Wednesday, December 22, 2010

We talk funny: How we actually speak

Here's the second part at the look at the ways we "talk" in North Carolina. I've always been fascinated with this subject, especially after reading Walt Wolfram's "Hoi Toid on the Outer Banks." This one is actually just that -- the various dialects. And, boy, are there a lot of them in North Carolina. (See part 1 here.)

The North Carolina Language and Life Project at N.C. State (Go Pack!) has done amazing research in cataloging the various dialects all across the state. As its website states, the goals of the project are:
  • To gather basic research information about language variety in order to understand the nature of language variation and change.

  • To provide information about language differences and language change for public and educational interests.

  • To use the material collected in research projects for the improvement of educational programs about language and culture.
  • To preserve the rich heritage of language variety in North Carolina as it reflects the different cultural traditions of its residents.

I'm personally always trying to detect peoples' roots based on their inflections, pronunciations and even pauses. (I'm a bit of a geek that way.) You can see some of the various research findings on places such as Crusoe Island, Louisburg (one of my favorites because of the lilt), Ocracoke, Graham County, Raleigh, Durham and many others.

Here are some youtube clips that show the variety in regional dialects just in N.C. alone. (Here's a link to the NCLLP's channel.)

The project even has an online media store where you can purchase some of their work.

Monday, December 20, 2010

We talk funny: Place names

This is the first in what I think will be just a two-parter about the ways we "talk" in North Carolina. And by talk I mean the way we speak and the way we pronounce place names. I've always been fascinated with this subject, especially after reading Walt Wolfram's "Hoi Toid on the Outer Banks."

This first part is geared at the various place names in the state. North Carolina is lucky in that we have A LOT of places that have some interesting pronunciations. In fact, the N.C. Collection at the UNC-Chapel Hill Library offers a database, of sorts, on its website called, "Talk Like a Tar Heel." You can view it here. In fact, the list is organized by county, which is quite helpful.

Among my favorites are ...
Conetoe (kuh-NEE-tuh)
Concord (CON-CORD -- not CON-kerd)
Etowah (EH-tuh-wuh)
Harnett (HAR-nit)
Mebane (MEB-in -- not muh-BAIN)
Tyrrell (TERR-il)
Zebulon (ZEB-you-lon)

Of course, I don't necessarily agree with some of these; I've always heard Edgecombe as "EDGE-comb," not "EDGE-cum," as listed here.

Any other place names that don't necessarily sound like they look?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Eastover to drop a ... flea .. on New Year's

North Carolina is known for its sometimes wacky New Year's Eve celebrations: the shooters in Cherryville ("Cherr-vul"), the dropping of a pickle in (obviously) Mount Olive, etc.

But this one might take the cake.

The newest addition to the dropping tradition is a 30-pound insect. The eastern North Carolina town of Eastover will drop a flea made of fabric, foam, wire and wood Dec. 31 from Flea Hill.

The ceremony will include a storyteller recounting the legend of Flea Hill just before midnight. An Eastover native wrote nearly 50 years ago that Flea Hill was infested with the pests.

Any other fun New Year's celebrations?

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Gazetteer fun: M-O

The highly entertaining and educational North Carolina Gazetteer has been updated for the first time since it was first published in 1968.

We figured we would highlight some of our favorites from the book every now and then. This version will look at random listings that begin with letters, M, N and O . (Click here to see some older versions.) There are some 2,ooo-plus listings in the Gazetteer, so feel free to search for your own faves.

Maggot Spring Gap, w[estern] Haywood County in Great Smoky Mountains National Park near lat. 35-33-08 N, long. 83-07-55 W. Named fora nearby spring used by cattle rangers that had in it the larvae of an insect that resembled a maggot.

Nimrod, community in s[outh]w[est] Mecklenburg County served by post office, 1891-1902. Was on the w[est] side of the Charlotte, Columbia, and Augusta Railroad. Site is now the Yorkmont area of Charlotte.

Okay, community in n[orth]e[ast] Forsyth County served by a post office, 1890-1904.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

N.C. prime for wind energy

A new report by the National Wildlife Federation states that North Carolina is a prime location for potential offshore wind farms. The report cites warm temperatures and large areas of shallow water that may mitigate the downside of slightly slower wind speeds. The report projects that the state could create between 10,000 and 20,000 new manufacturing jobs, says this article.

The report, Offshore Wind in the Atlantic: Growing Momentum for Jobs, Energy Independence, Clean Air and Wildlife Protection, makes the following key findings.

Every state with significant offshore wind resources from Maine to Georgia has some taken some steps forward on offshore wind. Northern states (Maine to Maryland) have the most advanced projects while Southern states (Virginia to Georgia) are quickly mobilizing on a series of projects. See detailed chart and state profiles.

The Atlantic’s shallow water characteristics combined with excellent wind speed make it an ideal location for offshore wind farms. 93 percent of offshore wind projects worldwide are in shallow waters (zero to 30 meters deep). Close to half of the United States’ shallow water offshore wind is along the Atlantic coast.

While the most extensive European study concluded that offshore wind farms do not appear to have long-term or large-scale ecological impacts, major data gaps for the Atlantic Ocean still exist and site-specific impacts need to be evaluated. A coordinated, comprehensive, and well-funded effort is needed to address these gaps and improve the permitting process. ...

Governor Bev Perdue reiterated her support of green energy initiatives, especially wind. “As governor, my duty is to make North Carolina better – to grow jobs, to position our state for a 21st century economy, and to improve the quality of our citizens’ lives. In my vision of North Carolina’s future, we have wind turbines off our coast, and we are the leaders of the nation’s new green energy economy. Now I am working to make that vision a reality.”

The report specifically calls on governmental leaders across the country to create the economic and political climate necessary to jumpstart the offshore wind industry in the Atlantic Ocean. The North Carolina Wildlife Federation and Environment North Carolina note that Governor Perdue has already positioned North Carolina to develop the industry. ...

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

N.C. side of Smokies to get fleet of hybrids

"A handful of shiny, new hybrid Ford Escapes will soon be tooling about the North Carolina side of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, thanks to a grant from the North Carolina Department of Transportation," says National Parks Traveler.

“One of the most serious threats that the Smokies faces is the impact of air pollution on the Park’s plants, soils and aquatic life," said Deputy Superintendent Kevin FitzGerald. “We strive, through education and through our own example, to inform the public of ways that they can work towards cleaner air. One way we do this is by gradually transitioning our vehicles and equipment towards cleaner technology.”

According to the article, the park purchased the seven rigs with nearly $200,000 from the transportation department's Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Program. The CMAQ funding is U.S. Department of Transportation money that was allocated by the Rural Planning Organizations of the Land-of-Sky Regional Council and Southwestern Commission.

The goal of the CMAQ Program is to reduce air emissions in counties where air quality is in non-attainment of EPA Clean Air Act standards. The portions of Swain and Haywood counties that lie within Great Smoky are both in non-attainment due to elevated levels of ground level ozone, according to park officials.

The new vehicles are replacing seven "much more polluting vehicles, including two full-size pickups, three station wagons, and a sedan, some of which are over 20 years old, so emissions reduction are projected to be substantial," a park release said.

The new vehicles will be used in North Carolina park operations ranging from ranger patrols in the campgrounds to trail maintenance.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Raleigh passes Cleveland, Durham passes W-S in population estimates

Raleigh is now the 43rd largest city in America, bumping Cleveland from that spot, based on population estimates, according to Buffalo Business First.

Projected populations are generated by a computer formula that Business First developed in 2000 and recalibrates annually. The formula uses a decade of U.S. Census Bureau data to extrapolate growth trends.

In addition, Durham is now the fourth largest city in the state, bypassing Winston-Salem. The Bull City had 237,214 residents as of Nov. 22, while Winston-Salem boats an estimated population of 234,268. A year ago, Winston-Salem had 229,828 residents, compared to 229,171 in Durham.

Raleigh remains firmly entrenched as the second biggest city in North Carolina. With a population of 426,708, Raleigh ranks comfortably ahead of Greensboro (260,927) but well behind Charlotte (729,781).

The Queen City boasts a No. 18 ranking nationally. Raleigh is 43rd, Greensboro 72nd, Durham 84th and Winston Salem 85th.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

N.C. Research Campus to get Trudeau?

Maybe I'm out of the loop (not that unrealistic), but I had never heard of Trudeau Institute before coming across this article. Nonetheless, it sounds like the thought of this institute having a location in Kannapolis is a big deal.

Are Trudeau Institute officials eyeing a state-of-the-art research campus in North Carolina as a possible site for expansion or relocation?

Village Mayor Clyde Rabideau thinks so.

Rabideau, in a guest commentary published in Friday's Enterprise, said "there's a buzz" that Trudeau will be sending its representatives to take a look the North Carolina Research Campus in Kannapolis, N.C.

"Now, like most buzzes, it may or may not be true," Rabideau wrote, "but Trudeau management say they need an urban research hospital environment like Kannapolis to get more federal funding, so it is believable. And, even if it isn't true, Saranac Lakers should still take its measure and gird for battle."

Rabideau told the Enterprise Friday that the tip that Trudeau is looking at the North Carolina site came to him from "a couple reliable sources." He declined to elaborate, although he said he was confident that his information is correct.

"I'd stake my reputation on this," he said. ...

Trudeau officials have recently launched a strategic planning process to study the Institute's options for future growth. Trudeau has hired the New England Consulting Group to evaluate several options, including expansion of the Institute's current facilities, building a new clinical research site out of state or leaving Saranac Lake for a new location. Institute officials have said they want to bring Trudeau scientists closer to a clinical research setting near a hospital or university in order to ensure the Institute remains competitive for federal funds.

The North Carolina Research Campus, built on a former site of a textile mill about 30 miles northeast of Charlotte, offers just that kind of setting. Initially founded by David H. Murdock, the former CEO of Dole Foods, the public-private venture is designed to foster collaboration and advancements in the fields of biotechnology, nutrition and health.

Research programs from seven University of North Carolina campuses as well as Duke University are represented at the campus, which has two newly constructed buildings and will eventually offer more than 1 million square feet of lab and office space. It also has a partnership with Carolinas HealthCare System, which owns a teaching and research hospital in Charlotte, according to the Tribune report.

Rabideau, in his commentary, called the research campus the "Land of Biotech Oz" and describes it as "our most fearsome competitor."

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

New center to support and promote N.C. wine

According to a press release, the Shelton-Badgett North Carolina Center for Viticulture and Enology opened its doors at Surry Community College on Friday, November 5th. The Center was hailed by Governor Beverly Perdue as the facility that will provide the "backbone" for the state's growing wine industry.

The $5 million facility is the centerpiece of SCC's Viticulture & Enology program, which for the past decade has prepared students for careers as winemakers and vineyard managers. The 16,000-square-foot building includes a bonded commercial winery, a microbiology lab, a research library, classrooms, and a 3,800-square-foot assembly hall designed to host industry events.

In her keynote address for the grand opening, Perdue praised the positive impact the Center will have on the state's economy. Perdue noted that North Carolina is 7th in the nation in wine production, directly accounting for 5,700 jobs and an economic impact of almost $1 billion. There are more than 90 wineries and 400 vineyards across the state.

"This is an industry that is waking up in North Carolina. I have every reason to believe that North Carolina will become a national and international leader in wine because of the investment that you're making here, and the fact that this community college now has the infrastructure to train the workforce for the 21st century," Perdue said. "Today is a big day for North Carolina. Today is a day that will be written about in history books."

The center is named after the Shelton-Badgett family, which founded Shelton Vineyards in 1999 and played an integral role in starting SCC's Viticulture & Enology program that same year. Shelton Vineyards has grown to become one of the largest producers of wine on the east coast, spurring the development of many more wineries in the area. Both Shelton Vineyards and SCC are in the Yadkin Valley, North Carolina's first federally designated winemaking region. Many of the area's grapes are grown on former tobacco farms.

"I think this is an example of what we can do in Surry County if we all work together to create new ideas, new ventures and new ways to make money," Ed Shelton said at the grand opening. "The key is to make a profit and create jobs, and as long as we can do that, we have a great future here."

Click here for more.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Gazetteer fun: J-L

The highly entertaining and educational North Carolina Gazetteer has been updated for the first time since it was first published in 1968.

We figured we would highlight some of our favorites from the book every now and then. This version will look at random listings that begin with letters, J, K and L. (Click here to see some older versions.) There are some 2,ooo-plus listings in the Gazetteer, so feel free to search for your own faves.

Japan, former community in n(orth)e(ast) Graham County on forks of Tobacco and Panther creeks. Est. about 1908 as supply center for surrounding lumbering camps. Named for "Japan clover" (Lespedeza striata) growing in the area. During World War II, local residents began calling it MacArthur for Gen. Douglas MacArthur, but the post office name was never changed. Inundated by water of Fontana Lake, 1944.

Kill'em Swamp rises in s(outh)e(ast) Hertford County and flows n(orth)w(est) into Chinkapin Creek.

Longs Delight appears on the Ogilby map, 1671, near the upper portion of the Cape Fear River. It was a name assigned probably for Capt. Anthony Long, member of an expedition led by Capt. William Hilton in 1663 to explore the lower Cape Fear region. See also Lockwoods Folly Inlet ... which states that [f]requently in the seventeenth century, however, the word "folly" was used in the sense of the French folie (delight; favorite abode), and it formed a part of the name of English estates.

Friday, November 05, 2010

N.C. still rockin' when it comes to business

Gov. Beverly Perdue's office announced yesterday that for the ninth time in a decade, North Carolina has been named the state with the best climate for business "by the highly regarded Site Selection magazine."

As part of the ranking, the magazine surveys corporate executives that help businesses select new locations. This year, those executives ranked the Tar Heel state as the top for ease of doing business. The magazine cited Gov. Bev Perdue’s efforts to recruit business and create jobs.

“People across the state and many businesses around the country know that I’ll take any call and go anywhere to bring a business to our state or expand a business or create a small business in North Carolina,” Gov. Perdue said in the magazine’s cover story. “We have been very aggressive, and that has paid off.”

The accolades for the Tar Heel state led a columnist for the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times to urge his state’s next governor to learn a lesson from North Carolina’s business climate.

“Other states deemed supreme in this country for their business climate already boast histories of intimately involved, gung-ho business governors. Exhibit 1 is North Carolina Gov. Bev Perdue,” wrote Robert Trigaux, who went on to cite North Carolina’s repeated top rankings by Site Selection. “And a big reason North Carolina again dominated the survey is that Perdue, since taking office in 2009, has continued the Tar Heel State mantra of aggressively selling her state to the business world.”

Is it winter already?

"Just five days into November and snow has already fallen in the North Carolina mountains," says the Charlotte Observer.

First Warn Storm Team Chief Meteorologist Brad Panovich says elevations above 3,000 feet could get 2 to 4 inches of snow through Saturday.

Snow is not in the forecast for the Charlotte area, but a freeze warning is in effect until 9 a.m. Saturday. A cold air mass will move into the area tonight, dropping temperatures into the lower 30s across much of the region.

The high temperature on Saturday will barely reach 50 degrees.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Quick hits: USDOT awards money for high-speed rail, and N.C. youth are not engaged

USDOT awards $26.1M to Atlanta-Charlotte high-speed rail

"Atlanta Rep. Hank Johnson (GA-04)announced this week that the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) is awarding the Atlanta-Charlotte high-speed rail (HSR) line a $4.1 million grant. The grant is to be split amongst the three states involved in the project: Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. Funds will be allocated towards an intermodal high-speed intercity rail corridor study, where Georgia will act as the lead state, according to the Examiner.

"The Atlanta-Charlotte HSR line is also receiving a $22 million US DOT grant, amounting to a total of $26.1 million. The multi-state funding is geared towards improving the nation's rail infrastructure and creating an efficient high-speed intercity passenger rail system.

"A high-speed rail system is intended to act as an alternative transportation mode to the nation's highway network, thereby easing traffic congestion. Other benefits of HSR include fostering economic development and creating jobs, enhancing livability in both urban and rural communities, reducing dependency on foreign oil, and alleviating air pollution. ..."

Report finds N.C.'s youth not engaged

"The North Carolina Civic Health Index 2010 indicates that the state has the potential to flex its civic might, but there are serious gaps in civic participation that are cause for concern, said Kelley O’Brien, director of the North Carolina Civic Education Consortium. The consortium is based in the School of Government at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. O’Brien shared the results of the index recently at the North Carolina League of Municipalities’ 2010 Youth Summit in Winston-Salem.

"North Carolina is one of 13 states and four cities that partnered with the National Conference on Citizenship to assess state and local civic health with the purpose of documenting — and ultimately improving — civic engagement. The index includes recommendations for individuals, policymakers, educators and community organizations about ways to improve the state’s civic health. ..."

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Quick hits: A new movie coming to Wilmington, pick your fave N.C. sports moment, and the Blue Ridges are pretty

New feature film coming to Wilmington

"The rumor circulated for several days. Local film industry workers dropped hints that 'a big project was coming to town,'" says the Star-News.

"Now, there’s proof.

"The office of Governor Beverly Perdue announced Monday that the New Line Cinema film, 'Journey 2: The Mysterious Island' will start production in Wilmington later this month. The film stars Dwayne Johnson (aka The Rock), Michael Caine and Josh Hutcherson. ..."

Great moments in N.C. sports history

"The North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame has created a new program to recognize and honor Great Moments in North Carolina Sports History. 'Great Moments' highlights special accomplishments by both individuals and teams through the years.

"A special panel choose from a list of 20 'Great Moment' in sports history in North Carolina, the most significant as candidates for our first-ever award.

"You are invited to participate by helping to choose the first winner from the top five “Great Moments” previously selected in 2010 ..."

In Blue Ridge Mountains, autumn hues are wedded with history

"When the Blue Ridge Parkway beckons me, I answer, especially in autumn, when I long for its twists and turns, its waterfalls, natural gardens, forests and upland meadows that dot its nearly 500 miles in Virginia and North Carolina," says the LA Times.

"Little has changed here in the 75 years since the parkway construction began, permanently linking Virginia's Shenandoah National Park in the north and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in the south. It took 52 years and hundreds of workers to complete this public works project, which helped Appalachia climb out of the Great Depression.

"Thanks to varying elevations, a drive in October and even into early November will yield good views of fall hues. Hickory, tulip poplar and ash are ablaze with yellows, and reds burst forth from dogwood, maple, sumac and sourwood trees. This year mountain ash trees at higher elevations have an outstanding crop of bright red berries. ..."

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Quick hits; A new NASCAR Hall class announced, and N.C. is very good for jobs

Pearson headlines second NASCAR Hall class

"David Pearson finally received his spot in the NASCAR Hall of Fame on Wednesday, earning the most votes a year after the 105-race winner was surprisingly excluded from the inaugural class," says the AP.

"The Silver Fox received 94 percent of the vote and was the first of the five inductees called by NASCAR chairman Brian France. He immediately received a standing ovation from those gathered in the Great Hall of the Hall of Fame.

"He insisted he wasn't upset that he had not made it in with the first class.

“ 'There was no sting about the first place, a lot of people thought there was, but I knew three weeks before I wasn't going in,' Pearson said. ...."

Forbes names N.C. No. 3 for jobs

"North Carolina is the third best state in the country for business and careers, Forbes magazine says in a new report.

"The Tar Heel state climbed two spots in the rankings from a year ago," says WRAL.

Forbes listed North Carolina as:

  • No. 3 in business costs
  • No. 15 in labor supply
  • No. 3 for regulatory climate
  • No. 18 for economic climate
  • No. 9 for growth prospects
  • No. 32 for quality of life

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Quick hits: Banning pig pickin's and this time the Rangers party with Canada Dry

EPA dust regulations could threaten barbecues
"Until recently, no one in North Carolina, home to so many tobacco companies, could have imagined a statewide smoking ban in public buildings," writes the Carolina Journal.

"And yet it’s possible that federal environmental regulators could target another signature Tar Heel State tradition: the pig pickin’.

"Several cities in California, Colorado, and other states have banned outdoor grilling — particularly where wood or charcoal is involved — at parks and other public areas and at events including weekend festivals. And if the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency tightens its regulations covering coarse particulate matter in 2011, mobile smokers could be endangered. ..."

Rangers celebrate with ginger ale ... for Hamilton

"After the Texas Rangers clinched the American League East in Oakland in September, the champagne and beer celebration quickly swept through the visiting locker room.

"The celebration took place though without one key figure…the Rangers’ MVP-candidate outfielder Josh Hamilton.

"Hamilton, whose battles with substance abuse are well documented, avoided the alcohol, dressed in a side office and went back into the stands to speak to a church group about his life," says FoxSports.

"But a team that has driven itself all season on unity and family made sure that no one was excluded from the party in Tampa Bay Tuesday night.

"Shortly after Cliff Lee finished his magnificent performance in closing out the Rays 5-1 on the road, it wasn’t beer and champagne that was on ice in the locker room.

"It was ginger ale. ...

"It was a respectful gesture by a team that many thought had no chance to make a splash this season. Facing an unsure ownership situation and bankruptcy, the players all season had each other’s backs and pulled together to shock the baseball world. ..."

Friday, October 08, 2010

Gazetteer fun: G-I

The highly entertaining and educational North Carolina Gazetteer has been updated for the first time since it was first published in 1968.

We figured we would highlight some of our favorites from the book every now and then. This version will look at random listings that begin with letters, G, H and I. (Click here to see some older versions.) There are some 2,ooo-plus listings in the Gazetteer, so feel free to search for your own faves.

Glassy Rock, mountain in se Henderson County overlooking Flat Rock community. According to legend, renegades hid there during the Civil War, and money and other valuables they concealed in the caves there were later found. Trail from Connemara, the Carl Sandburg house, leads to the overlook.

Haines Eyebrow, peak in nw McDowell County near the head of Buck Creek.

Intelligence, community in w Rockingham County served by post office, 1901-11. Known as Bald Hill until about 1920. Between 1850 and 1900, several tobacco factories flourished there. Named because the first public school in North Carolina was there. "Danbury," plantation home of Governor Alexander Martin (1740-1807), was nearby. Sharp's Institute, operated by James Sharp, father of N.C. Supreme Court justice Susie Sharp, was there.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Six to receive top N.C. award

Six North Carolinians will be honored with the highest civilian award the state bestows in a ceremony at the N.C. Museum of History in Raleigh Thursday, says the AP.

Among those receiving the North Carolina Award are Winston-Salem attorney Mike Leonard, High Point poet and author Carole Boston Weatherford, Greenville artist and teacher Robert Ebendorf, and Asheville painter and sculptor Donald Sultan.

Also being recognized are Margaret S. Newman of Winston-Salem, chairman of the board of directors of the N.C. Center for Nonprofits, and F. Ivy Carroll, a scientist in the field of medicinal chemistry.

The North Carolina Awards were created by the General Assembly in 1961 and have been presented annually since 1964. It recognizes contributions to the state and nation in fine arts, literature, public service and science.

Friday, October 01, 2010

ASU looking to move up in the football world

Appalachian State is one of (if not the) most successful and consistent college football programs in the state. The Mountaineers may soon see how they can fare against the big boys on a full-time basis.

The school, known for its stunning upset of Michigan in 2007 and its three straight national titles last decade, announced Thursday it will evaluate shifting from the Football Championship Subdivision to the Bowl Subdivision [says the AP].

The feasibility study could take up to a year.

“With the changing Division I landscape and the unprecedented success that our football program has enjoyed on and off the field in recent years, the time is right to analyze all of our options as a Division I athletics department and football program,” athletic director Charlie Cobb said.

Appalachian State joins fellow Southern Conference member Georgia Southern and Montana in beginning discussions about moving to the FBS.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Quick hits: N.C. Zoo is great, and UNC still wants to do some doctorin' in the west

National organization calls N.C. Zoo one of the best in the world

"A national organization says the North Carolina Zoo is one of the best in the world," according to the AP.

"Association of Zoos & Aquariums CEO Jim Maddy says the zoo near Asheboro meets the group's highest standards.

"Maddy praised the zoo after announcing his organization has again awarded accreditation to the facility.

"The zoo has been accredited since 1984. Every five years, zoos and aquariums have to undergo a rigorous application process if they want to remain accredited. The process includes a detailed inspection and a formal hearing. ..."

UNC again pushing western medical training

"The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is again pushing plans to open a branch campus of its medical school to train doctors in Charlotte," according to the AP.

"The Charlotte Observer reported the new proposal to train doctors in Charlotte and Asheville is a scaled down version of the plan offered two years ago that failed to win legislative approval.

"UNC-Chapel Hill had proposed training 50 doctors in Charlotte and 20 in Asheville in 2008. The new plan calls for a dozen students to train in Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte starting in 2013. Eight doctors would train at Mission Health System in Asheville. ..."

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Gazetteer fun: D-F

The highly entertaining and educational North Carolina Gazetteer has been updated for the first time since it was first published in 1968. (Kudos to Michael Hill at the N.C. Office of Archives and History for undertaking the updating of William Powell's monumental publication.)

We figured we would highlight some of our favorites from the book every now and then. This version will look at random listings that begin with letters, D, E and F. (Click here to see A, B & C.) There are some 2,ooo-plus listings in the Gazetteer, so feel free to search for your own faves.

Day Book, community in n(orth)e(ast) Yancey County on Jacks Creek. Alt. 2,350. Post office est. about 1815 and named for a book in which names were recorded of settlers moving west. Another version of the traditional origin of the name is that it came from a time book kept for employees of a local lumber company.

Eupeptic Springs, community an former resort (1860s-1870s), n(orth)w(est) Iredell County. Known as Powder Springs prior to development as a resort by Dr. John Ford, who renamed it Eupeptic (good digestion).

Fayette County was formed in July 1784 when an act of the General Assembly divided Cumberland County into Fayette and Moore Counties. It was intended to honor Marquis de Lafayette (1757-1834), who visited the United States that year. Fayette County retained the courthouse in Fayetteville. In October of the same year, the act was amended to retain the name Cumberland for the county.

The North Carolina Gazetteer is published by UNC Press. To order one, click

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Mayberry among TV's most memorable fake towns

The entertainment blog romow has a list of the 11 most memorable "TV Cities that Don't Exist," which includes good ol' Mayberry.

The Andy Griffith Show could rightly be called the most successful spin-off of all time. In the slow-paced, fictional town of Mayberry, North Carolina, Sheriff Andy Taylor serves as a straight and narrow policeman who breaks up moonshine distilleries and other crooked operations. Mayberry, which could be any non-urban part of North Carolina, is the epitome of relaxed southern living where community and non-violent mediation matter most.
Of course, we could remind the folks at romow that Mayberry is basically a real place called Mount Airy. But we'll let it slide.

Among the other choices are Springfield ("The Simpsons"), South Park, Colo. ("South Park"), Hazzard County, Ga. ("Dukes of Hazzard") and Quahog, R.I. ("Family Guy"), among others.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The uncertain future of N.C.'s wild horses

North Carolina has long been proud of the wild horses that roam our coast. (We even promote a link to the Shackleford Banks horse foundation under our links section.) But these animals face an uncertain future because of tourism, according to the AP.

On a stretch of barrier island without paved roads, some of the last wild horses in the eastern United States are seeing their world get smaller each year.

A boom in vacation homes in the last 25 years in this remote place has seen the descendants of colonial Spanish mustangs confined to a 7,500-acre sanctuary on the northern tip of North Carolina’s Outer Banks. And now the herd itself may shrink along with its habitat.

A plan backed by the federal government would see the herd reduced from about 115 horses today to no more than 60 in a bid to stop the animals, designated North Carolina’s state horse this year, from competing with federally protected birds for increasingly hard-to-come-by resources.

The Fish and Wildlife Service says the plan will reduce harmful behavior by a species it considers a nuisance. But residents who rely on the horses to bring in tourist dollars or who simply cherish the mustangs as a symbol of the country’s spirit worry it could bring about the collapse of the herd through hereditary diseases and other complications of a shallow gene pool.

“The American wild horse is disappearing from our country,” said Karen McCalpin, executive director of the Corolla Wild Horse Fund, a nonprofit group that manages the herd. “To me, they’re as much a symbol of freedom as the bald eagle.” ...

Thousands of mustangs once roamed the Outer Banks, descendants of horses brought during an ill-fated Spanish colonial mission in the 1520s. But Highway 12 has been steadily moving north through the barrier islands, reaching Corolla in the 1980s and bringing rapid development with it.

Huge, brightly painted vacation homes now line the road, and even pop up behind the dunes on Corolla’s beach, accessible only by vehicles with four-wheel drive. Once the paved road ends, there’s no development except vacation homes, some as big as mansions. ...

The horses around Corolla are in a unique situation. Unlike their counterparts farther south in Shackleford Banks, the mustangs don’t have any kind of federal protection.

In fact, on its website, the Currituck National Wildlife Refuge describes the animals as something of a pest: “The Fish and Wildlife Service considers the horses to be nonnative, feral animals and not a natural component of the barrier island ecosystem,” it reads. “These animals compete with native wildlife species for food and fresh water.”

The management plan calls for the size of the herd to be kept at 60, meaning horses in excess of that number would have to be captured and put up for adoption to new homes off the island, while remaining mares would be treated with contraceptive medication to stop them from becoming pregnant. ...

Friday, September 17, 2010

Wilmington-based 'One Tree Hill' enjoys record season premiere

“'One Tree Hill' started its eighth season Tuesday night, but it’s not getting old with viewers. The show helped The CW score its best Tuesday in a year," says the Star-News.

According to The CW, the made-in-Wilmington drama posted the network’s largest audience (2.2 million viewers) in its new 8-9 p.m. Tuesday lead-off position since Oct. 20, 2009.

The show premiere was watched by 10 percent more viewers than the season seven finale, which aired in May. ...

In the coveted 18-34-year-old female demographic, the show scored No. 1 in its time slot in markets including New York, Philadelphia, Chicago and Cleveland.

We'll see if it can keep up the momentum. The premiere featured several twists that you normally expect for a season finale, not a premiere. There's also a "are they dead or alive?" storyline that could work well or, if dragged out, could state that the show has finally jumped the shark. Let's hope not.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Gazetteer fun: A-C

The highly entertaining and educational North Carolina Gazetteer has been updated for the first time since it was first published in 1968. (Kudos to Michael Hill at the N.C. Office of Archives and History for undertaking the updating of William Powell's monumental publication.)

For those unfamiliar with the book, it is quite simply a listing of place names in North Carolina. Some are well-known, most are not; some are funny, some are sad and some are just ... quirky. It's a must-have for natives and "furriners" alike.

We figured we would highlight some of our favorites from the book every now and then. This first version will look at random listings that begin with letters, A, B and C. There
are some 2,ooo-plus listings in the Gazetteer, so feel free to search for your own faves.


Aho, community in s(outhern) Watauga County near the heads of Stony Branch, Moore Branch, and Buffalo Creek. It is said that a group of men gathered to select a name for the community but, being unable to agree on a name, decided that that next word spoken by any one of them would be accepted. After a long silence, B. B. Dougherty arose, stretched, and said "Aho!"

Bloodrun Creek, rises in w(estern) Chatham County and flows s(outh)w(est) into Brush Creek. Local tradition says that a "hot skirmish" occurred between small bands of Whigs and Tories during the Revolutionary War. Each side, not wishing to reveal its losses, buried its dead secretly. One of the sites selected as a burying ground was near the small stream, and it was given its present name to commemorate the shedding of blood in the battle.

Chicamacomico, the name given to three communities on n(orthern) part of Outer Banks, e(astern) Dare County, s(outh) of Pea Island: formerly North Rodanthe, South Rodanthe, and Clarks, now known as Rodanthe, Waves, and Salvo.

The North Carolina Gazetteer is published by UNC Press. To order one, click

Friday, September 10, 2010

Happy 75th birthday, Blue Ridge Parkway!

"The Blue Ridge Parkway is throwing a celebration for its 75th birthday," says the AP.

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue and the principal chief of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians were slated to attend a kickoff ceremony Friday morning for the parkway’s anniversary festival. The ceremony takes place at the parkway’s Cumberland Knob Recreation Area in North Carolina near the Virginia border.

The weekend festival will feature music, crafts and other activities at Cumberland Knob and the Blue Ridge Music Center in Virginia.

Road construction began Sept. 11, 1935. It now covers 469 miles from the edge of Shenandoah National Park south to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

There also will be a remembrance Saturday for the 2001 terror attacks.

Image from cakecentral.

ENC tourism up

People sure hit the beaches this summer.

As summer fades to fall, midyear lodging numbers confirm reports from area coastal towns that summer 2010 was an improvement over the previous year.

“I think overall we had a pretty good summer,” said Surf City Mayor Zander Guy. “The day tripper business has been tremendous this year.” ...

Whether they came for the day or overnight, Crystal Coast Tourism Authority Executive Director Carol Lohr said visitors also made a strong appearance along the Carteret County’s beaches and at area attractions.

“I think we’re seeing a bit of a turn in the economy,” she said. “We had perfect beach weather, which is always good, and I think people wanted to get out and spend time together with their family. We’re a good value for the dollar.”

Lohr said the Crystal Coast may have also seen some visitors over the summer who came here instead of the Gulf of Mexico due to the oil spill.

According to the July 2010 Monthly Lodging Report conducted by Smith Travel Research, the latest numbers show an upward swing in occupancy, good news for tourism in North Carolina.

Statewide, hotel/motel occupancy increased 9.8 percent in July 2010, compared to July 2009. When looking at the Eastern region, which includes Lenoir, Greene and Jones, as well as Carteret, there was a 10-percent gain in occupancy rates when comparing July 2009 to July 2010. ...

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Quick hits: Reflecting on 'Oz' in Beech Mountain, and Brevard is super cool

Old Land of Oz park gears up for annual festival

"When you drive up the steep, winding roads of this small town, past its ski slopes and under a bright green bridge, you'll see an old white farmhouse and a massive pair of ruby slippers. Suddenly, you know you're not in Kansas anymore," writes the News & Observer.

"At its debut in 1970, this was a cutting-edge theme park built in part to keep ski workers employed from June through October. The Land of Oz has been closed 30 years and is a desolate remnant of the magical retreat it was.

"But the park makes an annual comeback during the first weekend of October, when several thousand flock to the Autumn at Oz party. The two-day event started 17 years ago as a small reunion for former park employees such as Andy Harkins, 57, who was a Tin Man in 1971. It grew to more than 8,500 last year. ..."

Brevard a 'cool' small town
"If the notion of town-wide square dances with an old-time caller sounds appealing, then Brevard is your kind of place," says Budget Travel.

"Set in the Blue Ridge Mountains 45 minutes south of Asheville, the redbrick town is an outpost of authentic Appalachia. Every Tuesday night in summer, locals block off Main Street, a bluegrass band strikes up, and everyone lets loose. Longtime Atlanta resident Ginger Lipscomb, 64, is one of many who were drawn by Brevard's history. She first came in 2005 to visit friends. 'Then I started annoying them because I wanted to come every weekend.' Lipscomb now runs Stones Jewelry Store out of a century-old storefront.

"Across town, patrons head to 68-year-old Rocky's Soda Shop for chocolate malts or to the 1934 Co-Ed Cinema, complete with a gleaming marquee and ornate ticket booth, for first-run films. At day's end, there's no better spot to relax in the cool mountain air than the porch of 149-year-old Red House Inn, just one more historic—and homey—side of Brevard. ..."

Friday, September 03, 2010

Fall color guess: Above average color this year

The good folks at Ashvegas have a post about a Western Carolina University professor who predicts above-average fall foliage color in the mountains this year.

Apparently the extremely-hot temps this year is good news ... in a sense that the leaf colors should be vibrant.

Visitors to Western North Carolina’s mountains can look forward to a vibrant display of color this autumn, predicts Kathy Gould Mathews, Western Carolina University’s fearless fall foliage forecaster.

That’s because weather conditions during the spring and summer point to an above-average fall color show, said Mathews, WCU associate professor of biology specializing in plant systematics.

“It’s been a hot year in North Carolina, with above-average temperatures this summer. Rainfall has been slightly less than average during the spring and summer. These are two factors I look at when thinking about the timing and quality of fall leaf color change in the mountains,” Mathews said.

“While your garden may not have fared so well because of the soaring temperatures in June and July, the well-established trees and shrubs of our forests do not appear to have been adversely affected. All of which should lead to very nice color change this October,” she said.

Mathews believes that the formation of ample yellow, orange and red pigments in the leaves seems to correlate with dry weather throughout the year. The drier the climate, the more brilliant the fall leaves tend to be, she said.

“I predict this fall color change will be variable throughout the Southern mountains, but on the whole we should expect to see rich and attractive color change this season.,” she said.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Lees-McRae and its North Carolina Building

Lees-McRae (at about 700 students) isn't the biggest college in North Carolina, but the school in Banner Elk may be in one of the prettiest settings.

We drove past LMC a few weeks ago, and it struck me how little I know about it. So I began reading up on it some. I discovered some interesting things, such as the existence of the Order of the Tower, some sort of society that
meets in the campus landmark that was "originally built to distribute water to the campus. Once taken out of service, it was renovated to serve as a meeting place for the Order of the Tower. It currently houses the campus chimes."

Also, LMC, like
my alma mater, has a gymnasium named for William Reynolds. LMC has an alum who has participated in a Tour de France. And -- presumably because of its location -- the school has buildings named for nearby states of Tennessee and Virginia.

But Lees-McRae also boasts North Carolina Building, described on the
school's map as being in "the center of campus." The beautiful, stone building (pictured, via wikipedia) contains classrooms, a modern language laboratory, and faculty offices. "This structure, completed in 1922, is the first of the three permanent buildings planned by the Reverend Edgar Tufts founder of Lees-McRae."

This got me thinking: Do other schools have buildings/landmarks named for Our Great State? I know N.C. State has the Court of North Carolina ("Court of the Carolinas," as it is known) which was once home to a tree from all 100 counties in the state.

Any other schools that honor our state in a similar way?

Monday, August 30, 2010

Great news for turtles and rare birds

The National Park Service says the 2010 breeding season has broken records for rare sea turtles and birds along North Carolina's Cape Hatteras National Seashore, according to the Associated Press.

The park service says 147 sea turtle nests have been recorded, the most ever at Hatteras. There's also a record number of piping plover and oystercatcher chicks surviving long enough to fly.

A coalition of environmental groups says the numbers are thanks largely to a rule adopted in 2008 that restricts off-road vehicles in nesting areas. ...

Monday, August 16, 2010

N.C. Zoo -- the world's largest -- looking into expansion

From News 14 Carolina:

The world's largest acreage of zoo is located in the heart of the Piedmont Triad and soon the North Carolina Zoo could see some big changes.

Over the last three days, the city and county government met with members of the zoo staff and a New York based consulting firm to discuss the the wildlife center's future. Already the North Carolina Zoo is unique both in size and layout.

“North Carolina Zoological Park is now the largest zoological facility acreage in the world at 2,100 acres," said N.C. Zoo Director Dr. David Jones.

The 1,500 acre main site houses an African and North American exhibit and takes tourist nearly half a day to explore. Now the zoo is looking into opening an Asian exhibit which could keep visitors around a little longer.

"If they had another exhibit it would probably either take the whole day or you could spread it up and spend the night here and you know enjoy this area too," said visitor Megan Hendricks.

Which is exactly why the group decided to bring in an outside consulting firm to help decide if the expanding the zoo is worth the money. 273 acres of adjacent land owned by the zoo society, that could potentially house a new hotel and conference center for the additional visitors. ...

If the zoo expands, so could current and future highway access to the site. Funds for the study were provided by local tourism development authority, the city, county, the economic development corporation, and the zoo. The consulting firm will now develop a comprehensive report on the potential for the Asian region and rough plans for it's design.

That report should be completed by the end of November.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Fantasia suicide scare

From the Charlotte Observer:

"American Idol" winner Fantasia Barrino - who has recently been accused of making a sex tape with a married man - was hospitalized Monday night after overdosing on aspirin and a sleep aid, according to a police report and her manager.

Barrino was taken to Carolinas Medical Center-Pineville just before 9 p.m., according to a police report.

The incident happened in the Glynmoor Lakes community in Piper Glen in south Charlotte, where Barrino lives with members of her extended family.

The police report classified the incident as a suicide attempt, but a statement by her agent, Brian Dickens, stopped short of that. In the statement, Dickens described Barrino's injuries as non-life-threatening.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Quick hits: Fantasia in affair scandal, and N.C. tuitions are favorable

Fantasia accused of affair with married man

"A North Carolina woman is alleging that 'American Idol' winner Fantasia Barrino engaged in an affair with her husband, and says in court documents that the pair 'recorded' their sexual encounters," according to

"Paula Cook, who separated from her husband, Antwaun Cook, in June, filed the documents -- seeking child custody, alimony and other monetary support -- Wednesday in Mecklenburg County District Court.

"The documents allege Antwaun Cook began the affair with Barrino, 26, in August 2009 after the pair met at a Charlotte-area T-Mobile store where Cook is employed.

"Barrino -- the 2004 winner of the popular Fox show and an eight-time Grammy nominee -- treated Cook to a lavish lifestyle over the course of their affair, flying him to Atlanta, Georgia; Miami, Florida; New York; Los Angeles, California; and Barbados, the documents allege.

"The pair 'have at times recorded their illicit sexual activity,' according to the documents. ..."

S.C. colleges have highest tuition in the South

"An education group says South Carolina's public colleges charge the highest tuition among 16 Southern states," according to the AP.

"The Post and Courier of Charleston reported Sunday that median tuition at South Carolina 4-year public schools was $8,400 for the 2008-09 school year. That compares with $4,174 in North Carolina and $4,032 in Georgia.

"The figures were reported by the Southern Regional Education Board. The board says part of the reason for the high tuition is because state lawmakers do not fund South Carolina public colleges at the same level as North Carolina and Georgia.

"State funding at South Carolina colleges was about $4,800 a student in 2008-09. That compared with more than $11,500 per student in North Carolina and about $7,800 per student in Georgia. ..."

Thursday, August 05, 2010

NYT Mag: Dale Jr. 'wanted to get out from under being Dale Earnhardt's son'

The New York Times Magazine has a very intriguing profile on NASCAR racer and product pitchman Dale Earnhardt Jr. The piece, "In the Name of the Father," written by Pat Jordan, basically asks, "Can Dale Earnhardt Jr. Outrace His Father's Influence?"

The short answer, upon reading the piece, is that Little E has struggled mightily to do that -- with little to show for it. He does, however, keep trying. To his credit, "Junior" attempts to keep some semblance of normalcy in his life -- which is tough with 3-4 PR people around him at almost all times.

“He is very, very introverted,” a publicist says [begins the article]. “He lives alone. He plays video games by himself eight hours at a clip. He’s a multimillionaire, yet he lived alone for months in a 20-by-20 garage loft.”

The 35-year-old Earnhardt "has been the most famous driver in Nascar, and most beloved by fans, over the past eight years, and yet he has almost vanished from sight in Nascar winner circles. He has not won at Nascar’s top level since 2008. Last year, his worst ever, he finished 25th out of 72 Nascar drivers in the final standings — a sad comedown for a driver who was once a kind of Elvis of his sport, the winner of 15 races in his first five full seasons, starting in 2000. So this season would seem to be pivotal for Earnhardt, because it may well determine whether he reclaims his position as Nascar royalty — his father, Dale Earnhardt Sr., was one of Nascar’s greatest drivers — or sink for good into midpack anonymity, grinding out one frustrating race after another as he pushes 40, the equivalent of Elvis as a second-rate Vegas lounge crooner."

Here are some more of the highlights from the article (which you can read by clicking above).

For the past seven years, Nascar fans have voted Earnhardt Jr. their favorite driver. He has appeared on “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno," hosted his own TV show, “Back in the Day,” and handed out an award at the Country Music Awards ceremony. He makes millions of dollars a year racing, and he earns another $10 million endorsing the likes of Adidas, Nationwide Insurance and Wrangler jeans, and for selling merchandise with his name, face, car number and signature on it. His crew chief, Lance McGrew, described him to me as “the Pied Piper of Nascar.” “If Dale’s not running good in a race, fans turn the channel. He’s Nascar’s most important marketing tool.” Mark Martin, Earnhardt’s racing teammate, told me, “Junior has the weight of Nascar world on his shoulders.”


His father, Dale Earnhardt Sr., grew up hardscrabble in Kannapolis, N.C., dropped out of school in ninth grade, married and had kids as a teenager and spent his early race years hustling odd jobs as a mechanic, welder, anything in order to put together a stake to keep his race cars running. He was an aggressive driver, one short step from a dirty driver. His fans called him the Man in Black, Big E, the Intimidator and Ironhead. He began his career in 1975 and was the last of a line of irascible, hard-nosed, old-timey drivers going back to moonshiners outrunning revenuers over mountain roads. Earnhardt Sr. was beloved because he started poor, like his fans, was ruthless on the track and a winner. Today many of the best Nascar drivers, like Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon, are not Southerners at all (both are from California) and are clean-shaven, well-spoken men who never banged around dilapidated race cars on red clay tracks.


“It’s hard to maintain your cool dealin’ with three or four P.R. people [said Earnhardt]. People think I’m always pickin’ my next move. Hell, I have no marketing savvy. I just do what I’m told. It’s frustrating to hear I should decide whether I want to be a race-car driver or a marketing tool. In Nascar I have to be both.”


Nascar, like country music, likes to refer to itself as family, and in truth, it has always been dominated by families. ... Earnhardt Sr. had three families. He left his first two without much consideration. He let his first wife’s new husband adopt his son Kerry so he wouldn’t have to pay child support. His second wife struggled financially with Dale and Kelley until their house burned down and he reluctantly took in his two children when they were 10 and 12, respectively. There was tension from the very beginning between Earnhardt Jr. and his father’s third wife, Teresa. On top of that, Earnhardt Sr. was a strict, penurious and distant father. His son and Kelley had a 13-inch black-and-white TV for 15 years.

“My daddy never let us have friends over,” Earnhardt told me, “’cause he didn’t want them tearing up his new possessions. He never really did anything with me. He never told me things. We were raised by six or seven nannies. I always thought he felt I wasn’t much like him.” Kelley says that as a child, her brother was small, timid and sensitive. Kids bullied him. She tried to protect him. “We were as close as you could be,” Earnhardt said. “We still are.” He went on to say, “I feel like a child star protected by all these stage moms.”


Earnhardt is reclusive because beyond his own small world in Mooresville (what his publicist calls his playground), his life isn’t his own. It wasn’t his own when he was under the shadow of his father, and now he has found himself held hostage again, this time by Nascar. He’s too valuable for Nascar to be left on his own. So he’s constantly trailed and driven and steered this way and that by his handlers.

(Image from Mark Peterson/Redux for the New York Times)

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Now promoting K-Swiss: Mr. Kenny Powers

No, Kenny Powers is not real. But this endorsement deal is. (BTW, NSFW, y'all.)

From the AV Club: HBO’s Eastbound And Down officially returns on September 26, but for those who can’t wait until then to see what Kenny [expletive] Powers has been up to ..., this new Funny Or Die video offers some clues. In short, he’s doing what he does best—cashing in on his fame via an endorsement deal with K-Swiss. Oddly enough, the campaign is real: K-Swiss really did sign “Kenny Powers” to be the spokesperson for its Tubes training shoes, and soon enough you’ll be seeing his face in magazine ads, billboards, subway posters (as seen above), and commercial spots for TV and movie theaters.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Hey, Jack Kerouac recently did a story about the photographs of Allen Ginsberg, who captured the Beat Generation with his words and images.

"[T]he beats arrived on the American art scene with an explosion of amphetamine-fueled creativity," says CNN."Their frank explorations of the twin taboos of sexuality and drugs helped to usher in the counterculture of the 1960s and, though their wild antics were the stuff of legend, they paid a heavy price.

"Jack Kerouac killed himself with alcohol, while William Burroughs killed his own wife in a drunken parlor game gone awry."

The first photo that pops up in the slideshow is of Kerouac. His On the Road is one of those seminal works that everyone who has ever been "searching" for anything has read. I first read the book as a college freshman (surprise!) and was shocked, somewhat, to see that Kerouac's main character references both Fayetteville and (here's the really surprising part) my hometown of Dunn.

In reality, Kerouac referencing anywhere in N.C. is not that surprising. After all, the writer lived for some time in Rocky Mount and made numerous treks there to visit family.

Raleigh's John J. Dorfner has written and studied about Kerouac's time in Rocky Mount-- called "Testament, Va., " in On the Road -- "the only time he used a fictitious name for a town in any of his books," wrote Dorfner back in '07 in the News & Observer.

Kerouac described America once as one big backyard, one he loved to wander in, from yard to yard, just seeing what everyone was doing, and to join the party that was going on. And the wild, sad, mystical book describing Kerouac and Neal Cassady -- a cowboy and a football player -- in an automobile cruising the highways, cities and towns of America in search of "it" actually started in Eastern North Carolina, in Rocky Mount. ...

Kerouac roared into Rocky Mount on a roadway of words -- by train, bus or a ride that he bummed along the way. During the late 1940s until 1956, Kerouac made extensive visits to Rocky Mount.

Kerouac visited North Carolina in June 1948 for the birth of his nephew, Paul Blake Jr. He joined his family during Christmas 1948, in a little white house on Tarboro Street, at the end of a dirt road in Edgecombe County, right across the Nash County line, the railroad tracks that separate the town. The city streets weren't paved in those days and Kerouac describes the muddy new Hudson pulling into his brother-in-law's front yard. ...

Cassady and crew pulled up on a snowy Christmas Eve 1948. Neal played jazz records and jumped around and had Kerouac's relatives concerned. But it was all straightened out and Jack and Neal left for their first venture on the road together, taking Kerouac's mother's load of furniture up to Paterson, N.J. Then they came straight back for her and the rest of the gang, Marylou and Ed.

Kerouac's sister moved from their home on Tarboro Street to the crossroads community of Big Easonburg Woods, five miles outside of Rocky Mount. The community is called West Mount now and hasn't changed much from when Kerouac started visiting in 1952. ...

Kerouac describes his life and times in Big Easonburg Woods in his novel "The Dharma Bums," written after the publishers told him that they wanted another "On the Road" type of book. "The Dharma Bums" explores Kerouac's leap into Buddhism; his West Coast mountain climbing with Japhy (Gary Snyder); and poetry adventures with Allen Ginsberg and "HOWL." In it, he devotes five or six chapters to describing his life in Big Easonburg. Kerouac's sister and brother-in-law rented a little cottage that Kerouac used for his retreat. He'd come there from places North, South, East and West and usually walked the three miles to his sister's house after being left off at the intersection of Little Easonburg and Halifax roads. He details this lonely walk, observing the farmhouses and tobacco fields covered in snow. Kerouac would live and sleep out on the back porch. This was his room. He would stay up late writing, either on his back porch or in the little kitchen. He wrote "Visions of Gerard" there, beginning right after Christmas 1955, taking over the little kitchen and writing all night long. He finished up during the first weeks of January 1956.

If you want more about Kerouac and Rocky Mount, be sure to visit Dorfner's article at Empirezine. The town provided Kerouac "with inspiration in-between his cross country journeys in the 1950's. It was a peaceful setting for the hurricane that was to become Jack Kerouac's life and times. Kerouac...if people heard of him at all...they'd associate it with the author of the 1957 novel On the Road, the story of one man's search for a place that, for him anyway, never existed."

(Photos from Empirezine)