Local city information for Denver, NC
, formerly known as "Dry Pond," is an unincorporated community located in Lincoln County in the U.S. state of North Carolina. It is situated on North Carolina State Highway 16 on the west side of Lake Norman on the Catawba River. It is about 25 miles north of downtown Charlotte and just south of the Catawba County boundary.
The community of Dry Pond derived its name from a small pond, which once stood at what is now the corner of Highway 16 and Campground Road, now the site of the local Bank of America branch. The pond would dry up in the heat of the summer.
Adam Sherrill and his family first settled in the area in 1747, and they were followed by John Beatty two years later. The actual location of Denver was first settled around 1770. Scots Irish Presbyterians and Germans from Pennsylvania were among the first settlers. Most of the early Scots Irish were Presbyterians, and their first place of worship in what would become the Denver area was John Beatty's house, which was located about one mile west of Beatty's Ford, near the present-day Triangle community. Now known as Unity Presbyterian, the first meetinghouse for this congregation was originally built of logs. In 1808, it was decided to erect a larger building, and a plat of several acres was conveyed for the purpose by James Little to "James Connor, Alexander Brevard, John Reid and Joseph Graham, trustees." Dr Humphrey Hunter, a native of Ireland and a soldier in the Revolution, was pastor from 1796 to 1804. Next came Rev. Henry N. Pharr. He was succeeded by Patrick Sparrow. Mr. Sparrow's father was a potter at Vesuvius furnace, part of the Graham family's local iron industry. Mr Sparrow was the first professor of languages at Davidson College, and afterwards President of Hampden-Sidney College in Virginia. A long-time minister at Unity was Robert Hall Morrison who was first president of Davidson College. The Presbyterians were soon joined by early Methodists from Maryland who initially took up residence near what is now Terrell, NC. Longtime leaders of the Methodists in the region were Rev. Daniel Asbury and Rev. Jeremiah Munday, pioneer Methodist ministers. When he was younger, Rev. Daniel Asbury was taken as a hostage by a band of Shawnee Indians, and--like Daniel Boone whose story is much better known--was carried to the far northwest and held in captivity for five years. In 1791 Asbury established in Lincoln County the first Methodist church west of the Catawba River, which is now known as Bethel United Methodist Church. Rev. Jeremiah Mundy was a native of Virginia and came to Lincoln county in 1799. He was a soldier in the Revolutionary War three years and a minister for thirty-five years. These Methodists brought with them the institution of "campmeeting," which quickly became one of the most important traditions for the region. Interdenominational from the beginning, the local Rock Springs Camp Meeting grows out of these early meetings and traces its history to 1794 when Daniel Asbury, William McKendree (who would become a bishop), William Fulwood and James Hall, a Presbyterian, held the first gathering near present-day Rehobeth Church in Terrell.
Most of the land that these Europeans claimed had long been the home of Catawba and Cherokee Indians. Indeed, the Catawba River in this part of North Carolina acted as a border between the two nations who were often at odds with each other. In the earliest days of European settlement, there were episodes of violence between the native Americans and the new settlers, and eventually a fort was constructed near present-day Statesville to help provide a level of defense for the western portion of the colony. Several tales from these days have come down to us. One of these involves a member of the Beatty family who went in search of his cattle one day and was discovered and pursued by the Indians. He had almost made it home when they finally caught up with him. He concealed himself in the hollow of a large chestnut tree, but the bark of his dog disclosed his hiding place and cost him his life. For years after, locals would point to the site of the tree and tell the story. In another story, Jacob Forney and two of his neighbors were attacked by a band of Cherokee. One of them, a man by the name of Richards, was killed. Forney managed to reached his home, which was essentially a small log fort. The neighbors later buried poor Richards where he fell.
Most of the early settlers were subsistence farmers who relied heavily upon hunting to supplement their tables. Grist mills and saw mills were among the first "local industries," but the production of iron soon became the biggest industry for the area. By 1810 Lincoln County boasted six ironmaking operations including Vesuvius, Mt. Welcome, Mount Tirzah, Mount Carmel, High Shoals, and Madison. A number of individuals and partners took the lead in establishing ironworks in eastern Lincoln County, most just to the west of present-day Denver, near Pumpkin Center and in the direction of Iron Station. The partnership of Peter Forney, Joseph Graham, John Davidson, and Alexander Brevard was responsible for the construction of Vesuvius Furnace in 1795. Peter Forney built Madison Iron Furnace along Leeper’s Creek in 1809. These two sites, like other local ironworks, changed hands at various points. Other individuals involved in the development of the iron industry in Lincoln County include Turner Abernethy, John Fulenwider, Dr. William Johnston, Jonas W. Derr, and J.F. Reinhardt. James Madison Smith later erected Stonewall Furnace in 1862 to help meet the demand for iron brought on by the War Between the States. Operations at Rehoboth (begun in the 1820s) and Madison furnaces also resumed during the turbulent years from 1862 to 1865 to supply much-needed iron for the Southern war effort.
There was a Dry Pond Post Office beginning right before the Civil War, although it moved across the line to Catawba County near what is now Kiestler's Store Road in December 1868. In 1873, in an attempt to attract a railroad spur and thinking that the moniker "Dry Pond," didn't present a nice enough image for the railroad planners, headmaster of the local Rock Springs Academy, D. Matt Thompson, led the effort to have Dry Pond renamed for the capitol of Colorado, which was just then petitioning for statehood. (Rock Springs Academy evolved into Rock Springs School, which was a comprehensive 1-12 school until nearby East Lincoln High School was built in the 1960s. At that time, Rock Springs became an elementary school. The original mascot for Rocks Springs was "The Warriors," and the school colors were black and gold; in the 1990s, this was changed to "sailors." The mascot for East Lincoln High School is "The Mustangs," and the school colors are orange and green with the hues changing slightly over the years.The spring for which the academy was named lies near the Rock Springs Campground on Campground Road.)
One of the major institution's of antebellum Dry Pond was the Catawba Springs. Information about this resort from the NCMArkers.net site:
In the years before the Civil War, North Carolina’s elite in need of a break from the summer heat could escape to Lincoln County’s Catawba Springs resort. The popular antebellum destination, named for the Catawba Indians living in the area, was built amidst seven mineral springs near Denver. Guests vacationed there as early as the 1790s. In 1824, geology professor Denison Olmstead recommended the waters of the springs for complaints concerning the liver and weakness. There is little evidence that healing actually occurred; nonetheless Catawba Springs became a popular stop on the stagecoach lines from Salisbury to Asheville.
Revolutionary War veteran and state legislator, Captain John Reid was the first known proprietor of Catawba Springs. After his death in 1821, the spa passed through a series of owners: Charles Jugnot, William Simonton, and Joseph Hampton. In 1838, Hampton renovated and expanded Catawba Springs, including the construction of a two story, 100-room hotel. After the renovation, during parties and on holidays, as many as 500 guests assembled on the porch of the hotel. Before that time, the spa could only accommodate sixty to seventy guests in its cabins. Most guests were members of the southern planter class from North and South Carolina. Among the names of prominent North Carolina families listed in the hotel records are the Grahams, Brevards, Alexanders, Caldwells, Davidsons, and Polks. Some guests made their way to the spa from Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana. Students from nearby Davidson College could also be found enjoying themselves there on the weekends. During the early 1840s, Peter S. Ney ran a school for boys at the resort known as Stewart’s Seminary.
The Civil War put an end to the southern planter aristocracy, and with its patron base depleted, Catawba Springs closed in the mid-1860s. By the time North Carolina had begun to recover from the devastation of the war, railways and eventually good highways had led to the opening of mountain resorts. (A similar, but unrelated, resort operated under the name Sparkling Catawba Springs in Catawba County during the latter part of the nineteenth and early twentieth century.) The buildings, demolished in 1930, and their guests are long gone, and the springs now bubble invisibly into a farm pond. A faint, lingering scent of sulfur is all that remains.
In October 1874, Denver's first post master, John A. Kids, was appointed and three years later, the community was incorporated as a town by the state of North Carolina. Unfortunately for the citizens of the area, the railroad chose not to run through the growing little town, and it began to dry up like the pond for which it was originally named. For much of its existence, "downtown" consisted of a few houses, a handful of stores, a couple of churches, a school, a barber shop, a post office,a bank and a cotton gin. The 1902 Soil Survey map of the Hickory, NC area, shows Denver having a small grid of streets running along what are now Highway 16 and Campground Road. By 1914, the soil survey map of Lincoln County showed only a grid of three short streets running Northwest to Southeast parallel to what is now Highway 16 and one street running parallel to Campground Road (which still exists and was called by locals for many years "Back Street"). Apparently, one of the short streets perpendicular to Campground Road ran beside of what is now the telephone building on St. James Church Road and another of these perpendicular streets connected to what is now Campground Road right at the Rock Springs Campground.
Denver remained largely a farming community with cotton as the primary cash crop supplemented by "truck farming" vegetables to area towns. Members of local families began commuting to work in surrounding textile mills of Mooresville, Lincolnton, Cornelius, Maiden, and Mount Holly just before World War II and continued up until the early 1970s. Having failed to elect a local government for many years, Denver lost its official incorporated status in 1971 by vote of the state legislature.
It was the filling of a much larger pond, Lake Norman, that led Denver to grow in ways that its early boosters probably could have never fathomed. In 1962, Duke Power built the Cowans Ford Dam, flooding the fertile farmland along the Catawba River "bottoms," the land which had attracted the area's first settlers. Soon, weekend and summer "getaway" homes began to appear lakeside, and after a few years, these were replaced by more luxurious lake homes, as individuals began to move to the area to live near the water. Denver is now largely a bedroom community for Charlotte, NC.
During the Civil War, the local area would raise two units for the Confederacy. In March 1862, a group of local men, most of whom were related, formed a company known as the "Dry Pond Dixies" (Company G, 52nd regiment of North Carolina Troops) and joined the Confederacy. Added to their number were a number of Quakers from Randolph County, NC who did not fight but helped with the wounded. The other group was known as the Beatty's Ford Rifles (Company K 23rd Regiment).
One of Denver's major features is its "main street," which is now known as "Old Highway 16." This road, once state highway 16, was one of North Carolina's first state highways, receiving that designation in 1928. Present-day highway 16 is a four-lane road running through the edge of the community
During the 1970s, the town hosted one of the largest cross-country motorcycle races in the nation, "The Denver 100," which was a successful fundraiser for the local volunteer fire department. Participants rode through the center of barns, along creek banks, and through pastures--most of which have now disappeared under various housing developments.
Up until recently, most African Americans in the area lived in the community known as "Little Egypt," which is the general area near East Lincoln High School along Saint James Church Road.
Denver is also home to the Rock Springs Campground that has been the site of revivals and camp meetings since 1794. One of the few continuous camp meeting still occurring is that of the Rock Spring Camp Meeting in east Lincoln County, North Carolina.
For a brief period during the 1890s-1910s, Denver was home to small-scale gold prospecting, particularly in the area near the former Triangle School and the community now known as "Westport."
Town festivals have included the annual Strawberry Festival and Denver Days.
Major industry included modular home builder, R-Anell Homes, which recently moved from Denver to a manufacturing facility in Cherryville, NC.
Perhaps, Denver's most illustrious native son was William Alexander Graham (September 5, 1804 – August 11, 1875) who was a United States Senator from North Carolina from 1840 to 1843, Governor of North Carolina from 1845 to 1849 and United States Secretary of the Navy from 1850 to 1852. He was also a candidate for the vice-presidency in 1852 on the Scott ticket. One of Graham's sons, also named William A. Graham, became a state legislator and state agriculture commissioner. Two others, Augustus and John, also became politicians, while a daughter, Susan, married Civil War officer, judge, and historian Walter Clark. Descendents of Susan Graham and Walter Clark still live in the Denver area and have been among the most active developers of the area's former farmland.
Denver is at latitude 35°31'52" north and longitude 81°01'47" west. The ZIP code is 28037 and the FIPS place code is 17000. The elevation is 902 feet above sea level.
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