History can be fascinating. Not only is it an opportunity to learn about the lives and livelihoods of those who came before us, it's also a storied journey into our nation's past filled with tales of intrigue, adventure, and bravery. Each community and state has their own tale to tell. North Carolina's Rutherford county is no exception. From war battlegrounds and 200 year old mysteries, to gold rush mines and moonshiners' trails; if you're looking for a journey into the past that will captivate even the most skeptical of minds, Rutherford county's Cherry Bounce Trail may turn out to be your favorite exploration odyssey of all time.
The Cherry Bounce Trail loosely follows an old moonshiners' route through the North Carolina foothills, and is aptly named for notorious moonshiner, Amos Owens' renowned brew of corn whiskey, sourwood honey, and cherries from his grove atop Cherry Mountain. Known locally as 'The Cherry Bounce King' Owens, a former Confederate soldier, was a quintessential example of an Appalachian moonshiner in the late 1800s, and his Cherry Bounce moonshine was considered so delicious that it could be found in local speakeasies throughout the region and as far south as the Mississippi. Every year in June during the cherry harvest he would hold a cherry bounce celebration for all. Hundreds would come from far and wide to take part in the annual festivities at the top of Cherry Mountain.
The Cherry Bounce Trail weaves its way through Rutherfordton, Forest City, Spindale, Bostic, and Golden Valley with multitudes of fantastic historical stop points of interest along the way. Defiant Whiskey in Bostic is a definite must visit. They offer tours and tastings Monday through Friday and by appointment on the weekends. Washburn's General Store in historic Washburn Village is another incredible spot. The current building was erected in the 1920s, but the store itself was begun as a stagecoach stop in 1831 and is filled with antiques, historical folklore, locally made jams and cheeses, and a lunch counter that's still a local favorite today. A truly fascinating stopping spot is the Bostic Lincoln Center, whose mission is to solve the mystery of President Abraham Lincoln's birthplace. Many historians believe he was born on Puzzle Creek near Bostic, not in Kentucky as is traditionally assumed.
Continue driving through the beautiful countryside into Golden Valley and you'll come upon Cane Creek; the site of a Revolutionary War battle that is considered to have been quite influential in the tactical decisions of the subsequent battle of Kings Mountain, and the historical markers for Rutherford Trace and Fort McGaughey; also local sites of Revolutionary War history. Golden Valley itself is breathtakingly scenic. Born out of the pre-Civil War gold strike in the 1820s, the picturesque foothills landscape is filled with corn fields and wild cherry trees, which gave rise to the local moonshine industry after the war. Nearby in the historic community of Hollis be sure to visit the WWI Memorial. It sits in the veterans cemetery on the line between Rutherford and Cleveland counties.
As you drive through the myriad of small towns & historic communities along the trail, don't be afraid to stop and take some time to wander around! Places like the Rutherford County Farm Museum in Forest City, and the KidSenses Children's Interactive Museum in Rutherfordton are wonderfully interesting and educational locations, and the quaintly fabulous shopping and dining options in every community along the way will easily soothe the inner foodie and shopaholic tendencies of every visitor. Rutherford county's Cherry Bounce Trail; anyone who appreciates beautiful scenery, educational opportunities, and journeys through history will agree, it's a perfect way to spend the day.