Offbeat and Off the Beaten Path

Offbeat and Off the Beaten Path

A Vollis Simpson whirligig in Wilson

When you’ve traveled the interstate hundreds of times, it’s time to stray off the beaten path for something different, unique or downright weird.

Belhaven Memorial Museum
Belhaven
This museum about 50 miles east of Greenville showcases Mrs. Eva Blount Way’s overwhelming affection for collecting buttons. In addition to some 30,000 buttons, you’ll see a fascinating array of collectibles, such as period clothing, toys and dolls, china, and farm tools. Believe it or not, there’s also a dried flea wedding, viewed through a magnifying glass, a two-headed kitten, one-eyed fetal pig and a hare-lipped dog.

Clyde Jones – Chainsaw Folk Artist
Bynum
Local chainsaw folk artist Clyde Jones’ small mill house is surrounded by “critters” he carves from large chunks of wood. He adds features with everything from old softballs and plastic fruit to old film canisters.

Country Doctor Museum
Bailey
Docents lead tours through three buildings of exhibits and are available to answer questions about the practice of medicine between the late 18th century and the first half of the 20th century. Exhibits contain artifacts that include medical instruments and tools of pharmacy used by country doctors, as well as their diaries, papers and medical books.

Devil’s Tramping Ground
Near Siler City
Legend has it that in this circle of bare earth about 20 feet across, the devil paces thinking up bad things to do to mortals. His “tramping” supposedly kills off vegetation and causes wildlife to keep their distance. Even spookier, anything placed inside the circle after dusk is moved outside the circle before dawn.

Mary and Marvin Johnson Gourd Museum
Angier
Master Gourd Grower Marvin Johnson and his wife cultivated more than 200 different kinds of gourds and collected gourds from around the world. You’ll see everything from giant African gourds to gourds so tiny they look like robins’ eggs.

Museum of the Alphabet
Waxhaw
The Museum of the Alphabet, just south of Charlotte in Union County, fills a small building with various depictions of the world’s alphabets. Exhibits include languages dating from early Egyptian to Turkish, Russian and Greek. Hand-painted displays have amazing attention to detail.

Love Valley
Love Valley
If you love westerns, this is the place for you. In 1948, Mayor Andy Barker decided to start his own town in Iredell County’s Brushy Mountains, north of Statesville. No vehicles are allowed, so saddle up and ride on in to the dance hall and saloon, tack shop, general store and blacksmith. To complete the effect, cowboys and their horses roam the dirt streets.

Real-Life Mayberry
Mount Airy
Fans of the 1960s Andy Griffith Show get a taste of the life depicted in the popular television series when they visit Mount Airy, Griffith’s hometown and the inspiration for the series. Visitors are welcome to take a ride in Barney’s squad car and cruise by Andy’s childhood home and down Main Street past Floyd’s Barbershop.

Wilson Whirligig Park
Wilson
This collection of whirligigs – large, wooden, wind-driven mechanical windmills – brighten the landscape thanks to the late local folk artist Vollis Simpson. The devices incorporate complex movement and sound and are an integral part of more than 30 of Simpson’s works, some of which have been exhibited at the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh and the High Museum of Art in Atlanta.

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