dare statue

The Virginia Dare statue on Roanoke Island memorializes the first colonist born in our state. photograph by Pat & Chuck Blackley/Alamy

Virginia Dare
Born 1587

About a week after Virginia Dare was born in the New World, her grandfather John White, governor of the Roanoke Colony, sailed for England from Roanoke Island. When he was finally able to return three years later, Dare and the other colonists had vanished. Today, we remember the first colonist born on our soil when we see the Virginia Dare statue at Manteo’s Elizabethan Gardens.

1411 National Park Drive
Manteo, NC 27954
(252) 473-3234

Vicks VapoRub salves

Created by a Greensboro pharmacist, Vicks VapoRub quickly rose to the top of the company’s product line for its soothing mentholated vapors. Photography courtesy of DURHAM HISTORICAL PHOTOGRAPH COLLECTION (NCC.0055). NORTH CAROLINA COLLECTION, DURHAM COUNTY LIBRARY, NC, P&G HERITAGE CENTER & ARCHIVES

Vicks VapoRub
Est. 1894

Greensboro-based pharmacist Lunsford Richardson invented Vicks VapoRub in 1894. The salve — which helps ease congested breathing by releasing mentholated vapors when spread on the chest — was the most popular product made by the Vick Family Remedies Company, and sales grew quickly. When the flu epidemic hit in 1918, sales jumped from $600,000 annually to nearly $3 million, making the product a household name.

Pharmacists pack containers of North Carolina remedies to ship.

North Carolina remedies made their way from Durham, Greensboro, and Winston-Salem to drugstores across the country. Photography courtesy of DURHAM HISTORICAL PHOTOGRAPH COLLECTION (NCC.0055). NORTH CAROLINA COLLECTION, DURHAM COUNTY LIBRARY, NC, P&G HERITAGE CENTER & ARCHIVES

Headache Powders
Est. 1906, 1911, & 1932

Before the days when pain-relief medicine was nationally sold and marketed, local pharmacists made and sold their own headache powders. They became popular among mill and tobacco factory workers, who performed physically demanding jobs in loud environments and needed quick pain relief to maintain productivity. BC Powders, invented in Durham in 1906; Stanback Headache Powders, invented in Thomasville in 1911; and Goody’s Headache Powders, invented in Winston-Salem in 1932, became some of the most popular headache medicines in the country.

The Spirit of Mecklenburg memorial in Charlotte, NC.

The Spirit of Mecklenburg in Charlotte memorializes Capt. James Jack, who delivered the anti-British Mecklenburg Resolves — a resolution distinct from the Mecklenburg Declaration — to the Continental Congress in 1775. photograph by DENISE RETALLACK

American Independence
Mecklenburg Declaration — Adopted 1775

Residents of Mecklenburg County allegedly convened on May 20, 1775, to produce the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence, declaring themselves free from Great Britain a year before the national Declaration of Independence. The original document was supposedly destroyed by fire but was re-created in 1819. Although the existence of the original text has been the subject of heated debate, our state seal and flag feature the date on which it was supposedly written.

Halifax Resolves mural

You can spot the Halifax Resolves mural on North King Street in Halifax County. photograph by Anna Routh Barzin

Halifax Resolves — Adopted 1776

On April 12, 1776, the Fourth Provincial Congress met in Halifax and submitted a document advising North Carolina to declare independence, making the colony the first to allow delegates to officially vote for separation from Great Britain. The document, which came to be known as the Halifax Resolves, inspired the colonies to work together to write the Declaration of Independence. Today, a copy of the Resolves is held in the State Archives of North Carolina.

Downtown Salisbury, downtown New Bern, Bucket full of Pepsi-Cola and Cheerwine.

Downtown Salisbury (bottom left) and downtown New Bern gave us two of our favorite soft drinks. At the Birthplace of Pepsi-Cola (top left), Philip P. Buffa Jr. poses in character as Caleb Bradham. Photography courtesy of VISITNC.COM, CHEERWINE, DHANRAJ EMANUEL

Pepsi & Cheerwine
Est. 1893 & 1917

New Bern pharmacist Caleb Bradham invented a sweet cola in 1893, first calling it “Brad’s Drink.” It was later renamed Pepsi-Cola for its purported properties as a digestive aid — perhaps because it was thought to ease dyspepsia, or maybe as a nod to the digestive enzyme pepsin. Two decades later, Salisbury soda manufacturer L.D. Peeler purchased a cherry flavoring from a St. Louis salesman, and Cheerwine was born. Peeler named the drink for its burgundy wine color and cheerful bubbles.

Moravian cookies, Nabs, Texas Pete hot sauce, and Krispy Kreme doughnuts

From Moravian cookies to Krispy Kreme, numerous beloved food brands originated in North Carolina. photograph by Dhanraj Emanuel

First in Flavor

Moravian Cookies — Est. 1700s

So challenging to bake that even Martha Stewart struggled with the recipe, the paper-thin Moravian cookie — flavored with molasses, ginger, and cloves — was first made by Moravians in Salem after the community emigrated from Central Europe via Pennsylvania in 1753. Due to the cost of the spices, the cookies were traditionally made for special occasions, but are now available throughout the year.

Nabs — Est. 1913

Although the original NABS, made by what is now Nabisco, were discontinued in the ’70s or ’80s, many North Carolinians continue to use the name for the cracker sandwiches made by Lance in Charlotte. After accidentally acquiring 500 pounds of peanuts in 1913, Philip Lance made lemons into lemonade — er, peanut butter, which his wife and daughters spread onto crackers.

Texas Pete Hot Sauce — Est. 1929

The Garner family of Winston-Salem — later T.W. Garner Food Company — began producing Texas Pete after receiving requests to make their barbecue sauce hotter. Instead, they decided to create a new product, and named the hot sauce “Texas” — because of the Lone Star State’s reputation for spicy food — and “Pete,” after the founder’s son’s nickname.

Krispy Kreme — Est. 1937

Vernon Rudolph first created our state’s iconic hot fried dough in 1937, when he opened a wholesale doughnut business in Old Salem. The sweet smell lured passersby to stop in, and he responded by cutting a hole in the wall to serve up his treats streetside. Today, “Hot Now” signs in nearly 400 Krispy Kreme shops call to hungry customers the world over.

The students of Dr. Carl Schenck’s Biltmore Forest School; Pisgah National Forest

The work of Biltmore’s resident forester, Gifford Pinchot, and the students of Dr. Carl Schenck’s Biltmore Forest School (top left) have helped ensure the longevity of Pisgah National Forest. Photography courtesy of FOREST HISTORY SOCIETY, DURHAM, NC; TOM MOORS

American Forestry
Est. 1898

The first school of forestry in North America opened in 1898, when the Biltmore Estate’s chief forester, Dr. Carl Schenck, established the Biltmore Forest School. Schenck developed a program that taught more comprehensive and sustainable methods of forest management than were generally practiced at that time. Today, the site of the school is commemorated as the Cradle of Forestry historic site in Pisgah National Forest.

11250 Pisgah Highway
Pisgah Forest, NC 28768
(828) 877-3130

NASCAR race cares; Junior Johnson; Richard Petty

In 1960, Junior Johnson (top right) became the first driver to utilize “drafting” — riding in the slipstream of another car. By his retirement in 1992, Richard Petty (bottom right) had won 200 NASCAR Winston Cup races. photograph by Jared C. Tilton/Staff/Getty Images North America, State Archives of North Carolina, baona/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Stock Car Racing
Est. 1948

Moonshiners first souped up their engines to outrun revenuers. Later, they raced for sport on dirt tracks. In 1947, former driver Bill France organized a series of meetings that resulted in the drafting of rules for what would thereafter be known as NASCAR: the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing. Today, tens of thousands of fans attend races each year at Charlotte Motor Speedway and learn about the sport’s history at the Queen City’s NASCAR Hall of Fame.


The patented game of Putt-Putt was founded in Fayetteville in 1954. Although Putt-Putt is a distinct brand, the name has become synonymous with mini golf. photograph by Joshua Steadman

Miniature Golf
Est. 1919

When James Wells Barber contracted Edward H. Wiswell to build a miniature golf course in the garden of his Pinehurst estate, either Barber or Wiswell — no one knows which — looked at the garden and proclaimed, “This’ll do.” The 18-hole course, completed in 1919, came to be known as Thistle Dhu, and the game of miniature golf was born. After the course was featured in magazines and newspapers, mini golf became all the rage in the 1920s and ’30s. — Rebecca Woltz


This story was published on Jan 01, 2024

Molly Harrison

A native North Carolinian, Molly Harrison moved to the Outer Banks after college in 1994. She works as a writer and editor from her home in Nags Head. Harrison is also the author of the Insiders’ Guide to the Outer Banks.

Rebecca Woltz

Rebecca is the staff writer at Our State.