Large And Extraordinary
North Carolina’s natural landscape features many superlatives like the highest peak east of the Mississippi, the highest waterfall in the eastern US, and the largest gorge east of the Grand Canyon. It also features examples of roadside Americana ranging from the world’s largest frying pan to some things that are just plain unusual.
If you’re driving in North Carolina, a turn or two off-the-beaten path could take you by one of these roadside attractions. Let’s take a quick trip on the road to large and peculiar, North Carolina-style.
Rose Hill, NC is the site of the world’s largest frying pan. The Chamber of Commerce and the Lions Club use the pan for fundraising events. It was built in the 1960s to recognize the importance of the poultry industry in North Carolina. The 15-foot diameter pan, located on Town Square at Highway 117 in Rose Hill, holds 200 gallons of cooking oil and can fry up 365 chickens at once. Tasty.
After a meal like that, some hiking may be in order. We have just the location. Fields of the Wood, built by the Church of God of Prophecy in 1945, is home to a number of large religious icons. Most impressive of the manmade objects is the world’s largest Ten Commandments. This 300-foot wide exhibit, on appropriately named Ten Commandments Mountain near Murphy, NC, is reportedly visible from earth orbit.
There you will also find the world’s largest Testament, and the 150-foot long All Nations Cross. Fields of the Wood is on Hwy. 294, 17 miles west of Murphy and about 6 miles east of the TN/NC border.
North Carolina is furniture country and it should come as no surprise that we have some darned huge pieces to prove it. There’s the largest Duncan Phyfe chair in the world at 6 West Main Street in Thomasville. Although wood is the material of choice for most of our furniture, this piece is made from steel and concrete.
Right down the road from Thomasville is High Point, the Home Furnishings Capital of the World. As you would expect, High Point has not one, but two giant chests of drawers.
The Chamber of Commerce built the original big chest of drawers in the 1920s. The 20-foot tall building-with-knobs served as the “bureau of information”. Renovated in 1996, the building was converted into a 38-foot tall Goddard-Townsend block front chest. Two giant socks peek from a drawer, symbolizing the city's hosiery heritage.
And if that is not enough, Furnitureland South erected its own 80-foot tall chest of drawers right off Interstate 85 near High Point. The World's Largest Chest of Drawers #1 is two blocks east of Main St., 508 North Hamilton St. at the intersection with Westwood, and the World's Largest Chest of Drawers #2 is at exit 118 off I-85, west on Business Loop 85.
North Carolina, known far and wide for its mountain-grown Frasier fir Christmas trees, has the world’s largest Christmas tree. Oddly, this one is not a Frasier fir and it is not in the mountains. The tree in question, a 400-year old live oak, sits a few miles north of downtown Wilmington on Highway 133/US Highway 117. This coastal tree is decorated and lit nightly during the Christmas season.
And who could forget the big coffeepot in Winston-Salem? It’s about 12-feet tall and sits on a stand. The pot was originally erected in 1860 as an advertisement for a silversmith. You’ll find it in the restored Moravian Village of Old Salem.
Enough big stuff, now let’s get peculiar. A favorite North Carolina oddity for more than 150 years is the Devil’s Tramping Ground near Siler City. In this circle of bare earth about 20 feet across, it is said that the devil paces thinking up bad things to do to poor mortals. His pacing, supposedly, kills off all the vegetation.
Wildlife, they say, shies away from the area and things placed inside the circle after dusk are moved outside the circle before dawn. From Highway 64, just east of Siler City, take 421 South for about 10 miles until you come to Route 902. Go right onto 902 exactly 7 miles until you get to Harper's Crossroads. Take another right at the traffic light (SR 1005) and then take your immediate left onto Devil's Tramping Ground Road. Follow the road for about a mile and a half up to the gravel parking area on the left. Follow the path about 50 yards to the Tramping Ground. Lookout!
added: May 1, 2009
updated: May 1, 2009