Look around the Denver area for a history lesson
The Denver area has deep historical roots. Some, like the Rock Spring Campground, are more obvious. Others might require a second glance or a trip off the beaten path.
Here’s a look at some of the historical sites nearby.
Catawba County Museum of History
The Catawba County Museum of History is about a 30-minute drive north of Denver and located in the former Catawba County Courthouse in downtown Newton.
The museum houses several collections, including local Native American tools dating as far back as 500 B.C.E., a variety of early settlers’ cooking utensils such as brass kettles and cast-iron skillets, and an early-19th century pottery exhibit of jugs and canning jars from the Catawba Valley. There is a display of spinning wheels and weaving looms, as well as hand-carved furniture, hand-woven baskets and hand-stitched quilts.
War memorabilia include a Civil War collection of uniforms, firearms, swords, knives, and an assortment of shells, bullets and canteens. A set of surgeon’s tools, newspaper clippings and photographs add to the collection.
Handwritten letters between soldiers and family members depicting the hardships of war are prominently displayed behind glass-paneled doors of freestanding cabinets.
One of the museum’s most prized possessions is a British Redcoat uniform jacket, a variation of the original design dating 1790-1800. The scarlet napped wool jacket is lined with contrasting white linen, cuffs and trim and is adorned with gilt buttons.
Melinda Herzog, executive director of the Catawba County Historical Association, said the piece was hand-stitched using silk and gilt metallic threads. “It is one of only three that exist,” Herzog said.
Another showpiece is an original 1930s racecar. It is displayed among a backdrop of photographs snapped at the first race at Hickory Motor Speedway in 1951.
An entire room is dedicated to one of the largest polio outbreaks that occurred in North Carolina during the period of 1944 to 1945. Better known as “The Miracle of Hickory,” the display traces the town’s construction of an emergency hospital and its successful battle against the infectious disease.
The museum also has a hands-on exhibit for children and a bookstore with gift items. For other local sites and upcoming events, visit the Catawba County Historical Association at www.catawbahistory.org.
The Battle of Cowans Ford
Heading east toward Huntersville is the marked site of the Battle of Cowan’s Ford during the American Revolutionary War.
William Lee Davidson, a North Carolina general, was killed in the battle. Although the original location of his death is now located under Lake Norman, a memorial was erected across the road from McGuire Nuclear Station, on the right as you’re headed to Huntersville.
Heading west on N.C. 73, just past East Lincoln High School, is another land marker for the antebellum Federal-style mansion named “Ingleside.” The home was built around 1817 and owned by Daniel M. Forney. It is located on Ingleside Farm Road. Slave quarters sit on the corner of the road and N.C. 73. The property is not open to the public.
Daniel Forney was the grandson of Jacob Forney. Written sources at the Florence S. Shanklin Library in Denver recount a story of British General Cornwallis setting up headquarters on the top floor of the Jacob Forney’s log home for three days.
While waiting for the rain-swollen Catawba River to recede enough to cross, he and his troops devoured all the livestock, destroyed the house, and stole the family’s gold, silver and jewelry. At one point, Forney grabbed his rifle to kill Cornwallis, but was intervened by his wife, Mariah, who feared for their lives.
For more information about these and other historical markers around the region, visit The North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program at www.ncmarkers.com.
Want to Go?
Catawba County Museum of History
30 N. College Ave., Newton
9 a.m.-4 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday
1:30-4:30 p.m. Sunday
Admission is free.