Happy Valley Attractions
Chapel of Rest
This beautifully restored Episcopal Church, no longer used for regular services, has been the home of a spring and fall classical music series since 1984. Seasonal music also is a highlight of the Chapel's nondenominational Thanksgiving Eve and Christmas Eve services. The Chapel of Rest first opened its doors in 1909. Originally serving the Patterson School—today a boarding and day school for grades 9-12—the Chapel was used until 1921 when services were moved to the Patterson School campus. The Chapel was fully restored in 2002, and in 2005 it was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Burials in the Chapel's cemetery began around 1856, and include noted North Carolina General Collett Leventhorpe, who served during the Civil War.
The Chapel of Rest is located on Highway 268, nine miles north of Lenoir, adjacent to the Patterson School (Mile marker 2.4). For more information, call (828) 758-8619 or (828) 758-0906, or visit www.chapelofrest.org.
Fully restored to its original 1792 grandeur, this historic home features more than 300 pieces of original furniture and artifacts highlighting the craftsmanship of two centuries past. "Living History Days" emphasize 18th century backcountry skills and crafts like yarn dyeing, spinning and weaving, candle making, fire starting and driving teams of oxen. "Colonial Christmas" celebrations recreate traditional sights, sounds and foods of the era.
Designed to protect early settlers from the Native Americans in the area, the stockade called Fort Defiance was constructed in Happy Valley during the Revolutionary War. General William Lenoir, a Revolutionary War hero who won fame at the Battle of Kings Mountain in 1780, named this home for the original stockade. The property has a family cemetery with graves dating back to 1785.
Hours of Operation: April through October (Thurs-Sat., 10 a.m.to 5 p.m. and Sun. 1 p.m.to 5 p.m.); November through March (weekends only or by appointment). For more information, call Fort Defiance at (828) 758-1671 or visit www.fortdefiancenc.org. Fort Defiance is located 5.5 miles from Highway 321 on Highway 268 at 1792 Fort Defiance Drive, Highway 268 (Mile marker 4.5).
Happy Valley Highway Markers
Historic Happy Valley highway markers help guide visitors to the Valley's arts, storytelling and living traditions. Designed by Morganton blacksmith and artist Dean Curfman, a North Carolina Arts Council Regional Artist Project grant recipient, the new signage depicts significant points of interest in Happy Valley. Mile marker 1 is located in Patterson and extends for twenty miles down the valley towards Wilkesboro. Visit the Oak Hill Iron Web site to see more of Curfman's work.
Laura Foster Grave
Immortalized in the internationally-known folk song, "Hang Down Your Head, Tom Dooley," the star-crossed lover murdered in 1866 (the modern day headstone displays the date of 1865) rests in a grave surrounded by a small white fence visible from the highway (Mile marker 8.6).
Tom Dula (Dooley) was hung for the crime, and the ballad was part of local folklore for decades before being popularized by the Kingston Trio in the 1950s. The gravesite is located on a working farm, which is on private property. It can be visited during the Happy Valley Fiddlers' Convention, which takes place over Labor Day weekend.
Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail
Retracing the route of patriot militia as they tracked down the British during the Revolutionary War, the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail passes through Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina and into South Carolina to Kings Mountain, the site of patriot victory in 1780. Several miles of the Overmountain Victory Motor Route are located in Caldwell County, including parts of Highway 268, 321, and 18.
Each year the Overmountain Victory Trail Association conducts a two-week long commemorative march along the route to trace the campaign. Highlights include special events and ceremonies, as well as opportunities to walk portions of the historic route.
Patterson School Equestrian Center
Located on the 1,400-acre campus of The Patterson School (Mile marker 3.0), a non-denominational college preparatory, co-educational boarding and day school. The Equestrian Center offers boarding facilities and public riding lessons on a network of trails running through campus. In addition to English and Western riding instruction, activities include rodeo events, horse shows, an equestrian drill team and horsemanship course. For more information call (828) 758-2374 or visit www.pattersonschool.org.
Todd's Country Store
Impromptu music concerts and sing-alongs are always a possibility at Todd's Country Store, a center of community, storytelling and food located on Buffalo Cove Road off of Highway 268. The store has retained many of its original furnishings from the time it served as the Buffalo Cove, North Carolina post office from 1927 until the 1940s. Photographs of local families are displayed alongside dozens of old fashioned bottles, antique collectibles and books from the 1920's. Homemade sandwiches, coffee and glass-bottle Cokes draw lingering regulars with stories to tell.
Todd's Country Store is open Monday-Saturday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The kitchen closes at 4 p.m. For more information, call (828) 758-9879.
Whippoorwill Academy & Village
Whippoorwill Academy & Village (Mile marker 15.4) includes a number of reconstructed log buildings dating back to the nineteenth century. The village includes the Tom Dula Art Museum, an exhibit of 45 paintings and drawings by retired art teacher Edith F. Carter imagining the characters immortalized in the legend of Tom Dula. Carter's father went to school in this building more than a hundred years ago. The museum also displays Tom's original tombstone, a large river rock; his war records; the door handle to his home; and a purported lock of Laura Foster's hair. Tom Dula's homesite and grave are located a mile from the Whippoorwill Academy in the Dula family cemetery. Laura Foster is buried five miles away, on a hill overlooking the Yadkin River.
A General Store originally built in the 1920's now sells handmade crafts, books, tapes, jams, jellies, pickles, and other souvenir items. The Smokehouse Art Gallery, reconstructed from a log smokehouse built in the late 1700's, displays the work of local artists and craftspeople every month. A cabin replicates the home of Daniel Boone, who lived with his wife and eight children in this community in the 1760's. A blacksmith shop and weaving room are also open. Self-guided historic tours of the Yadkin River are made possible by Windsong Canoes, which offers canoe rentals Saturdays and Sundays, 3 to 5 p.m. and during the week by appointment.
Learn more at www.explorewilkes.com/whippoorwill.php or visit 11929 Highway 268 West, Ferguson. (336) 973-3237
W. Kerr Scott Dam and Reservoir
A Tom Dooley Historical Tour CD and area map can be purchased at this reservoir's Visitor Assistance Center, located three miles south of Highway 421 in Wilkesboro. Grounds encompassed by the Kerr Scott Dam and Reservoir include the site of Fort Hamby, the headquarters of a renegade band of soldiers that terrorized Happy Valley during the Civil War. Tom Dooley: A Wilke's County Legend is performed outdoors in Historic Fort Hamby Park at the Forest Edge Amphitheatre in Wilkesboro during June and July. Operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the dam's lake and surrounding property cover 3,754 acres, and offer camping, hunting, fishing, swimming, boating, picnicking, hiking, mountain biking, scenic overlooks, wildlife viewing, and ranger-led interpretive programs.
Visitor Center hours are Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m to 5 p.m. and Saturday through Sunday, 8 a.m to 4 p.m. (open Saturday through Sunday from April through October only). To get to the Visitor Center, take Exit 268B from Highway 421 in Wilkesboro and proceed southwest. The Visitor Center will be on your right three miles from the exit. For more information, call (336) 921-3390 or visit www.saw.usace.army.mil/wkscott/index.htm. Visitor Assistance Center, 499 Reservoir Road, Wilkesboro.